The term Oceania is normally used to designate all the islands of the Central and the South Pacific including Australia (continent), New Zealand, and sometimes the Malay Archipelago. The islands of the Pacific, with their beauty and romance, have always gripped man’s imagination. Of these wonderful dream-worlds, it is Oceania that offers the most beautiful, enchanting and magnificent chains of pure and natural multicolored gem-clustered islands.
Visiting American Samoa
Comprised of a group of islands in the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and New Zealand, American Samoa is located about 100kms east of Samoa. This tropical island nation is famous for its spectacular natural features, which include tranquil bays, traditional villages, mountain ridges, and beautiful beaches and reefs. This is an excellent place for water sports such as scuba diving and snorkeling.
The Manu’a Islands are a popular area for those who love soaking up the sun on the beach and exploring the area’s natural beauty. Made up of Ofu, Olosega, and Ta’u, this area of American Samoa is praised for its low key atmosphere and the ability to lounge beside one of the inviting lagoons in virtual solitude.
Tutuila is the area’s main island, famed for its harbor and overlooked by rocky cliffs, which are a good place to practice rock climbing. A popular excursion here is trekking across to the islet of Aunu’u, while others prefer to simply sink into the powdery sand on one of Tutuila’s pristine beaches or take a scuba diving trip to explore the underwater world which simply teems with colorful coral and marine life.
While finding luxurious accommodation can be rather challenging, there are some world-class hotels and resorts available for tourists. Those with big budgets can find top of the range accommodation, with prices matching those of major North American cities. It is easy to arrange tours and other activities at these establishments.
African Samoa is rather difficult to get to. Most visitors arrive at Pago Pago International Airport (PPG), which is located at Tafuna. However, African Samoa can only be reached by air from Honolulu, Apia, and Samoa. A ferry service also travels between Pago Pago and Apia once a week.
The world’s largest island, Australia is one of the world’s most favored tourist destinations whether you like walking around large trendy cities, catching some rays at the beach or roughing it in the outback. Even though the capital is Canberra, Sydney, and Melbourne are the largest and most popular cities in Australia.
Sydney lies in the state of New South Wales and is famed for its iconic Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, known fondly to locals as ‘the Coat Hanger’. Sydney has over 50 beaches (the most famous is Bondi Beach) but if you prefer pounding the city, Circular Quay, the Botanical Gardens and Chinatown are all good attractions to visit.
Known as Australia’s cultural capital, Melbourne has a vibrant arts scene as well as being famous as the home to the world-famous MCG Stadium and the host of the Melbourne Grand Prix. Drive up to the tropical city of Darwin and take the road trip of a lifetime while enjoying visits to Alice Springs and Ayer’s Rock along the way.
Other places worth noting in Australia include Perth in Western Australia, which is one of the country’s youngest cities and famous for its relaxed atmosphere. On the east coast, there are numerous places to visit on the way to Brisbane and the city itself has plenty of famous beaches and a vibrant nightlife scene.
If you are only coming for a couple of weeks and wish to stay in luxury, four-star hotels can be found in all of the major cities. If you are touring Australia, most people opt for staying in hostels, which are a great way of meeting other travelers and are reasonably priced with good facilities.
There are numerous ways to arrive in Australia and every major carrier is known in the industry offers flights here. If you don’t opt for a direct 24-hour flight, you can do what most others do and break the trip up by stopping in Southeast Asia before flying on. The main gateway is Sydney Kingsford Smith International Airport but low-cost airlines now fly from Asia to other, smaller air hubs.
Fiji is pretty close to paradise on earth and boasts over 300 serene islands, which are scattered throughout the South Pacific Ocean. Eye-pleasing turquoise seas are coupled with white sandy beaches and a lot of people come here to enjoy snorkeling and diving in the midst of some of the world’s most treasured soft coral.
Fiji’s best-known islands are Viti Levu and its smaller counterpart, Vanua Levu, with these two islands possessing nearly 95 percent of the country’s total population and nearly 90 percent of its landmass. Fiji’s capital, Suva, is the only urban area and visitors to the area enjoy the vibrant market and captivating museum there but also the pleasant beaches in Nadi.
If you have come for the water sports, you should be heading to Pacific Harbour and if splashing around isn’t your thing one of the best golf courses in the South Pacific can be played on here. If you really want to get off the beaten track, you can go adventuring and discover the remote villages near Navala and Bukaya and see first-hand just how fascinating the local people and their customs are.
