It’s been a long winter, and if you’ve been stuck in one place for months, you’re probably eager to get away. Domestic destinations are going to take off — and if you need a little festive travel inspiration, we’ve listed our favourite places for Christmas vacations in 2020.
Note that travel regulations may change and borders may close without notice. Book hotels and car hire options with flexible change or cancellation policies, just in case.
Lord Howe Island
Lord Howe Island, set in the Tasman Sea between Australia and New Zealand is the most easterly point of the country, and therefore the first to see the sun rise on Christmas Day and New Year’s. The bragging rights alone should be enough to get you on a plane, but if that doesn’t cinch it, maybe the translucent waters, pristine forests, white sand beaches will.
Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its natural importance, this incredible island is more than just a paradise, it’s a window through time, well before humans populated every corner of the world. Don’t worry though, you won’t need to build a shelter for your Christmas holidays, there’s plenty of luxury accommodation, as well as some mid-range and budget options for solo travellers and families.
- Blinky beach for surfing
- Erscott’s Hole for snorkelling
- Ball’s Pyramid – the highest sea stack in Australia
- Mount Gower for experiencing one of the country’s best day walks
It’s near impossible for us to make any list nowadays without adding the Whitsundays. Hey, if you, like us, have spent most of your winter indoors, you’re probably on the same page, especially since the Whitsunday Islands are where you can truly experience the outdoors.
Snorkelling? Yup. Surfing? Of course. Sailing? Diving? Fishing? Hiking? Paddleboarding? Biking? Jet skiing? Windsurfing? Yes to all! No matter what your preferred flavour of outdoor activity is, you’ll find it on the Whitsundays. You can even take in the Great Outdoors while sunbathing on the beach if you’d like. So why is this on our Christmas vacations 2020 list specifically? Well aside from helping stir-crazy Aussies get their groove back, the islands are festooned with lights, and the hotels go out of their way to make things festive for kids and adults alike. Plus…have you seen the pics?
- Blue Pearl Bay for snorkelling and Diving
- Bowen Creek for fishing
- The Cathedral or the Pinnacles for diving
- Betty’s Beach or Whitehaven Beach for good old-fashioned sunbathing
If you’re hankering for a cooler Christmas with the possibility of a log fire at night, warming roasts and wine tours, then an escape to Hobart is in order. Highs in this part of Australia rise to a temperate 21°C average, with 11°C lows. In short, temperatures that are perfect for touring the sites of Hobart. Go Christmas shopping at Salamanca Market, hiking in Wellington Park or book a day trip out to the historical Port Arthur.
There are also several national parks that you can reach in 1-2 hours of driving, such as the beautiful Freycinet National Park, known for its pink granite mountains and white sand beaches, or Mount Field National park, where you can see waterfalls and rainforests.
- Port Arthur Historical Site for culture
- Wineglass Bay for a beach day
- Huon Valley or Tamar Valley for wine tours
- Mount Wellington for the views
The Mornington Peninsula is ideal for city dwellers needing to break away from the 9 to 5, and it’s really spectacular during the summer season. Not only does it have literal Christmas tree farms (hand select your tree!), it also has plenty of gorgeous beaches, a series of celebrated wineries, hot springs and a couple of national parks.
If you want a mix of a traditional Christmas and the option to try a few new things over the holiday period, this is a great destination. We recommend horseback riding on St. Andrew’s Beach, shopping for Christmas gifts in Sorrento and finding your way out of the Ashcombe Maze.
- Point Nepean National Park for hiking
- Mount Martha Beach for a beach day
- Peninsula Hot Springs for a soak
- Wine Food Farmgate Trail for a gastronomic tour
If you’re in Western Australia, where better to spend Christmas than on Christmas Island itself? Set in the Indian Ocean, this wee island is actually closer to Indonesia than Australia, so the weather is tropical, as are the attractions. One of them is the spectacular red crab migration, where millions of red crabs make their way to the ocean. This Christmas, it’s predicted the migration is going to happen at the end of December, so you may be in for a once-in-a-lifetime holiday this year.
This island is also known as the Galapagos of the Indian Ocean, so the snorkelling and diving here is incredible – especially as some of the longest dive drop offs in the world are located right here. But the attractions don’t stop there, with wetlands, waterfalls, white sand beaches, blowholes and a diverse and vibrant culture, Christmas on Christmas Island will be one you won’t forget.
- Flying Fish Cove for snorkelling
- Dolly Beach for a beach day (and watching turtles nest!)
- The Dales for waterfalls and hiking
- Take the 4WD Track to the blowholes for a spectacular natural show
You’d be crazy to add this destination to a Christmas vacations 2020 list, right? Everyone knows, you don’t go to Darwin in summer. Kakadu in the wet season… are you feeling okay? But what we forget about in all the rain and heat of summer is that Red Centre becomes a lot less red, and becomes a lot more, well… green. In fact, you’d be forgiven for thinking Kakadu looks more like Jurassic Park, as the region springs to life with vegetation, waterfalls and wildlife.
There are also more opportunities to take boat tours through the wetlands this time of year, such as with Yellow Water Cruises. Kakadu is home to one third of Australia’s birdlife, so this is arguably the best place in the country to go birdwatching. Aussies that are wild about fishing should also come this time of year, when the Million Dollar Fish competition is underway. Plus, in Darwin itself, Christmas isn’t small time. Enjoy a festive feast at one of the restaurants at Stokes Hill Wharf, which also provides diners with some epic views whenever a storm rolls in over the ocean.
- Stokes Hill Wharf for dining and views
- Litchfield Park for waterfalls
- Kakadu National Park for waterfalls, boat tours and birdwatching
- Rapid Creek Markets for Christmas shopping and street food
If only beaches will do at Christmas, but you don’t want to deal with the crowds found on Queensland’s Gold and Sunshine Coasts, then the Eyre Peninsula on South Australia’s coast might just be the ticket. Known for being the seafood mecca of the country, the Eyre Peninsula alone accounts for a staggering 65% of South Australia’s seafood. If you’re planning to have prawns on Christmas Day there’s literally nowhere better to have them.
Outside of the delicious food, the peninsula is loaded with beautiful beaches and curious wildlife. Spend your days trying new watersports at Venus Bay or share the white sands of Almonta Beach with kangaroos and emus in the Coffin Bay National Park. You can even go wild swimming with bottlenose dolphins and sea lions in Baird Bay, an ethical and incredible wildlife experience. How’s that for a Christmas vacation 2020 contender?
- Baird Bay for wild swimming with dolphins and sea lions
- Fishery Bay for surfing
- Venus Bay for watersports such as snorkelling and fishing
- Go on the Seafood Frontier Touring Route for amazing dining
With so many landscapes to explore, holidaying at home this year is sure to be a memorable experience no matter what type of travel you’re into. While the northern hemisphere burrows under blankets in between snowmen making, we’ll be at the beach in our bathers.
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