Why the Pacific Islands are a must-visit destination

Pacific Islands,

For many of us, it is a similar picture that comes to mind when we imagine ‘paradise’. Beaches of golden sand, turquoise waters and palm trees conjure up the classic idyllic destination image – the kind of place we dream of spending our lives but convince ourselves can only ever remain a distant ambition.

Carnival cruise ship sailing off the coast of New Caledonia

Carnival Legend sailing off the coast of New Caledonia (Image Credit: Girl Tweets World)

However, it may surprise you to learn that visiting the Pacific Islands – a loosely-defined collection of islands located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, beyond the eastern coast of Australia – can be well within the budgets of those looking to enjoy a cruise break in the near future. With a bit of prior planning, you could be experiencing paradise in a matter of months!

Below, we take a closer look at some of the Pacific Islands’ most beautiful spots, and get some handy travel tips from those who have been there before.

New Caledonia

Beach on Isle of Pines

New Caledonia is among the most popular of the many areas that can be discovered in the region, with its dozens of mainly French-speaking islands providing everything one could want to ensure a truly relaxing holiday.  

Jayne, who owns the travel blog Girl Tweets World, has plenty of experience when it comes to exploring New Caledonia - as you can see on her website in posts such as ‘7 Things to Do in Noumea, New Caledonia’ and ‘Paradise Found: Yejele Turquoise Beach, New Caledonia’ – and was happy to share some of her top recommendations for visiting its islands with us:

“A visit to New Caledonia is all about the beaches. I found my version of paradise at Yejele ‘Turquoise’ Beach on the island of Maré. The shallow, clear waters are perfect for bathing or paddle-boarding but bring your snorkel equipment too as Maré is a raised coral atoll and a wealth of marine life waits just beyond the beach.

“Another idyllic-looking place to visit is the Isle of Pines, named after the rows of tall pine trees that line the white sand beach.

“Remember to bring small change to the islands so you can sample cold tins of local beer or a freshly chopped coconut from the local vendors. Reef shoes are also a good idea for a holiday in New Caledonia, as broken up coral can catch you out in the sea.

“A visit to the capital city of Noumea offers the chance to learn more about Melanesian culture at the Museum of New Caledonia. I also recommend you head to the nearest boulangerie and stock up on French pastries and croissants to gorge on the beach. If you are visiting on a Sunday you can also enjoy a very European-style flea market at La Place Des Cocotiers and find some surprising art on the nearby streets.”

Carnival cruise ship sailing off the coast of New Caledonia

Carnival Legend sailing off the coast of New Caledonia (Image Credit: Girl Tweets World)

Another expert on New Caledonia, Silke from Happiness and Things - a travel blog offering advice on city trips, amazing landscapes, and the best travel experiences – is also keen to point out the benefits of visiting the Isle of Pines in particular, and went into detail about why it is such a rewarding place to spend time:

“New Caledonia truly is paradise on Earth. The archipelago’s many islands offer something for everyone, each one spectacular in its own right. My favourite island in New Caledonia, however, is the Isle of Pines. Soft sandy beaches, iridescent blue waters, coconut crabs grilled right on the beach… you may be forgiven when you arrive for just dropping your stuff right there and not moving an inch.

“Yet, if you do decide to explore the island a bit more, you will soon discover that the Isle of Pines has a lot of beautiful sights to offer. Visit the main town of Vao for the memorial of Saint Maurice, or snorkel at the Piscine Naturelle in the north of the island. My favourite place on the Isle of Pines, however, is Queen Hortense’s Grotto, the hiding place of a princess during a war of succession who would later on in life play a vital role in the defence of her people against the French authorities.” 


Beach at sunset on Tongatapu

More densely populated than New Caledonia but still very much isolated compared to the Western towns and cities most of us are used to, the Polynesian kingdom of Tonga – comprised of over 170 islands in total – is another favourite spot among truly discerning travellers.

