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Weirdest Winter Vacation Destinations in the Southern Hemisphere
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The Southern Hemisphere offers half a world’s worth of weird places to go and wild things to do all winter long.
Travel to the Southern Hemisphere this winter to escape the cold and bask in the sunshine. You could escape to the beaches of Rio de Janeiro or Australia’s Whitsunday Islands. But for a more off-beat vacation, check out these weird things to do in the Southern Hemisphere. Maybe you’ll snorkel with sharks in Fiji or hang out with monkeys in Zanzibar. If you want to try a new sport, go sandboarding outside of Cape Town or ride a jetpack into the Gold Coast sky. Whatever you decide to do, you’re sure to stay warm and come home with a unique story to tell.
Easter Island: Visit the Moai
Travel to Chile’s Easter Island, an unusually lush Pacific island and one of the most remote places on the planet. Get to know the local moai, Easter Island’s 900 epic stone giants, which average 13 feet (4 meters) tall and 14 tons (13 metric tons), at Rapa Nui National Park. You might feel like an ant as you wander through the ranks of these stern-faced herculean monuments. Next, visit the volcanic stone quarry where 13th century Polynesians began carving the awesome figures. Then, head to the reconstructed village of Orongo to view Rapa Nui petroglyphs and learn more about island’s fascinating political rituals and violent history.
Gold Coast, Australia: Travel by Jetpack
You just might feel like a superhero as you explore Australia’s Gold Coast with a jetpack or flyboard. Leave your surfboard and snorkel mask behind and get your dose of sun and salt with this futuristic watersport. Your experienced instructor will help you master your water-propelled jetpack or flyboard so you can levitate as high as 50 feet (15 meters) and dive through the cool blue water. After you master the art of flying, consider your next adventure: a search for water dragons and glowworms in the Gondwana Rainforests.
Fiji: Snorkel with Sharks
Head to beautiful Kuata Island for an adrenaline-filled day in Fiji’s archipelago. You’ll slip into the crystal-clear water with your expert guide and snorkel with curious whitetip reef sharks and more bashful blacktip reef sharks. Explore the vibrant underwater world of colorful fish and reefs. Afterward, enjoy local Fijian cuisine at the Barefoot Kuata Island Resort. For a more laid-back (but still weird) tour of Fiji, play in the mud in the therapeutic Sabeto Mud Baths and hot springs, smell the orchids in the fragrant Garden of the Sleeping Giants, and marvel at the largest Hindu temple in the Southern Hemisphere.
Zanzibar: Hang Out with Monkeys
Trek into Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park to observe troops of Zanzibar red colobus monkeys, which are unique to the Zanzibar archipelago. Watch these small, white-haired primates jump through the trees and snack on eucalyptus leaves. Listen for their specialized chirps and grunts and learn about their adaptations and conservation struggles. Now that you’re a red colobus convert, you might want to tour Zanzibar’s market, meet local artisans, and taste refreshing coconut juice. Or try a meal at The Rock, Zanzibar’s delicious, off-the-path restaurant located in the middle of the Blue Lagoon.
Cape Town, South Africa: Sandboard in the Sun
Looking for a hot twist on surfing or snowboarding? Try sandboarding in Cape Town, South Africa. Guided by experienced instructors, you’ll head to the Atlantis sand dunes and learn to carve sand like a pro. Enjoy the wind in your hair, sun on your back, and crush of sand beneath your board as you whip across the face of the dunes. As you head back to Cape Town along the beautiful Bloubergstrand beaches, you can plan your cage-dive with great white sharks or plan your trip to Boulders Beach to see penguins in the wild.
Kangaroo Island, Australia: Meet a Seal
Come to Kangaroo Island for more than the kangaroos. Visit Seal Bay and learn how to truly relax and play from one of the world’s largest colonies of Australian seals. If seals aren’t cute or weird enough for you, the koalas and echidnas at Flinders Chase National Park are sure to be. For some stunning geologic formations, visit Admirals Arch and Remarkable Rocks. You might want more than one day on this amazing island. Why not make it an overnight trip, and enjoy dining on a barbecue dinner, kayaking, snorkeling, and sandboarding down the Little Sahara?
Tips for your Southern Hemisphere Vacation
- Winter is summer and summer is winter. Mind blown?
- Gravity still applies. Objects don’t fall up.
- Pack sunscreen. It’s winter/summer after all!
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I travel, play, and write for Expedia in the lush Pacific Northwest. I love to experience places through food, especially coffee and pastries. Some of my favorite places are the beaches of St. Andrews, the Alhambra, and Seattle’s Marsh Island. My travel wish list includes touring Japan’s sake breweries, hiking Italy’s Cinque Terre, and picking berries in Finland’s boreal forests.