The islands of the South Pacific are not only spread over a huge expanse of the globe but each one has its own distinct culture and history.
You can split them culturally into two, firstly Polynesia which includes Samoa, Tonga, The Cook Islands, French Polynesia, Tahiti and Easter Island.
The mixture of races and cultures have produced some of the friendliest people anywhere and the area really is a paradise for lovers of beautiful scenery, wildlife and a slow relaxed approach to life.
When to go
The climate is tropical all year round with a hotter more humid period from November to April, this is also the hurricane season however global warming is influencing normal weather patterns. Every country has an annual major festival or celebration and these are the best times to see traditional dancing, arts, and sporting events so try and see if you cruise coincides with any of them.
What to see
Easter Island is famous for its hundreds of statues scattered throughout the island. Each statue was different from the others and had distinctive features that made it possible to identify it with the ancestor it symbolized.
There are also several spectacular volcanoes worth clambering up and numerous archeological sites.
You can also visit the caves and lava tunnels across the island.
Souvenir shops line the capital Hanga Roa’s two main streets and the there’s a fascinating local market The Feria Municipal, the town’s fruit, vegetable, and fish market which also has a crafts section.
French Polynesia is the epitome of an Island paradise and certainly Tahiti immersed in a world of majestic mountain peaks, turquoise waters and white-sand beaches, once visited will never be forgotten.
World-class snorkelling and diving in Tahiti is one of the South Pacific’s best-kept secrets. There’s a lovely coastal road following the lagoon shores, you can either drive around the island by rental car or take a guided bus tour.
It’s possible to explore the island interiors on a 4×4 safari, guided nature hike, horseback ride or maybe skim across the lagoons on a motorized canoe, sailboat, or powerboat.
Often called the heart of the South Pacific, Fiji is blessed with 333 tropical islands that are home with places where you really can get away from it all.
Famous for its soft coral diving, white sand beaches and pristine natural environment, Fiji is also leader is eco-tourism. Known as the “soft coral capital of the world” it’s a place for a landing on a remote, secluded beach or a hidden bay.
Yet there are other secrets too, nearby are the remote, unspoilt Lau Group and Kadavu.
The Marquesa Islands
The Marquesa Islands have huge mountains and waterfalls taller than skyscrapers plus some of the most stunning walking and horseback trails in French Polynesia. The islands’ isolation has made them very different to Tahiti and other tourist destinations, no night life or bars just traditional life carried on.
Half way between Hawaii and New Zealand Samoa is a place of exquisite natural beauty consisting of ten islands. Each one offers a very distinct range of different environments to explore.
Some are inhabited with their churches and colourful villages with a culture that goes back 3,000 years whilst others have only the wildlife, protected by the fringing coral reef that keep the powerful force of the Pacific back. They are simply a delight to discover and explore.
South Pacific WILDLIFE HIGHLIGHTS
The diversity of the South Pacific wildlife is well known. From swimming alongside whale sharks and gentle manta rays, to watching Fruit bats, Tropicbirds, Frigatebirds and species seen nowhere else such as the amazingly coloured, White-Capped Fruit Dove on The Marquesas flit amongst the forest foliage above you.
Beaches with turtles coming ashore to nest and the staggeringly beautiful world beneath the waves of pristine, colourful coral reefs both await. Beneath the surface each island has new undersea surprises to discover.
For botanists too the region is indeed a paradise with a plethora of smells and colours of the orchids, bougainvillea and many, many other plant species.