Choose Your Own Adventure: Picking the Perfect Pacific Island
Words by Melanie Groves
Dreaming of an Island getaway? Somewhere with palm trees, deserted beaches and azure, lapping waves? Australians are spoiled for choice when considering how close some of our Pacific island neighbours are. But which island to pick? While you may not be able to guess from the average postcard, each island is uniquely diverse, with different cultures, landscapes and sights to see.
“Visit the unique cultures of Polynesia,Melanesia and Micronesia”
The Pacific Islands are divided in three areas, culturally and geographically: Polynesia, Melanesia and Micronesia. Both Polynesia and Melanesia are below the equator whereas Micronesia is above it. Each of the islands has a rich culture and history often interspersed with French, British and Spanish culture due to a history of colonisation.
If you’re looking for a luxury trip, with excellent resorts, diving, surfing, culture and hiking, then Tahiti and the French Polynesia might be for you. The French Polynesia is home to over a hundred and fifteen islands spanning five archipelagos- including the instantly recognizable Bora Bora. In the French Polynesia you can dive with sharks and rays in the Tuamotu Atolls, attend Tahitian festivals or hike the extraordinary mountain ridges and cool off in picturesque waterfalls. The possibilities are endless.
“Known for culture, volcanoes, resorts and diving”
Melanesian islands such as Vanuatu and New Caledonia are popular destinations for holidaying Australians and for good reasons. Known for culture, volcanoes, resorts and diving, Vanuatu is wild and exotic but still has the comforts of home. The main island Efate is home to the capital Port Vila, with many resorts and nice snorkeling spots. The island of Tanna is dominated by the live volcano Mt Yasur, of which the best vantage point is to sit on the rim; looking into its fiery depths (tours are available to climb the volcano).
“Wild and exotic”
New Caledonia offers a French twist to the tropical islands. On offer are water sports, with diving, wind sports and sailing, all of which are ideal in the lagoon. On land, New Caledonia has a rich mix of Melanesian and French culture that leads to excellent cuisine and dining. To escape to a more remote island for delicious seafood and some of the Pacific’s best beaches, visit outlying islands such as Ouvéa and Île des Pins.
If you feel like venturing somewhere a little further off the beaten track, an island in Micronesia might be for you. Micronesia is home to islands such as Guam, the Marshall Islands and Palau. Palau’s more than three hundred islands are sprinkled over 325 miles of azure ocean. Palau is one of the world’s most popular destinations for divers, and has been named a destination of a lifetime by National Geographic. It’s also a living war memorial- World War II wrecks lie just below the surface.
If none of these islands sound like your cup of tea, the other possibilities are endless. Easter Island and the Solomon Islands have very strong and interesting cultures to discover, Niue, Tuvalu and Wallis and Futuna can all be reached by connection flights, whereas some islands like Tokelau and Pitcairn Island can only be reached by sea.