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What it’s like to cruise the South Pacific Islands

Which Polynesian islands should you visit?

moorea south pacific island

Posted on

17 Jan 2019

If you’re looking to cruise somewhere with a difference, why not consider an ocean getaway to one of the world’s most stunning yet quietest corners: The South Pacific Islands. This stunning set of islands is one of the most vibrant places on earth, with each island offering something different to experience and make your adventure one to remember.

From Bora Bora to Fiji, we asked several well-seasoned South Pacific Islands travellers to tell us about their experiences in travelling to these paradise islands.

Why cruise the South Pacific Islands?

"Many travellers dream of cruising the islands of the South Pacific, and this is one of those magical destinations that doesn't disappoint,” says Adam Coulter, UK Managing Editor at Cruise Critic. “The turquoise and azure blue waters, majestic tropical scenery, gorgeous white sand beaches and remarkably welcoming people seem absolutely perfect in many respects.”

Although a relatively quieter tourist destination, Adam recommends cruising this unique destination as it is easy to reach yet there’s lots to learn about these distinctive islands. “Reachable from Australia and New Zealand, the South Pacific includes popular islands like Fiji, Bora Bora, and Tahiti as well as more remote stops that are diverse in culture, history, languages, geology and scenery.”

Adam also told us why the South Pacific Islands are perfect for being explored via cruise:

“Because of tranquil waters beyond the reefs, short distances between islands, onboard service and cuisine that is generally superior to land-based options, cruising is a popular holiday choice for visitors to the South Pacific. It's a relaxing way to island-hop, and you will never encounter a crowded port as you so often do elsewhere. Many South Pacific cruise travellers take advantage of their jaunt in paradise by extending their trip to stay on land before or after their cruise - a logical way to get the best of both experiences.”

Which islands should I visit?

There are about 25,000 islands in the Pacific Ocean in total. In the South Pacific, many of these are paradises. We currently offer cruises to four of the main South Pacific Islands, and of course the majestic Hawaii. But which South Pacific island should you visit?


fiji south pacific island


Fiji is one of the more well-known destinations amongst this fantastic collection of islands and is highly recommended if you’re looking for both lush greenery and stunning beaches. In Fiji, you can explore its beautiful rainforest or if you’d rather take a day off, laze on the white sandy beaches and swim in the crystal-clear water.

We spoke to Tommy Walker, travel writer and blogger from The Wandering Walker about why Fiji is a must-visit for any cruiser.

“Fiji is well known to visitors from Australia and New Zealand but that doesn't diminish its natural beauty. Many travellers will flock to Southeast Asia for paradisiacal beaches, yet Fiji arguably tops the lot. Fiji is unique because you won't find mass tourism plonked in one area - the country has so many outlaying islands so there's plenty to go around!”

Tommy also told us about the culture in Fiji, and why you’re sure to fall in love with it: “Fiji has a really friendly and warming culture. You'll hear 'BULA' as you arrive into the country whilst the locals will be as laid back as ever, self-confessed on their own clock and what the country calls 'Fiji time'.

“If you want to visit a place that is totally chilled out, has a friendly atmosphere, amazing beaches and clear waters then Fiji is highly recommended.”

Bora Bora

bora bora south pacific islands


If you’re cruising the South Pacific Islands, Bora Bora is a haven that is not to be missed. From exploring its remarkable coral reef to discovering rainforest-lined peaks, Bora Bora really is something out of this world.

We spoke to Melinda Altus-Richardson from Bora Bora Island Guide, which offers a wealth of tips and advice for visiting this spectacular island.

Melinda told us what tourism is like in Bora Bora: “In Bora Bora, you will be greeted by the strumming of ukuleles and given a fragrant tiara bud or floral leis. Visitors are treated like gold because they don’t have millions! In fact, more travellers visit Hawaii in a week than the whole of the South Pacific Islands in a year. You can sail around the islands of Tahiti and not see another cruise ship. Cruising to Bora Bora you get the sense of having arrived at a far-flung, unexplored island with inhabitants curious to meet the travellers.”

Melinda also told us why Bora Bora culture is so special: “Bora Bora offers a taste of traditional culture. Resorts are Polynesian-style huts with coral, shells, bamboo and traditional tapas artworks used aesthetically in the decor. This is why Bora Bora is such a romantic destination. Visitors can feast on island food and be entertained by Polynesian dancing. There are opportunities to learn traditional handicrafts. Or hike the wild inner island to visit ancient Polynesian sites.”

We also asked Melinda what activities she’d recommend when visiting this glorious island. “The most unique and fun Bora Bora excursion is to take a shark and ray lagoon tour. This will give you a tour around the magnificent Bora Bora lagoon (take your camera for snapping views of Mt Otemanu!) and you will visit the best coral gardens and snorkelling spots. You will have the opportunity to swim with graceful reef sharks and friendly stingrays. You may even be lucky enough to see Manta Rays. Take a lagoon cruise that offers a Motu Picnic. Then you will get to experience a traditional Tahitian lunch right next to (or with your feet in) the turquoise lagoon.

New Caledonia

new caledonia south pacific island


This French territory is one of the largest islands in the South Pacific Ocean. New Caledonia is an amazing amalgamation of culture and paradise. Surrounded by tranquil azure waters perfect for swimming in and with towns filled with decidedly European culture, it’s a delightful place to cruise. If scuba diving is your thing, you’ll be pleased to know the waters around New Caledonia are home to the second longest double barrier coral reef in the world, teeming with wildlife just waiting to be discovered.


child looking at cruise ship tahiti south pacific island


With long white sandy beaches, beautiful over-the-water cabins and gorgeous blue skies, Tahiti seems like a destination that can only be imagined. However, we assure you it is real, and once you arrive here you’ll never want to leave. Perfect for romance, the island’s culture is warm and welcoming, celebrating love and nature. Lovers of adventure will also adore this island, as it is covered in incredible valleys, waterfalls and forestry. Finish the day here by indulging in the bustling market of La Marche in Papeete. Wander between the stalls and take in all the unique smells before deciding on a meal and experiencing beautiful flavours and fresh ingredients, the likes of which can only be found on islands like this.

Cook Islands

cook islands south pacific

Spread over 850,000 square miles, the Cook Islands are a delight for any traveller. The calm lagoons that cover the islands are perfect for snorkelling, and you may even find a rare black pearl whilst swimming! If paddling in these beautiful waters doesn’t delight you, a glass-bottomed boat is the perfect way to experience the rich marine life of the South Pacific.

The Cook Islands were originally populated by the Maori, with that heritage still living on today and is something the islands are very proud of. Visit this spellbinding destination and you’ll dock at the island of Rarotonga, an island covered in volcanic peaks, rainforests and incredible ridges. It really is a sight to behold.

Want to make a trip to these spellbinding islands a reality? Get in touch with one of our cruise specialists or browse our fantastic cruise offers today.

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