It’s hard giving up summer for an overseas holiday, so why torture yourself? There are plenty of Southern Hemisphere summer sizzlers to choose from. We’ve come up with five of the world’s best, including a few once-in-a-lifetime bucket-listers.

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    It's hard giving up summer for an overseas holiday, so why torture yourself? We've come up with five of the world's best summer destinations.

1. Antarctica

Okay, it may not seem a typical summer destination. But if Antarctica is on your bucket list, this is the only time of year to go. The weather from November to March is just warm enough to allow ships through the ice and for shore excursions. Temperatures range from -15C to 16C, so, um, relatively balmy.

Alongside the Arctic, this is possibly the last true wilderness we'll ever get to, and it has a sensitive ecosystem that acts as the world's climate temperature gauge.

Antarctica is also home to a unique range of wildlife and birdlife. Photo / 123RF
Antarctica is also home to a unique range of wildlife and birdlife. Photo / 123RF

At this time of year, icebergs and ice floes big enough to make you realise how tiny humans really are, float in the warmed waters, unnervingly cracking and shedding ice walls into the ocean, painted in more shades of blue than the English language has words for.

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Antarctica is also home to a unique range of wildlife and birdlife.

Depending on the month, you can see orcas, humpback and minke whales, penguin rookeries, fur and elephant seal colonies, and seabirds such as the albatross.

2. The Philippine Islands

Beautiful, under-exposed and pretty much undiscovered — if that's what you crave in a tropical island, then the Philippines offers more than 7000 of them, most with deserted beaches.

If you like a bit of nightlife in the evening to complement your day of doing nothing more than kicking your toes through talcum-powder sand, White Beach is a 315km flight south from Manila. Cars are banned so you can walk the sandy pedestrian walkway that runs parallel to the beach by day, then cosy up with a cocktail to enjoy live music and fire dancers by night.

If you prefer the hustle and bustle of a metropolis, Cebu is as energetic but more elegant than Manila. It's a great spot to island-hop to Palawan to explore the Puerto Princesa subterranean river, the longest underground river in Asia, and the Secret Beach of Matinloc Island — picture-perfect white sand with limestone cliffs.

Scenic view of sea bay and mountain islands, at Palawan, Philippines. Photo / 123RF
Scenic view of sea bay and mountain islands, at Palawan, Philippines. Photo / 123RF

3. Rio De Janeiro Carnival

Party hard alongside millions of others in what's considered the world's biggest carnival.

This wild, five-day celebration dates back to 1823, and is held every year, 40 days before Easter, which is generally in the crazy, hazy days at the peak of Rio's summer in February.

Carnival takes over the entire city - in the streets and squares, bars and clubs — and culminates in the Rio Carnival or Samba Parade. The warm-up for the main event features open-air dances, street parties and balls, samba school parades, and more than 300 street bands playing in neighbourhoods and beaches, or stopping traffic with their parties of revellers dressed in costumes, bathing suits or drag.

Best you catch up on sleep now.

The celebration is held every year, 40 days before Easter, which is generally in the crazy, hazy days at the peak of Rio's summer. Photo / Getty Images
The celebration is held every year, 40 days before Easter, which is generally in the crazy, hazy days at the peak of Rio's summer. Photo / Getty Images

4. Cape Town

You can do it the hard way or the easier way. If you fancy stretching your legs, climb to the summit of Table Mountain via Platteklip Gorge. You'll be rewarded with a breathtaking, if not breathless, view including the downtown district below. If your legs are adequately stretched, take the cable car instead.

A short drive up the coast, you'll find a posse of African penguins splashing around Boulders Beach on the Cape Peninsula; if you crave more sun and sand, the beaches between Muizenberg and Kalk Bay won't disappoint.

When you think you can't take any more natural beauty, succumb to the local wines: "nature captured in a glass". Fine-dining restaurants along the Victoria and Albert Waterfront offer one of the most scenic settings from which to enjoy them, though it's just a short drive inland to drink the sauce from the source: some of the world's most scenic vineyards.

Landscape of cape town and table mountain at sunrise. Photo / 123RF
Landscape of cape town and table mountain at sunrise. Photo / 123RF

5. Cayo Levisa, Cuba

Trace your finger along the top left-hand corner of a map of Cuba and you'll find Cayo Levisa, a 3km-long tourist island. It can be reached by a 30-minute boat ride from Palma Rubia in Pinar del Rio, about 150km from Havana.

A boardwalk from the dock cuts through mangroves to the beach and Hotel Villa Cayo Levisa on the northern side of the island. Be sure to keep an eye out at dusk for the cute, cavy-like rodents called jutia that live there.

Though the bungalows are a fairly modest three-star, there are only about 30 of them, which means few people and a peaceful setting, surrounded by powdered-sugar sand, and blue Caribbean water. If you need to do more than swimming, reading a good book and sipping mojitos, there are several sites for scuba diving and snorkelling, with coral reefs, plenty of tropical fish, and shipwrecks.

Colourful pedal boats lined up at a beach in, Cayo Levisa, Cuba. Photo / Getty Images
Colourful pedal boats lined up at a beach in, Cayo Levisa, Cuba. Photo / Getty Images