1 NIUE

Comes but twice a year

The splendid isolation of this Pacific Island nation makes Niue an ideal Christmas candidate. It's an island of limestone caves, coral diving spots and fossil forests. Niue fits a lot into its 250 sq km. Christmas dinner of faikai fish and coconut stew is traditionally eaten, but with so many New Zealand links you're just as likely to see pavlova. However, Christmas itself is reserved compared to the festival of Takai, which falls shortly after. This involves village fetes and the annual motor cavalcade around the island. The island's most novel draw is its location at 169 degrees west, the meeting of date lines. Air New Zealand's flight 784 Christmas Day service takes off at 9.30am on the 25th, arriving across the international date boundary at 12.50pm on Christmas Eve. Amazing.

2 FIJI

Never too late for Nadi

Christmas in Fiji is one long party — even more so than usual. The big day is all about family, daybreak carols on white sand, though it's a great place to escape a gathering of your own rellies. A late Christmas dinner of pork and palusami mutton is traditionally served fresh from the lovo earth oven — a Fijian 'hāngī' equivalent. If you've left it until the last minute to book an island getaway, Expedia says you might just be in luck. Over half of their listings in Nadi on the main island are still available,aweek out from Christmas. The capital is the perfect place for setting out on an island hop around the Fijian archipelago.

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3 CHRISTMAS ISLAND

Festive crustaceans

Juvenile red crabs returning from the sea on Christmas Island. Photo / Getty Images
Juvenile red crabs returning from the sea on Christmas Island. Photo / Getty Images

A December holiday is a risky move in what is essentially the middle of the rainy season for this Indian Ocean atoll, but it's worth it for the namesake. A novelty of the precipitation is that it stirs the island's unique wildlife into aseasonal new lease of life. In a festive shade of red the Christmas Island crabs swarm the beaches. This can happen any time between November and January after rain. Should a hatch arrive while you are on the green of the world-famous Christmas Island golf course, never fear: there'saset of home rules covering a number of crab-related incidents including crustacean ball tampering.