I am looking for advice regarding a good itinerary for the South Pacific. I will have the whole of January 2017 for travel and I already have a flight booked on bonus miles arriving in Auckland and leaving Melbourne 25 days later.
I will be traveling on my own and I would like to discover as much as I can, since I don't know if I'm ever going to have that much time again for a journey like this. It should not be too stressful, but I am not looking for much relaxation either. I tend to think lying on the beach one afternoon or for a day every 4-5 days would be enough. Other than that, I am looking for beautiful landscapes and scenery, cultural experiences, etc. However, I am not a diver; snorkeling is fine, but I am not keen to do it several times. I was trying to find information, how long one should stay in the different countries and almost all posts I found said at least 10 days or more for each country. But I'm wondering if you really need that much time when traveling on your own and when your focus is more to get to know the different cultures and landscapes. Or would it be better to stay in say Fiji and to discover all the different islands that belong to it? I think I would prefer to travel around and get to know all the different regions and mentalities. Even if it means, I cannot see all the places in one region. But as I am uncertain, this is where I am seeking advice...
Now to be honest, I still have to read a lot about the islands in the South Pacific, but at the same time, I am checking what kind of itinerary would be possible in the first place. Turns out it's kind of difficult with only a limited number of flights. For now I am looking to combine Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Cook Islands and French Polynesia and I have found the following three possibilities:
1st alternative (which seems the best in terms of almost equal number of days in each country, but also quite expensive):
- 4 days, Tonga
- 4 days, Fiji
- 4.5 days, Cook Islands
- 5 days, Tahiti/French Polynesia
- 4.5 days, Samoa
- 2.5 days, Samoa
- 5 days, Fiji
- 5.5 days, Tonga
- 6 days, Tahiti/French Polynesia
- 3.5 days, Cook Islands
- 3.5 days, Fiji
- 4 days, Samoa
- 6 days, Tonga
- 6 days, Tahiti/French Polynesia
- 3.5 days, Cooks Islands
Do you think this sounds like a good plan? Is there someone with tips where to spend how many days and what would be a good itinerary? Does anyone know about connections between the countries by ferry? Also if you have any other tips for that kind of travel, please let me know. Thank you very much in advance!
Whatever else you do, do not miss Moorea, next door to Bora Bora & Tahiti, truly a jewel.
I'm sure you already have your itinerary sorted since you're due to depart next month but if you haven't settled on things to do in the Cook Islands, I'd love to recommend a few of my fave things for you to do/check out..
Firstly, if you decided to stay longer over there I strongly recommend checking out the 2 island tour (4 days) by Air Rarotonga.. It's expensive but so worth it! Aitutaki has a truly beautiful lagoon so the Vaka Cruise is worthwhile adding to the tour package for some great snorkelling/entertainment/fresh seafood (I've been teaching my 3yr old how to snorkel so I can take him there next time we go to the Cook Islands!!) and remember to take your passport with you on the cruise as One Foot Island has a post office that can stamp it for you!! Atiu is my happy place It's definately off the beaten track and such a simple and peaceful island with so many things to do!! I've climbed down and up cliffs to get to beaches and grottos, rode around the bumpy roads at the back of a truck, on a motorbike and a quad, walked to the edge of the reef shelf, spotted whales (the last 2 times I went there we spotted whales - from Atiu Harbour and at the Three Grottos), leaped into the waterhole, slept on the beach and checked out a few of the caves.. 2 days doesn't do it justice but since it's such a small island, it's easy enough to cross off most of the things I've listed in the time you're there.. Just means you don't get to relax as much!
If you will be in Rarotonga the whole time.. Here are a few of my favourite things;
FOOD.. I love food..
- Bite Time fish wraps (Punanga Nui markets - top end town side)
- The Mooring mahi mahi salad with the paw paw salsa (Muri)
- Sea Salt burgers (across from Avatiu Harbour at the roundabout).. I haven't looked into the why or how for this but the ice cream there didn't aggravate my lactose intollerance.. It's obvious not an extreme intollerance but I was downing the thickshakes when I realised and why I was there nearly every day while I was in Raro!
- Cold Nu (young coconut juice - soooo tasty and refreshing and you can pretty much get it everywhere)
- Trader Jacks pizzas (Avarua)
- Te Vara Nui island food (the show is spectacular)
- If you like hikes check out Cross Island Hike.. I've been wanting to do this for years but the timings never worked out.. Various members of my family have done it numerous times and I've seen their pics and heard them rave about it so I know it's amazing.. The only thing is that it is highly recommended to do it with a guide.. One of my aunts has suggested Pa's Mountain Trek (on Facey) because he's a wealth of knowledge but I'm sure the others will be equally amazing..
- If you like knick knacks and want to try the island food.. Check out the Punanga Markets on Saturdays.. There are also night markets (which are mostly food stalls) but I'm not sure what nights or where they are.. My brother loves the food at the markets!
- Muri Lagoon isn't as beautiful as it was when I was a child.. I've taken my 3yr old kayaking both times we went back this year and it's still a wonderful few hours on the water but not the best for swimming (in my opinion).. However.. If you still wanted to check it.. Captain Tama does cruises and the live entertainment i.e. hilarious crew guarantees a great day out! While you're in Muri you can check out The Mooring and I'm pretty sure they have windsurfing, SUP and kayak hire close by..
- Te Vara Nui is perfect for checking out the culture and dancing and island food
- There's a Cook Islands facey page that has some great activities to check out as well if you wanted other options Cook Islands @theCookIslands which is the official Cook Islands Tourism Corp page..
- Wigmore's Waterfall can be anticlimatic.. After rain it's beautiful but if it's been dry it's not much fun
- The best way to see the island is by scooter.. I know it doesn't sound cool but I assure that it is over there You can't hire one without a Cook Island license so be prepared to make a trip to the Police Station in town to take the test.. It's quick so no need to stress and I THINK some of the rental places arrange the test for you..
- Take enough sunscreen and repellent with you to cover the whole time you plan on being outside.. It's expensive there and a necessity if you're not used to the sun/mozzies..
- The most dangerous creatures you may come across are bees/wasps and centipedes so stomping through the forest is perfectly save.. I live in Australia so not having to worry about snakes and spiders and every other creature that can kill you is a godsend (especially with an adventurous child!)
- There have been reports of stone fish so take/get reef shoes.. If you go to Atiu this is a must since the makatea (raised coral) is sharp!
- Keep in mind that majority of grocery items are imported so it is more expensive.. Fruit and veg grown on the island aren't too bad and you can get it from the market..
- * Oh and I completely agree about Moorea!! My mum took me when I was 6 and I loved it.. I can't wait until my little love is a little older so he can remember a trip over there!!
[ Edit: Edited on 26-Dec-2016, at 05:06 by shay88 ]
I can't say for certain but I think there is very limited, if any, air travel between the islands. I have a feeling that to travel from Fiji to Tahiti, you might have to go via Auckland and I think that's the same with Tonga too. I might be wrong but I suggest you research this very carefully before you start.