South Pacific Destinations

The South Pacific is a big place — coupled with the North Pacific it comprises a third of Earth’s surface — and even though certain top-of-mind destinations are in the tourism spotlight, there are hundreds of lesser-known yet equally idyllic islands scattered around this region. So if you’re eager to vacation in South Pacific island destinations that your family and friends may not realize you can easily visit, allow us to introduce you to the islands of Tonga, Samoa, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and New Caledonia. Each offers a slightly different take on ancient Polynesian and Melanesian culture, mixed with cultural influences from European and other 18th- and 19th-century settlers. And yet all have lots of brilliant sunshine, warm lagoons and the kind of exotic South Pacific allure that’s impossible to recreate elsewhere.

While it’s difficult to choose the best South Pacific island, read on to decide which of these islands is best for you. Are you a Francophile who can’t live without chilled Sancerre and hunks of aged Brie? Is visiting a remote kingdom with an actual king on your travel bucket list? Are you an adventure junkie? Or are you simply a traveler who’s eager to see even the tiniest specks in the sea? If you answered, “yes” to any of these questions, we know your perfect island. And if not? If you love sun, sand and sea, these South Pacific islands still offer the kind of extraordinary vacations that tantalizing travel blogs are made of.


Officially known as the Kingdom of Tonga, this nation of 170 islands (only 40 of which are inhabited) is a welcoming destination offering both adrenaline-rush adventure and upscale boutique resorts. Its spectacular landscapes range from unspoiled rainforests to pristine beaches and its activity roster includes everything from diving to surfing.


The islands of Samoa, located between Fiji and the Cook Islands, offer travelers a range of experiences, from hiking the rainforest peaks and verdant valleys of its two main islands to lazing on sugar-white sand lapped by a serene lagoon — all against a welcoming backdrop of Fa’a Samoa cultural heritage.


Offering a mix of comfortable accommodation, untamed landscape and tribal culture, Vanuatu is an island republic with a colonial-era capital, fantastic diving that includes an amazing shipwreck, an active volcano, roaring waterfalls and primitive villages untouched by modern convenience. In other words, it’s the South Pacific you’ve never experienced before.

Papua New Guinea

Home to a strong and enduring tribal culture, Papua New Guinea is perhaps the most extreme adventure you can experience in the South Pacific. Located just north of Australia, this island nation has a diverse ecosystem and somewhat limited tourism infrastructure, which makes it perfect for travelers who like to explore.

New Caledonia

Où voulez-vous aller? If you answered, “a l’ile tropicale,” consider vacationing in these French-speaking islands located just east of Australia, where the croissants are as fresh as the fish and the resorts are set where fragrant pines meet gentle surf. Its capital, Noumea, mixes European ambience with unspoiled natural beauty.