Chill at Sharp Island hiking & swimming

Not far from Sai Kung, Sharp Island is another one of Hong Kong’s hidden treasures. Known for its gorgeous beaches strewn with rocks and hiking tracks, Sharp Island is the largest island in the Kiu Tsui Country Park and an ideal day trip away from the crowds.

You are spoilt with two distinct beaches to choose from on Sharp Island – Hap Mun Bay and Kiu Tsui Beach. Take a boat to the beach of your choice from Sai Kung, lay out your towel and soak it all up. Tsui Beach is the larger of the two beaches and stretches along the western shore of Sharp Island. Right next to the beach is a tombolo (coastal sediment deposit at the coast where one or more sandbars that connect an island to the mainland) named Kiu Tau. You can walk over the tombolo during low tide.

If you plan to spend the entire day, take yourself a packed lunch. There are showers close to the pier, with a shop selling food and drinks. You can also swim in the sea near the pier, and they have a life guard there.

If you’re interested in geology and want to learn more about this fascinating region try the Sai Kung Volcanic Rock Region Tour.

Hakka culture at Ghost Island

If you’re itching to escape the hoards, only a short boat ride will land you smack bang in the middle of Hakka culture at Yim Tin Tsai “Ghost Island”.

Yim Tin Tsai was originally populated in the 1740s by a family from Guangdong, who’s descendants developed salt farms; which explains the island’s name translation – small salt field. Once home to 500 to 1,200 people, Yim Tin Tsai is now a desolate and intriguing destination and being only 24sqkm, its ideal for a day trip.

There’s loads to see from salt pans, Yim Tin Tsai Heritage Exhibition Centre where you can see a collection of artefacts, ceramics and homeware; the Italian Romanesque Joseph’s Chapel, and the abandoned Hakka homes who are mostly still owned by the descendants of the original owners. You can still see belongings, furnishings and utensils that belonged to the original owners…eerie. This was all made  possible thanks to descendants of the original villagers who returned to Yim Tin Tsai and started a movement to revive the island.

When you’re done, Yim Tin Tsai has three restaurants where you can try authentic Hakka fare serving everything from old Hakka food, to wood-fired roasted chicken.

Get isolated at Fiji’s Remote Resort

The name really says it all. This little slice of heaven is located on a 26-hectare private plantation on the Fijian island of Vanua Levu, and is accessible only by boat (and that’s after both plane and car transfers). It’s a long journey with a huge payoff though, as guests arrive in what can only be described as a true tropical paradise. A traditional kava ceremony and refreshing drink kick off the glorious welcome party, followed by an in-room foot massage.

The secluded villas, of which there are just eight, are luxurious and modern in a way many Fijian resorts aren’t. And let’s not forget each one has a plunge pool, outdoor bathroom, enormous daybed and breathtaking ocean views. If you manage to tear yourself away from these lavish confines, there’s more than enough to keep you busy. Kayaks, SUPs and snorkel gear are available to use, plus there are weekly cooking demonstrations, village visits and farm tours. Scuba diving at nearby Rainbow Reef can be arranged, as can swimming with manta rays, spa treatments, special dining experiences and castaway days at a secret beach.

Sleek and minimal at Bonny bar

Get around this new spot on Brunswick Street brought to Melburnians by Shayne Dixon – he’s a co-owner of Beermash over on Smith Street – and brewer Adam Betts.

They opened this dark and moody spot just before the pando hit, which is not great, especially when the concept is this solid. There are 27 beer taps, but only a dozen are pouring froffs (interesting crafts brews from around the world in case you were wondering).

On the others you’ll find beer-focused cocktails, natural wines and cold-brewed coffee. When we went to press, Ides chef Peter Gunn was rustling up the food – pickled oysters, fried chicken wings, wagyu pies – but the kitchen will be taken over by someone new every three months.

Remote and scenic at Minaret Station

You know a place is remote when there’s no road access and the only way in is by helicopter. Introducing Minaret Station, an exclusive alpine lodge with an address we can only imagine reads: middle of glacial valley, somewhere among New Zealand’s Southern Alps.

It’s this truly spectacular location that makes Minaret so special, with guests treated to one of the country’s great scenic flights – soaring past snow-capped peaks, vast meadows and dense forest – on their way in. Just one main building and four charming chalets form the property, with each private abode boasting a king-size bed, cosy furnishings and outdoor deck with hot tub.

