South Pacific Beaches Pictures
Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora, Rarotonga, Fiji, Easter Island
Picnicking with stingrays on Moorea, French Polynesia in the South Pacific.
South Pacific is etched into the traveler's sub-conscious as a series
of glorious, sunny, relaxed palm-fringed beaches surrounded by kaleidoscopic
fish, soft coral, sensual girls and muscular, tattooed guys.
was thus - in Gauguin's time a hundred years ago, but that perfect
combination of Polynesia assets is very difficult to find these days
unless you have a big wad and jet into a five star bubble. Even then
you'd be missing out on both real local culture and the thrill of
discovering your own private little South Sea paradise.
South Pacific Weather Downsides Pacific Islands Map
Easter Island Fiji Tahiti Bora Bora Rarotonga Moorea
Our aim with this gallery of pictures and beaches information is
to reduce expectations by clearly illustrating some downsides with
text and reality photos, and also to point the majority of
travellers who don't have a fat wallet to areas where they may have
a chance of finding some measure of peace, plenty and privacy.
A typical black sand beach bordered by Tahiti's ring road on the south coast.
Tahiti is past its sell-by date, overbuilt and short of interest, both scenically or culturally.
is also expensive but hosts an international airport (Faaa) and frequent
flights that arrive late so many beach freaks have no choice but
to stay over en route to far more appealing Bora Bora,
Moorea or other islands.
Moorea lacks massive beaches but is nevertheless closer
to a tropical dream destination than Tahiti.
It's calm, with no urban centre, encircled by crystal seas, white sand beaches and a mature coral
reef. At the core of this small island is a magnificent cluster of
lush mountainous peaks.
Moorea is what Tahiti may have been 30 years ago.
the circular road is placid, the people are
amiable, facilities are comfortable
and a huge variety of marine
activities are available.
South Pacific beaches pointers
French Polynesia (e.g. Tahiti, Moorea, Bora
Bora) is generally the most expensive area of the South Pacific,
and, need we say, French speaking?
• Fiji and its many islands are the best value
group of South Pacific islands, English speaking, not so far from
Australia or New Zealand and well set up to look after backpackers
and their needs.
Probably the most beautiful, well-sorted 'paradise'
beaches in the South Pacific (i.e.
sporting superb resorts, hideously expensive of course) are on French Polynesia's Bora
Bora, The Cook Island's Aitutaki, Tonga's Foa island (Ha'apai islands
group) and Fiji's Yasawa Island. We couldn't afford to go to these
places so cannot offer pictures or subjective information on them.
Culturally the most interesting easily-accessible island group is
Fiji, though Rarotonga, Moorea and Samoa all have valid culture tours
Pricey but gorgeous just about summarises Bora Bora.
Bora, a short flight from Tahiti, is a stunning French
Polynesian holiday spot in an amazing setting and sporting one of the
world's best beaches, but it's costly to both get
and stay there and is divorced from real life.
South Pacific's best snorkelling and scuba diving are found in North Fiji's Somosomo Strait (speciality soft coral, best
visibility May-October), French Polynesia's Rangiroa
atoll (a huge cluster of tiny islets northeast of Tahiti, hotels
available, best December-March for sharks) and Tonga's
Ha'apai (terrific caves and canyons) and Vava'u islands (May-October
for humpback whales. Superb sailing too).
One of Rarotonga's best beaches, and not exactly busy. This is one of the Cook Islands.
Rarotonga is a quiet, better value, English-speaking version
of a French Polynesian island, 900 kms west of Tahiti and ringed by
a fractured reef.
Some beaches are superb but others are covered with sharp coral rocks and impossible to use comfortably, particularly
along the north east shore. Rarotonga has a fine variety of places to stay, but when
booking your hotel it would be advisable to ask about the sand quality
of nearby beaches.
accessed by a pricey flight from Rarotonga, is the Bora Bora of the
Cook Islands, 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. The big action on Aitutaki involves either hiking to
the top of 124 metre high Mount Maungapu for an overview of the area,
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.
Aitutaki, One Foot Island (aka Tapuaetai).
of the Cook Island's outer islands also have flights from Rarotonga
so diehard adventure travellers could find places with few or no other
visitors and isolated atolls. Accommodation of some sort - even with
local people - is always available. These islands are among those
that have flights:
Manihiki (north), aka the Island of Pearls,
is one of the prettiest of the Cook's with a 4km wide lagoon - dotted
with 40 islets - that provides top snorkelling, swimming and black
Pukapuka (north) is small, remote and
has habits and customs similar to Samoa. Swimming and snorkelling
Mangaia (the most southerly island) offers
stunning rock formations and caves, so climbing, caving, interesting
drives, biking and horse riding can be added to the usual snorkelling
n.b. Rarotonga and Aitutaki are in the southern island group.
A typical, laid-backpacker beach resort on one of the Yasawa Islands in Fiji.
all the South Pacific island groups Fiji is the one with the lowest prices
and greatest variety of travel, activity, beaches and cheap accommodation
options, so the most popular with budget-conscious backpackers and
flashpackers (a term coined in New Zealand to mean low-level travellers
who have a slightly more spending power and are ready to pay a bit extra
for comfort or unusual experiences). Fiji is also English-speaking.
Easter Island is a different Pacific experience entirely, being even more expensive and time consuming to reach but scenically and culturally amazing, a really unique destination. And it has a pleasant beach too.
South Pacific Downsides
• traffic: these islands experience varying amounts of road
noise on their limited roads; even Bora Bora
suffers from scooter whine.
• tropical islands can see some cloud and rain on a regular basis due to the heat
and humidity, so don't expect endless sunshine even in the dry season
• the South Pacific has a some thieving from
hotel rooms, even in good resorts.
• mosquitoes will always be on the prowl for fresh blood, though they're not normally malarial, so take precautions.
Pacific triangle map South Pacific Map
South Pacific weather
The best months generally are May - October. The South Pacific
lies in the tropics so all islands are warm and humid year round.
The dry season is climatically best, May to October, with less humidity,
cloud cover, rain, wind, rough seas and seaweed on beaches. However,
July and August get very crowded with visitors, especially Australians
and Kiwis escaping winter back home.
Beware the November to April wet season. Don't believe travel agents
who tell you it only rains for an hour a day. Not true! It may
rain for an hour, it may rain for days on end, and even when
it doesn't cloud cover could spoil the sunshine, winds make boating
unpleasant, choppy water makes snorkelling water murky and beaches
wear a coat of seaweed. Hurricane force winds (cyclones) may also
occasionally make an appearance.
Easter Island Fiji Tahiti Bora Bora Rarotonga
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