South Seas Romance
Nothing says romance quite like the South Pacific, with its dramatic volcanic islands, palm-fringed beaches and tiny coral atolls stretched across dazzling blue lagoons. From the rainforests and stunning beaches of the Cook Islands and Fiji, to the French charm of New Caledonia, there’s something to tempt everyone.
The Cook Islands
Just north of the Tropic of Capricorn, these tropical isles are some of the most beautiful in the South Pacific, with sparkling blue lagoons fringed by white sandy beaches. You'll get your first glimpse of the Cook Islands as the plane approaches the main island of Rarotonga, home to the laid-back capital of Avarua. Circled by coral reefs and the palest blue lagoon, Rarotonga's bush-clad interior rises to the dramatic peak of Te Rua Mangta, The Needle, with its breathtaking views over the island. Once you're settled in, there are plenty of sightseeing options. Stroll around Avarua, with its shops, cafés and fishing boats, or hire a scooter and go exploring on the old Ara Metua coral road. Built in the 11th century, this inland road takes you past ancient historic sites and lush tropical plantations. Or take the coastal ring road and enjoy the small villages and beaches as you idle your way around the island.
Fiji’s Outer Islands
Dazzling white sand beaches, reef-fringed lagoons, coral atolls and warm clear waters are the main attraction of Fiji's lovely outer islands. The Mamanucas were among Fiji's first islands to be developed for tourism and you'll find plenty of romantic island retreats to choose from. Uninhabited islands, such as Monuriki (where the film Castaway was shot) or Honeymoon Island are perfect for a secluded picnic. Further afield, the idyllic Yasawas, Fiji's northernmost group, have an enduring reputation for romance. This island group is known for its dramatic volcanic peaks, and its remoteness has ensured that the many stunning beaches, cliffs, bays and reefs have remained unspoiled. Tiny Nanuya Lailai (Mystery) Island is a favourite hideaway spot for lovers and often included on cruise ship itineraries. On the western side of the island, you can take a stroll on the famous Blue Lagoon Beach, where filming for the movie Blue Lagoon took place.
When it comes to romance, who does it better than the French? The history of French colonisation, blended with the local island culture, has helped shape New Caledonia's charming character, and nowhere is the French influence more noticeable than in the cuisine, language and shopping. The elegant capital of Noumea is ideal for a sophisticated Valentine's getaway, with designer boutiques, bustling pavement cafés and vibrant nightspots to enjoy. Dining out is a chance to experience superb French cuisine and imported French wines, and there are French perfumes and luxury goods to be sampled at the duty-free stores. After a morning's shopping and exploring, you can enjoy lunch over a fine glass of French wine, then head to the beach and laze away the afternoon at one of the city's sandy bays. For pure romance, though, it's hard to beat the lovely Isle of Pines (Ile des Pines). Located off the main island's south coast, this picture postcard island is the perfect spot for a romantic escape, with luxuriant pine forests, hidden caves and sandy beaches just waiting to be discovered.