Owing to their exquisite beaches and paradise-esque coastal townships, the islands of the South Pacific are often included among shortlists of the most beautiful holiday destinations in the world. Luckily for us Aussies, they happen to be just around the corner – well, sort of.
Sail from Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane, and you’ll reach the Pacific Islands in a matter of days. What awaits your arrival? Only some of the best beaches, friendliest locals and outstanding pockets of serene natural beauty on the planet. If you’re interested in booking a cruise holiday to the Pacific Islands, here’s an in-depth guide to the region, including popular ports, destinations, general travel advice and information on upcoming Pacific cruise breaks with Cruise1st Australia.
The beauty of the South Pacific is that, upon disembarkation, cruise passengers needn’t travel far to experience the unrivalled beauty of the region. This is a place where cruise ports resemble paradise; where turquoise waters seem but a fantasy; where the nearest ribbon of pearl white sand is just a stroll away.
Whilst it’s officially the capital city of Vanuatu, Port Vila is by no means a city in the ordinary sense of the word. With a population of just 44,000 permanent residents, Port Vila is more akin to an Australian coastal town than a capital city. Despite its meagre proportions however, the city is a popular destination given its position on the attractive island of Efate, and welcomes hundreds of cruise passengers each year.
Located on New Caledonia’s main island of Grande Terre, Noumea is the capital city of the region, and is home to several nationalities including Europeans, Polynesians, Indonesians and Melanesians. The city lies on a picturesque slither of land on the island’s scenic south coast – making it easy to access for Australian cruise ships. Temperatures rarely dip below temperate twenties in Noumea, making it a superb year-round destination.
Isle of Pines
The Isle of Pines, or île des Pins in the native French, is paradise found for the discerning cruise goer. Characterised by its glorious white sand beaches and pine-peppered inland area, this is one Pacific Island you’ll be pining for long after you’ve made the return voyage. The island itself is small yet perfectly formed; think tropical flora wrapped in a ribbon of soft sand and lapped by azure blue waters. Luckily, most South Pacific cruise itineraries call at the Isle of Pines, so you won’t miss out on this outrageously pretty port.
Are you more of a doer than a dosser? Then be sure to book excursions during your South Pacific cruise to ensure you don’t grow tired of all the lounging about. Here, we cover three of the region’s best shore excursions, to give you a taste of what awaits should you travel further afield.
Hemmed between tropical bush-lands and the crystal clear waters of the Pacific, Nadi is Fiji’s third largest conurbation, and one that attracts ample visitors thanks to its colourful culture and spiritual influence. The city is home to several Hindu temples, the most recognisable of which being Sri Siva Subramaniya Swami in the city’s southern quarter. Surrounded by subtropical gardens and painted in a kaleidoscope of colours, the temple is worth a visit if you’re travelling to the city.
Lifou, New Caledonia
For those interested in scuba diving, there’s no better place for underwater exploration than the island of Lifou in New Caledonia. As the largest coral island in the Loyalty archipelago, the waters off Lifou are teeming with life – making it the perfect place to strap on the swimming goggles and spot tropical marine life. On dry land, Lifou isn’t too shabby either; the island is home to a number of secluded beaches that are perfect for sun-seekers.
Ouvea, Loyalty Islands
Thanks to its blend of unbridled natural beauty and wonderfully friendly locals, Ouvea has fast become a favourite destination among those who regularly cruise the South Pacific. Made up of tiny, time-forgotten townships and implausible stretches of soft white sand, Ouvea is often described as the “island closest to paradise”. The island is home to just 4,000 permanent residents, and features a 25km beach that remains relatively deserted throughout the year. Heaven on earth? We think so.
To ensure you enjoy paradise found on your South Pacific cruise break, here’s some general tips and advice for safe, happy travel in the region.
Be Aware of Limited Public Transport: If you’re planning on booking your own shore excursions and trips during your time in the Pacific, be aware that many of the less inhabited Melanesian islands have little to no public transport conveyance. With this in mind, it’s often easier to book excursions with your cruise operator before you disembark.
Don’t Forget Anything: Unlike other cruise itineraries when it’s easy to pick up forgotten essentials during a port call, the South Pacific doesn’t generally accommodate this option. Many of the ports are remote, with few amenities catered to forgetful cruise passengers. If you do manage to find a convenience store, expect to pay through the nose.
Be Careful When Scuba Diving and Snorkelling: The aquamarine waters that encircle the Pacific Islands may look serene, but strong currents and unpredictable tides can make cause problems for inexperienced divers. If possible, always swim with a friend or family member, or book yourself a spot with a specialist diving centre.
Cruise1st Australia Holidays
The South Pacific has long been a favourite among Aussie cruise-goers, and at Cruise1st Australia, we offer hundreds of heavenly cruise breaks to the Pacific to meet this demand. If you’re interested in booking a cruse break with us, here’s a pick of three of our favourite Pacific Island cruise holiday
Pacific Islands from Sydney
Discover the paradise beaches of the Isle of Pines and the serene natural beauty of Lifou Island on this 9-night cruise break.
Departing: 14th October 2015, Sydney
Price: From A$735pp
Pacific Island Hopper
Lounge on the beaches of Noumea and explore the streets of Port Vila during this unforgettable 7-night cruise break.
Departing: 29th August 2015, Brisbane
Price: From A$965pp
Explore the Loyalty Islands
Love scuba diving or just want to catch some rays? You’ll be well catered for on this majestic 11-night cruise.
Departing: 2nd February 2016, Melbourne
Price: From A$1176
For more information on our Pacific Island cruise holidays, visit the Cruise1st Australia homepage or call our experienced team on 1300 857 345.
All images sourced via Flickr Creative Commons. Credits: David Cobbin, eGuide Travel, Taryn, Nathan Hughes Hamilton, Thomas Ballandras