By Mike Atkinson | Drive producer and public relations officer
If you ask any Perthie which tropical island paradise they frequent on a regular basis the most common answer you’ll get is “Bali”.
Unsurprisingly, Bali came in at #2 in the most popular holiday destination for Australians in 2015, behind neighbouring New Zealand. Our love of the island paradise is strong but with popularity comes large crowds, made up attractions and overblown hype.
As with a New Year we thought we’d give you a few alternatives to the well-beaten track of Bali for you to consider visiting in 2017.
Undoubtedly the most celebrated island in the South Pacific, Bora Bora is French Polynesia’s leading lady. Her beauty is unrivaled and her fame, unwavering. Bora Bora is one of the few places on earth that everyone hopes to witness in their lifetime — and once you see it, you are forever enamored.
If you’re after budget travel Bora Bora is not the place for you. Everything (catering and activities) ranges from “expensive” to “indescribably expensive”.
Flores, the island named ‘flowers’ by 16th-century Portuguese colonists, has become Indonesia’s ‘Next Big Thing’. In the far west, Labuanbajo is a booming tourist town that combines tropical beauty with nearby attractions such as Komodo National Park, myriad superb dive spots and beach-dappled little islands.
The most famous tourist attraction in Flores island itself is the crater lakes at Mount Kelimutu usually reach from Ende. The colours change on a regular basis with aqua/turquoise, green, red and chocolate brown reported. This amazing natural phenomenon is thought to be caused by changed by chemical reactions of minerals in the lake triggered by volcano gas activity.
Possibly the most beautiful place in America that you’ve never heard about. Indeed, Saipan is part of America — it’s the most populated of the Northern Mariana Islands, an insular chain with a complicated history that became administered by the U.S. after World War II, and has been a U.S. commonwealth since 1978.
Scuba diving and snorkeling on Saipan are deservedly the most popular activities here among western tourists. Saipan, Guam, and many other islands of the Marianas were all important battle sites during WWII, and many Japanese bunkers and armaments still exist on these islands. These sites are managed by the National Park Service under the “War in the Pacific” Parks designation. Saipan is fairly small and by renting a car or moped, it is easy to drive around the island and take in the natural splendor, as well as visit a number of parks. Scuba diving is also popular, and the underwater world should definitely be seen.
This is the island that time forgot — mainland Puerto Rico’s weird, wonderful and distinctly wacky smaller cousin that lies just off the east coast.
Flamenco Beach is quite outstanding, and unlike the other beaches in Vieques and Culebra, popular enough to attract a real crowd. The beach is in a calm cove and stretches into a circle of nearly a mile in length, and a few rusted-out U.S. Army tanks silently watch over the beach. The water is clear, shallow, and calm, and the waves are small.
As with any island paradise, there is great snorkeling oppurtunites and plenty of places to eat. Just bring plenty of mosquito spray!