Visit the South Pacific
Sit back and imagine paradise. Pretend you’ve slipped inside the pages of the glossiest tropical travel brochure. Imagine swimming through silky turquoise waters and drying off on the hot sand of a palm fringed, empty beach. Now imagine devouring exotic tropical fruits and melt-in-your-mouth fresh fish. Think of happy locals, jungly jeep adventures and balmy warm weather; and you’re pretty close to imagining the otherworldly delights of the South Pacific.
When the Gods created paradise, they made Bora Bora. With its perfect paradisiacal appearance and its luminous turquoise lagoon, you could be forgiven for waking up and thinking it was all just a dream.
Hugely popular with loved up honeymooners relaxing in their pandanas thatched overwater bungalows, you can relax with a sundowner, admiring your view of Mount Otemanu (and your beloved, of course). Jump into a jeep for a safari to some local villages, or try out the submarine scootering – underwater on an aquabike!
Our Picks for Bora Bora
InterContinental Thalasso Spa - 5 nights from $6224
Le Meridien Bora Bora - 5 nights from $3855
Sofitel Private Island Resort - 5 nights from $3685
Ultimate South Pacific Diving - 13 nights from $6155
Dreaming of an escape to the perfect tropical island? Fifteen tiny jewels in the Pacific Ocean (aka the Cook Islands) are the perfect destination. Land lovers can explore explore the largest island, Rarotonga, with its landscape of mountains and tropical rainforest. Hike the stunning cross-island trail and check out ‘The Needle’ – Te Rua Maga, a remnant volcanic plug, majestically towering above the canopy.
If you’re keen to explore the magical underwater ecosystem, a trip to Aitutaki atoll gives access to a vast coral lagoon that teems with giant clams and fish in an array of magical colours. If you’re lucky, you might spot a rare green turtle gliding by; or perhaps some Picasso fish (aptly named when you meet them); peacock grouper; and exquisite parrotfish.
Our Picks for Cook Islands
Ultimate Cook Island Escape - 7 nights from $3405
Rarotonagan Beach Resort Family Safari - 5 nights from $2305
Aitutaka Scuba Diving - 2 tank dives from $198
With on site Romance Co-ordinators in couples only havens, and free Kids Club in family friendly resorts; it’s no wonder Fiji has become the natural habitat for swooning honeymooners and frazzled families.
For loved up couples, you can stay in resorts like Likuliku Lagoon. Wander across the boardwalk to your own private over-water bure. Admire your bure’s elegantly designed, Polynesian inspired interiors, complete with hand woven…everything. If you can drag yourself away from your personal plunge pool and private bathing rooms, flop across the sand in your flippers and fall into the luminous sea. Herpetologists will make it their mission to find the ‘Pandas of Fiji ‘– the critically endangered and exquisitely coloured Turquoise Green Crested Iguanas. Now part of a joint breeding program with Sydney’s Taronga Zoo.
Our Picks for Fiji
Yasawa Islands Sea Kayaking - 8 days from $2360
Fiji Siren Liveaboard - 7 nights from $4755
Scuba Dive Kadavu Package - 8 nights from $2380
Outrigger Family Escape - 5 nights from $2220
Volivoli Beach Resort Fishing Adventure - 4 nights from $1609
Micronesia is a collection of four individual states, Kosrae, Pohnpei, Chuuk and Yap, all of which have their own distinct culture and landscape. If you’re a keen diver, you’ll enjoy the wreck diving experiences around Chuuk. Also known as ‘ Wreck Mecca’ it was the scene of tragedy during World War II. During ‘Operation Hailstone’, dozens of warships and hundreds of aircraft were destroyed here. The ‘ship reef’ is now an incredible dive destination with hard and soft corals; kaleidoscopic coloured reef fish and schools of sharks.
Check out the phenomenal ruined stone city of Nan Madol in eastern Pohnpei. Also known as “Venice of the Pacific”, networks of canals were constructed from massive basalt columns sometime in the 12th century (around the same time as Angkor Wat). Locals say that a powerful magician helped out by flying the huge stone pillars in from their source to the present site.
Our Picks for Micronesia
Explore Truk Lagoon Liveaboard - 7 nights from $4565
Manta Ray Bay Resort Stay n Dive - 7 nights (10 dives) from $2030
Welcome to a world where Oceania meets Paris. New Caledonia was colonised by the French in the 18th century, and this amazing archipelago is still home to a Kanak culture that’s alive and well.
