[Rangiroa Atoll in Polynésia by dany13.]
The South Pacific encompasses a broad geographical area that includes Micronesia, Melanesia, Polynesia, New Zealand, Australia and Papua New Guinea. Those who haven’t visited this area before will find that this is where inspiration for countless visions of an undiscovered island paradise have come from – both as a result of the history of this part of the world and the fact that there are still islands that retain that untouched feel even today. If you’re looking for beaches, for exploration, friendly people and a real getaway then the South Pacific is ideal.
Climate-wise, the South Pacific is tropical all year round so it is a perfect option for those who are looking for some winter sun (although remember that it also has a hurricane season). Summer is November to April when the weather tends to be hotter, with more chance of rain and hurricanes than in the winter months of May to October. Oceania, which is part of the South Pacific is considered to be one of the planet’s major ecological zones and so it is a fascinating place to explore in terms of the local ecosystem, geography and plant life – this area completely captured the imagination of the infamous Captain James Cook, who laid down the modern map of the region, and it still retains much of the same charm today. Nature in this part of the world is worth the journey alone and has been the subject of an enormous number of nature documentaries. Look out for the sea lions, penguins, reef sharks, fruit bats, iguanas and dolphins, as well as landscapes that encompass erupting undersea volcanoes (Kavachi), stunning coral reefs and some of the most incredible beaches in the world.
There are many holiday hot spots in the South Pacific, thanks to the fact that this area has between 20,000 and 30,000 islands. Fiji is a group of islands located in the Melanesian group that has gained a reputation for some fabulous sunsets and a laid-back beach life. Viti Levu is the main island in the Fiji group and serves as a jumping off point for a range of other paradise spots, from lively islands like Beachcomber to the tiny paradise of Caqalai.
The Cook Islands have become another much loved holiday hot spot in the South Pacific thanks to the natural beauty evident all around and the friendly, smiley locals (be sure to learn the local greeting ‘Kia Orana’! as you’ll hear it a lot!). Tahiti & French Polynesia is all about the azure blue seas and the unspoilt coral fields that fascinate many of those who journey to this part of the world. From lazing by a lagoon all day, to taking a safari or having close encounters with the local sealife (think turtles and sharks to start with) this island paradise is a pretty special experience. New Caledonia is the chic option for South Pacific visitors as this special collectivity of France has cosmopolitan shopping and internationally renowned restaurants, alongside the incredible island landscapes. Whether you’ve come for the shopping on rue de Sébastopol in Noumea or the romance of Île des Pins there’s something here for everyone.
The South Pacific is one of those places that really captures the hearts and imaginations of those who journey here. Whether the aim is to explore, to discover, to adventure or simply to relax, there are lots of options for the trip of a lifetime – the only down side is that you may never want to leave…
Written by John from ANZCRO – specialists in holidays to Australia & the South Pacific