Southern hemisphere summer sun escapes

Climates in the Northern Hemisphere may be cooling, but on the other side of the globe, it’s the perfect time to soak up the summer sun. Cape Town writer Vanessa Raphaely shares her favourite short-haul getaways from some of the Southern Hemisphere’s biggest cities.

Lord Howe Island, Australia

Lord Howe Island NSW AU summer sun escapes

A two-hour flight from Sydney brings you to this tiny, UNESCO-protected jewel, where only 400 visitors are allowed at any given time. Once there, you can wallow, surf, paddle or fish in the turquoise waters of the Tasman Sea, laze on beaches lined with banyan trees and kentia palms, or snorkel and dive off the world’s most southerly coral reef. Feeling energetic? Hike up the 875 metre-high Mount Gower to be rewarded with dramatic views, cycle through the sub-tropical forests, or follow the coastal paths for close encounters with rare seabirds (the island is one of Australia’s prime birding locations). There’s even a nine-hole golf course. For a tiny island, it’s close to perfect.


The chic, boutique Capella Lodge is Lord Howe’s most luxurious accommodation, but you’ll also find good-value apartments and beach houses dotted around the island.

Punta del Este, Uruguay

Punta del Este Uruguay summer sun escapes

Alternatively known as the St Tropez/Hamptons/Marbella of South America, Punta del Este (less than one hour’s flight from Buenos Aires) more than lives up to its nicknames, with million-dollar yachts moored in the marina, high-end shops and restaurants, and a VIP fan club that includes Naomi Campbell, Zinedine Zidane and Natalia Vodianova, to name-drop but a few. Step away from the nightclubs though, and you’ll be delighted by kilometres of deserted golden beaches, sand dunes and lagoons stretching all the way up to Brazil. In peak season (mid-December to mid-January) Punta’s population swells from 15,000 to 250,000, as beautiful people from Uruguay, Argentina and beyond flood the peninsula. So wait until the crowds depart – in mid-January, you’ll find the weather remains perfect, the sea is warm, and the hotels offer much better value for money.


At the Atlántico Boutique Hotel most rooms have large terraces and undisturbed 180-degree views of the sea, beaches, lighthouse and Isla de Lobos.

Bali, Indonesia

Bali Indonesia summer sun escapes

Jakarta residents in search of rest, relaxation and escape are only two hours’ flying time away from Bali, ‘Island of the Gods’ and spiritual hotspot thanks to Elizabeth Gilbert’s best-selling book Eat, Pray, Love. It’s always been popular for its volcanoes, photogenic rice paddies, delicious food and excellent surf breaks, but its real strength lies in the consistent value and wide choice for hedonist and truth-seeker alike. Stay inland around Ubud if you prefer temples and valleys to the beach, or head south for your pick of seafront resorts, from Kuta (if you’re on a budget) to Nusa Dua (for five-star luxury). Jimbaran is good for seafood and sunsets, Tanjung Benoa for watersports and Seminyak, 20 minutes from the airport, has some of the island’s best beaches and restaurants.


The all-suite Anantara Seminyak Bali Resort has a prime beachfront location and a glamorous rooftop bar that’s perfect for sunset cocktails.

The Garden Route, South Africa

The Garden Route South Africa summer sun escapes

It’s a mere 50-minute flight from Cape Town to George, landing you in the heart of the Cape’s famous Garden Route, where energetic holidaymakers can enjoy just about every summer activity imaginable. This part of the country has always delivered tremendous variety including mountain biking, zip-lining, horse riding, whale-watching, surfing, diving or just meandering along endless, pristine beaches. Now you can add an authentic safari experience into the mix, thanks to the launch of the Gondwana Game Reserve, just outside Mossel Bay, where the Big Five and other wildlife superstars roam free amongst the glorious backdrop of the Outeniqua and Langeberg mountain ranges.


In the popular seaside town of Knysna, the Conrad Pezula Golf Resort and Spa offers sophisticated surroundings and a clifftop setting overlooking the area’s most famous follies, the pretty but faux castles of Noetzie Beach.

Paraty, Brazil

Paraty Rio de Janeiro Brazil summer sun escapes

There’s more to Brazil’s beach life than the infamous Copacabana. Drive four hours west of Rio de Janeiro, to the colonial fishing village of Paraty, and you’ll discover the country’s more enchanting beachy side. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Paraty has beautifully preserved colonial architecture, Instagram-perfect cobbled streets and a buzzy café and bar culture. It’s the kind of place where children play in the town square at all hours of day and night, music spills out of bars and restaurants into the surrounding streets, and long summer evenings can easily drift by in one of the town’s many friendly bars, enjoying the local cachaça (sugar cane rum). The surrounding countryside is rich in verdant rainforests, stretching down to an almost Nordic-looking tropical fjord at Mamangua and unspoiled beaches at Trindade and Praia do Sono. Loveliest of all is probably the 65 idyllic islands in the bay: there are worse things a visitor could do than spend a few days exploring them with a local boat and crew.


Set 25 minutes’ walk from the old town, the Pousada Rumo dos Ventos is small, relaxed and unpretentious, with resident monkeys to entertain you.

Short on time but still keen to have a quick getaway? Make the most of your weekend with a mini-holiday before Monday rolls back around.

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