The South Pacific, a delightful package of pleasant surprises, includes Fiji, Cook Islands, Vanuatu, Samoa, Papua New Guinea, Norfolk Island, New Caledonia, Tonga, Solomon Islands and Rarotonga. The Fiji Islands, one of the most important destinations in the South Pacific, are famous for coral islands, rainforests, island beach resorts and traditional villages. Perfect for island hopping, backpacking, and cruising these islands are very popular.
The Cook Islands are famous for traditional island dances, fine handicrafts, laid back island lifestyles and caves and cliffs. The Aitutaki atoll, with its fantastic lagoon, has resorts, guesthouses and beach bungalows. Tourists are attracted to Samoan Islands for waterfalls and the rainforest on Savaii, the scuba diving blue hole at Palolo, the traditional life on Manono, the archaeological monuments and the Taga Blowholes. Tonga offers feasting on Tongan cuisine, whale watching and diving. Tahitian visitors will find fantastic lagoons, dramatic scenery, colorful nightlife, remote coral atolls, archaeological sights and fine handcrafts.
Below are some of the most visited islands:
From palm-lined beaches and warm crystalline waters to grassy highlands and lush tropical rain forests, Fiji offers visitors a true South Seas paradise. The Fiji archipelago consists of tiny coral atolls and mountainous forest-clad islands of volcanic origin, and is famed for its aquamarine waters and white sand beaches. Beyond experiencing Fiji's perfect physical environment, it is sharing the warmth and friendliness of the Fijian people and their special living culture that makes this a holiday as it should be—a life-enhancing experience. To hear a heartfelt "Good Morning" and to know it is sincerely given; to listen to the stories of what has shaped the culture into what it is today, and to share the laughter and smiles with your new friends—this is the true treasure of Fiji awaiting your discovery!
A net of 15 islands in the heart of the South Pacific spread over an area the size of India with a population no bigger than a small New Zealand country town, 14,000 souls. These unique and friendly Polynesians have their own language and government and enjoy a vigorous and diverse culture with significant differences between each island. Despite some 70,000 visitors a year to the capital island – Rarotonga – the Cooks are largely unspoiled by tourism. They offer a rare opportunity for people from the cities of the world to experience a different type of vacation. There are no high-rise hotels, only four beach buggies and very little hype. Ideal for travellers seeking more than the usual clichés associated with the South Seas, each island has its unique qualities and offers the visitor a special experience.
Papua New Guinea
Huge tracts of Papua New Guinea are wild and undeveloped, with magnificent scenery ranging from pristine coral atolls to volcanic mountains and dense tropical rainforest. The mainland is divided by the Owen Stanley Range, a massive central spike with peaks towering over 13,000 feet. Great rivers begin their journey to the sea from these mountains, among them the mighty Sepik River, one of the world's longest waterways.
Surprisingly, Tahiti and her islands are only eight hours from Los Angeles, a few more hours in the air when compared to Hawaii—yet, a world away. The close proximity combined with friendly Polynesian people, cultural experiences and activities—all in a pristine environment—beckon to be discovered.
The main island of Tahiti, known as “The Queen of the Pacific,” is the largest and most populated island. With lush green peaks reaching more than 7,300 feet, Tahiti’s scenery is dramatic. Cascading waterfalls and rippling pools in the jungle-like interior provide a striking contrast to the turquoise lagoons lapping on the black and white sand beaches of the island’s perimeter. A 4x4 tour into the interior is a great way to explore Tahiti’s verdant peaks and breathtaking waterfalls.
The “Magical Island” of Moorea lies just 11 miles across the Sea of the Moon from Tahiti. Moorea has a bountiful harvest of pineapples, which can be seen growing on its slopes. One popular activity is to tour a local distillery and sample exotic liqueurs from pineapple, mango, coconut, vanilla and other Tahitian staples. For the kids, memorable experiences include swimming with dolphins, ray-feeding tours and short hikes to the Belvedere Lookout point that offers breathtaking views of Moorea’s twin bays, Cook’s Bay and Opunohu Bay.
Bora Bora is often called the most beautiful island in the world, a well-deserved accolade. A protective necklace of coral encircles this tiny island, only 18 miles in circumference. Lush mountains provide a dramatic backdrop for the indescribable turquoise and aquamarine colors of the sheltered lagoon. Jet skiing, sailing, wake boarding, parasailing and shark and ray feeding are only a few of the activities designed for both kids and adults alike.
