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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Out of the groove and into the blue by Ali Kliver

So, you want to go scuba diving in Fiji, relax on the beach in Vanuatu and swim past a waterfall in Tahiti for your honeymoon? The Pacific Islands can let you fulfil every tropical holiday daydream you've ever had.

With more than 25,000 idyllic islands, the Pacific has the favourite honeymoon destinations for lovers of adventure, sunshine, culture and relaxation. There are too many islands to name and it can be hard to pick which ones to include in your honeymoon but don't worry, we've done the research for you.

Starting north of Queensland, the Pacific Islands are bordered by Papua New Guinea and Palau, scooting east and up to hula-skirted Hawaii, down to Easter Island and back to New Caledonia, just off the coast of far-north Queensland. In between are the places that dreams are made of, such as well-loved Fiji, Tahiti and Vanuatu.

What to expect

Fiji is probably the easiest island group to get to from Australia, after your wedding. Airlines regularly fly directly to Fiji, taking only five hours if you pick one of the shortest flight options.

Other islands such as Samoa and Tonga are about eight hours' flight from Sydney, with some of the more remote islands such as Hawaii taking up to 24 hours to get to.

The Pacific Islands enjoy some of the finest weather in the world with tropical climates and moderate temperature changes between seasons. Summer, from November to April, is the wet season, while winter, from May to October, is generally dry and temperate.

You can expect the calendar to be simply bursting with hot days and warm water with limited seasonal variation. October is generally thought of as the perfect month to travel and experience the islands at their best.

If you accidentally arrive in the midst of the wet season and get hit by a monsoon, hurricane, typhoon or tropical cyclone don't despair - the temperature will still be a nice 27c on average after the deluge. Just remember to hold on to your husband.

If you're not too fussed about the weather and just want to experience all the islands have to offer, then try and organise your trip for between June and August. Most of the cultural festivals, art and craft exhibitions and agricultural shows are held during this time.

On the agenda

Are the Pacific Islands all about lounging on the beach with a peach margarita? Not unless you want them to be. Hiking, snorkelling, cruises, tours and day trips can be found on every island, but some of the more quirky pastimes are unique to particular spots.

Sharon from Flight Centre in Melbourne says Fiji is the most popular island by far because it has a little slice of everything. You can get active by going whale watching and fire walking, or simply sit in your private over-water bungalow and enjoy the view. Check out Tahiti from the air in a helicopter joyride or feed the sharks in the bay. Go on a waterfall tour in Vanuatu before jumping on a water taxi and exploring nearby islands. The possibilities and combinations of what you can see and do are limited only be the length of your stay. If you don't feel like doing anything at all then go right ahead - no one will stop you!

The price of paradise

When it comes to the question of price Sharon says packages can vary a lot. "It really depends on how many days you want to go for, whether you're on a strict budget and the kinds of things you want to do," she says.

Almost every island has a good range of accommodation to suit any honeymooner's price range. For example, Samoa was rated the best backpacking islands by www.pacifictravelguides.com. So a honeymoon on a budget is not a problem if you're prepared to rough it for a few days. Some accommodation is less expensive because it is a bit of a walk from the nearest shops or is on a black-sand beach, so it depends what's important to you.

At the other end of the spectrum are luxurious resorts and bungalows. Outrigger Resorts has hotels and condos on the more popular islands and provides the ultimate in honeymoon accommodation. It has romance packages specifically for couples on honeymoon, including island hopping between its resorts and a range of added extras such as massages and romantic cruises. This option is less stressful and gives you more time to relax and enjoy each other.

Each Outrigger resort is unique to each island, and incorporates the culture and lifestyle of the native people and the surroundings. Huahine, which lies northwest of Tahiti, houses Te Tiare Beach, a beautiful Outrigger Resort on a private and secluded bay.

If you're after something more in the thick of things, the impressive Outrigger on the Lagoon Fiji, on the island of Viti Levu, will exhaust even the most avid shopper and party animal.

Added extras

The Pacific Islands also have their share of fame. Quite a few of the islands have been featured in films, such as Tokelau Island near Samoa, which made an appearance in the film 50 First Dates with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore. You could even do an island-hopping tour of famous places for something a bit different.

The Pacific Islands are popular honeymoon destinations not only because of their stunning scenery and relaxing atmosphere, but also because of their holiday lifestyles. Whatever you want to do for your honeymoon, be it kayaking around the islands of Vanuatu or soaking up the sunshine on a Maui beach, the Pacific Islands can provide it for you.

Compared to other tourist attractions around the world, a five-day stay in Fiji is significantly cheaper than a five-day jaunt around well-worn Europe. A holiday in the Pacific Islands might not be the first choice of Europe lovers, but who doesn't need some time in the sun?

The ability to create your own holiday and lose yourself in an exotic place and culture for at least a few days, makes the Pacific Islands one of the most romantic destinations in the world.

Checklist:

MUSTS: Sunscreen, sandals, sunglasses, insect repellent, passport, credit cards POSSIBLES: Visa, anti-malaria medication


About the Author
Find out more information about honeymoon destinations. Visit Bride.

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