There are plenty of accommodation options in Fiji whether you prefer luxury resorts, four-star hotels or more modest beach huts which are just a small stroll to the water. Nadi is the hub of tourism in Fiji and there are plenty of options here when it comes to accommodation and most of the hotels work in conjunction with companies offering trips and days out to all the attractions.
Despite it being quite a small country, Fiji is an important resting point for flights which operate between Australia/New Zealand and North America. If you are already in these areas, your flight to Nadi International Airport will be easy to book with a carrier like Qantas or Air New Zealand.
Visiting French Polynesia
Of all the world’s most famous archipelagos, French Polynesia is one of the most untouched yet impressive and it is a set of islands attached to France in the heart of the South Pacific Ocean. Conveniently located in between Australia and California, French Polynesia has plenty of beaches for you to relax on while forgetting all your worries.
Papeete is the capital of French Polynesia and is found on the famous island of Tahiti. Papeete is so small you can walk around it easy to go from place to place, particularly if you are going to the waterfront area, which has been developed into a long park with a carnival and numerous restaurants selling international food.
The Society Islands are the most inhabited of the western islands and are surrounded by tropical coral reefs and peaceful lagoons. For those after something new, Clipperton Island is based closer to Mexico and was only declared part of French Polynesia very recently. Most tourists make their own way here in order to enjoy fishing, snorkeling, and diving.
There is no accommodation on Clipperton Island and you will have to set up camp with those accompanying you. On the other hand, there are nearly 50 hotels of an international class found on 12 islands in French Polynesia. You don’t need to search far to find big franchises such as Sheraton, Novotel, and Radisson offering four-star rooms.
Due to its remote location in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean, flying really is the only option if you plan on traveling to French Polynesia. Air Tahiti Nui is the country’s flag carrier and flies directly from Paris, New York, Los Angeles and Tokyo to Faa’a International Airport. Once you land here you can easily catch a connecting domestic flight to another destination.
Guam is a minuscule territory belonging to the US and is an important place where its naval bases are based and often where its planes refuel. Aside from this, Guam is a popular tourist resort boasting breathtaking waterfalls and rivers for the outdoor lovers but also luxury five-star hotels and duty-free malls for those who are here to spend.
Guam’s main center and the entry point is Hagatna, a charming town that boasts a rich colonial history stretching back to the days when the Spanish settled here. Hagatna is a good city to walk around on foot and you can visit Latte Park and relax for the afternoon or glance at the revolving statue of Pope John Paul II.
Guam’s main tourist center is Tumon Bay and this town boasts everything you need; restaurants, luxury hotels and bars, shopping malls and nightclubs. Y’pao Beach Park is a popular attraction and a perfect place to waste a lazy afternoon while overlooking the bay. Lovers of water sports take the boat to Cocos Island from Merizo and explore the area’s vast barrier reef while engaging in snorkeling.
The accommodation in Guam is priced from more modest budget places near the beach to luxury five-star retreats that offer immaculate facilities. PIC resorts have a presence in Guam and its accommodation is always located near the main attractions and beaches.
Due to the fact it is an American territory, getting to Guam is easily done by flying from major cities in the United States, with Continental Airlines being just one of the companies offering flights. If you are in Asia, flights can also be caught from Tokyo to Won Pat Guam International Airport as Guam is popular with Japanese tourists..
The tiny island nation of Kiribati measures a little more than 810 square kilometers. Located near famous Christmas Island and belonging to Australia in the Indian Ocean, this is a good place to get back to basics and discover what it is truly like to live on a tropical island paradise. Most local people here live in thatched huts and practice traditional skills such as fishing, weaving and dancing.
More commonly known as Christmas Island, Kiritimati is located to the north of Kiribati. This picturesque island is a popular spot for water sports such as snorkeling, scuba diving, and swimming and also discovering the bonefish that lurk on the sand flats. There are a number of bars lining the beaches, which are a good place to sit and sip a cocktail while watching the sun slowly sink beneath the horizon.
While there are dozens of other islands surrounding Kiribati, Tarawana Atoll is one of the largest. Most of the island’s inhabitants live in South Tarawa, and this is where most of the businesses, services and most beautiful beaches can be found. Tarawa Atoll is a great place for simply lounging around on the beach and snorkeling.
There is limited accommodation on Kiribati and most visitors to this area opt to stay on nearby Tarawa or Christmas Island, where there are plenty of hotels with air-conditioning and other modern conveniences. However, there is a good selection of homestay accommodation on Kiribati, which is a good way to learn about the daily life of the people who live on the island.
