Sick of seeing photos of Santorini and Paris or Hawaii and Croatia in your social media feeds? Get one up on your travel buddies by planning a trip to one of these lesser-known alternatives, writes Eli Orzessek.

Instead of: SantoriniTry: Amorgos

Santorini has suffered from overexposure in recent years — it even served as the backdrop for a Justin Bieber music video. Although it's undeniably beautiful, there are plenty of other Greek islands with equal amounts of charm. Amorgos, in the north Aegean Sea, is one such hidden paradise that's often overlooked by tourists — mostly due to its distance from Athens (the ferry takes six hours).

With beautiful landscapes and a coastline covered with gorgeous sandy beaches, travellers can enjoy more space and privacy here. The island is also home to many interesting archeological sites, including the monastery of Hozoviotissa, built into the side of a cliff, 300m above the sea. It's eight storeys high, but only 5m deep, a huge feat when you consider it was built thousands of years ago. Visitors should also check out the blue-domed church of Agios Ioannis — sitting on a hilltop, it gives views of the whole island.

Instead of: San FranciscoTry: San Diego

Although San Francisco has long been a drawcard for travellers in California, the city has recently attracted negative attention for its growing homelessness problem — travellers have reported human faeces and medical waste on the streets. For a cleaner option, try San Diego. This easy-to-navigate city is just a couple of hours south of Los Angeles and it boasts a great beach, as well as plenty of family-friendly activities and theme parks. Animal lovers won't want to miss the famous San Diego Zoo, known as one of the best in the United States.


San Diego has also been quietly growing into a fantastic city for foodies, with creative chefs transforming three of its neighbourhoods — Little Italy, Point Loma and North Park — into culinary destinations that would impress even the harshest critic.

Instead of: ParisTry: Lyon

Many first-time visitors to Paris have high expectations of the "City of Love", but some find it doesn't quite live up to the hype. This happens so often, that a transient mental disorder called "Paris Syndrome" has been identified, particularly in Japanese tourists. The condition features delusional states brought on by severe culture shock and disappointment.

To avoid a bout of Paris Syndrome, head instead to Lyon. France's third biggest city, Lyon is a picture of riverside sophistication, with world-class museums and a dynamic cultural scene. It's particularly popular with gourmet travellers and was dubbed the "world capital of gastronomy" by famed French food critic Curnonsky back in 1935. The city has more than 1500 eateries, making it the ideal destination for falling in love with French food.

Instead of: DubrovnikTry: Rovinj

Dubrovnik has rapidly become one of Europe's most crowded tourist destinations — a combination of cruise-ship crowds, drunken British stag parties and roaming Game of Thrones fans. If you're looking for a picturesque Croatian seaside escape, head north to the fishing port town of Rovinj instead.

Located on the western coast of Istria, Rovinj is surrounded by 22 islands and islets to explore. Its close proximity to Italy is reflected in the cuisine and the Venetian style of architecture. You'll find great olive oils and pasta here, as well as plenty of delicious fresh seafood.

Due to its vast coastline, you'll be spoilt for choice when it comes to beautiful beaches
with crystal-clear water — and if you're lucky,
you might even find your own private bay for
the day.

Instead of: Fiji
Try: Tonga

Fiji is a perennial favourite with Kiwi travellers for a reason — there's no shortage of perfect beaches, luxury resorts and adventure opportunities. But sometimes it's time to branch out — we're lucky enough to have the Pacific Islands at our doorstep and there are plenty of other amazing spots to explore.

Largely under-hyped by tourists, why not say "malo e lelei" to Tonga for a change?

Unpolished and authentic, the island nation is a great year-round holiday destination with pristine beaches, rich culture and a history stretching back 3000 years. Whether you're keen to get active, or simply unwind, you'll find something to suit your tastes in Tonga.

Instead of: Honolulu, OahuTry: Pa'ia Town, Maui

Kitschy Waikiki is definitely worth a visit, whatever Mike Hosking says, but don't spend too much of your time in its tourist traps. There's more than one island to explore in Hawaii and those who venture out a little further will be rewarded in spades. The unassuming town of Pa'ia is on Maui's

North Shore and it's more relaxed than Honolulu. With quaint pastel buildings and unique shops and restaurants, it's a bit like stepping back in time to a 1960s Californian beach town. It's frequented by surfers, hippies and Hollywood stars. Pa'ia is also a great place to buy swimwear and is famed for its health food shop, Mana Foods — plus, the Buddhist stupa was consecrated by the Dalai Lama himself.