beaches are best roughly June-August
(Palau is the main exception) but note that July, August is the
Australian and New Zealand winter holiday season so the best beach
accommodation is likely to be booked up then and places crowded.
Read Wet Season advice on World's Best
you prefer to communicate in English then
head for the Cook Islands, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga or Palau.
Polynesia is generally the most expensive area in which to hang
Tahiti is particularly overpriced
considering the seedy capital Papeete and the sad, black beaches though there are some exceptionally smart, high-cost resorts.
Bora Bora is the most expensive
beach island. And don't forget locals speak French!
Aitutaki is probably the best value
English-speaking spectacular beach in the South Pacific as varied
accommodation is available, not just 5 star.
(boat required, inexpensive accommodation
The closest thing to the Caribbean in Australia (ahem, not really),
the Whitsunday's 74 islands have squeaky white beaches, turquoise
water and pine clad hills. Seven islands host resort hotels of all
kinds but with a common marine theme - fishing, sailing, whale watching,
castaway picnics, you want it, they got it.
Whitsunday Island tops Australia's 'Best Beaches' list, with 6km
of powder sand, sandwiched between tropical forest and clear blue
There are no hotels or restaurants
but plenty of cheap camping options on this island. A camping permit
is needed, available from mainland Airlie Beach.
Most visitors are day-trippers from other islands (e.g. Hamilton).
Beware dangerous marine creatures, especially the jellies. Best:
April - November. January-March gets some rain, December is hot and crowded.
Scuba divers like Sept-December.
Off the wall suggestion here but this chunk of freshwater (note:
fresh, so no stickiness, no red eye. Thirsty? Drink it! But not
too much). Totally bereft of deadly critters and clear as glass,
surrounded by tropical rainforest and the purest white sand outside
of Whitehaven Beach (above) Lake McKenzie has got to be a contender
for Australia's best beach. Varied accommodation half an hour away,
and dingoes come with the package! Best: as
the below are in the South Pacific except for Palau.
Aitutaki, One Foot Island, (English
speaking, costly flight, varied accommodation)
by a pricey flight from Rarotonga, is a gorgeous 5 sq. mls (8 sq.
kms) coral atoll necklaced by an azure lagoon and 21 talcum sand
islets, 225 kms (140 mls) north of Rarotonga. Action on Aitutaki
involves mostly snorkelling, fishing or scuba, with lunch served
on one of the coconut tree shaded white sand islands.
The most popular island in Aitutaki is touted as one of the world's
best beaches, One Foot Island
aka Tapuaetai, a 20 minute boat ride from the main island.
Although the flight here is pricey (several 50 min flights a day),
accommodation is not too bad, ranging from the expensive Aitutaki
Lagoon Resort to some reasonable guest houses and backpacker lodges.
Roratonga (English speaking, the boss island in the group, with prices
ranging from cheap to costly), Aroa beach,
crisp white, tree-fringed sand, clear water and some half-dead coral
clusters in a lagoon but hosting some colourful fish.
Beware! Roratonga was hit by a hurricane in 2004 damaging beaches
on the east side of the island (But not Aroa). Famous Muri beach
is less attractive now, tho' still OK, but some beaches disappeared
completely, so if booking guest houses via the internet, check recent
Best: April-June, September, October. Dry June-August (winter, so water
can get a little chilly and there are lots of visitors). Wet December-March,
though it's warm and most days see some sunshine (see Wet
Season advice, right column).
Yasawa Island (English speaking, costly)
The Yasawas is a chain of islands
running just northwest of Nadi, the main island of Fiji. There are
loads of coral sandy beaches merging into cobalt-blue water (in
the right season!), sometimes used as the location for movies, including
'The Blue Lagoon'.
The very best beaches are at the northern tip of Yasawa Island.
One stretch of sand there is known as Eight Months Beach since it's
said to take that long to get sand off out from your hair! There
is an expensive resort on Yasawa island that requires a short flight
from Nadi or a trip on a Blue Lagoon Cruise ship.
islands (English speaking but more importantly inexpensive!): most of the Yasawas are too primitive for fancy resorts but
host lots of reasonably priced backpacker resorts offering varied
activities including pretty good snorkelling and scuba, sea kayaking,
volleyball, small but OK beaches and a lively social life. Expect
cold showers, mediocre inclusive food and less-than-perfect beaches
(if you want fully manicured sand you'll have to go five star!).
