Dotted with island nations of varying size, language and culture, the South Pacific is ready for discovery by adventurous travelers. But with so many excellent options, deciding on where to go in this vast region can prove to be a difficult task.
Each year as part of its authoritative Travel Trends Survey, Travel Leaders Group agents weigh in on the up-and-coming vacation spots around the world they’re already booking. For 2015, the 1,226 travel agents put New Zealand (30.4 percent) at the top of their list in the South Pacific, followed by Bora Bora (11.3 percent), Tahiti (11.3 percent), Fiji (9.8 percent) and Bali (7.2 percent).
As the largest island in French Polynesia, Tahiti conjures up romance. But as an economic and cultural center, it offers visitors a wide variety of activities, from shopping for local crafts in a bustling marketplace to browsing in museums to participating in outdoor recreation such as golfing, hiking and diving. For sailing fans, the Tahiti Pearl Regatta takes place in late April and early May, featuring competition during the day and entertainment each night.
The smaller French Polynesian island of Bora Bora is surrounded by a lagoon of turquoise water teeming with marine life that can be viewed by snorkeling or from a glass-bottom boat. The island boasts a number of luxury resorts and spas, including thatched-roof overwater bungalows. For a taste of Polynesian history and culture, Heiva, an annual event that includes traditional music, dance, crafts and sports, will be held this year from June 19 to July 26.
An archipelago of some 300 islands, Fiji has a sunny climate, miles of white sand beaches and soft coral reefs that are perfect for scuba diving. Accommodations range from luxury resorts to backpacker hostels to resorts that feature ecological tours. Wherever you go, you’ll hear “Bula!” the country’s universal greeting. It’s also the name of a festival featuring food, music and dancing from July 31 to Aug. 7 in Nadi, the hub for international travelers.
Bali is an island and province of Indonesia that has something for everyone whether it’s mountains and waterfalls, surf and sand or history and culture. A primarily Hindu region in a mostly Muslim country, a visit to one of Bali’s temples should be on every traveler’s list. Pura Besakih, on a slope of Mount Agung in East Bali, dates from the 11th century and is the largest. Among the island’s more unusual celebrations, the BaliSpirit Festival, featuring yoga, dance and music, will be held from March 31 to April 5.
For help planning a trip to the South Pacific, contact The Travel Exchange (248)269-9721