The 30,000 islands of the South Pacific region embody unmatched natural beauty in every way, shape and form. With warm tropical sunshine, swaying palms, impossibly blue seas, rainforest shrouded mountains and friendly people whose traditions date back centuries, it’s no wonder they’re most people’s idea of paradise. Indeed, there are few places which can match the day-dreamy South Pacific islands, whether as a standalone island sojourn or as a stopover after travelling the Antipodes. What you can’t tell from a map or tourist guides is that these palm-laden pinpricks are as diverse as the region is vast, and both the Cook Islands & Fiji will be sure to take your breath away.
A long way from anywhere else, the Cook Islands invoke romantic pictures of tropical vistas, azure waters and idyllic beaches and those images are not far from the truth. Mixing Polynesian hospitality with New Zealand savoir faire, these fifteen droplets of land have a wonderful array of resorts for couples and families alike. It’s a laidback destination where “time” takes on a whole new meaning. There are no branded resorts, no buildings taller than coconut trees, no crowds and no stop lights, yet the islands offer modern conveniences and undiscovered luxury.
Fiji offers a haven where you can relax and recharge in splendid isolation. At the crossroads of the Pacific, this is an appealing land of fun-loving people and fascinating culture. Those seeking to escape from the pressures of life will heave a sigh of relief at the exquisite white sand beaches fringed by gin-clear seas; dive and snorkel enthusiasts will find the underwater world worth the plunge; and nature lovers will be at one with their world as lush interiors offer ample opportunities to hike and amble.
GMT -10 hours, GMT +12 hours (Fiji)
There are no non-stop flights to the South Pacific from the UK. Journey times with stopovers are as follows: Nadi in Fiji is approximately 24 hours, and Rarotonga in the Cook Islands approximately 25 hours.
The South Pacific has a tropical climate and while the weather varies from one island group to another, generally the drier time is from May to October and the rainy season November to April.