Australians are spoilt with beach and island destinations literally on our shoreline though if you’re also itching for another stamp in your passport and need to scratch an overseas trip fix, the islands of the South Pacific await.
Within five hours flying time and with more weekly flights to the South Pacific than any other port in Australia, Brisbanites need to add these five dreamy islands to their travel inspiration list for a short break getaway.
Less than five hours flying time direct from Brisbane is Samoa, where signs of human occupation date back 300 years. Stonework 'pyramids' and mounds in star formation found throughout Samoa's islands inspire many theories from archaeologists, but local mythology and legend says they descended from the gods and heavens to inhabit the islands. Samoa's natural beauty is indeed heavenly, with rich green rainforests, waterfalls, natural swimming pools and "a necklace" of white beaches.
Adventurers will not want to miss the To Sua Trench - a challenging climb down a wooden ladder into a 30-metre crater - where the clear pool below is well worth a swim and the underwater channel that connects it to the sea is diveable at low and calm tide.
Literary lovers can explore the mansion where Robert Louis Stevenson, author of Treasure Island, spent his final years, which is now a museum offering guided tours and there's plenty of culture to absorb in the local villages.
Accommodation ranges from traditional beach fales (thatched huts) to luxury resorts. "Lalelei" is a word that is used a lot to describe Samoa's turquoise lagoons and white powdery beaches, which means pretty or handsome, but we say spectacular.
Less than four hours flying time direct from Brisbane are more than 300 islands in the Fiji archipelago where there are so many things to do and see that one trip is not enough to experience all it has to offer, from jet boating and natural rock-chute waterslides to rainforest walks, river rafting, world class surfing and more.
Ecotrax Tours provide a new way to explore local villages off the beaten track on electric powered pushbike carriages that follow a rail line once used in the sugarcane industry. Guides share their stories on the tour and there is time to stop at remote beaches for a swim and cool refreshments on the way. Prefer to walk? Talanoa Treks offer one-day and multi-day guided hiking tours overland with overnight stays in local villages.
Fiji has been a popular location for film-makers and it's easy to see why in the stunning scenery and beaches of the Coral Coast on the south western edge of the main island, Viti Levu. This is where you'll find luxurious accommodation such as Nanuku Auberge Resort which occupies a private estate of more than 200 hectares on the beachfront at Pacific Harbour. Adventure is not far away but this is also foodies heaven with unique experiences including Treetop Dining over the water's edge and an exceptional Fijian Food Safari.
With so many islands to explore it's hard to stop at just one and Six Senses Fiji recently opened on Malolo Island, part of the Mamanuca Islands group, with a focus on wellness that includes a yoga pavilion, alchemy bar and superfoods menu.
Less than three hours flying time direct from Brisbane, the Solomon Islands is a scattered archipelago of nearly 1,000 richly forested, mountainous islands and low-lying coral atolls that has attracted international visitors since 1568 when Spanish explorer Alvaro de Mendana sailed into its pristine waters.
Mendana's legacy can be found in the islands today which still bear the Spanish names he gave them - Santa Isabel, San Cristóbal and, perhaps the most recognised of all, Guadalcanal which takes its name from a small township in Andalucia in southern Spain.
They remained mostly undisturbed until the Brits arrived about 300 years later, then the Pacific became engulfed in World War II. The battle of Guadalcanal is one of the most famous of the war and today it's a popular site for World War II buffs and veterans and their families to visit.
Since the island nation gained its independence in the 1970s it has once again become a destination for travellers wanting to detour from the beaten track - surfers, divers, birdwatchers, sports fishermen, yachties and culture-lovers.
While there are hotels in Honiara, you haven't really seen the Solomons until you've taken a motorised canoe ride to any of the surrounding islands for a more authentic experience. For example, a short flight to Munda (a hub for spectacular diving) is a stepping stone to the volcanic island of Rendova and Titiru Eco Lodge, the only accommodation on the island and walking distance to the local village.
This is an adventurer's getaway where daily activities include climbing the peak, exploring the Wild Cave (for sightings of bats, crabs and snakes), night crabbing and canoeing or visiting the villages on the south west of the island which are a nesting ground for endangered leatherback turtles.
Two hours 30 minutes flying time direct from Brisbane, Vanuatu is one of Australia's closest island neighbours and a nation of contrasts. You can browse colourful markets or visit the casino in Port Vila, sip French Champagne or drink down a bottle of the local Tusker beer (available from the local supermarket), fly by private helicopter to your own private island or get back to nature exploring wild forests and remote waterfalls.
The volcanic geography means the islands are lush with topical rainforests, mountain ranges, streams and waterfalls. Guided treks traverses plantations, dense rainforest, fresh water rivers and local villages to hidden caves, waterfalls and beaches. Boat cruises (on board the Coongoola sailing ship), horse-riding tours and guided day tours are other ways to explore the natural beauty of Vanuatu.
Most of the accommodation on the islands has been renovated, rebuilt or refurbished in the last two years, including Iririki Resort, a 36-hectare site in the harbour of Port Vila just a 200-metre ferry ride from the mainland.
Just two hours and 20 minutes flying time from Brisbane, New Caledonia is an eco hotspot, home to the largest marine park on Earth. Larger than Alaska, twice the size of Texas, three times the size of Germany, the Natural Park of the Coral Sea protects more than one million square kilometres of marine ecosystem that is a sanctuary for 25 species of marine mammals, 48 shark species, 19 species of nesting birds and five species of sea turtles.
New Caledonia is also the cosmopolitan hub of the South Pacific with its French influence on food, boutique shopping on Rue de Sébastopol, Rue de l'Alma and La Promenade and nightlife around Anse Vata Bay and Baie de Citrons. There is a Latin Quarter, Chinatown and morning markets selling everything from fresh croissants and coffee to papaya and passionfruit.