A fast catamaran water-bus, the Yasawa Flyer,
does a daily run from Nadi up and down the Yasawa island chain,
taking half an hour to reach the first island and four hours to
get to the most northerly, though it doesn't go to Yasawa Island
itself. It can get a little bumpy but isn't too bad.
The dry season is May-October but best September-October;
wet and humid in December-April, worst February-March with steamy heat and not
infrequent storms, clouds, high winds. (see Wet Season advice, right
Bora (French speaking, very costly),
Matira Beach is one of the best beaches in South Pacific, beginning
at the famous resort Hotel Bora Bora, and going around the south
of the island (Matira Point), then continuing 2 miles (3kms) to
the Club Med. There are a few more resorts along this beach. The
island is beautifully situated in the middle of a lagoon protected
by a coral reef, with sea as gentle and warm as a bath tub.
Bora Bora is popular and touristy so don't expect any local culture
The best time to be there is in the cool, dry
season May-Oct, but it's best to avoid July-Aug, the busiest
time. There are two daily, expensive flights from/to ghastly Papeete
(French speaking, quite expensive),
island, half an hour by fast boat from Tahiti, is all Tahiti should
be - clean, warm and relaxed with no town, little traffic and white
sand beaches. A ring of protective coral reef makes snorkelling,
kayaking, lunching with stingrays or a zillion other watersports
experiences superb, though apart from the big international resorts
beaches tend to be small and scattered with coral chunks, but exceptionally
is public (as it is called the Public Beach), huge and beautiful with views of Tahiti.
Lefaga Beaches and Aleipata Beach
best beach in the Lefaga area is called Return
to Paradise Beach, because it's the location of the film 'Return
to Paradise' starring Gary Cooper in 1953.
This is still one of the most gorgeous beaches in the South Pacific.
Beach on the eastern end of
the island is another one, a white sandy paradise with a view of
4 small offshore islands
- you can see American Samoa on the horizon on a clear day.
As part of the National Eco-tourism Program, you can stay with village
families which have an English speaker as a guide and a cook. Best
June-September. Wet November-April.
South coast of Ofu Island
Ofu is one of the Manu'a Islands, a part of the National Park of
American Samoa, and has the most dramatic and beautiful landscape
in the group - a 2.5 mile beach with pure white sand and coconut
trees overlooked by a volcano. Because locals believe it is haunted,
there are few people there.
It's an exquisite snorkelling spot, with over 300 species of fish
and 150 of coral. There's also an array of prehistoric Samoan artefacts
behind the beach at the To'aga Site.
Best June-Sept. Wet Nov-Apr. A 40 minute flight from Pago
speaking, low cost but often primitive facilities and services):
Foa island, Ha'apai
The Ha'apai group of islands have some lovely beaches, but the finest
of all is the one in front of a hotel called Sandy Beach Resort.
You can enjoy a view of the active volcano on Tafuna island from
this crescent shaped beach on a clear day.
The best time to be there is cool and dry
period, May-October. Cyclones are possible in Nov-April, and
Dec-March is very hot and humid. There are daily flights and a weekly
ferry service from Nuku'alofa, Tongtapu.
(North Pacific, near Guam):
The Rock Islands are famed for their curious and beautiful coral
rock formations and great beaches. The water is warm all year and
underwater life is copious and colourful, so Palau is popular with
divers as well as snorkellers.
You can also experience magical snorkelling in the middle of massed
clouds of (harmless) jellyfish in Jellyfish Lake at Mecherchar Island,
central Rock Islands.
You reach Palau from Guam. Best February,
March. Worst June - August; typhoons occasionally visit around
Island (South Pacific, Chile territory):
Not a huge beach but soft sand, clear sea, palm trees and what surroundings!
Six huge moai (stone statues) just behind you, few people there,
easy to get to and a fascinating island. The best time to go is
May - October.
up Best Pacific Beaches:
USA, Corona del Mar, California; Costa Rica, Manuel Antonio National
Park; French Polynesia, Huahine's Auea (Mahana) Beach; Fiji, Natadola
Beach, The Coral Coast, Vatulele Island, Horseshoe Bay, Matagi Island,
Northern Fiji; Tonga, Atata Island.
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| Philippines | Malaysia
| Indian Ocean | Caribbean