Most people tend to arrive on Kiribati via Bonriki International Airport (TRW), which is served by Air Kiribati, after arriving at the large airport at either Tarawa or Christmas Island and taking a connecting flight. There are also regular ferries to Kiribati from surrounding islands such as Fanning, Christmas and Tarawa Island.
The series of atolls and reefs located in the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and Australia are commonly known as the Marshall Islands. Ringed with colorful coral and fish, this is an excellent place for snorkeling, scuba diving and getting back to basics as visitors soak up the sun in the tropical paradise.
Majuro Atoll is best known for the stunning Laura Beach, which is located on the western tip of Majuro, around 40kms from the town. Dubbed the ‘pearl of the Pacific’ by Robert Louis Stevenson in 1889, this is a great place to explore or simply chill out.
Kwajalein Atoll also makes a good base to explore the Marshall Islands from as there are plenty of services and facilities here such as a hospital, post office, bank and plenty of shops, hotels, and restaurants. This picturesque area is the world’s largest coral atoll and is an excellent place for scuba diving and snorkeling.
Although most of the accommodation in the Marshall Islands tend to be basic, it is possible to find luxury hotels, especially on the larger of the islands such as Majuro, where there are also some excellent restaurants. It is possible to organize sightseeing tours and budget car rental through the main hotels and rates for accommodation and attractions tend to be reasonable. However, Internet access is extremely expensive here.
The Marshall Islands International Airport (MAJ) is located in Majuro, and regular flights are provided by Continental Airlines, Japan Airlines and Marshall Airlines. It takes around 14 hours to fly to Majuro from New York, while Tokyo is 11 hours away and Honolulu is a five-hour flight. Planes and ships are available to take passengers between the various Marshall Islands.
Blessed with an exotic tropical climate, Micronesia is a country located in the northwestern Pacific Ocean. Micronesia is divided into four states, namely Kosrae, Pohnpei, Chuuk and Yap. Each of these four states has unique characteristics, making Micronesia a particularly interesting place to explore.
The state of Chuuk has a large lagoon and is an excellent place for wreck diving and snorkeling. A great way to explore the natural beauty of Kosrae is by taking an outrigger canoe trip through the Utwe/Walung Biosphere Marine Reserve. This state is blessed with colorful coral reefs and rainforests, making it a good place for those who enjoy adventure activities.
Pohnpei is a great spot for surfing, and other water sports such as kayaking are also popular here. There are numerous activities available for the adventurous such as trekking through the jungle and exploring the lush mangrove forests. Last but certainly not least, Yap is comprised of 134 islands and atolls and 20 of these are inhabited. The truly adventurous will find plenty to do here and exploring the traditional village of Balabat is one of the highlights of Micronesia.
There are a number of luxurious four and five-star hotels in Micronesia which feature an excellent range of modern conveniences. Perhaps the best place to stay is the city of Kosrae, where top of the range hotels can be found. These hotels are also good places to arrange activities and excursions.
There is a small airport in Micronesia, simply called Micronesia Airport, which receives flights from Continental Airlines three times a week. Most people fly to Guam or Honolulu from places such as North America, Australia and Asia and then take a connecting flight to Micronesia. It is also possible to arrive by ferry from the surrounding islands.
The French colony of New Caledonia is distinctly different from many of the nearby Pacific nations as it is full of charming French touches such as chalets, churches, French cuisine and mountaintop restaurants. Situated between Australia and Vanuatu, the territory is comprised of the Grande Terre, the Loyalty Islands and a number of picturesque small islands and atolls.
Grande Terre is the main island in New Caledonia, featuring an enormous barrier reef. This is the perfect place for water sports such as scuba diving, snorkeling, fishing and boating. It goes without saying that there are a number of spectacular sandy beaches here, and simply laying on the sand is a popular pastime.
Although sparsely populated, there is plenty to see and do on the Liberty Islands such as exploring hidden caves and secluded beaches. Climb the cliff of Lifou to witness spectacular views and take a boat trip to Ouvéa to relax on the beach or beside a stunning lagoon. It is a good idea to hire a boat with a driver for a day or two in order to fully explore.
Accommodation in New Caledonia is generally in very good condition and can be found to suit every price range. However, restaurants tend to be expensive and those on a strict budget will need to buy food from local markets. All goods have to be imported to New Caledonia and are very expensive compared to other parts of the Pacific.
