Jewels of the South Pacific
Choose your ocean paradise for a holiday of sun and fun
there are plenty of diamonds to be found across the vast Pacific Ocean. Here are five to give you the holiday of a lifetime.
ADVENTURE SEEKERS VANUATU
Pentecost Island has become famous throughout the world for the land diving ritual (Nagol or N’gol), which occurs every Saturday between April and June. The ritual, which influenced the invention of bungee jumping by Kiwi AJ Hackett, sees local men and boys jump from a tower that’s 20-30m high, with only a vine attached to their legs.
The vines are carefully selected by jumpers who know that just 10cm may be the difference between life and death. Travelling to view this magnificent ceremony is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, full of the excitement of sitting beneath the tower waiting with unease for the diver to jump safely to ground.
Additionally, Vanuatu’s azure waters invite you to explore what lies beneath their surface. Vanuatu diving holidays are hugely popular, making it the perfect destination for scuba diving and snorkelling.
On Espiritu Santo, the wrecks of SS President Coolidge and
USS Tucker give divers of all skill levels an unforgettable experience. Located only a few kilometres from Luganville, the outer parts of the ships can be safely seen by novice divers. Considered by many divers to be the best wreck dive in the world, the SS President Coolidge is still very much intact, with reminders of her glorious days as a cruise liner and the remnants of her days as a troop ship.
In her interior are guns, cannons, jeeps, helmets, trucks and personal supplies left by some of the soldiers, as well as the beautiful porcelain statue of The Lady, chandeliers and a mosaic tile fountain. The wreck is covered in coral and is home to a plethora of sea life including barracuda, lionfish and a host of reef fish. Amazing!
As Vanuatu lies on top of the Pacific Ring of Fire it has nine active volcanoes, seven on land and two beneath the sea. Mount Yasur volcano is the most popular and most easily accessible. Located on Tanna Island, it draws thousands of tourists each year. One not to be missed. vanuatu.travel/au
THE CULTURE VULTURES PAPUA NEW GUINEA
In Papua New Guinea, Australia’s nearest neighbour, you’ll come face-to-face with some of the oldest continuing cultures on the planet.
From its remote villages to its urban centres, you’ll find
PNG’S customs are passionately maintained in elaborate rituals that accompany deaths, feasts, marriages, compensation ceremonies and initiation rites.
PNG’S main cultural festivals take place annually from July to November throughout the country, with an extravaganza of cultural dancing, ritual performance, storytelling and exchange, and arts and crafts on show.
Check online for the vast array of festivals, from celebrating the crocodile and its cultural significance along the Sepik River, including men’s skin-cutting rituals as a rite of passage; to the Enga Province, the world’s last frontier, where traditional lifestyles and practices are still very much intact; through to the Morobe Show, with agricultural, industrial and commercial features of the province. It’s a feast of festivities.
papuanewguinea.travel THE HONEYMOONERS TAHITI
Picture a South Pacific paradise and it’s probably an image of French Polynesia, Tahiti’s official name. Strewn across four million square kilometres of the South Pacific, Tahiti is a collection of
118 islands of five archipelagos: the Society Islands, the Tuamotu Islands, the Gambier Islands, the Marquesas Islands and the Austral Islands, all a delightful blend of Polynesian and French cultures, a consistently tropical climate, towering mountains, lush forests and staggeringly beautiful waterfalls.
If a secluded romantic getaway is what you’re after, Bora Bora is all gorgeous beaches and breathtaking lagoons. With a bevy of luxurious over-water bungalows, it’s a wonderful place to do nothing or don your face mask for a swim in its magnificent lagoon. A huge array of sea life awaits you, including manta rays, sharks and gentle Napoleon wrasses, through scuba diving, helmet diving or viewing from a glass-bottom boat.
Or, choose romantic horse rides across empty beaches; go deep-sea fishing in waters teeming with game fish; take a private boat charter or hop on a scooter or bicycle and ride into traditional Polynesian villages or across the quiet roads that circle the islands. The spa treatments are also world class, as are the sumptuous seafood feasts. Tahiti – it’s a dream holiday.
tahititourisme.com.au THE FOODIES NEW CALEDONIA
Just a three-hour flight from Sydney, New Caledonia consists of a main island, Grande Terre – with spectacular natural scenery it’s a true adventure playground – and jaw-dropping islands revealing the perfect combination of amazing landscapes and superb hospitality.
The South Pacific is a long white sandy haven of beaches for every activity you could ask for
Renowned for its cosmopolitan cooking, between tradition and modernity, it has many talented chefs and restaurants and is ideal for gourmands seeking surprising and intense flavours.
Bougna is the emblematic Kanak dish. Made from tubercles, coconut milk and traditionally fish, you can enjoy it in a restaurant or at a meal with a tribe, and that’s a specialty! All up the cuisine is largely based on local products, with chefs playing off Caledonian flavours for new versions of French classics or dishes according to the local traditions. Tables d’hotes (Welcome to the Farm) networks have been multiplying in Noumea, as well as across Grande Terre and the islands. Often associated with homestay accommodations, you can live like a Caledonian on your visit.
The Welcome to the Farm network’s farmers offer a visit combining the discovery of farm life, accommodations and culinary delights. New Caledonia is a delight, whatever you chose. newcaledonia.travel/au
FAMILY TIME FIJI
For an unforgettable family holiday with sunshine, wonder and adventure, Fiji is the ultimate destination. No matter where you are, there’s so much to see and do. With incredible wildlife, stunning beaches and a huge range of adventure activities,
Fiji is one big playground.
Discover marine life by snorkelling or scuba diving.
Jet skiing and kayaking are a great way to experience aquatic adventures. And long, sandy white beaches are great for kids to run, swim and build sandcastles to their hearts’ content. Then there’s brilliant bird life through to breath-taking waterfalls and lush forests, and endless opportunities to immerse your family in one of the world’s most beautiful natural environments.
As a bonus, Fiji’s relatively small size means getting around is easy, so you can squeeze more into each day. And, of course, there’s the famous affection local Fijians have for children, entertaining them wherever you stay. Don’t be surprised if you find the kids being taken to local markets, thrown into a kayak to go out and pat dolphins or simply being entertained in a pool from sun up to sun down. Fiji really is the ultimate family holiday destination.
Visit Vanuatu and you can see Mount Yasur volcano erupt. Wow! The beautiful white sands of Bora Bora make Tahiti a beach lover’s dream.
from the Waghi Tribal performers of Highlands, at one Province, Western cultural festivals. PNG’S many exciting
Feast your way through New Caledonia – it’s foodie heaven! Drink in the sunset view from your over-water bungalow in Bora Bora, cocktail in hand. For a fun family holiday in the sun Fiji can’t be beaten.