The South Pacific is right in our backyard, our tropical stomping ground. Along with cruises to Australia and New Zealand, it is one of the most common destinations for Australasian cruise enthusiasts, and for good reason - it is full of gorgeous pale sands, palm trees, shining green-blue waters and idyllic warm, sunny scenes.
We have looked at the best South Pacific cruises for couples and considered the region’s top ten most visually pleasing ports. Now, we are bringing you some specialist knowledge, tips for the seasoned South Pacific cruiser - an array of exciting and little-known spots. These destinations are not your typical cruise hubs, and may require a smaller ship or more intrepid line to get you there - but it is well worth it.
Image: By Paul Stein from New Jersey, USA (The Tower), CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
The name of this beautiful Vanuatuan isle evokes a sense of mystery, and it is a culturally fascinating place known for the practice of “land diving” by the local people. The beaches are beautiful, and the rainforest-clad interior is even more so, harbouring spectacular waterfalls and wonderful villages. Cruise lines often offer shore tours which take you to explore the highlights of this incredible place in depth, but it’s also easy to discover this enigmatic island at your own pace.
If you can, be sure to take in a ceremonial dancing display - a sight to remember. We also recommend that you bring a camera, but do ask any local people before taking a photo of them. As for the scenery, snap away!
Rabaul, Papua New Guinea
Those who like to get a glimpse of what’s beneath the water around the South Pacific must put Rabaul on their list. The scuba diving and snorkelling opportunities here are legendary, and there is also plenty on offer on land: located at the eastern end of PNG’s New Britain island, it harbours some interesting wartime history and also features an imposing volcano which has caused the town to be evacuated several times. A diving or volcanic tour are popular options for passing the time in Rabaul, and there are also war cemeteries to visit, military tunnels to explore, museums in which to learn and be entertained and plenty more. A visit to Rabaul is something a little different for a cruise itinerary, and it’s one that has a lot more to offer than many would imagine.
Conflict Islands, Papua New Guinea
Another Papua New Guinean gem (it’s a country full of them), the Conflict Islands have a name that belies their peaceful and idyllic beauty. The chain is very remote and sparsely populated, hard to get to in any other way than via cruise ship. The untouched vibe of the islands are a major part of their charm, and many of the shore tours showcase this exquisite beauty via glass-bottomed boat tours, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, and guided walks. If the Conflict Islands feature on your next itinerary, don’t be intimidated by the name - you can anticipate a hidden jewel of the South Pacific in a beautiful country that often flies well under the radar when it comes to popular destinations.
Nuku Hiva, French Polynesia
Bora Bora receives much of the holiday destination hype in French Polynesia, but there is another slice of paradisiacal perfection off to the northeast at Nuku Hiva, where ships dock at the main village of Taiohae. The steep green hills of this island rise from shining waters, and the coastline alternates deep bays with stunning and dramatic cliffs. Lush valleys are home to waterfalls and other natural beauty, and there are some unexpected features of this island which make it one to remember: volcanic black sand beaches, amazing archaeological sites, and an incredibly rich Marquesan culture. Horse riding is popular here too - pick your favourite way to see the isle by land or sea and set off to explore!
Visit Nuku Hiva aboard Oceania Cruises’ Pure Polynesia Cruise.
Rangiroa, French Polynesia
Image: Daniel Julie from Paris, France, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Gorgeous Rangiroa is another French Polynesian diamond, a little more low-key than Bora Bora but with just as much fun in store. It is known as a mecca for dive enthusiasts, so we recommend you get in the water and take a peek. Should you wish to stay on land, you can discover some real gems by learning about the atoll’s black pearl industry. The small town has a few stores, some restaurants, and WiFi available, making it a veritable metropolis in comparison to many of the other French Polynesian outer islands.
These and more gems of the South Seas await! Take a look at our South Pacific cruise deals and begin planning the adventure of a lifetime.