WHILE Asia is not short of beautiful beaches and islands, the Pacific Islands in particular are in a league of their own. Most of them sit in the South Pacific region where the resorts are luxurious, the cocktails are infinite, and unending views of the sea are guaranteed. If you’re ever looking for an antidote to stress, we’ve got you covered.
Vanuatu is an archipelago nation in the South Pacific Ocean comprising of 83 islands. Because of its location north of New Zealand and east of Asutralia, it’s popular as a getaway destination among travelers in Sydney, Brisbane and Auckland. Because Vanuatu is still largely unspoiled, swanky resorts are less a phenomenon here compared with islands in the French Polynesia. There’s plenty to do around these parts, but one of the most memorable experencies you’ll have here is visiting the fiery Mount Yasur in Tanna. Visitors are allowed to walk up to the crater rim and peer down into the volcano’s bubbling lava storm.
Where to stay…
Ratua Private Island is an exclusive resort surrounded by white sand beaches and tropical gardens. The 60-acre island only houses 14 villas, making sure each guest has ample space and privacy for a true sense of escape. Each villa – manually pieced together – is renovated from four to five antique Indonesian houses from Java and Sumatra. They were built with the measured intention of safeguarding the land’s ancestral architecture. Instead of a TV or a jacuzzi, guests are encouraged to appreciate the calming view of the bay outside their rooms, or take in the well-tended tropical garden surrounding the villas. Read our full review…
Testified by many as one of the most beautiful places in the world, the French Polynesia is made up of at least 115 islands clustered within five archipelagos. The five main island groups are Marquesas Islands, Society Islands, Tuamotu Archipelago, Gambier Islands, and Austral Islands. All trips begin in Tahiti, where the international airport is situated. There, you can hike to waterfalls and mountain ridges before traveling to the deeper islands of French Polynesia for some real beach time. If staying in Tahiti, it’s best to visit in July during the Heiva festival, an annual affair that sees vibrant dance and singing competitions and beautiful traditional costumes.
Where to stay…
Tucked away in a motu on the Tuamotu Archipelago of the French Polynesian island is Ninamu Resort, a secluded eco-destination retreat. The resort sits in the lone coral atoll of Tikehau, about 200 miles northeast of Tahiti. Guests will need to fly into the island where hotel staff will shuttle them to the resort by boat. Instead of meticulous butler service, you’ll get a relaxed, laidback vibe from staff, all of whom are helpful and speak both French and English. The clincher at Ninamu are the seven hand-crafted bungalows made entirely of natural, locally sourced materials. Each bungalow features rooves thatched with coconut palm leaves, a feature to make your experience here that much more authentic.
Located within the French Polynesia, Bora Bora has come to be known as a luxurious option for couples. It’s a romantic getaway northwest of Tahiti that has seen many weddings, marriage proposals and honeymoons. In fact, honeymoon photo tours are common among couples who visit; they are taken on scenic tours while they have their photos taken by a professional. Overwater bungalows too are synonymous with the island, some of which have glass floors that act like windows to the marine life below. To get to the island, catch a 50-minute Air Tahiti flight in; upon arrival, you’ll be greeted with a flower garland and transferred by boat to your resort.
Where to stay…
Living in an overwater bungalow is part of anyone’s dream Tahitian holiday and at Bora Bora Pearl Beach Resort & Spa, you can realise those dreams. You can choose from four categories of bungalows that branch out into the waters, but we suggest you opt for the Otemanu View Premium bungalows that are stretched right to the end of the pontoon, and offer a stunning view of Mount Otemanu. For a relaxing massage, book a session at the resort’s Manea Spa where you’ll get your shoulder knots ironed out in the surrounds of lily ponds. A resident tattoo artist is also at hand if the need ever strikes to ink your skin in traditional Polynesian body treatment.
Situated in the heart of the South Pacific, Fiji is an island nation made up of more than 330 islands. There are direct flights to the island from Australia and New Zealand, as well as from Hong Kong and Los Angeles, with peak season clocking in between the months of April and October. While doing absolutely nothing in a luxurious resort is a great idea when in Fiji, it’s also worth exploring some of the island’s more cultural and hisorical sites. Suva, the largest city in the South Pacific, is home to a patchwork of colonial buildings while Navala is a scenic village set against lush green mountains where the houses are built with local materials.
Where to stay…
When at Vomo Island Resort, it’s easy to feel like you’ve truly escaped everything. It’s a luxury private island getaway at the top of the Mamanuca Islands Group and is accessible via a 15-minute helicopter or seaplane ride from Fiji’s international airport. The resort’s beachfront villas are only steps away from white sand and clear aqua shorelines, while the villas on the hill sit on the slopes of Mount Vomo. To renew the body and mind, Vomo’s spctacular spa services include a variety of facials, body wraps and relaxing massages. A short distance from the resort is Vomo Lailai, an isolated beach island where guests can partake in snorkeling.
Cook Islands in the South Pacific is made up of 15 smaller islands and is an associated state of New Zealand. Because of a similar time zone to Hawaii in its north, Cook Islands is sometimes fondly referred to as “Hawaii Down Under”. Tourists buzz in the island’s capital and its most accessible town, Rarotonga, where cafés, restaurants and bars abound. A must-visit is Aitutaki, a stunning lagoon encircled by tiny islands where visitors can opt to snorkel. For the more adventurous, head to Mitiaro, the land of many deep and elusive caves where you’ll discover Vai Nauri, a sparkling blue jewel of a natural, underground pool.
Where to stay…
Etu Moana is a charming boutique resort in west Aitutaki that’s blessed with a beachfront view. The 1o-room property runs by a philosophy of sustainability and preservation of nature. All villas are donned with traditional Nikau palm, a species of palm endemic to New Zealand, while solar panels heat up most of the water. While the resort doesn’t prioritize luxury service, it more than makes up for it with a stunning view of the lagoon. A bonus: About a 500-metre walk away from the resort is Mauga Pu, the highest point of Aitutaki, from where guests can watch sunsets and enjoy a breath-taking view of the lagoon below.