When you really want to get away from it all on vacation, a trip to the islands of the South Pacific, with their pristine beaches, aquamarine waters and tropical landscape can provide a respite for body and soul.
Bora Bora, Tahiti, Fiji, Moorea and the Cook Islands are all on the list of the South Pacific’s top up-and-coming destinations for 2020, according to a survey by Travel Leaders Group conducted among more than 400 of its travel advisors.
Wherever you go in the region, consider booking an overwater bungalow for your stay. These cottages on stilts can range from basic to luxury. But they all offer the ultimate in relaxation and privacy, not to mention a spectacular view.
Tahiti is the largest in a chain of islands that make up French Polynesia, and an eight-hour flight from Los Angeles. In the capital, Papeete, you can shop for handicrafts at the bustling city market, enjoy a picnic in tropical Bougainville Park and relax on the black-sand beaches for which Tahiti is known. In July, the Heiva festival transforms the island into a celebration of Polynesian culture.
Bora Bora, less than an hour by plane from Tahiti, is known for its luxury resorts and water-centric activities. Surrounded by a lagoon and barrier reef, it’s a great spot for snorkeling, scuba diving and jet skiing. You can also circle the island on a cruise, stopping for a Polynesian lunch. In the center of Bora Bora, remnants of an extinct volcano rise to two mountain peaks, which you can explore on a hike or guided tour.
Small and laid-back Moorea, also part of French Polynesia, is easily accessible by ferry from Tahiti. Known for stunning scenery and beautiful beaches, the island has lots to offer active travelers, including trails that wind through the rainforest on the slopes of Mount Tohivea. You can also take a zipline through the island’s lush terrain and tour its lagoons from a glass-bottom kayak.
Fiji, a former British colony, is an archipelago of more than 300 islands, known for its rugged landscapes and palm-lined beaches. A highlight is the scenic drive along the 50-mile stretch of roadway known as the Coral Coast, on the main island of Viti Levu. Fiji is also a great choice if you want a vacation focused on health and wellness. You can choose from resorts offering a range of activities, from women-only retreats to spa treatments, yoga, Pilates and meditation.
The Cook Islands is an independent nation with ties to New Zealand. The largest island, Rarotonga, is home to rugged mountains and Avarua, the capital. You’ll find lots to do, from kite surfing, paddle boarding and scuba diving during the day to a lively nightlife, with restaurants and open-air bars that offer spectacular views. Catch the Saturday market in Avarua, where you’ll find live music and vendors selling food, arts and crafts.
For help planning a South Pacific adventure, contact our expert in the destination – Jen Czerwinski!