December marks the start of Australia’s summer season, when Sydney and Melbourne bask in balmy days, the wine country glows with green vineyards, and exquisite Kangaroo Island, “Australia’s Galápagos,” is at its loveliest. Add in some time in the spectacular Blue Mountains to complete a thoroughly unforgettable journey.
As Andrew Harper notes, these two compact islands contain “breathtaking coastal and mountain scenery” and “some of the finest hideaways in the world.” To see these spellbinding landscapes yourself, begin making plans soon. The best time to visit is between November and April.
As Cape Town and the Winelands start to enjoy sunny spring and summer days, it’s a perfect time to explore this astonishingly scenic region before heading to otherworldly Namibia. This startlingly beautiful country of monumental rock formations and towering red sand dunes boasts not only remarkable landscapes but also unusual wildlife and unique local cultures. None of Mr. Harper’s recommended properties in this undiscovered country has more than 14 accommodations, making it vital to plan well ahead.
This fascinating region of lush rain forests, dramatic coastlines, archaeological wonders and active volcanoes is surprisingly easy to reach from the United States, with short nonstop flights to Costa Rica, Belize and Guatemala from a number of major airports. Guatemala tends to come as a particularly pleasant surprise to first-time visitors. The colonial charms of Antigua, the gorgeous volcano-ringed Lake Atitlán and the grand, enigmatic ruins of Tikal never fail to impress.
Thrilling Hong Kong remains as vibrant as ever, with its breathtaking harbor, peerless hotels, superb cuisine and fantastic shopping. October to March is the best time for a visit, and no visa is required. After exploring this lively neon metropolis, you can hop a flight almost anywhere: Mainland China, Southeast Asia, Bali, India, Japan …
As the monsoon ends, this place of incredible natural, historic and cultural riches enters its high season, lasting from November through February. Southeast Asia’s most well-known and popular country also has some of the world’s most spectacular resorts, both in cultural centers such as Chiang Mai and on island paradises like Phuket and Koh Samui. But here too, Mr. Harper’s favorites tend to be small, making booking in advance essential.