In Noumea you can take your pick of gorgeous resorts, high-end glitzy shops and bars with enough nightlife to keep even keenest revellers entertained for weeks. Gourmands will love the land where great coffee and baguettes meet Bougna (banana, taro, yam, crab wrapped in banana leaves and cooked in an underground pit). After your fill of Noumea’s nightlife, head to the west coast open country and hang out with the hardy Broussards (local cowboys). Jump on a horse and head out over the central mountain range and see la brousse (local bush) in all its glory. Romantics will love a flight over the Heart of Voh, a naturally occurring heart shape formed in the mangroves.
Our Picks for New Caledonia
Chateau Royal Beach Resort - 8 days from $1729*
Noumea & Ile des Pins Package - 6 days from $1959
Hilton Noumea La Promenade Residences (Family of 6) - 8 days from $6699*
Escapade Island Resort - 4 days from $1449*
Escapade Island Resort Family Package - 8 days from $2848*
* includes return airfares from Australia
As simple as saying: “Sweet as, bro”. A trip to New Zealand runs like a dream family holiday show reel.
Leap into the amazing waters near lake Taupo where a hot geothermal stream collides with an icy cold river. Feel the heat (and curious odours) as you walk across the steaming geysers of Rotorua. Lace up your boots for one of the world’s most glorious walks along the famous Milford Track. Watch for sneaky Keas as they unzip your pack and eat your lunch. The kids will love looking for Bilbo Baggins in Middle Earth at the magical Hobbiton movie set. Extreme sports junkies, you’ll love Queenstown - where you can get your fix of heli-skiing, heli-hiking, heli-fishing, in fact…heli-anything!
If all this sounds a tad hectic, head to gorgeous art deco Napier in the North Island and pretend you’ve slid inside the pages of The Great Gatsby. Sip and swirl your way around the fine pinot Noir vineyards of Central Otago. Watch out for formidable All Blacks as they conquer on the rugby field, and take time to learn more about the phenomenal Maori culture as you traverse active volcano - Tongariro Mountain.
Our Picks for New Zealand
Hollyford Track - 3 days from $1861
Otago Central Railtrail Cycle Tour - 5 days from $928
Southern Glacier Self Drive - 8 days from $1855
Warbirds Over Wanaka - 8 days from TBA
Highlights of NZ Tour by Coach - 16 days from $4644
Northern Discover Self Drive - 8 days from $1469
NZ Southern Explorer & Celebrity Solstice Cruise - 19 days from $5494
Heralded by National Geographic as “the destination of a lifetime”, pack your bags immediately and head to Palau. An archipelago of 200 pristine limestone volcanic islands, these emerald islands are home to extraordinary jewel-like lagoons and bizarre life forms.
The golden jellyfish, one of earth’s most ancient animals, is a “union of jellyfish and algae”. Algae convert sunlight into sugars, energising these strange golden creatures as they pulsate through the water. Incredibly, this jellyfish has evolved over millennia to have no sting, making it safe to jump in for the most surreal snorkelling experience of your life. 13 million jellyfish migrate from the east side of the lake to the west side every morning, and back again in the afternoon.
Our Picks for Palau
Solitude One Liveaboard - 7 nights from $5200
Ocean Hunter III Liveaboard - 7 nights from $4995
Palau Royal Resort Dive Package - 7 nights from $2440
Palau Pacific Resort Dive Package - 7 nights from $3150
PAPUA NEW GUINEA
How refreshing to travel to a country that’s not overtly directed at tourism. Papua New Guinea is a place where to travel, means to have a swashbuckling, storybook style adventure. Visiting such an unspoiled land you’ll see the flora, fauna and rich indigenous culture in a completely natural environment.
Definitely for lovers of DIY travel, take a trip to the Highlands of Papua New Guinea and you can even experience the tribal life that has remained unchanged for aeons. Head to Asaro village near Goroka to learn about formidable mud men. Up here, locals painstakingly created wildly decorated heavy mud masks, covered themselves in pale mud and proceeded to raid neighbouring settlements.
Our Picks for Papua New Guinea
The Kokoda Track - 11 days from $3645
True North PNG Islands Discoverer - 6 days from $8995
Mount Wilhelm Ascent - 8 days from $3560
Ropopo Plantation Resort Dive Package - 7 nights from $1544
Chilled locals? Check. Postcard-perfect azure seas? Check. Awesome surf? Check.
With its genesis in violent volcanic eruptions, Samoa sure has chilled out over the years. Here you’ll find plenty of the three S’s. Sun, surf and snorkelling, that is. You can spend the morning surfing and in the afternoon do a ‘waterfall crawl’, dipping into cool rainforesty waters wherever you like.
Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson (author of Treasure Island, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and Kidnapped) spent the final five years of his life here trying to recuperate from TB. You can visit his beautiful old mansion that’s still filled with original belongings, evoking a bygone era.
