South Pacific Holiday Ideas: Off the Beaten Track
South Pacific escapes can be filled with sunshine and sun-loungers, but if you prefer to take the road less travelled and get away from the crowds, here's five ideas to kick-start your dream South Pacific holiday.
Where wild horses roam: the White Grass Plains of Tanna, Vanuatu
Tanna island is a mixture of savannah, forest and rugged mountains – stretching from the grasslands and scrub of the north-west to the mountains and dense forest of the south-west. Hike the White Grass Plains and watch hundreds of wild horses with a sensational panoramic backdrop of the Pacific Ocean and coastline. The fertile centre contains thriving market gardens that produce a vast variety of fruit and vegetables, and the country’s best-known product, Tanna coffee. Climb fiery Mount Yasar volcano (when conditions permit), snorkel the turquoise waters of an underwater cave, or visit a traditional custom village on Tanna Island.
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AITUTAKI, COOK ISLANDS
Visit the world’s smallest post office on an idyllic islet amidst a lagoon
Many visitors to the Cook Islands depart without discovering the outer islands, but they have an unspoilt beauty that makes them especially memorable. Less than an hour’s flight from Rarotonga, idyllic Aitutaki Island has a special sense of magic and tranquillity. Aitutaki's vast lagoon (45km around) is renowned as one of world’s most beautiful, with crystal clear turquoise waters and dazzling white sand beaches. The lagoon provides an underwater spectacle of coloured corals and tropical fish. Above the waterline, there are numerous coral ridges and motu (islets) to discover, including one where you can get your passport stamped at the world’s smallest post office!
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A shopper’s haven where cows have the right of way
Remote Norfolk Island, just 3455ha, was first settled in 1788 as a penal colony and later became home to descendants of the famous Mutineers of the Bounty. Today's inhabitants are a friendly mix of Norfolk Islanders, Australians and New Zealanders. They have their own language – Norf’k, a blend of old seafaring English and Tahitian. With a large range of low-tax, high quality products from all over the world, Norfolk Island is a shopper's mecca
Norfolk is a 1hr 45min flight from Auckland, and a 2hr 30min flight from Sydney, but despite being so close, it has its own road rules: cows and Kingston geese have right of way on the roads!
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Discover archaeological treasures hidden amidst lush jungle
Don’t just stay on the main island of beautiful Samoa, take yourself off to Savaii, hire a 4WD, make friends with the locals and make your own adventure. Search for ancient archaeological sites like the Pulemelei Mound; an ancient stone 'pyramid' of about 12m high and 50m wide. There are other ancient monuments all around Samoa, get a copy of the Samoa Visitor's Guide to read up on them. Intrepid explorers may also like to investigate lava tubes, climb to the canopy of a Banyan tree, swim beneath waterfalls, swim with turtles and explore flying-fox inhabited caves.
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Get on track with friendly locals and pristine natural beauty
Thought to have been inhabited since the 5th century BC, Tonga has a rich history with fascinating archaeological sites, including the terraced tombs (langi) in the Lapaha area of Tongatapu Island. Tonga’s landscape is typically South Pacific, with white sandy beaches, clear lagoons, coconut groves, pandanus palms and banana plantations. If you’ve ever dreamed about small, palm-fringed islands untouched by the rest of the world, then Ha’apai group is for you. Wildlife, pristine natural beauty and kilometres of white sandy beaches offer a truly memorable experience. There are only limited visitor services in this group, but the friendliness of the people of Ha’apai is legendary, and everyone receives a warm, generous welcome that continues throughout their stay.
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by Astral Sligo