New Caledonia Airport is located in Paita, which is 52kms northwest of the capital city. Their airport receives direct flights from a number of international destinations such as Paris, Tokyo, Australia, New Zealand and various places in Southeast Asia. There is also a major port at Noumea, and a large number of travelers arrive here by boat from various nearby islands and nations.
Blessed with numerous stunningly beautiful natural features such as miles of beaches, tropical rainforest and snowfields, New Zealand is an ideal destination for those with a strong sense of adventure who love to explore. Combined with thriving metropolis’, this is truly a country of intriguing contrasts.
New Zealand’s most popular city is Auckland, which is home to about a third of the country’s population and is known as the ‘City of Sails’. This inviting city manages to combine natural beauty with commercial and financial centers. Visitors can climb One Tree Hill to enjoy the view before discovering Maori art in the Auckland Museum and watching a sailing event at the Waitemata or Manukau harbor.
The capital city of Wellington is home to the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and this a great place for those who love art and culture. Further south is the city of Christchurch, which is often compared to Oxford or Cambridge in England. This charming city features colonial architecture, theatres, and galleries. There are also several beaches and ski fields nearby.
New Zealand’s hotels are world-class, and it is easy to find luxurious accommodation in any of the major cities. Service and facilities are on par with other Western countries and most accommodation features modern conveniences such as air-conditioning, private bathrooms, and satellite television. New Zealand offers a wide range of tourist services, such as guided tours, specially tailored trips, and interesting attractions.
New Zealand has four international airports, which are located in Auckland, Queensland, Christchurch, and Wellington. However, most visitors arrive at Auckland International Airport (AKL), which is served by 20 foreign airlines, bringing passengers to New Zealand from all over the world. There is a regular ferry service linking New Zealand’s North and South Islands and buses and coaches travel throughout the country.
Packed with untamed wilderness, vibrant culture and stunning natural scenery, Papua New Guinea makes an interesting destination for those who are looking for a unique travel experience. Exploring Papua New Guinea is a great way to experience a new culture and take part in a range of adventurous activities such as trekking through the rainforest, scuba diving, and mountain climbing.
The capital city of Port Moresby makes an ideal base to explore Papua New Guinea. Home to Parliament House and the National Museum & Art Gallery, there is plenty for tourists to do here. There are a number of beautiful sandy beaches on the outskirts of the city, which are famous for their excellent snorkeling, scuba diving, and swimming opportunities.
Also near Port Moresby is the picturesque Variarata National Park and taking a cruise along the Sepik River is a good way to witness the traditional stilt houses, which are situated along the shores. Some of the country’s most beautiful beaches can be found in the Sepik region, while Lake Kutubu is a great place to relax and unwind.
Most of Papua New Guinea’s large hotels are located in Port Moresby, where it is possible to find luxurious four and five-star hotels. Outside the city, accommodation tends to be pretty basic, but there are still decent places to stay. Papua New Guinea is well equipped for tourism and it is easy to arrange tourist activities such as rock climbing.
The main entry point is the Moresby International Airport, which receives regular flights from Australia, Singapore, Manila, and Guam. It is also possible to reach Papua New Guinea shares a land border with Western New Guinea in Indonesia, and it is possible to enter the country this way after first applying for a tourist visa at the consulate in Jayapura.
The Pacific nation of Samoa is comprised of two islands; namely Upolu and Savai’i. Both of these islands feature dramatic natural beauty traits such as volcanic cones, lava fields, and lush rainforests. While this is the ideal environment for those who like to explore and try out adventure sports, there are also big cities where a good meal and plenty of pampering are never far away.
Samoa’s most famous resident was Robert Louis Stevenson, who lived in Apai during the last years of his life. The Robert Stevenson Museum is a popular attraction and it was built by the author just before his death. Situated on the crest of Mount Vailima is Robert Louis Stevenson’s grave, and taking the path to visit the grave in the early morning is a pretty walk.
Upolu is the largest of Samoa’s islands and there are plenty of good spots for surfing, particularly off the coast near the Salani Resort. Vailima village is a good place to visit and there are some pretty waterfalls nearby. Also worth visiting is Lake Lanoto, which is home to some large and lovely rare goldfish.
There is plenty of accommodation options in Samoa, with styles and prices available to suit all budgets. While basic dorm rooms are readily available and comfortable, single rooms are on hand for just a little more. Those with a taste for luxury can stay in lavish garden bungalows. The best selection of accommodation is in Apai; however, there are still plenty of places to stay in Upolu.
