THE PACIFIC OCEAN IS HOME TO ABOUT 25,000 ISLANDS – AND THERE’S AT LEAST 12,897 PUNS TO DESCRIBE THE BEAUTY OF EACH ONE. OUR GUIDE ROUNDS UP JUST A FEW SUMMER HOT SPOTS. NOW, PACIFICALLY SPEAKING…
HEAD TO Uepi, Solomon Islands
BECAUSE You’ll find some of the world’s best dive spots, home to more creatures than a Star Wars bar, including the Risso’s dolphin. Yep, scuba enthusiasts can get up close to about 4000 species of fish and 400 species of coral, and it’s all thanks to the epic 20-metre-plus visibility. Our pick of the dive sites? The General Store – great for photogs because of the natural strobe light effects, live tritons, large nudibranches and huge variety of coral. AND If you’re more into snorkelling, you can get up close to giant clams, clownfish, blacktip reef sharks and manta rays – and the best site to do that is Welcome Jetty.
AFTERWARDS, KICK BACK AT The Uepi Island Resort – it’s a well-run resort owned by Aussies and there
are amazing dives right on its doorstep. Too easy.
KNOW THIS Shell money was used in the Solomons long before banknotes, and is still made as a traditional craft. Now, that’s some shrapnel worth keeping.
HEAD TO Great Barrier Island, New Zealand
BECAUSE With 100km of walking tracks, you can work up a sweat in lush surrounds. Climb 621 metres to the summit of Mt Hobson, try a quick-but-steep jaunt to Windy Canyon Lookout or take an easy stroll to Kaitoke Hot Springs for a dip. AND The paddleboarding and kayaking here are topnotch; there are a handful of local operators who can offer everything from lessons to gear hire. Sweet as.
AFTERWARDS, KICK BACK AT Bay Lodge Cottage, which is nestled on four hectares of native bush. From $197* a night, this one-bedroom cottage has a four-star rating and comes with top sunset views
and a fireplace for colder nights.
KNOW THIS Book your transport to the island ahead of everything else – flights and ferries fill up fast.
HEAD TO Vava’u Islands, Tonga
BECAUSE It’s one of the few places in the world where you can actually swim with whales. Yep, the crystal-clear waters here are a playground for humpbacks, and local tour operators like WhaleSwim Adventures and Dolphin Pacific Diving can get you up close to the giants.
AND You can load up on protein after with a fresh seafood buffet – try the ’ota ’ika, a Tongan speciality made with raw fish or shellfish and coconut milk, onions, tomatoes and lemon juice. Yes, please.
AFTERWARDS, KICK BACK AT The Mystic Sands, which has clean, motel-style accommodation right on the beach. KNOW THIS Peak time is August and September, with whale season beginning mid-July and ending mid-October.
HEAD TO Tanna Island, Vanuatu
BECAUSE Aggro Mt Yasur spews up firey magma every few minutes – kind of like a lava lamp on steroids. Go at night for an amazing fireworks show. How close you can get will depend on its activity level of the day; you can’t go unescorted so book a guide through vanuatu.travel.
AND The Blue Cave. It takes two hours to get there by boat, but the turquoise grotto is so clear it’s well worth the effort.
AFTERWARDS, KICK BACK AT The Yasur Camp Ground, where you can stay in a treehouse (you know it) with epic views of the erupting volcano.
KNOW THIS You’ll eat very well – organic is a way of life here, with their produce grown chemical free. #cleaneating
HEAD TO Niue
BECAUSE You can explore caves both above and beneath the waves to find secret bathing spots, ancient burial places and many unspoilt rocky coves. You don’t need a guide to get to Avaiki Cave, which features a natural 10-metre pool
that was once used as a royal bathhouse.
AND The Huvalu Rainforest offers a lush and shady spot to beat the midday heat.
AFTERWARDS, KICK BACK AT The Matavai Resort – with 44 rooms, it’s enormous by Niue’s standards, and has great views thanks to its cliff-top setting.
KNOW THIS Willy’s Washaway Cafe and Bar is a top spot for Sunday lunch – tuck into a fish focaccia while checking out the stunning views of Avatele Bay. And get this: the cafe doesn’t have a cashier, just an honesty system. We like that.
HEAD TO Easter Island, Chile
BECAUSE You can cycle over volcanic soil to see some of the 887 moai statues that make the island famous – they were probably carved from about AD 1250 by the Polynesians, but their purpose remains a mystery. The island’s just 24km long and 12km wide, but it has some challenging mountain bike trails for experienced cyclists, as well as tracks for newbies, but you can always jump on a horse for a different view.
AND There’s some great surfing to be had here. Experienced? Head to Papa Tangaroa for world-class breaks. Novice?
Try Pea Beach. Either way, you can hire a board from the Orca Diving Centre’s shop, Hare Orca, in Hanga Roa.
AFTERWARDS, KICK BACK AT Explora Rapa Nui Posada de Mike Rapu, the swishest place on the Island. Best views.
KNOW THIS Every February the festival of Tapati is held – it involves sliding down mountains on banana-tree trunks. Sold.