Best Travel Destinations In The South Pacific

Best Travel Destinations In The South Pacific

When office dwellers daydream about escaping to paradise, they often picture the South Pacific—a clear blue ocean, straw-roofed hut, undisturbed beach, and tropical drink. It all sounds so good.

You may be among these daydreamers, and you may even be quickly adding “South Pacific” to your travel bucket list.

But where should you go? Or, in the short term, to where should you allow your mind to wander?

Well, you can’t go wrong. It does depend on where your interests lie, though. Check out these nine South Pacific destinations, sorted by activity.


For scuba diving or snorkeling:

Namena Marine Reserve – Fiji

Find serenity and adventure at the edge of the world in Fiji. The Daku Resort specializes in providing all-encompassing experiences for travelers that include sea and beachside activities, including yoga while the Namena Marine Reserve is one of the great aquatic wonders of the world. The stretch of ocean between the main Fijian islands of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu features remarkable biodiversity, thanks to environmental protection.

Rock Islands Southern Lagoon – Palau

The Rock Islands Southern Lagoon, with its hundreds of lush, emerald peaks and impossibly turquoise waters, was abandoned by civilization in the 18th century. Today, the UNESCO World Heritage Site is a popular scuba and snorkeling destination due to its stunning natural beauty and marine phenomena. Jellyfish Lake, one of about 70 within the lagoon, is home to the unique golden jellyfish, which has lost its stinging power over time as a result of the lack of natural predators in the area. Tourists can snorkel among the jellyfish, with tours offered from Koror.

Port Vila – Vanuatu

Vanuatu’s lively capital, Port Vila, is the perfect home base to launch your South Pacific adventure. Explore the culture of the country through the city’s many markets, restaurants, and museums. Then book trips to the surrounding waters, translucent and filled with spectacular marine life. For a romantic getaway, Iririki Island offers a wide range of activities to go along with your stay in paradise.


For relaxing on the beach:

Atata Island – Tonga

A pleasant, 20-minute boat ride from Tonga’s main island of Tongatapu, Atata Island is shaped like a gourd, with one long beach wrapping around the skinny portion. You’ll find the Royal Sunset Resort fit with typical amenities…just in an out-of-this-world setting. Unwind with a drink on the beach or admire the ocean from the outdoor pool.

Aitutaki – Cook Islands

Aitutaki has somehow earned an international reputation as home to the “Most Beautiful Lagoon in the World” while remaining understated. It’s a relaxed atmosphere—then again, how could it not be?—that welcomes travelers to its pristine beaches. There are plenty of resorts to choose from, ranging from the upscale, like the Aitutaki Private Island Resort, to the affordable, like the Kuru Club. Each is mere steps from the open ocean.

Norfolk Island – Australia

The 15-square-mile island, an Australian property north of New Zealand and south of New Caledonia, has an interesting history. It was home to a ruthless British penal settlement, and then essentially gifted to descendants of mutineers, who settled in the South Pacific. Their blend of Old English and Tahitian is still spoken to this day. Culture aside, Norfolk Island’s undistubed beaches provide a serene getaway, with pine forests covering the cliffs above. Visitors can also hike, fish, or snorkel during their stay.


For discovering hidden gems:


This atoll at the edge of Oceania, and close, comparatively speaking, to Hawaii, has something for everyone. The quaint beachside lodges give visitors a taste of paradise, with aquatic adventures readily available—world-class fishing, snorkeling, and surfing, to mention three. History buffs might also be interested in Kiribati’s World War II legacy: It was an important battleground in the Pacific Theater. Kiribati, Kiritimati Island in particular, is also an important breeding ground and sanctuary for a number of seabirds. As a result, a bird-watching tour is a must here.

Lord Howe Island – Australia

Lord Howe Island is isolated by geography and policy. It sits in the Tasman Sea, some 700 kilometers northeast of Sydney, and only 400 visitors are allowed on the island at any one time. Because of this, an unspoiled natural environment remains, with sea and land adventures available. Ned’s Beach, on the north end of the island, is popular for its snorkeling and coral reef.


With lush green jungles covering a volcanic landscape, Samoa is as beautiful a country as there is in the world. Somehow, it remains a less popular destination than its South Pacific neighbors like Fiji and Bora Bora. That’s good for you! Stay at a typical open beach hut or a modern resort and enjoy a wide variety of activities: scuba-diving, snorkeling, jungle tours, hiking, and more. Head there for a romantic getaway, or bring the whole family!


