Discover infinite bliss with a Pleasant Holidays escape to the South Pacific islands
Days spent swaying in a beachside hammock, as palm trees rustle in the gardenia-scented breeze, periodically wading into the warm, azure waters. Evenings spent sampling just-caught fish, washed down with a cold local lager, listening to soft notes from a ukulele. Nights lulled to sleep by gentle waves outside your villa. Awaken and repeat.
The South Pacific islands, tiny dots of land scattered in the vast Pacific Ocean, far from everything, instantly conjure such visions of paradise. They lure visitors with clear waters teeming with colorful fish to dive and snorkel among, lush jungles to hike through, peaceful lagoons to swim in or kayak across to discover a nearby uninhabited beach and Polynesian spa rituals to indulge in. Bliss.
Explore the South Pacific Islands
Tahiti is the name of both an individual island and a group of 118 South Pacific islands that includes Bora Bora — known as the “Pearl of the Pacific,” which novelist James Michener called the most beautiful island in the world. Two rainforest-covered mountains at its center create Bora Bora’s distinctive profile; its postcard-perfect lagoon is encircled and protected by a coral reef.
Throughout Tahiti, the French influence is evident: It’s the islands’ official language (though Tahitian is widely spoken); you may find crepes served next to Tahitian staples like poisson cru (tuna marinated in lime juice and coconut milk). You’ll definitely find endless white sand (and black sand) beaches alongside calm, clear blue waters filled with giant turtles, tiger sharks and rainbow-colored tropical fish; tropical forests that boast rivers and rushing waterfalls; and plenty of Tahitian music and dance, including fire twirlers, to experience.
Try a Tahitian Taurumi massage, a practice both spiritual and therapeutic, inherited from the Polynesian ancestors, aimed at extracting the negative energies of your body, at InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa. The resort, located on a reef islet, is only accessible by boat; its Lagoonarium — found next to the resort’s glass-bottomed chapel — creates a protected ocean habitat for more than 200 species of local marine life, and you can feed the rays there.
Surround yourself with a Polynesian vibe in rooms designed by a Tahitian architect at the Manava Suite Resort Tahiti, which boasts the island’s largest infinity pool. There’s also a pool bar, the perfect place to raise an evening cocktail and watch the sun slip down below the horizon.
Traveling to the Cook Islands — a remote, under-the-radar Eden of unspoiled natural beauty — is like traveling back in time. There’s not a Starbucks or high-rise hotel in sight; by law, no building can be taller than a coconut tree; there’s not a traffic light, even on Raratonga, the largest member of the 15-island archipelago. The common greeting is “kia orana,” meaning hello and also “may you live long.”
These peaceful surroundings and the reef-protected, calm lagoon waters are an ideal setting for an early morning yoga class on a stand-up paddleboard — also for swimming, snorkeling, kite surfing, sailing and diving. From the shore, humpback whales are sometimes seen breaching the water’s surface in the distance. The island’s rugged, jungle-covered interior conceals waterfalls and ancient temple ruins; hire a local medicine man to show you the native healing plants on your way there.
Afterward, cool off in your private open-air outdoor shower, set in a tropical garden courtyard, at the eco-friendly beachfront Nautilus Resort Rarotonga, and maybe a 3 Algae Wrap at Spa Nautilus before refueling with pan fried locally caught fish with pineapple and corn salsa on the patio by the lagoon. The resort’s 17 villas sit alongside the lagoon, each with its own salt water plunge pool.
The island of Aitutaki, covering just six and a half square miles, has what is arguably the most beautiful lagoon in the world, the let alone South Pacific islands, which beckons from innumerable travel brochures. The surreal lagoon’s shimmering waters reveal layers of blues; legend has it that the color blue was invented here. You can immerse yourself in it at the Aitutaki Lagoon Private Island Resort. In your overwater bungalow, when you rise in the morning, just tie your sarong and marvel again at the view while breakfasting on local mangos, passion fruit and papaya.
The more than 330 South Pacific islands of Fiji — many uninhabited — could be the dictionary definition of tropical paradise: hundreds of miles of pristine white sand beaches lapped by clear azure water, which provided the setting for movies like Cast Away and The Blue Lagoon. You’ll want to explore it slowly, on “Fiji time.”
That exploration should include both the islands’ lush interiors, with a wealth of options for hiking and birdwatching for some of Fiji’s endemic species, including the red shining parrot, as well as the exotic undersea wonders: endless stretches of multihued coral reefs — over 350 species of coral — and more than 1,500 species of fish and sea creatures such as dolphins, eels, squid and manta rays. The reefs also create some world-class surfing waves.
An ideal place from which to explore both land and sea is the Koro Sun Resort & Rainforest Spa, tucked into a 160-acre rainforest sanctuary at the edge of a private turquoise lagoon. In the candle-lit, fern-filled Rainforest Spa, the sounds of babbling streams and calling birds from the surrounding jungle fill the room during your coconut-oil massage or detoxifying banana leaf body wrap, which use leaves and fruit from nearby banana and coconut trees.
In the Fijian language, Yasawa means heaven; the Yasawa Island Resort and Spa is built on one of Fiji’s most remote and unspoiled islands. Eighteen luxurious bungalows are nestled among the palm trees, each just steps from a pristine white sand beach. It’s the only commercial development on the island, meaning it’s not only private but an ideal place to experience authentic Fijian culture. You might want to visit the local village and share some kava with the village elders. That feeling when you're sipping kava with your toes in the soft, warm sand, watching the sky turn red and orange as the sun sinks into the sea? It might be bliss.
Discover your own piece of paradise among the South Pacific islands. Your AAA Travel Agent can help you craft your perfect getaway. Call 800-750-5386 today!