New Caledonia is the most amazing South Pacific paradise you've probably never heard of. Dashed by barrier reefs, bathed in turquoise waters, spiked by spear-like Cook pines, and crumpled by rust-colored mountains, there's really nowhere like it on the planet. One of the largest lagoons known to man encompasses the isle of Grande Terre, which means dive sites and sea kayaking routes are only ever a stone's throw away. Stay on dry land and you can share romantic sunsets on alabaster-white beaches across the Isle of Pines, or hike through sierras clad in wildflowers to rustic Melanesian villages where taro curries bubble on the stove. Charmed? Cheap flights to New Caledonia from Australia can even go nonstop from the likes of Sydney and Brisbane.
Spend your days snorkeling through coral gardens in Jinek Bay and swinging in a hammock on picture-perfect Langone beach on the island of Lifou.
Go full Robinson Crusoe by venturing to the brilliant beaches of the Isle of Pines, where ancient forests spill straight into a see-through ocean.
There are Parisian-influenced cafés sitting right next to Melanesian craft museums in the enthralling island capital of Noumea.