Travel advice: Which Pacific island is best for a relaxing break?

Escape’s Doc Holiday, Dilvin Yasa, answers your travel-related questions.

We’re three women looking at options for a relaxing two-week break next year. We hate resorts, cruises and cities, and we don’t want to drive. The Cook Islands looks great, as does Hawaii, but are we overlooking New Zealand?

I jumped up and down with excitement when I read your email because I knew immediately a holiday in the Cook Islands is exactly what you’re looking for. It’s has plenty of self-contained options by the beach, you can use the local bus service and spend sun-filled days relaxing in the lagoon, hiking inland or eating mountains of fresh fish and tropical fruit at the local marketplaces. 

See also: 16 things you didn’t know about the Cook Islands

See also: The essential guide to Rarotonga

The last time I stayed in Rarotonga (in 2019) I stayed at the Natura Pananus Villa, which is right by the water in Titikaveka. It’s a fantastic property, but it’s a 25- to 30-minute (pleasant) walk to Wigmore’s supermarket and a shorter one to the night markets in Muri. Now, Muri may be a little busier than Titikaveka, but it has plenty more eating options and activities so a stay here could be the better choice for your group. Check out for self-contained accommodation options, but note that the main supermarkets are in and around Avarua.

The bus is the only public transport service on the island, currently only running clockwise around the island and departing Cook’s Corner on the hour every hour from 7am to 6pm weekdays and 7am to 2pm on Saturdays. There are no buses on Sundays so you’ll understand why many opt to hire scooters or a small car. 

One week in Rarotonga is probably plenty, but since most airlines fly via Auckland, you could tack on a week in the North Island on either side of the trip. The Bay of Islands, Northland, Rotorua, Coromandel Peninsula, Waitomo and Taupo are just some of the places easily accessible by bus companies such as InterCity and Kiwi Experience

Seabourn Ovation Wintergarden Suite.

Seabourn Ovation Wintergarden Suite.

I’m a 70-year-old solo traveller keen to cruise the Mediterranean or northern Europe with Seabourn next year. Are cruise passengers able to fly straight home after disembarking? Any other advice you could share?

Seabourn Cruise Line sounds like an excellent choice, and although individual countries have their own rules and regulations in terms of quarantine, you shouldn’t have any problem flying straight home after disembarking from the itineraries I’ve listed here. I’m not sure whether you’ve got a particular travel date in mind, but Seabourn Encore departs on a 15-day Mediterranean Allure & Greek Isles itinerary from Lisbon, Portugal, on April 2, 2022, before making its way around Spain, Malta, Italy and the Greek Islands, finishing in Athens on April 17. 

Another great choice is Seabourn Ovation for a seven-day The Baltic & St Petersburg cruise departing from Stockholm, Sweden on July 9, 2022, and weaving its way around Estonia, Russia and Finland before ending in Copenhagen, Denmark. This, too, shouldn’t pose any problems for you.

These aren’t the only Seabourn cruises suitable for what you’re looking for, of course. Other great options include Seabourn Odyssey for a 21-day Iberia & Atlantic Harbors cruise from June 11, and Seabourn Encore for a 21-day Holy Land & Byzantine Gems cruise sailing on May 15. 

Your best bet? Find a cruise you’re interested in, then check out to see what rules are in place for the country you’re planning to disembark and fly back to Australia from. Passengers departing Greece, for example, must now also complete an online passenger location form before check-in, while passengers disembarking a cruise in Denmark must either take a PCR test within 72 hours before arrival or an antigen test within 48 hours before arrival. Don’t forget, you’ll also need to take a PCR test within three days of boarding your flight back to Australia – food for thought if you’re planning to stay in Copenhagen for a day or two.

See also: 

Best cruise ship suites for 2022

10 signs you belong on a luxury cruise

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