Maldives Alternative Few Australians Know About

Hint: it's not the Great Barrier Reef...

Maldives Alternative Few Australians Know About

Image: @maddipap

Akubra-wearing. Adventurous. Free-spirited. There are a lot of stereotypes about Australian travellers.

But while we’re not all high functioning alcoholics who take pride in wearing thongs in the depths of European winter, many of us do love a jaunt overseas.

We also have a few vices. Listen to any Christmas party in the years before COVID-19, and you would have heard the cliches: Japan in January; Mykonos in June – you could say we’re creatures of habit.

So how are Australian travel-addicts coping now the world is no longer their oyster? DMARGE spoke to a bunch of Australia-based travellers, travel bloggers and travel writers to ask how they’re coping.

Inspired by various Instagram posts seen over the last few months, the gist of which was, “wish I was overseas right now,” DMARGE asked some Aussie travellers for their favourite Australian alternatives to popular overseas destinations.

In doing so we came across an obscure destination with a name that has danced on the tips of very few tongues (compared to the Maldives or the Great Barrier Reef) – Flaherty’s Beach. A place with few 5-star resorts in sight, brisk temperatures for much of the year and a photogenic propensity to look a bit like the Maldives…

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This came courtesy of Alana McDonald, one half of travel duo @laplivin, who shared with DMARGE some of her favourite Victorian and South Australian hideaways for pretending you are in the Maldives.

“Wilson’s Prom, Rapid Bay, Flaherty’s Beach, Daly Head.”

DMARGE also spoke to Maddison Papantoniou, who is currently travelling Australia in a Land Cruiser with her partner Jake Rusanoff, and whose photos (see above) of Ningaloo are also reminiscent of the Maldives.

Maddison told DMARGE: “Jake and I are fortunate enough to have spent a lot of time travelling around and exploring this country. So far we’ve managed a three-quarter lap, moving clockwise from Adelaide in the south around to Brisbane in the North East.”

Photos of the couple from Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia provide yet more evidence that travellers seeking shimmering water and a relaxing getaway needn’t fly all the way to the Maldives…

“We’ve experienced hot outback and vast desert, lush tropics, gnarly surf beaches and bustling cities – all without even jumping on a plane – so we’d say we are coping just fine with not being able to travel overseas right now (although we do hope we are able to in the not so distant future as we have met so many people in our travels from a great mix of cultures).”

“We both absolutely LOVE the ocean, and it’s no secret that Australia boasts some of the best beaches, waves and marine life in the world! In Western Australia particularly, there are many coastal treasures that we think rival even the best known international destinations. We’re talking silica sand so white and soft it squeaks beneath your toes and you can shine your silver jewellery in it! And marine life so flourishing, you can encounter hundreds of species in one snorkel. It’s truly amazing!”

Interest piqued? Here are a few more Australian alternatives to popular overseas holiday destinations:

The Greek Islands

Alana also shared with DMARGE a sneaky NSW destination that had @visitnsw saying, “You’d be forgiven if you thought this was a postcard from Greece!”.

Who needs Crete when you have this little known island near Port Stephens?

Polignano A Mare

Who knew? This iconic Italian town (real version pictured above, with the photo being taken by @colourspeak_kerry_) can be (somewhat) replicated near Victoria’s Port Campbell.

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Freelance writer Sangeeta Kocharekar, who is American but currently based in Australia, told DMARGE, “It’s not the Amalfi Coast, but I found this incredible bed and breakfast in Sydney’s The Hills District that’s an exact replica of a piazza in Tuscany.”

“It’s called Guestlands and is set next to a lake, gorgeous gardens and a beautiful pool. A stay here definitely scratched my Euro itch!”


“I also love Bondi Icebergs,” Sangeeta told DMARGE. “An afternoon there really is like being in Mykonos!”

The French Riviera

“Every time I take the ferry over to Manly, that always feels like a little getaway too,” Sangeeta added. “Some spots there feel like you’re in the French Riviera.”

What are the challenges for travellers in 2021, and how are they improvising to make the best of things?

“While I miss my family overseas (I’m American),” Sangeeta told us, “I’m embracing the fact that I have no choice but to stay put. I’m now working a full-time, stable job and finding beauty in the mundane. Things like coastal walks, home cooking and Pilates class – stuff I missed when I was constantly on the road. I haven’t been on a flight since March 2020 and I don’t have a single upcoming trip planned!”

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Australian influencer Sean Birley also spoke to DMARGE recently about how improvisation can help turn the worst-dashed plans into the trip of a lifetime.

Australians have not been permitted to travel overseas since March the 25th, 2020, when a coronavirus-driven ban took effect from midday. This has led to Australia’s relative success in containing the virus, but has also sparked debate over the potential for us to become a “hermit kingdom.”

In any case: it seems until our international borders open once more, we’ll have to continue making do, and arguing about the pros and cons of moving to Byron Bay (along with the rest of Sydney)…

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