The cruise industry is growing in our little corner of the world, and it's no wonder when you consider the amazing places that ships can cruise to in the South Pacific. From the exciting cities and small towns of New Zealand and Australia to the absolutely idyllic and deserted beaches of tiny islands across Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia, it's just about the perfect holiday destination.
We've gone a bit beyond the main cruise centres and picked out some of the smaller, lesser-known and just plain fantastic hidden gems of South Pacific cruise itineraries. Have a read of what's out there and check out your options with our South Pacific Cruise Sale!
1 . Isle of Pines, New Caledonia
Keen Aussie cruisers will know that this spot is not so secret, but its splendour certainly can't be denied. It's top of the list of favourite destinations for many, and it can knock the socks off any visitor. All the elements of tropical bliss are present here, from talcum powder sand to stunning underwater vistas, and the namesake pine trees add a bit of interest and distinctive character.
Located off the eastern end of mainland New Caledonia, the Isle of Pines is a small island with plenty to offer. Swimming, snorkelling, diving, sailing and other water sports are favoured pastimes, and for those who like to make the most of their time on solid ground there's a mountain to climb and the remains of a French penal colony to explore, as well as a gorgeous natural pool/aquarium at Oro Bay.
2 . Port Douglas, Australia
Not far north of Cairns lies a smaller, quieter and arguably prettier town, where life is laidback and tropical Northern Queensland can be enjoyed to the fullest. It often flies under the radar compared to bigger cities and more famous beach locations like the Whitsundays, but Port Douglas now features on quite a few cruise itineraries and for good reason. The pristine strip of whiteness that is Four Mile Beach is reason enough!
The town is a mix of sophisticated beach resort and relaxed Aussie community, fantastic for a great day onshore. Visitors can just enjoy the atmosphere of the place, get in the water to snorkel, acquaint themselves with some local wildlife or hop on a tour to the Daintree Rainforest. The options are endless!
3 . Yasawa Islands, Fiji
Sometimes you just wanna go somewhere that megaships can't reach. In the South Pacific, that can mean the gorgeous, reasonably untouched Yasawa Islands of Fiji. Cruise lines like Captain Cook Cruises Fiji offer small-ship cruising to this spectacular place, and it's a great way to get up close and personal with the island chain.
Rugged and remote, these islands are home to locals living in small villages, a whole lot of beaches, palm trees, flora, fauna and not much else. "Island time" rules, schedules are flexible and life is pretty sweet for visiting cruise passengers. Visually, the islands are stunning, with jagged hills rising from turquoise seas, and the sparkling sands are a playground for holidaymakers.
4 . Napier, New Zealand
Most cruises to New Zealand stop in this small but lovely city on the east coast of the North Island. It has a low profile compared to Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch, but is a wonderful place to wander, with an Art Deco aesthetic that makes it stand out from the crowd. It's generally a sunny spot, and has somewhat of a seaside resort vibe - perfect for a relaxed day of shopping, dining, architecture admiring and visiting the National Aquarium found there.
Another great trait that Napier possesses is its proximity to the fabulous Hawke's Bay wine region. It's easy to get on a tour, be it organised by the cruise line or independent, and taste the wonders of the many vineyards nearby. The climate lends itself to full-bodied reds and Chardonnays.
5 . Aitutaki, Rarotonga
There aren't many cruise lines which stop here, but you might just get lucky with a Paul Gauguin or Crystal Cruises itinerary. Its exclusivity (there are only a handful of cruise visits each year) is what makes it a hidden gem - that, and one of the most stunning lagoons in the South Pacific. The main island is beautiful, and smaller untouched islets ring the reef to make a compact tropical paradise.
The only thing we can really say about this place is that it's gorgeous, and worth cruising to despite being a little further from Australia than some other popular ports. It's located in the Cook Islands between Fiji and French Polynesia. There are tours available, but it's also easy to while away the day just enjoying the splendid lagoon to swim and snorkel in, and the picture-perfect stretches of sand.
6 . Fiordland, New Zealand
This amazing southern corner of New Zealand is perhaps not a well-kept secret, but we think that it still counts as a hidden gem - because most who haven't visited don't realise just how amazing it is! The hype is not big enough for this stunning region of deep fjords, plunging waterfalls, green peaks, towering cliffs and sealife. Visiting on a cruise ship on one of the many lines which sail here - Princess Cruises are a frequent visitor - is a fantastic way to see it all from an easy vantage point.
Your eyes are all you need to enjoy Fiordland, although a camera is also a handy tool. The majority of cruise ships will spend part of a day there slowly sailing through the various sounds - Milford, Dusky and Doubtful Sound are among the most popular. If passengers are lucky they will catch a glimpse of some dolphins, but they are guaranteed some amazing vistas either way.
See one of these incredible places or all of them with a South Pacific cruise from our South Pacific Cruise Sale!