Finding your perfect Pacific Islands destination
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Pretty much every island in the South Pacific has great weather, beaches and postcard-perfect tropical views but not all are created equal. From the best places to dive, hike, surf, bring the kids or simply kick back on the beach, read on to find your perfect island holiday destination. And, if you’re looking to travel by sea, we’ve also got some of the best cruise lines that visit them. Image: Hawaii Tourism Authority
For that deserted island feeling: Aitutaki, Southern Cook Islands
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This is one of the most popular Cook Islands but is still peaceful enough to be reminded that you are far from any semblance of crowded civilisation. The shallow lagoon with exposed sandbars feels like you’re lazing in a mini archipelago within a deserted island. If you’re staying on Aitutaki there are a number of resorts and beach bungalows or, if you’d prefer to visit by cruise ship, Silversea’s next available voyages to the island are available in January 2018.
For romance: Bora Bora, French Polynesia
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If you can picture yourself in one of those dreamy huts over water, then this is the island escape for you. On Bora Bora the only thing separating you from being in the middle of the ocean is the tiny 30 square kilometres that make up the island. For a while at least, this blissfully romantic setting can be your own private slice of paradise. Windstar Cruises specialises in Tahitian voyages and is a great option to visit here by sea as they are one of the few cruise lines that include the choice of an overnight island stay.
For adventure: Maui, Hawaii
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Maui is literally an adventurer’s paradise: Excellent surfing? Check. Diving? Check. Hiking through volcanic craters? Of course. On top of all the excitement there are also perfect beaches and world-class luxury resorts where you can unwind, plus some of the highest-ranked golf courses in the world. Norwegian Cruise Lines offers a number of itineraries that call here. Image: Hawaii Tourism Authority
For amazing hiking: Moorea, French Polynesia
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Moorea looks great from afar: looking at it from the main island of Tahiti you’ll see the striking silhouette of its eight sharp mountain peaks and looking at it from the sky it looks quite a lot like a heart. Close-up it is equally as stunning: hike the designated trails through lush greenery and keep an eye out for waterfalls and (friendly) wildlife (think: gekkos and chicken). Windstar cruises specialises in Tahitian cruises and is a great option to visit here.
For foodies: Efate, Vanuatu
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You’ll probably know Vanuatu as a group of remote, rugged and beautiful islands with quiet beaches and great diving. What many don’t realise is that it’s capital Port Vila, is home to a surprising amount of excellent dining experiences. Think fresh seafood, tropical fruits and beachside tables with stunning views… For a cruise holiday option P&O Cruises Australia offers a number of itineraries that call here. Image: Vanuatu Tourism
For the family: Viti Levu, Fiji
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The laid-back vibe and perfect swimming beaches of Pacific Islands are in generally quite family-friendly. But for some extra stimulation, including a large selection resorts with organised activities and kids’ clubs, Fiji is a perfect family destination. In addition to water activities there are great day trip options like a visit to Navala Village, just outside of Nadi, where you can explore traditional Fijian homes and meet locals. P&O Cruises Australia offers a number of itineraries that call here.
For beginner diving: Isle of Pines, New Caledonia
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A 1600-kilometre-long barrier coral reef (the world’s second largest) surrounds the New Caledonia archipelago, including The Isle of Pines to the south-east of the main island. This attractive isle has access to a diverse range of dive sites with varying terrain and is known as the best place in New Caledonia for beginners to explore underwater. More experienced divers can also enjoy the island’s diving, in particular the famous Daa Djare site, which features two large marine-life-covered boulders that you can swim between. For Isle of Pines cruise-holiday options, take a look at one of Carnival Australia’s many itineraries. Image: New Caledonia Tourism
For a cultural experience: Noumea, Grande Terre, New Caledonia
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Being the capital of a French territory, Noumea, on New Caledonia’s Grande Terre island, offers a unique blend of Europe-meets-South Pacific. The food is French (L'Atelier Gourmand serves some of the best baguettes and croissants you’ll find outside of Paris) but the views and vibe are all tropical. A visit to the Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre is a must – it has 10 striking pavilions inspired by the local Kanak culture and designed by renowned Italian architect Renzo Piano. Both Royal Caribbean International and P&O Cruises Australia offer a number of itineraries that include Noumea. Image: New Caledonia Tourism
For experienced diving: New Britain, Papua New Guinea
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Papua New Guinea is known in the diving community as one of the most beautiful and desirable spots in the world. There are massive vertically dropping reefs, reaching depths of more than 300 metres and hundreds of wrecks to explore, the majority of which are WWII vestiges. Princess Cruises has a number of 2017 voyages to Rabaul, East New Britain, available to book now. Rabaul is a well-known diving destination.
For a bit of everything: Oahu, Hawaii
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Being in Honolulu you can easily forget that you are on a tiny island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean: there are some of the flashiest malls, restaurants, bars and resorts you will find anywhere in the world and Waikiki’s beach isn’t exactly a quiet spot to laze alone by the water. However, you can drive 20 minutes outside of the action to find Jurassic Park-style scenery, quiet beaches and small seaside seafood shacks. Or, you can visit major landmarks like the massive Dole Plantation and the Pearl Harbor Historic Sites. Princess Cruises has a number of itineraries that include departures from, and calling at, Honolulu on Oahu. Image: Hawaii Tourism Authority