The best destinations for shoulder-season sun in winter 2007. Part three of three.
Best for: Partying
The Aussies love to party, so where better to go for a good time than Sydney? Hang out on Bondi Beach during the day and at night head for the pubs and clubs of Oxford Street. Darling Harbour and George Street in the Rocks are also big draws.
Away from the beaches and booze there’s a thriving theatre and opera scene (the Sydney Opera House stages some free concerts), excellent restaurants and good shopping. Don’t miss the weekend street markets, one of the best of which is Paddington on Saturdays, where you can pick up Aussie arts and crafts.
There are also several good museums, including the Australian Museum. Featherdale Wildlife Park, where you can see koalas and kangaroos, and the famed Blue Mountains are an easy day trip from the city.
Sample product:Thomson Worldwide has a 10-night package to Sydney staying at the four-star Southern Cross Suites in Darling Harbour for £1,039 including flights, departing between January 10 and August 10 2008.
Huvafen Fushi, the Maldives
Best for: Romance
The Maldives were made for romance, with soft, sandy beaches, crystal clear warm water and nothing to do but gaze into each other’s eyes.
Accommodation is among the most luxurious in the world and the Huvafen Fushi, a 30-minute speedboat ride from Male, is one of the best properties the islands have to offer.
Its 43 beachfront and water bungalows, all with private pools, offer couples almost total privacy. They can dine in one of the resort’s two sumptuous restaurants or have a candlelit dinner on the beach.
If the private pool starts to feel a little cramped, there’s an infinity pool and a superb spa with a long list of treatments.
Sample product:Tropical Locations has seven nights’ bed and breakfast from £2,845 per person throughout the winter, including flights and speedboat transfers.
St Lucia, Caribbean
Best for: Families
Many of St Lucia’s hotels have gone all out to cater for families. The Coconut Bay Beach Resort and Spa has a water park plus three swimming pools, an educational kids’ club, a tennis centre and adults-only area and spa. In the evening there is plenty to entertain the whole family.
The south coast of the island has lots of adrenalin-fuelled activities such as kitesurfing, a rainforest zip wire, scuba diving and mountain biking.
Families with teenage children might prefer to stay in the north, close to Gros Islet, which hosts a legendary Friday night street party and boasts many pubs and clubs.
Sample product:Thomas Cook Signature has seven nights’ all-inclusive accommodation at the Coconut Bay from £951 per adult and £431 per child under 10, with flights departing on November 3.
Kariega Game Reserve, Eastern Cape, South Africa
Best for: Activities
South Africa offers some of the best game reserves in the world. Kariega has two lodges, one of which offers private chalets with wildlife viewing decks. Wildlife includes leopard, hippo, zebra and more than 200 types of bird.
The game reserves on the Eastern Cape are free from malaria, making them a good choice for families with young children or for those who don’t like taking anti-malarial medication. The region also has a pleasant year-round temperature.
Sample product:Somak offers a nine-night Cape, Garden Route and Game tour that includes three nights at Kariega from £1,789 per person including flights departing from January to March, bed-and-breakfast accommodation with two lunches and three dinners, seven days’ car hire, game drives and private transfers.
Brazil, South America
Best for: Culture
Brazil has so many cultural and natural treasures that the real difficulty lies in deciding which part of the country to visit.
A good tour for a first-time visitor would take in Rio, Sugar Loaf Mountain and the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue, the colonial cities and towns of Minas Gerais and the contrasting grandeur of colonial Salvador, the country’s first capital. Brazil’s finest natural attraction and a must-see on any visit to the country are the Iguaçu Falls, the largest in the world.
Brazil has many UNESCO World Heritage Sites including Ouro Preto, which was the gateway for the gold rush in the 18th century, the 16th century Portuguese City of Olinda and the hilltown of Congohas, home to the Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Congonhas, famed for its rococo interior and soapstone sculptures.
Sample product:Bales Worldwide has a 13-day tour of Brazil including three nights in Rio, two nights at Iguaçu Falls, two nights in Ouro Preto and three nights in Congonhas, Mariana and Salvador for £2,296 including flights, 10 breakfasts, two lunches and sightseeing.