Chase the sun: 2019’s top winter getaways

Pull out your slippers from the back of the wardrobe and find your warmest PJs, because winter is almost here! But if you’d prefer to swap a cold snap for a warm-weather getaway, then it’s time to pay attention. We’ve crunched the numbers to create the Wotif Winter Heat Index for 2019 – the top ten destinations for getting the most bang (and sunshine) for your holiday buck this winter. You’re welcome 😎

10. Phuket, Thailand

Whether you want to experience the local culture, go island hopping or lay low at a resort, Phuket is a great option this winter. It won’t break the budget, with an average accommodation rate of $123. And while you should expect a few showers as we head into Thailand’s wetter season, there’s still plenty of sunshine to enjoy while you’re there. The beaches and attractions are often far less crowed over the Aussie winter, meaning you can really make the most of your overseas adventure. Bonus!

9. Exmouth, Western Australia

The Coral Coast is full of swoon-worthy hotspots, and swimming with whale sharks on the Ningaloo Reef is quickly becoming one of Australia’s most sought-after experiences. This huge drawcard has definitely put Exmouth on the map, with accommodation interest continuing to grow almost 25% compared to last year. Snorkelling and diving are absolute must-dos here, and winter is the best time for them, when temperatures are a balmy 25°C, with little to no predicted rainfall. You’ll have a whale of a time!

8. Monkey Mia, Western Australia

With blue skies and sunshine almost 365 days a year, Monkey Mia is the winter holiday spot of your warm-weather dreams. Not only does Monkey Mia’s popularity continue to grow, with year-on-year searches up almost 25% but new and improved accommodation make it a top spot to visit during the cooler months. The recently renovated and impressive RAC Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort has reopened after a $20 million refresh and now includes beachfront family villas, extra camp sites and a new swimming pool.

7. Cairns, Queensland

Cairns remains a favourite destination over winter and we’re not seeing any signs of the city’s popularity slowing down, with year-on-year interest on Wotif up almost 50%. The new five-star Riley Hotel is one of Australia’s best new coastal resorts and is the perfect place to stay for a relaxing tropical getaway. From land to air, sand to sea, the endless adventures and affordable accommodation means Cairns truly has it all.

6. Carnarvon, Western Australia

With accommodation searches jumping up a whopping 50% compared to last year, Carnarvon is one of the fastest growing regions in Western Australia right now, probably (at least partly) thanks to Chris Hemsworth and Matt Damon choosing to holiday here with their families in March. This under-the-radar gem sits at the southern end of Ningaloo Reef between Shark Bay and the Ningaloo Coast World Heritage area, making it a must-see destination with what is said to be some of the best winter weather in the WORLD. Commonly referred to as the fruit bowl of WA, the region is home to an abundance of local produce to sink your teeth into, including choc-coated bananas, mango smoothies and locally caught seafood along Carnarvon’s famous ‘Fruit Loop’ drive.

5. Agnes Water, Queensland

Already a popular hotspot for Queenslanders, Agnes Water is gaining serious credibility this winter, with searches up over 30% when compared to last year. Located at the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef, Agnes Water is surrounded by secluded beaches and untouched natural discoveries. Do a tour of Lady Musgrave Island, visit the twin town of Seventeen Seventy, check out the Aussie East Coast’s most northern surfing spot, and pay for your fun using cryptocurrencies (because Agnes Island is Australia’s first beach town to accept digital dollars). Wow!

4. Bowen, Queensland

Bowen’s prime location near the Whitsundays means you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to exploring this local slice of paradise. With eight palm-fringed beaches, relaxed bays and a great foreshore, Bowen is a fantastic option for those looking to unwind with the kids this winter. With predicted accommodation rates of $136 per night, enjoyable winter temperatures and an abundance of local fruits and vegetables grown in the region, Bowen is a top choice for a laid-back Aussie getaway.

3. Bali, Indonesia

With winter accommodation searches up over 25% when compared to last year, Bali remains a firm favourite for Aussie travellers. The winter months are also one of the best times to visit as it’s Bali’s dry season. From modest bungalows to luxurious private villas, there’s no shortage of resorts, restaurants and bars to suit all tastes.

2. Jeju Island, South Korea

Known as the Hawaii of South Korea, Jeju Island has long been a favourite for Korean locals. Now Aussies are catching on too, with searches for Jeju Island on Wotif spiking by a huge 180% this year. As an island, it goes without saying you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to beautiful beaches, but Jeju also offers incredible natural sites to explore, like waterfalls, rock formations, mountains and volcanos. With direct flights to Jeju Island from Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur, and Jetstar set to launch direct flights from the Gold Coast to South Korea in December, this emerging gem is one to watch.

1. Townsville, Queensland

This winter and beyond, Townsville is the perfect tropical escape that doesn’t need a passport. From the beaches to the rainforests, from Magnetic Island to the Great Barrier Reef, whether you’re an adventure-seeker or just looking to relax, Townsville has something for everyone. Not only are there fantastic and affordable accommodation options in town, with a predicted accommodation rate of just $144 per night, but several new foodie events have recently launched, including the monthly Townsville Eats food festival, which brings together all the best local food vendors and market stalls. Don’t forget your stretchy pants! For the ultimate tropical escape, book yourself into the new The Ville Resort, complete with infinity pool, onsite restaurant and swim-up pool bar.

Behind the stats:

The 2019 Wotif Winter Heat Index analyses average winter temperatures and rainfall along with accommodation affordability and search interest on Year-on-year growth is based on accommodation searches on from June 2019 to August 2019 compared to June 2018 to August 2018. Accommodation rates are based on the average daily rate for 3 – 5-star-rated and self-rated accommodation demand on from June 2018 to August 2018. Prices are in Australian dollars, not necessarily the rates displayed on the site and are subject to accommodation selections made.

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