How do you choose just 5?
The Fiji Islands are undoubtedly the most popular islands to cruise to in the South Pacific. In fact, more people visit Fiji than the rest of the South Pacific Islands put together. Fiji is an archipelago made up of more than 300 palm-fringed islands and countless soft coral reefs, so dense, lush and colorful that it will take your breath away; no wonder it is nirvana for divers and snorkelers.
As for the locals, you won’t meet friendlier people anywhere else in the world and they are incredibly family-oriented. To say Fijians love children is a dramatic understatement. That probably explains why there are so many family-friendly activities on offer.
Here you can take your kids jet boating, kayak fishing, jet-skiing (8 years +), parasailing (8 years +), teach them to scuba dive (from 10 yrs), island hop, snorkel, surf, explore temples. You can also have a Fijian mud bath, climb volcanoes, explore forest trails and cool off in the tropical waterfalls, submerge yourself in the local culture and learn tribal dance moves or become a talented weaver. The Fijian bucket list is quite large.
Once a French penal colony, Noumea has blossomed into a wonderfully relaxed island with a touch of panache. Here you can explore the city with its unique colonial buildings and sample some of the best croissants outside of France.
Visit Place des Cocotiers, the bustling town square were locals meet to chat, play chess and buskers entertain. You will find a food and craft market here most days with stalls selling everything from jewellery to local produce and arts and crafts.
Another market worth a trip is the markets at Port Moselle, a few blocks south of Place des Cocotiers. Noumea has its own Aquarium (Aquarium des Lagons). Your kids will be enthralled with the colorful coral exhibits and the weird and wonderful sea creatures that are on display.
The beaches are pristine and clean and with most of them set within a bay, the water is nice and calm for little ones to paddle in. Head to Baie de Citrons and Anse Vata – they are the more popular beaches and fringed with cafés and restaurants.
3. Mystery Island
If your idea of paradise is warm tropical waters, soft white sand on a palm-fringed beach, no phones, no shops, no cars, then Mystery Island is for you. This idyllic slice of paradise is part of the islands that form Vanuatu. The island itself is deserted when cruise ships aren’t anchored nearby.
The island is part of a marine park, so you won’t need to swim too far, until you are met by the colorful marine life that inhabits this part of the Pacific. Watch out for the beautiful sea turtles.
Islanders from neighboring islands set up trinket stands and food stalls when cruise ships are nearby. The island only takes about 30 minutes to explore so it really is about the sun, snorkelling, sand angels, relaxation and breathtaking scenery.
4. Bora Bora
If you want mind-blowing images that will stay with you a lifetime then visit the French Polynesian Island of Bora Bora. The scenery is so stunning you almost forget to breathe.
If you can manage to take your eyes away from the scenery, then there are plenty of things to do on this petite island. The diving and snorkeling are of course spectacular. Here you can expect serious action, with an up close and personal feeding session with the local Reef sharks and Rays in the famous Bora Bora blue lagoon.
Your kids will love the Aqua Safari (open to 8 years +) where they can literally walk under the water on the seabed wearing a diver’s helmet and weights. The walk lasts for about 30 minutes, at a depth of four metres below sea level. If you are a bit tired out with all the water activities, then you will want to hit the trails in this part of the world for more heart stopping beauty.
5. Port Vila, Efate, Vanuatu
The water here is as warm as the islander’s smiles. As soon as you step through the port gate into Port Vila, you will be met by friendly locals offering trips around the island. Take a few steps more, and you will find the pop up market that appears on cruise days.
Colorful sarongs, woven hats, bracelets and other souvenirs are on offer here. A walk through the buzzy town to the Vila Markets is a must. Smiley local women in colorful moo moo dresses sell tropical fruits, and cook interesting fish dishes on open flames.
Vila is just the place to do something just a little out of the ordinary with the family. Take in a fire walking show, visit a cannibal’s house, learn the technique of rain making, abseil down a waterfall or join a horse trek. There is plenty to choose from.