Why Thailand Should Be On Everybody’s Bucket List

Why Thailand Should Be On Everybody’s Bucket List

The Southeast Asian nation delivers on the hype, with stunning natural scenery, delicious food, and awe-inspiring spiritual sites. Best of all, Thailand is inexpensive despite its popularity.

Below are several interesting facts about Thailand, along with Thai phrases to know, must-see destinations, and more: 

Fast Facts

  • Thailand welcomed the ninth-most visitors worldwide in 2018.
  • Thailand is home to the world’s smallest mammal, the bumblebee bat.
  • Thailand is the only Southeast Asian nation to never be colonized by Europeans.
  • King Bhumibol Adulyadej (1927-2016) was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and served as king of Thailand for 70 years and 126 days, the second-longest reign for a monarch in world history.
  • All Thai males were once required to spend time as Buddhist monks before they turned 20.

Thai Phrases to Know

  • “Hello” – Sawatdii
  • “How are you?” – Sabaadii mai
  • “Thank you” – Khop kun
  • “Excuse me” – Koortoot
  • “Cheers” – Chon gâew
  • “Can you speak English?” Kun pood paasaa anggrit dai mai

The Beaches

With some 2,000 miles of coastline and more than 1,400 islands, Thailand is a paradise for the aquatically inclined. Railay Beach, for example, offers travelers relaxation on the sand and adventure in the form of rock-climbing, island-hopping, hiking, and more. Those interested in spelunking or kayaking should also prioritize Phra Nang. Solitude seekers will find the sands of Kantiang Beach welcoming. On the opposite side of the spectrum, there’s no better party than the Full Moon Party at Koh Phangan.

The Cities

You’ll love the balance of history, natural beauty, and modernity that defines Thailand. That balance can be found in the country’s biggest cities. In Bangkok, for example, you can explore a metropolis by street, canal, or rail. And you’ll stand in awe at the reclining Buddha at Wat Pho, the ornate architecture of the Grand Palace, and the quaint energy of the floating market.

Head north to Chiang Mai, a city founded in the 13th century, where you can barter at the night bazaar, or escape to the neighboring mountains and jungles: Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, one of the most sacred sites in Thailand, overlooks the region, while the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary Chiang Mai grants visitors the chance to admire Thailand’s national animal up close in an ethical setting.

The Food

Those who splurge for Thai food in the United States will find a welcome truth in Thailand: The authentic stuff is cheap. Most meals will run you about 90-150 Baht ($3-$5), so you can go on your own culinary tour without breaking the bank. Start out with staples such as guay teow (noodle soup), som tam (spicy green papaya salad), and tom kha gai (chicken in coconut soup) before venturing to more exotic dishes like pad phuk tong (stir-fried pumpkin) and yam pla dook foo (fried catfish with mango salad). No matter what you try, you can’t go wrong.

The Jungle

Thailand has worked to preserve its jungles and wide range of wildlife that call them home. The country is filled with national parks championing conservation while still providing visual and physical thrills. Khao Sok National Park in the south features the oldest evergreen rainforest in the world. Visitors can go on a two-, three-, or four-day jungle tour. The Flight of the Gibbon—named for the smallish tree-swinging apes that call the Thailand jungles home—gives parkgoers a ziplined tour of the jungle canopy. (Note: There’s one near Chian Mai and another near Bangkok.)

The Temples

There are more than 40,000 temples in Thailand. For tourists, temples are architectural or spiritual attractions. For Buddhists, the monks especially, they are sacred places that should be treated with the utmost respect. Before you visit a temple, keep these customs in mind:

  • Dress modestly
  • Avoid using your cell phone
  • Remove your shoes
  • Don’t point
  • Never turn your back directly on Buddha; instead, take a few steps away from the effigy before turning

Okay, so now that you have the proper etiquette down, where will you go? How about the green-in-appearance-and-spirit Temple of a Million Bottles, which is made from recycled beer bottles and bottle caps? Or the centuries-old Wat Phrang That Lampang Luang? Maybe you’ll find peace at the famous White Temple. Wherever you choose, you’re sure to be awed. Each temple tells a different story and contributes to making your Thailand vacation simply unforgettable.


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