Many start their vacation in Tahiti, Bora Bora or Moorea. It is these islands that afford visitors quintessential tropical paradise and their stylish resorts offer the famous overwater bungalows. Onshore, visitors find a colorful array of diversions: surfing, boating and other water sports; shopping at open-air markets and boutiques; fine dining, spas and nightlife. But once you venture off of these three mainstays, Tahiti becomes even more special. Some of the lesser visited islands include:
Huahine, nicknamed the “Garden of Eden,” is the perfect place to experience Tahiti’s ancient culture, with artfully restored Marae (temples) and the world’s largest outrigger race, October’s Hawaiki Nui Va’a. As an agricultural island, Huahine is sparsely populated. Vanilla, coffee and taro plantations are plentiful and visitors will fall in love with the remote, unspoiled scenery and the relaxed pace of this island.
Perhaps the most remote of Tahiti’s islands are the Marquesas, where some of the country’s most dramatic scenery is found. There are no lagoons here. Rather, these 12 islands are home to dense jungles teeming with wildlife and dotted with immense waterfalls—some as tall as 1,100 feet—that tumble over gorgeous sheer rock cliffs. The Marquesas’ incomparable beauty has been well-known for over 150 years: Herman Melville ended the cruise that inspired Moby Dick here; and Paul Gauguin, after drawing inspiration for his greatest masterpieces from other Tahitian islands, retired to the Marquesas in the late 1890s.
What makes Tahiti & Her Islands so unique and romantic?
Seclusion Intimate resorts, small peaceful villages and miles of quiet pristine beaches explain why Tahiti is ranked #1 in the world for "alone time."
Overwater Bungalows The world's most perfect hotel room! Sleep above the turquoise lagoon waters in your thatched-roof hideaway with all the amenities and service of a first class hotel room.
Polynesian Spas Experience true relaxation and rejuvenation at one of the many luxurious Polynesian spas while nurtured by the tropical ambience.
Cruising The world's most romantic voyages depart every week for Tahiti's most beautiful isles. Voyage within the legendary South Pacific aboard luxurious cruise ships, super yachts or freighter passenger that travel between Tahiti's most beautiful islands.
Activities Enjoy the perfect place to do everything or nothing at all. Jump in the lagoons by diving, snorkeling or boating, or explore the islands by safaris, hiking or shopping.
People Embrace and share in the warmth and welcome of your Tahitian hosts whose love for their islands is seen through music, dance and flowers.
Five Favorite Tahiti Experiences
1) Experience a Mountain Safari by 4-Wheel Drive: From crossing the island of Tahiti via the Papenoo valley, the Belvedere lookout point on Moorea to Bora Bora’s famed mount Otemanu, the islands offer rich archaeological sites and spectacular views of impressive waterfalls.
2) Enjoy “Ma’a Tahiti” traditionally cooked in a Tahitian oven: “Ma’a Tahiti” is cooked in a traditional “ahima’a”, a Tahitian earth oven. The main ingredients include succulent suckling pig, “fafa” (chicken and taro leaves), breadfruit, taro and other root vegetables, and delicacies such as “po’e”, a sweet dish made with baked bananas, papaya and other fruit. Pour creamy coconut milk over it all and slurp it up with your fingers!
3) Visit a Marae: The open-air sanctuaries called “marae” were once the center of power in ancient Polynesia. These large, stone structures, akin to temples, hosted the important events of the times including the worship of the gods, peace treaties, celebrations of war, and the launch of voyages to colonize distant lands.
4) Explore the Paul Gauguin Museum: An amazing retrospective on the life of Paul Gauguin, the famous French artist who spent his final years in Polynesia. Gauguin's art had a profound influence on the primitive and exotic painters and sculptors of the 20th century.
5) Explore Lava Tubes: For the Adventurous!—The Lava Tubes of Hitiaa are incredible underground galleries with water running through them, and they are fascinating to explore. It is advisable to go with a guide by four-wheel drive vehicle and then by foot. Situated on the rocky east coast, the lava tubes are of volcanic origin and are enclosed by channels of a narrow cave that have been penetrated by water.
The islands of Tahiti, crowned by a circle of majestic peaks, towers over the ocean with a mountainous green interior of deep valleys, clear streams and high waterfalls. The flat coastal lands are home to fields of tropical flowers and most of the island's population. Papeete, the invigorating capital city and territorial gateway, boasts world-class resorts, spas, fine restaurants, nightclubs and endless shopping at vibrant markets, shops and boutiques. Tahiti is the world's definition of paradise.
Tahiti is the busy hub of French Polynesia, located 160 mi/260 km southeast of Bora Bora. It has something of an hourglass shape with a larger portion (Tahiti Nui—where Papeete is located) and a smaller one (Tahiti Iti). Mountains soar to 7,352 ft/2,241 m in central Tahiti Nui and to 4,430 ft/1,323 m on Tahiti Iti.