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New Caledonia, Isle of Pines, Australia, French territory, South Pacific

Top 5 South Pacific Islands

Take a trip to one of these exotic South Pacific islands and cross them off your bucket list.

By Evelyn Uslar-Pietri | Published on May 5, 2022

If paradise can be found on our planet, it’s squarely parked in the South Pacific. There, on islands with exotic names, you find stunning natural beauty, fascinating history, rich cultures and maxed-out adventure. We’ve picked 5 of our faves to visit, bucket-list-topping destinations you simply can’t miss! And with cruises departing from Brisbane and Sydney in 2023 and 2024, paradise is practically in your back pocket.

Noumea, New Caledonia

A postcard-perfect example of captivating Polynesian culture combined with European flair, Noumea has something special for every family member. At the Museum of New Caledonia, history buffs will enjoy learning about the area’s French colonial roots, while also viewing the amazing collections of Kanak and Oceanian art.

For nature enthusiasts and snorkelers, Amedee Lighthouse is a must-see marvel. Built in 1862–and still the highest metallic structure of its kind in the world–the lighthouse is surrounded by a marine reserve teeming with tropical fish and fluorescent corals. Also known for its aquamarine waters and white powder beaches, Anse Vata Bay has a distinct French Riviera vibe. Soak up the sun then stroll down the walkway to one of the many restaurants or cafes.

If you love shopping, Noumea has some of the best in the South Pacific. Head over to Rue de l’Alma and Rue de Sebastopol to find boutiques, designer shops and more. Afterwards, swing by Port Moselle Market to find delicious treats like flaky croissants and home-made cheeses, as well as fresh fruits, veggies and local wares.

Moorea, French Polynesia

What does love have to do with it? Everything, beginning with the fact that this captivating little island is shaped like a heart! And it doesn’t hurt that the must-have local keepsake is its famed black pearl. But hearts and pearls aside, there is much to love in Moorea.

Like Tiki Parc, the ultimate treetop adventure destination. Here, in this emerald green mountainous terrain, you’ll find walking nets and hanging bridges, rope ladders and thrilling ziplines.

If underwater adventure is calling, the Lagoonarium de Moorea, an enclosed lagoon, is home to a rainbow of radiant coral, colourful fish and curious turtles. Another great snorkelling destination is found in the aquamarine waters of the Moorea Dolphin Centre, where you can get close and personal with bottlenose dolphins, swimming with them and learning more about these highly intelligent mammals.

For amped-up entertainment check out the traditional Polynesian show at Tiki Village, and its line-up of thrilling fire dances, Tahitian songs, and Tamure dances. The optional dinner includes a punch cocktail, a feast of Polynesian specialties and a guided tour of the village.

Suva, Fiji

A true melting pot–blending British, Chinese, Fijian, Japanese and even Indian ancestries–Suva is one of the most fascinating places on earth. Dive deep into its culture at the Pacific Harbor Arts Village where your arrival is greeted by beating tribal drums, whistling coconuts and Beqa firewalkers braving fiery coals. Discover Suva’s ancient secrets at the Fiji Museum, with exhibits dating back 3,700 years including a full size war canoe.

Suva itself is a study in contrasts. You’ll find buildings from the British colonial area nestled between high-rises, bustling farmers markets and streamlined stores, historical sites as well as vibrant nightlife. For a look back at recent history, visit Bilo-Battery, an allied stronghold built to defend Suva during World War II.

No trip to the island is complete without a hike through Colo-i-Suva Forest Park. This lush rainforest is laced with walking trails, waterfalls and natural pools that you can jump into swinging from a rope. Pack a picnic to top off a perfect day.

Mystery Island, Vanuatu

Want to feel like a time-traveller, cast back to an era when there were no telephones, electricity or even roads? Then you’ll flip over Mystery Island, an uninhabited isle unspoiled by modern civilization. In one to two hours you can walk the entire island, breathing deeply the pristine air and taking in nature’s bounty untouched by man.

Go for a swim in crystal clear waters where coral is exceptionally healthy and abundant. You’ll see curious clownfish and parrot fish, sea turtles and other fascinating marine life. Relax on the baby-soft beach, then get your hair braided or score a traditional massage by inhabitants of nearby Aneityum, who come to the island to sell their wares and prepare food.

Visit their rustic market stalls to find hand-made sarongs, accessories and trinkets, as well as tasty bites. Vanuatuan food is simple, fresh and delicious–like just-caught lobster, grilled beachside to juicy perfection. And for a desert that will long live in your memory, try the yummy banana pie. It’s another sweet reason to book a cruise that visits Mystery Island!

Bora Bora, French Polynesia

It doesn’t take long to figure out why this island is named Bora Bora, meaning ‘created by the gods’ in ancient Tahitian. Because in this heavenly place your every sense comes alive with the scent of Tiare Tahiti–a white gardenia that grows wild–stunning sights, such as the other-worldly Mount Otemanu, and lulling ocean breezes.

Plan an excursion up Mount Otemanu, towering 732 metres (2,400 feet) above the lagoon and a sacred site for locals where the bodies of ancient Tahitian kings lie. You can score bragging rights hiking your way up the extinct volcano, or reach the summit by helicopter or jeep. Whatever you choose, breathtaking views await you.

While in Bora Bora, make it a goal to tuck into the local cuisine which is as tasty as it is fresh. The poisson cru, or raw fish, is a scrumptious ceviche of ahi tuna in coconut milk, lime juice and spices. Another fan favourite is the firi firi, a binge-worthy, coconut-laced Tahitian doughnut.


With some of the most idyllic islands in the world within cruising distance from Australia, checking them off your bucket list is a breeze. Simply choose your cruise, pack lightly and off you go to legendary places where ancient kings and warriors rest, nature is at its most vibrant and adventure is boldly uncharted.

Written By

Evelyn's passion for exploring the world, combined with her unforgettable travels onboard Royal Caribbean, shine through in her pieces for the cruise line. She also writes for Roar Media--a full-stack marketing agency based in Miami, Florida--as well as other travel and lifestyle-related brands.

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