By Alisha Lockie
Having a broad range of South Pacific Island paradises right on our doorstep is a real perk of being a Kiwi or an Aussie – the ability to jump on a plane and within four hours or less and be on a pristine beach with a cocktail in hand really is a huge privilege.
The big question is: with so many beautiful destinations in such proximity, and each of them looking fairly similar on the face of things, how do you choose the right island for you?
From the polished five-star over-water bungalows in Bora Bora to the compact and remote beauty of the Cook Islands and the authentic cultural richness of Samoa, each island has something truly unique to offer and it’s not all about beaches and cocktails. Whether you’re after adventure, relaxation or history and culture, there is a destination in the Pacific that is suited to you.
Our guide below will give you an idea of which island might be best suited for you, and of course our expert consultants will be able to assist and provide tailored advice.
When is the Best time to Visit the South Pacific?
While there really is no bad time to explore the South Pacific, there are better times. Generally, the Southern Hemisphere shoulder and winter months (roughly between April and October) offer the driest months for travel, which is great if you’re looking to put in some hours by the beach or pool. The summer months (November through to April) are typically a bit wetter, but with warmer temperatures.
The Pacific can be quite changeable though, so you could pick a week in the dry season and have rain for an hour every afternoon, or head over in the wet season and have perfect weather every day. It’s hard to pick, so make sure to pack your togs and a brollie and you’re covered either way.
If you’re wanting to experience a special seasonal event like swimming with the whales in Tonga, let your consultant know as there can be a limited window for this sort of activity.
How Long Should I go for?
In my opinion, this really comes down to how active you wish to be. For any of the islands, I would recommend a minimum of five nights, as it can take a couple of days to truly start to relax and adapt to ‘island time’.
I think seven days is perfect for most destinations if you’re wanting to stay in one spot, but if you’re wanting to stay on multiple islands or move around a bit then ten days is going to allow you to fit in plenty of sightseeing while keeping a leisurely pace.
Your Eclipse Travel consultant will be able to recommend the ideal time based on how much you’d like to see and do in your paradise of choice.
Choosing the Right Island for You
Adults Only – every island has a plethora of adults only resorts on offer but resorts aside, the best islands to leave the kids at home are Niue, Tonga and the romantic islands of Moorea and Bora Bora in Tahiti. Niue and Tonga don’t have as much infrastructure for families and you will struggle to find a kids’ club.
If you’re after exploring hidden chasms and coves and “gin and vodka clear” waters, then Niue is for you. Tonga offers a very cultural and authentic taste of the Pacific with options for adventure and romance aplenty.
Tahiti does have family-friendly options, but the exclusive islands of Moorea and Bora Bora in particular are very popular for honeymoons and romantic getaways – check out some of the overwater bungalows and you’ll understand why these are more suited to adults only.
Families – depending on the ages and activity level of your kids, there should be an option for you on any of the Pacific Islands. There are obviously family favourites like Fiji, which along with a number of adults-only resorts, is well known for its family-friendly resorts and kids’ clubs.
Rarotonga and Samoa do have some great family-friendly options also, and Raro, in particular, is probably the next best set up if you’re looking for a resort that can offer a kids’ club.
The crystal clear waters of the Pacific are mostly calm and safe for little ones, and there are plenty of amazing opportunities for kids to meet some locals and learn about the local culture and customs.
Relaxation – If you’re just wanted to fly, land and be on a beautiful beach or by a pool asap then my recommendation would be Rarotonga. It’s nice and easy to get to and within an hour of landing, you will be checked in and on the beach with a cocktail in hand.
The same goes for the man-made island of Denarau in Fiji, however, if you’re after the white sand beaches of Fiji you will need to travel a little further afield to the Mamanuca or Yasawa Islands. Denarau has a great range of luxury resorts and stunning pools, but beware as the beaches here are not the beaches you see in the brochures.
If you’re after true untouched and remote beauty, why not head out to the island of Espiritu Santo in Vanuatu, the South Coast, or the island of Savaii in Samoa, or the Yasawa Islands in Fiji. These islands are all stunningly beautiful and offer an authentic taste of the Pacific without the five-star resorts, tourists and high rises.
If you’re after a perfect beach, then fear not as every island has postcard-perfect beaches, some may just be a little more tricky to find than others. Your Eclipse Travel consultant will be able to let you in on where to find the best beaches depending on what you’re after – some beaches can be tidal or close to a port and not as nice for snorkelling and sunbathing, but we can steer you in the right direction if you prefer the beach over a pool.
Adventure – I truly believe that on every island in the Pacific there is an adventure just waiting for you. In Tonga go swimming with the majestic Humpback whales, in Vanuatu go diving in the wreck of a World War 2 troopship or take a challenging trek through tropical forest to the Millennium Cave with which was only discovered in the year 2000.
Every island has options for fishing, diving, ATV and horse-riding, and you really can tailor your holiday to be as relaxing or as adventurous as you like.
In Australia and NZ we are truly spoilt, for most islands we can be there on one short flight in under four hours. From NZ you can travel to all of the islands direct from Auckland, and to Fiji direct from Christchurch.
From Australia you can reach the unspoiled beauty of the Pacific from the main gateways of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
Where to Stay
Each island is a little different in what it can offer – you may like the idea of a fale on the beach, a private villa or bure, or even a luxury overwater bungalow. You can opt for glamping, boutique beachfront resorts, and in some places 5 star luxury resort chains. Your Eclipse Travel consultant will be able to talk through the style and standard of accommodation available in your chosen destination and make a recommendation perfectly tailored to your own personal preferences and tastes.
As you can see there are plenty of things to take into account when planning your dream Pacific getaway – beach or pool, beer or cocktail, fale on the beach or overwater bungalow.
You’re in expert hands with your Eclipse Travel consultant who will work with you to ensure your holiday is exactly what best suits you and your own unique requirements, rather than a one size fits all package.