Faleolo International Airport is located about an hour’s drive from Apia. There are direct flights several times a week from Auckland, Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne as well as weekly connecting flights from Los Angeles. Local ferries also run between Pago Pago and Apia.
The beauty of the Solomon Islands is sadly overshadowed by ethnic tensions. Yet those with a strong sense of adventure can climb up mountains to discover gently bubbling volcanoes and trek through the rainforest to reach cool lagoons. However, despite the wild feel of the Solomon Islands, there are still a handful of luxurious places to stay and eat at the end of an adventurous day.
Honiara is the capital city and this is a good place to use as a base to explore the Solomon Islands as most of the luxury hotels and good restaurants are located here. Honiara is located on the island of Guadalcanal, which is a popular spot for scuba diving, soaking up the sun on the beach and trekking through the surrounding wilderness.
An interesting day trip from Guadalcanal is the tiny island of Malaita, which is simply bursting with natural beauty. There are plenty of secluded bays here, ideal for those who want to perfect their tans unobserved. Mount Kolovat rises from the center of Malaita, towering above the treetops at 1,303 meters.
While cheap accommodation can be found for budget travelers, those with plenty of money to spend will find some extremely luxurious options on the Solomon Islands. Resorts feature all that visitors could possibly want from five-star accommodation and the staff is trained to cater to every need and desire of their guests.
Henderson International Airport is located near Honiara and there are several flights a week from destinations such as Brisbane, Fiji and Vanuatu. It is also possible to catch a ferry from Papua New Guinea to the Solomon Islands.
Known as the ‘Friendly Islands’, Tonga is an archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean. Visiting Tonga is like stepping back into the past and this is a good place to watch local life unfold and discover the customs and traditions of the people who live here. There is also abundant natural beauty here such as beaches, rainforests and volcanoes.
Tongatapu is an interesting place to explore as it features numerous natural wonders such as blowholes, white sandy beaches, ancient standing stones and tombs. There is plenty of accommodation here, so exploring is easy and endlessly rewarding.
Vava’u is a popular destination for those who like messing about on the water. Sea-kayaking is a popular pastime here and many people hire a boat to watch the humpback whales cavort among the waves. There are miles of colorful coral and teems of fish living here, making scuba diving and snorkeling great options. A popular diving destination is the underwater Mariner’s Cave, while this area is also known for yachting.
Although accommodation in Tonga tends to be a bit pricey, those with big budgets will find some fantastic options, all featuring a range of modern conveniences. Visitors can stay in a shared cottage, which is set in a beautiful garden or watch the ferries arrive from a balcony opposite Queen Salote Wharf.
The most direct way to get to Tonga is by flying into Fua’amotu Airport, which is located on Tongatapu, about half an hour from Tonga’s capital. Air New Zealand provides regular flights from Auckland and Los Angeles, while Virgin Blue flies passengers from a number of Australian destinations as well as Auckland and Fiji. A large number of people also sail to Tonga on private yachts.
Formerly known as the New Hebrides Islands, Vanuatu consists of 83 islands situated in the Pacific Ocean between Australia and New Zealand. Vanuatu is a great place to combine pampering with adventure as there are plenty of exciting dive sites, volcanoes, spectacular waterfalls, and pristine forests to explore. Dive deep to discover shipwrecks or watch ceremonial dances.
Keen scuba divers and snorkellers will want to spend some time exploring the clear waters around the Bank Islands. There are numerous white sandy beaches here, perfect for stretching out on, while those with a strong sense of adventure can hire a bicycle to peddle along picturesque winding lanes and explore the tiny traditional villages.
The capital city of Port Vila is a great place to use as a base to explore Vanuatu and there are plenty of places to stay here. Just off the coast, Erakor Island is waiting to be explored and as there is a free ferry service, reaching the island couldn’t be simpler. Port Villa is known for its large interesting old buildings, while Independence Park is a good place to watch a sports match.
Accommodation on Vanuatu caters to all types of travelers. Those on a budget can stay outside the city in homestay accommodation, which usually consists of comfortable rooms, shared facilities and includes meals. There are also plenty of luxurious resorts to choose from where standards are high and pampering is guaranteed. Most resorts offer guests a wide range of activities to choose from and there are plenty of services and facilities.
Bauerfield International Airport is located just to the north of Port Vila. There are regular flights from a number of destinations including Auckland, Melbourne, Sydney and Nadi. Ferries also arrive at Port Villa from a range of nearby islands, while many people travel to Vanuatu by private yacht.