Megan Singleton finds the best under-the-radar places to visit this year.


Just a short hop from Hong Kong or Singapore, I'm surprised Manila isn't top of the bucket lists of most Kiwis. It's a modern, cosmopolitan city that is worth staying in for two or three nights, then head out to one of the many islands for diving, snorkelling, kayaking or lazing-about time.

Read more: Chilling in the Philippines


I had my first taste of our little Pacific neighbour last year and as I write this column I am lying on a lounger here again. After a snap election and some political will to get the ball rolling to position itself for a tourism boom, Vanuatu should be on your radar. I'm impressed by the stunning quality of food at restaurants and hotels, the vast array of accommodation options and plenty of gorgeous beaches. While the airport runway is under repair, consider travelling there by cruise ship.

Read more: Vanuatu: The tree amigos


New Plymouth

For a staycation, and with a new Jetstar service from Auckland, the 'Naki is worth popping into. I visited last year and toured the awesome, shiny Len Lye Centre attached to the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, enjoyed great restaurants with a bit of a vibe, rode a bike along the coastal trail and caught glimpses of the mountain as it played hide and seek behind the clouds.

Read more: New Plymouth: Smell the salty air


I was surprised and delighted with what I found in Nashville. Maybe it's not on our radar because it's too close to Memphis or New Orleans, but if live music is your thing and you're also partial to a little country, then you'll love Nashville. Visit the Grand Ole Opry, Country Music Hall of Fame, Studio B and the Johnny Cash Museum by day and tap your toes on Honky Tonk Row by night.

Read more: Nashville: Stuff of urban legends


Cabo is only a two-hour flight from Los Angeles and is a long stretch of white sandy beach studded with all-inclusive hotels. Most of them include all your meals, and even drinks, for a flat rate. No surprises when holidaying with friends who order the most expensive thing on the menu! But it's not all touristy. Visit both Cabo San Lucas and Jose del Cabo for history and shopping versus bars and a marina for boating shenanigans.

Read more: Mexico: A hallucinogenic fishing tale