# 1 - Fiji Islands
Fiji is the number one hot spot in the South Pacific and receives over 600,000 tourists a year, but this is fewer tourists than visit the city of Cambridge in England each year! But Fiji has what England, and most other places around the world, don't have: literally hundreds of small tropical islands with stunning beach resorts. Visit Fiji for perfect white beaches, snorkelling reefs and smiling locals performing traditional dances. Fiji has resorts that cater to families, wedding parties and honeymooners, but Fiji’s charms are for everyone. Away from the beach, you can try out whitewater rafting or golf. And the food’s great too – fresh, tropical fruits, fish marinated in lemon and coconut milk and, thanks to immigration from India, you can dine on spicy curry.
# 2 - The Cook Islands
The scattered Cook Islands have a small population, but you’ll be assured of a great welcome even at the international airport where a serenader welcomes each plane load of tourists and your hosts wait outside with a flower lei. This South Sea paradise is largely undeveloped, and its islands are peaceful sanctuaries where you can sunbathe, swim and windsurf to your heart’s content. Rarotonga and Aitutaki are the only islands with mainstream tourism so choosing where to visit for your holidays isn't difficult. Whichever island you choose you'll enjoy the lush plants, white beaches, crystalline seas and clear blue skies. The Cook Islands are a little piece of heaven on earth.
# 3 - French Polynesia
Beautiful French Polynesia is one of the highlights of the South Pacifi. With its palm trees, crystal waters, volcanoes and lush forests, all your South Sea fantasies are made real. You can visit here on a cruise, but French Polynesia is best experienced on a longer visit, where you have time to relax and enjoy the amazing sights. The destination is famous for luxury and is one of the most desirable places in the world for honeymoons. The food is great too – thanks to the French influence, you can enjoy fine wines and European cuisine with a local flavour, although you should try the barbecued sucking pig at indigenous-style buffets.
# 4 - Samoa
Robert Louis Stevenson, the author of Treasure Island, was a man who knew a lot about beautiful Pacific Islands – and it was Samoa that Stevenson chose to retire to. Lush, green Samoa is one of the Pacific’s most scenically varied destinations. These islands are a popular with discerning travellers, but also have excellent golf courses, and attract anglers and surfers. Traditional culture remains important here; visit a village to experience island hospitality and perhaps see a game of Kilikiti, the Samoan answer to cricket. Samoan food is unique and delicious – the national dish, palusami, consists of coconut cream and other ingredients wrapped in taro leaves and baked in a traditional umu.
# 5 - The Kingdom of Tonga
Proud, independent and religious Tonga has never been colonised by a European power. A unique island culture and one of the last few remaining absolute monarchies anywhere in the world, Tonga’s friendly people are unlike any other. There are many sights and activities related to Tongan culture, including sacred tombs, dancing displays and craft workshops. As you’d expect from an island paradise, the sea and beaches are star attractions. Humpback whales migrate here to spend six months of every year resting, mating and giving birth in the protected bays, and you can take a trip to watch and hear them sing. You can also enjoy surfing and swimming in the clear blue ocean; whatever you do, relax into the Tongan pace of life.
# 6 - Vanuatu
Vanuatu’s colonial name was the New Hebrides – although what these sunny Pacific islands have to do with the original Scottish Hebrides is anyone’s guess. Vanuatu is a particularly popular short-haul destination for Kiwis, but families, couples and honeymooners of all nationalities will enjoy these wonderful islands. For those who want to get away from screaming kids, for whatever reason, then there are a number of child-free hotels. The Vanuatu people are particularly friendly and love visitors, although their own cultural values remain very important in rural areas. Vanuatu shares much of the same cuisine as other island nations in the region, but is particularly noted for its meat – the local steaks are highly recommended.
# 7 - New Caledonia
New Caledonia is a perfect blend of Gallic and Pacific. You can combine trips to the elegant shopping districts and fine dining restaurants with sunbathing on pristine white sands. Perfect for honeymooners – who can resist the combination of French romance on a beautiful island paradise? – New Caledonia is also a prime destination to enjoy snorkelling and scuba diving. But anyone will enjoy the beaches and food, and if you’re in search of solitude you can sail off to some of the remoter islands. Try learning a little bit of French before you go to enjoy this fantastic destination to its fullest potential.
# 8 - Solomon Islands
The Solomon Islands, with their ancient Melanesian culture, are a beautiful and otherworldly place to visit. Now peaceful, the islands have a turbulent history of slaving, cannibalism, war and ethnic tension. But, you’d hardly guess this when canoeing on placid rivers which wind their way through verdant jungles, swimming with dolphins, enjoying the beautiful and unique atolls, or snorkelling or diving to see the enormous range of fish and other sea life that dwell beneath the blue waves. Those with an interest in botany will particularly enjoy the spectacular range of orchids, while you can also visit active volcanoes.
# 9 - Niue Island
The South Sea Islands are all relaxing destinations, but tiny Niue must be the ultimate place to turn up and chill out. There are no touristy developments, just a few hotels and guesthouses, and the locals want to keep it that way. There are fewer than 100 hotel rooms in total, so your chance of being caught up in a crush of fellow visitors is incredibly remote – in fact, you’re unlikely to even have to share a swimming cove or a whale. if you're lucky enough to swim with one - Niue is one of only three places in the world you can do this.