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Thread: Pacific islands

  1. #1
    Petri is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jan 2004 Helsinki, Finland Posts: 7,968

    Pacific islands

    Ok, we're seriously planning a new trip -- use frequent flyer miles to collect the tickets from South Africa and after safari and Mauritius fly back home with the new ticket and continue the journey later. Why now? Well, the tickets are still relatively inexpensive and I don't think flying will get any cheaper in the future.

    One of our favourite destinations will be New Zealand and I was thinking of "island hopping" on some of the islands on Pacific Ocean. Prefererably some of the smaller, less touristic places.

    Can anyone recommend any "hidden paradises" on the Pacific?

  2. #2
    KevinS is offline
    Senior Insider Joined: Jul 2003 Posts: 20,914

    Re: Pacific islands

    If I were to return to the South Pacific I would consider the Qamea Beach Club in Fiji. It's an inter-island flight, a taxi, and a boat ride from the main airport in Nadi.

  3. #3
    infi is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Sep 2006 Sydney, Australia Posts: 1,238

    Re: Pacific islands

    I would look at Tonga (somewhere like Fafa Island for example), Vanuatu,and the Cook Islands are also great. All a little less on the traveled road and all enjoyable for different reasons. If you like to sail and maybe will charter Vanuata would be a great base to sail out of

  4. #4
    Erma is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Oct 2002 Posts: 780

    Re: Pacific islands

    Second the Kingdom of Tonga suggestion. Experience was helping my best friend plan her honeymoon-10 day charter w/ Moorings and land based in Aust/GBReef area. They LOVED Tonga!

    My thoughts are: KOTonga is off the beaten path more so than say French Poly.

    They stopped at several islands in the chain that looked appealing for a future land based trip. If they could have...they would have purchased land while they were there..they liked it so much. (much like the BVI with regards to owning property in the Kingdom)

    I know a couple that recently completed their trip to New Caledonia - very well traveled- I will ask him if it is okay to send you or post his overview of the area. Suffice it to say they loved it and it was quite off the beaten path.

    Will get back to you!


    Best regards,

    Erma

  5. #5
    infi is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Sep 2006 Sydney, Australia Posts: 1,238

    Re: Pacific islands

    I was a little underwhelmed by New Caledonia - watching a cheesy island version of show girls doing a dancing in the rain number in the casino was a real low point! LOL

  6. #6
    Peter is offline
    SBH New Member Joined: Oct 2002 Ohio Posts: 4

    Re: Pacific islands

    I was a little underwhelmed by New Caledonia - watching a cheesy island version of show girls doing a dancing in the rain number in the casino was a real low point! LOL
    Then you weren't in the right parts of New Caledonia.

    The big hotels near Noumea and the Isle of Pines are magnets for package tourists. If you aren't a package tourist and don't want to be around them, don't go there.

    There are a few great restaurants and worthwhile things to do around Noumea. We were happy to skip the Isle of Pines and had a great time in the northern part of New Caledonia and especially on the Loyalty Islands which may be just what the OP is seeking. Ouvea has one of the most beautiful beaches I've ever experienced--Barbuda beautiful, Havelock island beautiful--on an island with a complicated history. It's the only French place I've ever been where the hotel de ville doesn't fly the tricolor. (Also there weren't any men my age, because they had all been killed by the French army.) Ouvea takes patience but is well worth it.

    Lifou is a much bigger island--larger than the island of Tahiti but with a tiny population and no industrialization. We stayed at Chez Jeanette's in a grass hut a few meters from the beach. We were the first Americans who'd ever stayed there (this was November 2007).

    In the north of the mainland I stopped by the pizza place in Poindime one evening to order a pizza. When I returned half an hour later to pick it up I was surprised to find my name on it, even though I hadn't given my name. "Oh," the pizza girl said, "my sister works at the petrol station and got your name off your credit card. We don't get many Americans here." I'm fully confident that by the next morning many people in Poindime knew that we had ordered a Texan pizza (which was very good).

    New Caledonia is much more than casinos and cheesy dance shows. Rent a car, fly Air Caledonie to the Loyalty Islands, and step back into an uncrowded, unhurried, amazingly beautiful part of the world. And if you're like me, months later you will still have the Kaneka music in your head.

    P.S.
    Does sbhonline give any prizes for most years between posts? Thanks for prompting me Erma!

