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The world's largest coral reef system, the Great Barrier Reef stretches almost 1500 miles into the Pacific from the tip of Queensland. Designated a Marine Park by the Australian government and a World Heritage Area by UNESCO, the reef is home to an extraordinary abundance of species and habitats. Snorkelling, diving and fishing are popular along the reef, nowhere more so than on the Whitsunday Islands, where the silica sands and aqua waters of the Coral Sea create the perfect beach escape.
Sprinkled with high-end resorts, sandy beaches, and an 18-hole golf course, Denarau Island offers luxury tourism at its finest. Located in Fiji’s tropical paradise-like setting, it’s one of the South Pacific’s most attractive destinations for holidaymakers in search of a little rest and relaxation.
Nusa Dua is a hotbed of luxurious accommodations, golf resorts, fine dining and R&R. Surfing and diving are popular activities for more active visitors to this beach destination. Trek up the many steps to Mother Temple Besakih and combine sight-seeing with muscle toning. An array of spas, galleries and boutiques await those who prefer less exertion. Local Barong performances can be admired at Batubulan.
Bali is a living postcard, an Indonesian paradise that feels like a fantasy. Soak up the sun on a stretch of fine white sand, or commune with the tropical creatures as you dive along coral ridges or the colorful wreck of a WWII war ship. On shore, the lush jungle shelters stone temples and mischievous monkeys. The “artistic capital” of Ubud is the perfect place to see a cultural dance performance, take a batik or silver-smithing workshop, or invigorate your mind and body in a yoga class.
A popular destination for golfers looking for better rates and more accessible courses, Bintan is also a nice way to escape the bustle of Singapore. A ferry ride takes between one and two hours, depending on where you’re headed. From there you can relax on one of the beaches or head inland for hiking and ATV rides or take a ride at the elephant park. There are a couple of towns on Bintan, but the island’s natural beauty is what draws visitors.
Soak up the sun and some Vietnamese culture on Phu Quoc Island, where white sands and tropical waters entice beachgoers from all over the globe. Snorkeling, scuba diving and fishing are the most popular water sports here, though jet-skiing, wind sailing and squid fishing—yes, squid fishing—are also at your holiday-making fingertips. Check out the early-morning Duong Dong Market for an authentic local experience.
Da Nang is laid-back and friendly, maybe because everyone you meet has just finished an amazing meal. Culinary tours are a hugely popular way to experience literal local flavor. After you’ve stuffed yourself with bold noodle soups and savory street foods, walk it off by exploring the limestone caves and Buddhist grottos of the Marble Mountains.
Phuket offers a rainbow spectrum of spectacular holiday sights from blue lagoons and pink sunsets to orange-robed monks. Three wheeled-Tuk Tuks, taxis, buses and long tailed boats transport visitors between these marvels. Phuket's south coast offers its most popular beaches. The north is more tranquil. Koh Phi Phi, Phang Nga Bay and Patong Beach are popular spots. Diving, snorkeling, wind surfing and sailing are just a few active options. Inland, forested hills, mountains and cliffs wait to be explored.
A favorite getaway for Bangkok residents, Hua Hin is a pretty beachside town. Family friendly and relaxed, it lacks the all-night partying and seedier aspects that make other nearby beach resorts a haven for unsavory characters. Once a small fishing village, it was transformed into a royal resort, and it’s these close links with Thai royalty that ensure Hua Hin won’t become overdeveloped or lose its small-town vibe.