What’s your South Pacific island perfect match?
Stressed-out urban dweller WLTM South Pacific island with a GSOH…
Nah, what we really want is a short-term relationship that involves chillaxing, good times and underwater adventures amid picture-perfect scenery, balmy climes and clear, blue waters. Sound about right?
With some 20,000 to 30,000-odd islands, atolls and islets bobbing around in the South Pacific Ocean, there’s plenty of spots to choose from ranging from tiny pinpoints on the map to those idyllic locales that instantly conjure up images of white sand, swaying palm trees and the bluest of blue lagoons. Tahiti. Bora Bora. Samoa. Tonga. Vanuatu. Fiji. Even their names are rhythmically soothing.
But, which island is your soul mate? The one that gets you and your vacay needs? While beaches are a given across the South Sea spectrum, each island group or nation in Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia has its own distinct culture, landscape, languages and vibe. Sure, you could take the island version of a speed date or ‘The Bachelor’ and spend some time with a few contenders on a date South Pacific cruise to see if there’s any compatibility. Or, you could check out our handy guide to finding your perfect South Pacific Island match. Once you’ve found your one true love, all you’ll need are your boardies and bikinis plus the requisite lei/sarong/tupenu...
Rarotonga is the main island of 15 within the Cook Islands with postcard-perfect beaches, coral gardens and lush tropical forests. Divers and snorkellers won’t want to miss exploring the underwater caves and clear lagoons, or escape to uninhabited islands like Takutea and Manuae before enjoying a Polynesian feast.
Suits: Beach bums, divers and foodies
Fall in love with: Honeymoon Island (Aitutaki)
Easter Island (Rapa Nui)
Way over near Chile, Spanish-speaking Easter Island is famed for those mysterious giant, solemn statues or moai dotted around the landscape. Isolated and wild, relatively untouched Rapa Nui is a mecca for those seeking an authentic island experience with major bragging rights.
Suits: Culture vultures, eco tourists, divers and nature lovers
Fall in love with: The moai and Polynesian/Latino mix
With a laidback vibe and welcoming atmosphere, Fiji is the best attribute of the South Pacific, just a 3.5-hour flight from Australia. The Melanesian nation offers a mix of Indian and indigenous cultures and cuisines plus beautiful beaches, untouched islands and village kava ceremonies.
Suits: Backpackers, divers, foodies and culture vultures
Fall in love with: Pristine dive spots and affordable accommodation
Of the 115 islands, Tahiti would have to be the best known of French Polynesia’s idyllic locations. With its over-water bungalows, Bora Bora is a honeymoon fave, but you don’t have to be loved up to fall for the stunning surrounds. Surfers will love the infamous loops, and divers have plenty to ogle under the sea.
Suits: Divers, surfers and nature lovers
Fall in love with: Beach bungalows and tropical fish
With the world’s largest enclosed coral lagoon off the island of Grand Terre, New Caledonia is the South Pacific destination for divers, sailors and watersports enthusiasts. With a dash of French style mixed with Melanesian hospitality, you can expect sumptuous accommodation and delicious tropical food as a given.
Suits: Beach bums, divers, adrenalin junkies and foodies
Fall in love with: Cascading waterfalls and beautiful beaches
With pristine beaches and untouched scenery, Samoa is the ultimate flop-and-drop holiday where island time is slow even by South Pacific standards! Board riders can make the most of the reef breaks and top waves that make Samoa a popular surfing spot, or try catapulting coconuts out of the Alofaaga blowholes.
Suits: Beach bums, surfers and nature lovers
Fall in love with: Inland swimming holes
East of PNG and made up of many islands, the Solomons is a renowned diving spot with technicolour marine life and World War II wrecks waiting to be discovered under the water. There’s also heaps of breaks and uncrowded waves for board riders, plus active and dormant volcanoes for fire aficionados.
Suits: Divers, surfers, lava lovers and eco tourists
Fall in love with: Eco-friendly resorts and village culture
Tiny Tokelau is another Polynesian island nation in danger of being swallowed by rising seas due to global warming. Consisting of 3 atolls surrounded by lagoons, the only way to get here is a 20-minute boat ride from Samoa, so this is the place to see a largely untouched environment and strong local culture.
Suits: Culture vultures, castaway wannabes and mermaids
Fall in love with: The isolated beauty
With strong Christian values and as the South Pacific’s only remaining monarchy, the Kingdom of Tonga offers fantastic Sunday song and traditional kava, culture and crafts. There’s over 170 islands in the laidback Polynesian country to explore, or just sink into the sand on deserted powdery white beaches.
Suits: Beach bums, surfers and culture vultures
Fall in love with: The Vava’u islands for swimming, surfing and humpbacks
Consisting of 5 atolls and tiny islets, Tuvalu’s main claim to fame of late is its precarious future due to rising seas. Head to the sun-drenched locale before it disappears to enjoy the island pace and uninhabited islets of the Funafuti Marine Conservation Area for a real Robinson Crusoe experience.
Suits: Beach bums, nature lovers and castaway wannabes
Fall in love with: Island time
If sunken treasure, active volcanos and kava bars float your island boat, better head to French-speaking Vanuatu. Of the 82-odd volcanic islands of Vanuatu, Tanna is the place to climb the fiery Mt Yasur, Espiritu Santo has impressive diving wrecks and the capital, Port Vila, offers a 24-hour traditional market.
Suits: Divers, backpackers and lava lovers
Fall in love with: Natural fireworks courtesy of Mt Yasur
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