Even though it’s the second largest country in the world, many of Canada’s greatest assets remain unexplored and are all too often overlooked. Perhaps because it’s the unassuming neighbour of the United States or maybe its staggering beauty calls for a pact to keep the nation’s many virtues under tight wraps. Either way, Canada is a country that has been referred to as ‘God’s Country’ time and time again; mostly due to its Eden-like natural splendour that constantly shifts from formidable mountain ranges, to wild salmon-rich rivers and cosmopolitan cities surrounded by the best national parks on the planet – it’s a country of diversity, in terms of both landscape and culture.
Of course, a nation which covers a colossal ten-million square acres of land is crying out to be the domain of outdoor pursuits and, as a result, the Canadians are the masters of a healthy outdoor lifestyle – blessed with the freshest waters, purest air and offering visitors a natural year-round adventure playground with something to suit every physical demand.
A great place to start your Canada holiday is in Vancouver, which nestles between the mountains and the ocean. Stroll through Stanley Park and admire the forests, gardens, beaches and totem poles, ride a cable-car up Grouse Mountain or take a sea-safari to look for seals and sea birds.
From Vancouver you can easily access Vancouver Island, which is the perfect place for an eco-adventure, offering a fabulous education for families. This area of beautiful natural wilderness incorporates landscapes of unspoilt coastline, secluded bays, thick forests, snow-capped mountain peaks and wild rivers. It is quintessential Canada and home to an array of wildlife; you can enjoy outdoor activities, including whale-watching and bear-watching, or go kayaking, horse-riding, fishing or hiking. The wilderness lodges and Canadian hotels showcase some of the country’s excellent-quality wine (although produced in Canada, the wines are not exported, so you can only sample them here), along with excellent locally sourced fresh produce that features in superb seasonal menus – ideal sustenance after an energetic day.
The Rocky Mountains are another major icon of Canada and one of the best ways to appreciate the terrain and scale of the mountain range is on a scenic train journey. The railway track through the Rocky Mountain National Park passes along unique spiral tunnels that allow the train to ‘climb’.
Canada remains modest and reserved – as Al Capone once famously declared, “Canada, I don’t even know what street it’s on.”. The country has avoided spending much time in the limelight, but it’s probably for the best; the longer it stays unspoilt, the more there will be to enjoy.
March through to July enjoys moderate temperatures, cooling at night, while July and August are the best months, cooling from September to December when the winter arrives and days and nights are cold. (The guide to the right is for Vancouver.)
These figures show Canada monthly average maximum temperatures and monthly average rainfall.
Capital : Ottawa, Ontario
Language : English
Currency : Canadian Dollar
Voltage : 110v
Visa : For up-to-date resort information, Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) change regularly. Contact the nearest Canadian Embassy or Consulate for the most up to date information. Information is also available from Citizenship and Immigration Canada and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).
If you are travelling to Canada through the United States of America (USA), or if you are transiting in Honolulu or other USA points of entry, you are required to meet USA entry/transit requirements. Make sure you check with your nearest Embassy or Consulate of the United States your visa requirements well in advance of your travel. You will also find information on US entry and exit requirements in our travel advice for the United States of America.
We advise children travelling alone or with only one parent to carry a letter of consent from the non-travelling parent(s). The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) may question you or the child regarding the child’s status and supporting documentation may be beneficial. More information is available at the CBSA website.
Make sure your passport has at least six months’ validity from your planned date of return to Australia. You should carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.
Formed from past and current volcanic activity, Hawaii is a stunning five-hundred-mile-long archipelago in the southern part of the Pacific Ocean. Made up of six major islands, it’s one of the most isolated groupings of land on earth and is considered by many to be an almost perfect destination.
Travelling to Hawaii involves a fairly lengthy flight, however the diversity of experiences on offer once there makes it a perfect choice and is popular for many types of travellers, including honeymooners, families, golfers, water sports enthusiasts, shopaholics and foodies.