  7. #7
    Erma is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Oct 2002 Posts: 780

    Re: Pacific islands

    infi,

    Which island did you visit?

    Since I have not visited NC I can only relate what a friend, Peter, and his wife experienced. For reference they are very frequent travelers around the world and enjoy more of the "off the beaten path" area's. i can't imagine he and his wife heading to that type of entertainment. Maybe this is a case of 'available options' in a country....
    What I can say is that I would follow Peter's travel advice without question- -that's because I know his/their style and it match's my taste. Then again I long ago left SBH for more remote islands in the FWI.
    In any case here is Peter's summary. He is a member of this site under username Peter and he authorized this exert from our email.

    To get to New Caledonia we flew CLE-ORD-LAX-BNE- (stop for 5 days at the naturist paradise of Byron Bay) -NOU. Then after a week Air Caledonie from Magenta airport in Noumea to Ouvea and then Lifou. Then another week on the big island. New Caledonia might be my favorite place ever: friendly, good food, always great scenery. Great beaches, great hiking, and perfect weather the whole 3 weeks. The island is huge, and split by a mountain range, east side is tropical paradise with waterfalls everywhere you look, west side is Australian-looking, much drier, with French cowboys. Ouvea is a low, flat island very much like Barbuda, right down to the perfect beaches and lack of infrastructure.

    Lifou is the largest uplifted atoll in the world, bigger than Tahiti, a very uncrowded and relaxed place. We stayed at Chez Jeanette in a hut (literally) a few paces from the beach, and were the first American guests Jeanette had ever welcomed.

    In Poindime on the big island we ordered a pizza, and were told we could come back for it in half an hour. Returning, I found my name on the pizza box, even though I hadn't given my name and had never been to the pizza place before. I imagine that the next day anyone in the village who cared would know what toppings we had on our pizza.


    Petri-good luck with your Pacific Island search.

    Best regards,

    Erma

  8. #8
    Erma is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Oct 2002 Posts: 780

    Re: Pacific islands

    Does sbhonline give any prizes for most years between posts? Thanks for prompting me Erma!
    Peter,

    Thanks for chiming in! You and I were posting at the same time so some information will be overlapped but that is okay. I am pretty sure Petri will get a better idea of the area of NC that you and S visited and your impressions.

    Thanks to you I know the full meaning of a beach being "Barbuda beautiful"!

    Talk to you soon and thanks again for taking the time to post on sbhonline.

    Erma


    .........now if we could only lure back some more of the posters from the past life of Phil's site and Kara's original work.....

  9. #9
    infi is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Sep 2006 Sydney, Australia Posts: 1,238

    Re: Pacific islands

    It was a quick weekend trip to Noumea (when I lived in Australia it wasn't far). I was trying to impress a new girlfriend with a surprise weekend trip...it must have worked because even though she wasn't that keen on Noumea either we ended up getting married and still are!

    So I retract my previous post to comments only about Noumea. I wasn't that wowed but it served its purpose LOL. That was the only time I went to New Caledonia. I personally just preferred Tonga and the Cooks much more.

  10. #10
    JEK is offline
    Senior Insider Joined: Jan 2004 In the ether . . . Posts: 53,144

    Re: Pacific islands


    P.S.
    Does sbhonline give any prizes for most years between posts? Thanks for prompting me Erma!
    Peter,
    I will personally pay for your next meal at Andy's, just let me know when! Five years is a long time to remain silent on the forum :-)
    The Marius 100th Birthday Party Memorial -- June 5, 2023

  11. #11
    onebigdawg53 is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jun 2004 Beautiful hunterdon county new jersey Posts: 3,157

    Re: Pacific islands

    I was a little underwhelmed by New Caledonia - watching a cheesy island version of show girls doing a dancing in the rain number in the casino was a real low point! LOL
    isn't NC where the guys from McHale's Navy including Fuji went for some R + R? lol
    Sounds like a fascinating destination to me.

  12. #12
    Peter is offline
    SBH New Member Joined: Oct 2002 Ohio Posts: 4

    Re: Pacific islands


    P.S.
    Does sbhonline give any prizes for most years between posts? Thanks for prompting me Erma!
    Peter,
    I will personally pay for your next meal at Andy's, just let me know when! Five years is a long time to remain silent on the forum :-)
    Thank you. I will try not to stay away so long next time.