Although it is around 1,500 miles and a three-hour flight away, Tonga’s extremely remote location means that it is still considered to be a ‘neighbour’ of New Zealand. As such, many travellers often combine a trip to the land of the Kiwi with a visit there, and we were able to ask the experts at BackpackerGuide.NZ – a comprehensive portal for all backpackers planning on exploring this part of the world - a number of questions about how to truly get the most out of Tonga:

If you could pick any particular sights or landmarks that first-time visitors to Tonga should be sure to take the time to see, what would they be and why?

“Of course, Tonga is famous for its paradise beaches, as are many of the islands in the South Pacific. But if you want to see something truly unique in the South Pacific then don't miss the Ha’amonga Trilithon on the northeast of Tongatapu. This mysterious stone structure, dubbed the ‘Stonehenge of the Pacific’, was believed to have been built in 1,200 AD. See what makes Tonga stand out from the rest in our 5 South Pacific Islands That Are Awesome for Backpackers guide.”

Are there any specific local customs in Tonga that foreign visitors should be careful to observe/adhere to?

“Be aware of what you are wearing! You need to be adequately dressed in public places, wearing shorts and skirts below the knee and shorts and t-shirts at public beaches. Save the bikini and board shorts for the resorts. If you're still unsure, check out our Tonga travel guide over on BackpackerGuide.NZ.”

Are there any traditional dishes that you would recommend visitors try whilst they are on the Tongan islands?

“Any food cooked in an ‘umu’ has to be tried! Fresh food like pork, chicken, sweet potatoes, yams and so much more are slow-cooked in an underground oven for hours, resulting in soft, melt-in-your-mouth flavours and textures. See more Tonga ‘must-tries’ on BackpackerGuide.NZ!”

Beach on 'Atata Island

We also heard from Jade – who, along with her husband and two children, travels all over the world on a budget and blogs about it on their website, OurOyster – about why she thinks Tonga is such a unique yet accessible place to visit:

“Tonga is both easy to access and remote, making it a land of contrasts. It is easy to get to the main island of Tonga from Fiji and New Zealand, but getting around Tonga and its many islands can be a bit of a challenge. We recommend renting a car for exploring the main island of Tonga. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that if you plan to drive in Tonga, you need to get a temporary Tongan driver’s license. Don't worry, though - it’s just a bit of paperwork and only takes a few minutes to acquire.

“Also, did you know that Tonga is the only place in the world where you can swim with humpback whales? Just take a short ferry to the nearby island of 'Eua, where the whales like to seasonally congregate. For a small fee, local fishermen will take you out to the whales for a once in a lifetime experience.”


Aerial view of mountains on Suva

Last but not least, we head to a destination that is arguably the closest thing to true paradise of them all: Fiji. Legendary for its stunning scenery, laid-back atmosphere and heavenly beaches, the island nation (there are over 300 in all) is surely the most beautiful place it is possible to spend a holiday in the world. To find out more, we heard about the experiences of Tommy Walker, the aptly-named nomad who has spent over five years exploring many of the world’s most fascinating and diverse corners – including Fiji – and documents his travels on his site, The Wandering Walker:

“When I first visited Fiji, I had a complete sense of freedom. Situated at the end of the world for most of us, the Fijians are some of the nicest in the world. Greeted by 'Bula' wherever you go, you are accompanied by warm feelings the whole time. There's nowhere more relaxing than Fiji and with its lush surroundings, beautiful beaches, turquoise waters and green rainforests, it's impossible not to feel like you're in paradise. 

“One of Fiji's main pulls is that it is suitable for everyone. Whether you're a couple going on holiday or with family, or you're an intrepid solo traveller, there's always something to enjoy there. It won't be the fastest-paced country you'll ever visit but, with its gorgeous surroundings, that's exactly how it should be. 'Fiji time’ is a way of life there, and that's just it - things happen when they happen. Forget the rat race and the way things are back home, Fiji is a place where you can find peace and take a step back.”

Beach on Efate

So, what are you waiting for? Stop dreaming and make your fantasy a reality – visit our Pacific Islands cruise deals page and book your dream getaway now.

Additional Image Credits: Philippe AMIOT, Anthony Sowerby, Chad McMillan, Phillip Capper