Enjoy a luxury holiday to Hawaii with Elegant Resorts and you’ll find it rich in culture and history, and amazing scenery that includes snow-capped mountains, giant waterfalls, dense jungles, lush rainforests, lava fields, beaches of white, black and even green sand and the most active volcano on earth, Kilauea. Polynesian culture, known as the ‘aloha spirit’, evolved from ancient sacred legends and chronicles of the people, prevails throughout the islands, as do many of the customs, such as the bestowing of floral ‘leis’ (or necklaces) alongside unique dances (hula) and music (ukulele), but each island has its own flavour and attractions.
Hawaii, the ‘Big Island’, is just that; larger than all the other islands put together, this is nature at her most magnificent and diverse, and is home to eleven of thirteen climate zones as well as deserts, rainforests, snow-capped mountains and five volcanoes, of which, Mauna Loa and Kilauea are still active. Activities are endless here; travel by foot, bike, helicopter or glass-bottom boat to a host of spectacular scenic or historical locations, including acres of stark lava fields; enjoy world-class golf, shop for local crafts or designer accessories or treat your tastebuds to some local delicacies.
The tiny island of Lana’i is unspoilt and uncrowded. Its spectacular stretches of red lava cliffs contrast with white-sand beaches and an island interior of mist-covered forested mountains. There are many historical places of interest to visit, as well as traditional fishing villages and tropical gardens, while Lana’i City is good for shopping.
Of all the Hawaiian Islands, Oahu is perhaps the most beautiful. Historically, Oahu was the meeting place for Hawaii’s most influential chiefs and royalty, and its name translates to mean ‘the gathering place’. Today, Oahu is known for its vibrant cities, Waikiki and Honolulu, Pearl Harbour and numerous world-class surfing competitions.
Maui is the picturesque tropical paradise that the very name, Hawaii conjures up. Home to over eighty sun-drenched beaches, lush rainforests, elegant palm trees, crystal-clear ocean waters and magnificent waterfalls, it boasts endless opportunities to delight and inspire the imagination. Visit ancient sites, including the Lao Needle and Seven Sacred Pools, hike down into a volcano, scuba or snuba-dive in the warm waters of the ocean, enjoy the fruits of a vineyard or marvel at a beautiful sunset.
Hawaii has a dry season from April to October and a rainy season from November to March. Summer can be hot and humid, making April, May, September and October the best months to visit. On Waikiki, the last week in April and the first week in May are very busy due to the Japanese Golden Week holidays. If you’re a return visitor, plan your visit for a different time of year to what you’ve already experienced – the islands have different looks throughout the year.
These figures show Hawaii monthly average maximum temperatures and monthly average rainfall.
Capital : Honolulu
Language : Hawaiian and English
Currency : US Dollars
Voltage : 120V
Health : Health facilities, hygiene and disease risks vary worldwide. You should take health advice about your specific needs as early as possible. Sources of information include your General Practitioner or a specialised clinic.
Visa : Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) change regularly. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate-General of the United States for the most up-to-date information.
The United States administers a strict entry regime and you may be refused entry on arrival if you do not comply with its entry requirements.
We strongly recommend you contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of the United States of America about your specific circumstances, well in advance of travel, including if you plan to transit in the United States.
If you are visiting the United States for business or pleasure, you may be eligible to be admitted for up to 90 days under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). If you wish to work, study, or stay for more than 90 days, you are not eligible for entry under the VWP and you must obtain a visa before travelling.
For up-to-date visa information, you should review the information on the following United States Government websites before deciding whether to seek entry under the VWP or to apply for a visa:
- Embassy of the United States of America in Australia
- United States Department of State Visa Information
Most visitors to the United States, including those seeking entry under the VWP, are required to have their fingerprints scanned by an inkless device and to have digital photographs taken on arrival.
Visa Waiver Program (VWP) and the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA)
Before boarding a United States-bound airplane or vessel, all Australian passport holders visiting or transiting in the United States under the VWP must apply for an ESTA, preferably at least 72 hours prior to travel. The cost is USD14.
ESTA is a web-based system administered by the United States Government that determines the preliminary eligibility of visitors to travel under the VWP before boarding a United States-bound airplane or vessel. Travellers who do not have a valid ESTA may be denied boarding, experience delayed processing or be denied admission at a United States’ port of entry.