  13. #13
    Peter is offline
    SBH New Member Joined: Oct 2002 Ohio Posts: 4

    Re: Pacific islands

    isn't NC where the guys from McHale's Navy including Fuji went for some R + R? lol
    Sounds like a fascinating destination to me.
    That's the place! In Noumea there is an impressive monument to the American military presence, right across street from the McDonalds. All over the main island one can see quonset huts and other American military artifacts. Neighborhoods in Noumea even have names like Artillery and Transport. Among the older residents there is genuine warmth toward Americans. Among everyone else there is genuine friendliness.

  14. #14
    infi is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Sep 2006 Sydney, Australia Posts: 1,238

    Re: Pacific islands

    Petri

    So there are the votes

    2 for Tonga/1 also for Cooks and Vanuatu
    1 vote for NC (with a sympathetic support vote)/ 1 retracted bad review as I only visited one region there once and didn't go back :)
    1 for Fiji

    You are European as I am..so the availability of Texan pizza and a history of American occupation may or may not be appealing...your call-I leave that to your own individual aesthetic

    It is a great region to explore and having lived in the region for over 12 years I think I may be a little qualified to say there are just so many amazing places to go. Go wild and go to PNG and visit a Home Depot size coffin shop, go to the Marshalls and see how corrupt government can really get, go to Easter and see how mass tourism can spoil a local environment. Best of all just charter a boat and go wander. Even in Fiji there are unspoiled islands and a resort in the face of a dormant volcano accessible only by helicopter. A great region, so many small undeveloped countries-even visit Nauru when you can see how economic greed can ruin a whole island nation. Or go to Norfolk Island and see their prison where locals check themselves in overnight if they are drunk and disorderly...strange but true (also see Mutiny on the Bounty history)

    You could also of course dodge the other way and go Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia etc. The great beauty of hubbing out of a Southern Pacific location whether it be NZ or Oz is the big choice turn left or turn right - you can find great destinations either way. Some you may like or some you may not but what you get is diversity and experience. That is the true joy of travel

    Enjoy!

  15. #15
    Petri is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jan 2004 Helsinki, Finland Posts: 7,968

    Re: Pacific islands

    Thank's for the summary ;-)

    Learning about the history America would be fine but I couldn't care less about Texan pizza.. On the recent 3-month trip we managed to stay away from all the fast food "restaurants".


    I was just looking at Tokelau yesterday. There are no airports, to get there there's a scheduled but unknown (exact date known a few days before to sailing) ship from Apia that takes about 2 days for the trip. There are only two cabins so most people sleep on the deck (tourists get less priority). In Tokelau there is only one hotel and only one restaurant in that hotel. The owner of the hotel isn't a popular person on the island because people think it's strange to do something for their own profit. Most of the island live as a commun and with the money from New Zealand (it's part of NZ). Not sure if we'll go there, though, but it could be interesting.

    Right now we don't have any preferences but we'd like to stay away from the most obvious tourist destinations, big or luxury resorts, dedicated family or honeymoon places and the largest islands. We can leave part of our luggage in AUS/NZ so that the travel in the SWP would be quite comfortable.

    There's one special attraction with the region. Many of the polynesian names and words mean something in finnish as well, or could be finnish names, and the languages are easy for us to pronounce (unlike e.g. english or french).

    www.southpacific.org is a pretty nice web site about all the islands. Also includes "Why should I visit" section for each island ;-)

  16. #16
    Peter is offline
    SBH New Member Joined: Oct 2002 Ohio Posts: 4

    Re: Pacific islands


    You are European as I am..so the availability of Texan pizza and a history of American occupation may or may not be appealing...your call-I leave that to your own individual aesthetic

    I provided the information about the American military relics in New Caledonia in response to the McHale's Navy query. It would be easy for anyone from Europe or anywhere else to spend a long time in New Caledonia without noticing any of it. It's not like they have erected statues to G.W. Bush.

    I've never seen a Texan pizza in America. The one I enjoyed in rural New Caledonia was the same one offered in cafes in France and Italy (and Guadeloupe for that matter). Anyone resistant to a Provencal moment in the middle of the their South Pacific idyll would find it easy to live on fresh fish and shellfish, and fruit from the local markets.

    The points you make about the diversity of the region are excellent. Since the OP is interested in the linguistic connections between Finnish and Polynesian, then Melanesian New Caledonia might not be the place for him. In general, I think it would be culturally enlightening for anyone who has visited only the Polynesian South Pacific to also visit a Melanesian destination. And vice versa.

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