It is hard to think of a more luxurious destination than the South Pacific. With its myriad islands, divine accommodation and reputation for romance, this stunning spot is even more gorgeous than the holiday brochures make out. With so many islands to choose from, it can be hard to choose where to go. Should you enjoy a holiday with all the trimmings at an overwater bungalow in French Polynesia, take a leisurely boat cruise to an adults-only resort on Malolo Island in Fiji or opt for an easily accessible South Pacific hotspot like Oahu in Hawaii. This list highlighting some of this region’s most beautiful islands and resorts should make your decision easier.
Bora Bora, French Polynesia
Arguably one of the South Pacific’s most famous islands, Bora Bora is surrounded by small sandy motus (islets) and has a reputation for romance. Barefoot luxury is the order of the day with resort guests wearing little more than swimsuits and a t-shirt or cover-up. With turquoise waters, coral reefs and superb snorkelling and diving, Bora Bora is a haven for marine life and home to some incredible resorts. It is easy to spend an entire day simply soaking up the view from the private deck of your overwater bungalow. If you feel like cooling down, grab a mask and snorkel and slip into the water from your private dock to swim with jewel-bright tropical fish and luxuriate in the crystalline water.
Vanua Levu, Fiji
Savusavu on the island of Vanua Levu is only an hour’s flight from Fiji’s main international airport but this sleepy town feels like a world away. Village life is important here and resorts work with local communities to create sustainable tourism experiences. Hotel managers have partnered with the Mataqali, the traditional Fijian landowners, to declare the waters surrounding the island an official marine reserve. Snorkelling here is like jumping into a fish tank. Each resort practically screams ‘tropical island holiday’ and most of the food is either grown on-site or sourced from local vendors.
Aitutaki, Cook Islands
Widely regarded as the world’s most beautiful lagoon, the main island of Aitutaki is fringed by 15 secluded motus scattered across the sparkling waters like jewels. This island paradise is a haven for honeymooners who gaze into each other’s eyes in between snorkeling and diving trips or chatting with locals at the island market. For adventures slightly further afield, you can putter around the lagoon in a private boat, with a stop at tiny One Foot Island or the aptly named Honeymoon Island. Accommodation comes with a lagoon view and the use of snorkel gear, kayaks and paddle boards is complimentary but this peaceful paradise makes it easy to relax and enjoy doing nothing.
This South Pacific island’s name means ‘calm waters in the local dialect and provides a haven for marine life and travellers alike. Malolo Island offers a classic Fiji holiday experience complete with swaying palm trees, white beaches and sparkling blue waters. Here you’ll find Likuliku Lagoon Resort, an adults-only resort specialising in bespoke experiences such as exclusive beachside dinners, day trips to nearby Modriki Island where the movie Hideaway was filmed and romantic private island picnics. Enjoy the view from the privacy of your accommodation or stroll to the Masima Island Bar at the end of the jetty to catch the sunset. There are lounge chairs arranged for convivial conversation for those who enjoy socialising plus a selection of secluded tables for two.
Moorea, French Polynesia
With its lush landscape, palm tree-lined shores and sparkling turquoise waters, Moorea is stunning to behold. Along with swimming and snorkelling, there are excursions to the surrounding mountains and visits to plantations growing Tahiti’s unique pink pineapples. The resorts of this island show off the ‘pearl of the Pacific’ to perfection with magnificent water views and romantic dining. Secluded overwater bungalows have lagoon access and entertainment provided by ‘Tahiti TV’ (a glass panel in the bungalow floor).
With so much to see and do, a week in Oahu disappears more quickly than a pina colada at one of the many bars along Waikiki Beach. The small gentle waves here are easy to ride and Malibu boards are available for hire from one of the many beachside stalls. Superb shopping can be found at myriad outlet malls and there are dining options to suit every taste and mood, from Michelin star restaurants to cheap and cheerful food trucks.
Isle of Pines, New Caledonia
Named by Captain Cook for the many pine trees that fringe the shoreline, it’s hard to believe Cook and his crew didn’t leave their ship to experience this island’s white sandy beaches and abundant fish life as they sailed past the Isle of Pines in 1774. Set amongst swaying palm trees, many of the resorts on this island offer the chance to step directly into the lagoon from your accommodation. At sunset head to a bar and order a colourful cocktail featuring the local Niaouli liqueur.
Disclosure: The writer loves the South Pacific and would have a hard time choosing between these islands.
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