The official site for obtaining an ESTA is at http://www.cbp.gov/esta. To avoid imposter sites, we caution against using links in emails or from other websites to access this site.
An online ESTA application must be completed for each VWP traveller, including accompanied or unaccompanied children. A third party, such as a relative or travel agent, is permitted to submit an ESTA application on behalf of a VWP traveller.
There have been reports of unauthorised websites charging users to submit ESTA applications, or wrongly claiming to produce a faster approval process.
VWP and passport requirements
To enter the United States under the VWP, your passport must be:
- machine-readable if issued prior to 26 October 2005;
- machine-readable and have a digital photograph if issued on or after 26 October 2005; or
- an e-Passport if issued on or after 26 October 2006.
Australian passports without two lines of 44 characters at the bottom of the photo and biodata page are not machine-readable. To confirm whether your passport is machine-readable or an e-Passport, please contact the Australian Passports Information Service on 13 12 32 (within Australia).
Australian citizens travelling on an Emergency Passport, Document of Identity or Provisional Travel Document cannot enter the United States under the VWP as these documents are not machine-readable. Holders of these documents must obtain a valid United States visa. If a valid United States visa cannot be obtained, such travellers may need to look at alternative travel plans. For more information see the United States Customs and Border Protection website.
You should ensure that you provide accurate and current travel document details to your airline or cruise line prior to travel. If you obtain a new or replacement passport, you must apply for a new ESTA. Discrepancies between ESTA, ticketing, and passport data will likely result in your being referred for secondary inspection by a United States immigration official. This may take several hours and result in you missing a connection.
VWP additional requirements Australian citizens travelling to the United States under the VWP must be in possession of an onward or return ticket. If you plan to depart the United States by a different method, such as motor vehicle or cruise ship, you should contact the United States Customs and Border Protection for more information.
You will need to provide full details of a valid address in the United States when you check in for your flight. A five-digit zip code (post code) is required.
VWP, ESTA and Form-I-94W Arrival/Departure Record
The Form I-94W Arrival/Departure record that some VWP travellers complete prior to arrival is being phased out. Most travellers entering the United States under the VWP who have an approved ESTA will no longer need to fill out the Form I-94W. Air and ship crew will let you know if you are required to complete one. However, the Form I-94W is still required at land borders, namely the USA/Mexico and USA/Canada borders, and you will be required to pay a processing fee.
Visitors who enter the United States under the VWP who stay longer than the 90-day limit may be arrested and detained for up to 90 days, removed from the country, and likely barred from re-entering the United States.
If you have Form I-94W in your passport, you must surrender this to the airline or ship staff at the time you leave the United States. Information on what you need to do if you did not hand in your Form I-94W when you left the United States can be found on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website.
Other entry and exit information
Whether you enter the United States under the VWP or you have a valid United States visa, you are only legally present in the United States until the date stamped on your Form I-94W or in your passport. This applies even if the expiration date on your visa is later than the date stamped on your Form I-94W or in your passport.
Where children are travelling alone, or with one parent/guardian, we recommend that you carry a notarised letter of consent for travel signed by the non-travelling parent(s) or guardian.
If you are a United States lawful permanent resident (Greencard holder), you will be asked for your Alien Registration Number and your country of normal residence when you check in for your flight.
Many United States lawful permanent residents believe they can live abroad as long as they return to the United States at least once a year. This is incorrect. Permanent residents who leave the United States for extended periods, or who cannot show their intent to live permanently in the United States, may lose their permanent resident status. Full details are contained in the United States Government’s publication ‘Welcome to the United States: A Guide for New Immigrants’ .
Australians with a criminal record (regardless of how minor or how long ago the offence took place) should ensure they seek advice from their nearest United States Embassy or Consulate about their visa requirements for entering or transiting the United States.
Make sure your passport has at least six months’ validity and carry copies with you, as well as a recent passport photo, in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.
HIV infection no longer makes a foreign citizen ineligible to apply for a visa to travel to the United States. Applicants who were previously refused visas because they were HIV positive may now be eligible for a visa and may reapply.