Our Picks for Samoa
Saletoga Sands Resort & Spa - 5 nights from $1815
Sheraton Samoa Aggie Grey's Resort - 5 nights from $1430
Welkam to the Solomon Islands! Free yourself of Facebook, let go of LinkedIn. Step back in time to the Solomon’s outer villages where there’s no power, running water, or Internet. At the heart of it, the Solomon Islands are a wonderful place to switch off and immerse yourself in the traditional way of life with lovely locals. In fact many here still practice a subsistence existence, relying on fishing and constructing their own thatched shelters. Shells are still used as currency in some places, and double as beautiful jewellery.
Check out the ancient skull shrines and learn about headhunting from remote mountain top hill forts. The Solomon Islands are famous with travellers for spectacular snorkelling and scuba amongst its 992 tropical islands – offering you the world’s most pristine diving. During World War II, 200 ships and 690 aircraft tragically went down here, eventually providing incredible underwater ecosystems around the wrecks. Schools of travelly and barracuda glide by uninterrupted in a place refreshingly undisturbed from ecological damage.
Our Picks for Solomon Islands
Bilikiki Liveaboard Diving - 7 nights from $5825
Fatboys Escape Package - 7 nights from $1248
Solomon Explorer - 6 nights from $2395
Heritage Park Fly n Stay - 5 nights from $1696
A name synonymous with paradise, Tahiti has inspired many famous folk. Captain Cook spoke of an enchanted land with a perfect climate, no disease, and with women who were the handsomest he’d ever seen! Herman Melville, Robert Louis Stevenson and W. Somerset Maugham all travelled and wrote here; and Paul Gauguin immortalised scenes from traditional Tahitian life in his famous paintings.
Soak in the sounds of Tahitian drums and ukuleles as you don a Polynesian pareo and learn to dance like a local. Surf at Papenoo; buy pearls in Huahine Nui; jump on a jeep safari into wildest jungle; and see how exotic vanilla is cultivated. Or, perhaps you’d prefer just to float about and snorkel with stingrays, soaking in the wonders of the most beautiful place on earth.
Our Picks for Tahiti
Authentic Tuamotu Discovery - 8 nights from $4415
Moorea Romantic Escape - 6 nights from $2670
Fly/Cruise Dream Yacht Charters - 12 days from $4999
Tahiti and Moorea Family Holiday - 7 nights from $4250
Discover Vanilla Island: Tahaa - 7 nights from $4750
Rangiroa Secluded Escape - 7 nights from $2850
Aranui Cruise to Marquesas Islands - 15 nights from $8520
It’s Tonga time! The oldest and last remaining Polynesian monarchy, Tonga is the only Pacific nation never to be brought under foreign rule.
Coming to Tonga, you’ll immediately feel the proud culture of its Polynesian people. A fantastic place to explore authentic local traditions, see skilled locals cook delicious food in their ‘umu’ or underground ovens, and drink muddy coloured kava if you’re feeling brave. Head to Langi to learn about tombs of past Tongan kings. Check out Talemalu markets for a good dose of exotic tropical fruits and crafty goods.
Feel uplifted on Sunday morning as you hear magnificent voices floating from the local churches. Tongans transferred hymns from major to minor key after the missionaries came, and are renowned for their spine tingling, soaring harmonies that will bring a tear to the eye.
Our Picks for Tonga
Tonga Kayak Adventure - 8 days from $2390
Treasure Island Whale Swim - 5 nights from $3850
Fafa Island Resort - 5 nights from $1575
Scenic & Historical Nuku'alofa - Half Day Tour $96
Cannibals, Survivor sets, land diving, active volcanoes and virgin rainforests. The kids will feel like they’ve stepped into a real-life adventure novel in Vanuatu.
The genesis of bungee jumping, Naghol or land diving, is still practiced on Pentecost Island. Hardy local men leap from 30 metre high towers precariously constructed of timber, with just a couple of (hopefully) well-chosen vines attached to their ankles. It’s a coming-of-age for younger men; and with belief that it assures a successful yam harvest, jumpers are cheered on from children and women waiting below.
Of course, there are also Tarzan and Jane style rope swings, sinkholes, volcano climbing and your host of usual water sports. So bring the kids along and have a fun family time, or leave them at home with granny and check in to a luxe adults only resort.
Our Picks for Vanuatu
Tanna Island Yasur Volcano Tour - 1 night from $490
Ratua Private Island - 5 nights from $2460
Hideaway Island Resort - 7 nights from $1110*
Eratap Beach Resort Luxury Escape - 7 nights from $2250*
* includes return airfares from Australia