What springs to mind when you think of the South Pacific? Turqoise waters? Tick. Sandy white beaches? Tick. Drinking cocktails out of coconuts? It’s a big fat tick. The South Pacific islands are so picture perfect, they’re practically a desert island stereotype. But don’t let first impressions fool you. There’s more to each island that meets the eye, and they each have their own defining feature.
Tear yourself away from the sun lounger and you’ll find awesome landscapes just waiting to be explored, both above and below sea level: the Pacific islands are home to some of the best scuba diving in the world. Venture away from the resort and you’ll encounter some of the friendliest locals around, and the chance to immerse yourself in Polynesisan and Melanesian traditions.
Rapa Nui aka Easter Island is just one of the reasons we love the South Pacific
Five of our favourite spots in the South Pacific
Just far away enough not to attract hoards of travellers, the South Pacific is the place to head if you want to get properly off the beaten track, and close enough to Australia and New Zealand to make it a part of your Australasian adventure. We’re giving the South Pacific a big fat High Five and counting down five of our favourite South Pacific spots.
It attracts more visitors that the rest of the Pacific Islands put together, and there’s a reason backpackers and flashpackers alike keep coming back to Fiji. It literally has something for everyone: perfect beaches, awesome diving, kayaking, caving, budget hostels, swanky resorts, welcoming local villages and a pretty epic party scene.
Don’t leave without taking part in a traditional kava ceremony (go easy on the kava though, it ain’t for the feint hearted/tea totals). Over 300 islands and archipelagos make up Fiji, so it’s the perfect opportunity to do some island hopping. Grab one of our island hopping passes to make it a breeze.
Yep, Fiji really is this perfect
2. The Cook Islands
Fancy the Cook Islands but not sure which of the 15 islands to choose from? Raratonga, the largest island – a tempting blend of rugged landscapes, undiscovered jungle and flour-soft beaches – is a good place to start. But make sure you get around an explore too: Aitutaki, the second largest island, is great for snorkeling thanks to its fantastic coral lagoon while tiny ‘Atiu boasts a fascinating jagged landscape, underwater caves and awesome wildlife. But don’t plan too much – you’re in the Cook Islands after all, possibly the most relaxing place on earth! Relax and let the tide decide where to take you.
Tahiti’s beautiful sweeping black beaches make it stand out amongst its French Polynesian neighbours. Many are put off and head to BoraBora in search of white sand, but I reckon it’d be crime to flee Tahiti so soon. Head to Pape’ete for a wild night out, and leave the city in search of outdoor pursuits, like epic hikes along wild coastlines and never ending valleys. Rather stay back from the action? Head to Teahupoʻo and watch pro surfers tackle the waves that have been known to reach up to 7 metres. Thrilling stuff.
Surf's up in Tahiti
4. Rapa Nui (Easter Island)
Rapa Nui is one of those once-in-a-lifetime kind of places you get to visit. One of the most remote places on the planet, it can only be reached by air from Tahiti or Chile, but my, is that journey worth it. Most famous for the iconic moai statues, carved by the Rapu Nui people between the years 1250 and 1500.
Make the once-in-a-lifetime visit to Rapa Nui
It’s not all about the history, though: scuba divers claim Rapu Nui’s clear blue waters are some of the best around, while the surf’s pretty world renowned too. If it’s not on your bucket list, get it firmly to the top.
If you don’t fancy hanging out with the majority of backpackers in Fiji, then head to Samoa. It has everything that Fiji has to offer, but a slightly more grown up scene – and less tourists. Samoa is the birthplace of Polynesian culture, and they have their own equivalent to Fiji’s kava ceremony called, aptly, the ‘ava ceremony. Chat to the incredibly welcoming local people and get involved!