South Pacific

To some, the phrase “South Pacific” may drum up scenes from the classic Broadway musical and movie: skies and seas so blue as to seem surreal, towering mountains that drop down to alabaster sands, and local culture as diverse and uniquely beautiful as the landscape. More modern associations add stilt-legged bungalows over transparent waters and luxurious hospitality to the romance of the islands of Tahiti and Fiji.

Neither are wrong, but the geographic region of Oceania offers more than island escapes—an entire continent more. It also includes Australia, whose diverse scenes range from dust clouds raised by leaping kangaroos in the red, wild outback to bubbling trails in the wet and equally wild Great Barrier Reef. It includes all of New Zealand, whose craggy peaks punctuate drama into a verdant landscape and mineral-rich mud pools and sulfurous hot springs work miracles. And most importantly, it can include you.