Linked to the chalets by a raised wooden boardwalk is the Mountain Kitchen, a space that includes two lounge areas, library and well-stocked cellar. Meals are enjoyed here (or in your room – the choice is entirely yours) and dining is a first-class experience, with food sourced from both the station’s 20,000-hectare working farm and other local producers and growers. With an impressive range of excursions to partake in as well – heli-skiing, mountain biking, hiking, fishing and champagne-fuelled picnics, to name a few – having to leave just doesn’t seem fair.

Paloma Bar and Pantry

If you’re still not over your Euro summer plans being ruined, drown your sorrows at this light, bright and welcoming bar bringing a touch of the Mediterranean to Adelaide’s CBD.

Expect to see all your favourite aperitivo snacks on the curated menu, which features a mouth-watering sample of pickled and preserved goodies, alongside cheese and charcuterie boards and yummy small plates.

Drinks-wise, Paloma offers its take on an Aperol spritz using fino and mandarin, while the wine list pays homage to local and southern European varietals. It may be a teeny bit different to sunning yourself in a Spanish plaza, cocktail in hand, but when the vibe is this good, we promise you won’t notice the difference!

Barefoot luxury on Haggerstone Island

Live out all your Castaway fantasies – minus the whole plane crash/being lost for four years/only friend is a volleyball sitch – in luxurious bliss on Haggerstone Island.

This tiny private island, off the coast of furthest Far North Queensland (it’s so far north it’s closer to Port Moresby than it is to Cairns), has just five beachfront villas, all with a luxe-rustic, Africa-meets-PNG style more often associated with chic safari camps. They’ve been created by owners Roy and Anna Turner, who arrived here in 1985 and built the entire resort by hand.

Daily excursions in the 45-foot speedboat take guests to reefs where they can snorkel or try to catch their own dinner, either with a line or speargun. For something really special, call in the big guns for a helicopter ride to waterfalls, deserted cays or rivers filled with fish. The delicious meals consist of what comes from the ocean or is grown in the island’s plentiful orchard. This really is the epitome of desert island living.

Turkish delight at the Dirty Sultan

Like all great ideas, Dirty Sultan – Brisbane’s first Turkish shisha lounge – was concocted during a backpacking trip around Europe.

Drawing inspo from bars in Greece, Turkey and even France, pals Tom D’Arcy and Dilan Ildes have taken all their favourite elements (think Middle Eastern flavours and a super-luxe aesthetic) and brought them to sunny Brisbane. The result is an exotic rooftop establishment loaded with daybeds, lanterns and plenty of greenery.

Shishas come infused with grape, watermelon and strawberry, but for something more substantial, the falafel popcorn or Nutella baklava hit the spot. Wash it all down with one (or many) of the ridiculously good cocktails, like the Leyla, a Turkish mojito made using pomegranate and mint.

Sail on in Tonga

Of the 172 islands that make up Tonga, only 36 are inhabited. The rest are pristine landmasses of varying sizes that remain virtually untouched by the outside world.

While exploring them all in one go is a bit of a stretch, on a sailing trip with Sunsail you’ll come pretty close to feeling as though you’ve clocked the archipelago. With an impressive fleet of both yachts and catamarans, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a salty sea dog or landlubber whose idea of boating is a booze cruise on Sydney Harbour – there’s a vessel and itinerary to suit.

Our favourite skippered route is one that circumnavigates the northern Vava’u group, a collection of islands best known for its isolated lagoons, limestone cliffs, dazzling coral gardens and white-sand beaches.

A typical one-week jaunt generally consists of hopping from one deserted island to the next, checking out the best bars, dropping anchor when the urge to swim, dive or kite surf hits, and stopping by a local village to enjoy a traditional Tongan feast. If you’re lucky, you may even find yourself in the company of the humpback whales who migrate annually to frolic in Tonga’s warm waters.

Tassie’s Hanging Garden

Originally launched to coincide with Dark Mofo 2019 as a kind of a multipurpose cultural space, In The Hanging Garden has reopened as a permanent – albeit still flexible – fixture of Hobart’s hospitality and live music scene.

The enormous precinct, which features a tiered beer garden, outdoor dining area, bar and nightclub, spans an entire city block, and is mostly covered by a huge cathedral-like roof. Faux lawn, potted plants and comfy bean bags are dotted throughout, while the lower level of the venue hosts food trucks, market stalls and pop-up kitchens.

Whether catching an acoustic set, stocking up on local produce or simply meeting friends for a quick after-work drink, it appears as though this lush, urban oasis in the heart of Tassie’s capital truly has something for everyone.