02 Dec 2024
The South Pacific for most people conjures up the image of the quintessential paradise islands of legend and imagination. Sprinkled across the world's biggest ocean like a string of jewels, the emerald islands rise from turquoise lagoons that shimmer in the sun, bordering palm-fringed beaches and luxuriant coral reefs. This destination of dreams is ideal for cruising, with the enchanted islands close together amid calm, tranquil blue seas, where dolphins swim alongside, and friendly islanders welcome you ashore with garlands of flowers.
The South Pacific enjoys a year-round tropical climate, so cruises take place all year, though the peak time is the dry season from April to October. The starting points for most cruises are Sydney and Brisbane on the east coast of Australia, and many longer cruises start from Los Angeles or San Francisco on the west coast of the USA, taking in Hawaii as well. Some shorter cruises start from Papeete, the capital and main port of Tahiti.
The Pacific islands number about 7,500, of which only about 500 are inhabited. They are grouped into three main regions, the largest being Polynesia, which includes Samoa, Tonga, the Cook Islands, and French Polynesia, within which Tahiti, Bora Bora, Raiatea, Moorea and Huahine are the best known. The other main region is Melanesia, which includes the mountainous island groups of Fiji, New Caledonia and Vanuatu, while Micronesia, north of the equator, consists of a number of small nation states, including Guam.
The majority of cruises to the Pacific islands will take in Fiji and French Polynesia, with many also including New Caledonia, Vanuatu and the Cook Islands. In Fiji, which consists of more than 350 islands, you might cruise round the northern isles, with stunning beaches and glimpses of authentic Fijian village life, and visit the attractive port of Suva. The 83 islands that make up Vanuatu offer dramatic landscapes. active volcanoes and deep-sea grottoes, and the ship may well call at charming Noumea, capital of New Caledonia, home to amazing coral reefs.
In French Polynesia, Tahiti and its neighbours are regarded by many as the ultimate paradise islands. You will call at stunning Bora Bora, with its majestic mountains carved by ancient volcanoes, and enchanting Moorea with its spectacular volcanic peaks. Little Raiatea, the Sacred Isle, is full of ancient marae, or religious sites, of coral and volcanic stone.
These idyllic, serene and secluded islands abound in sounds, sights and experiences that are found nowhere else on earth. Choosing which one to visit would be an impossible task, but with a cruise you don't need to -- you can see and enjoy all the places you desire. Paradise is at last within your reach.