My wife and I will be traveling through the West coast of Australia (+ Great Barrier Reef), New Zealand and onto San Francisco as part of a RTW trip after Asia and would really like to know if we could stop at a couple of Islands which ones the Forum members would recommend?
I have seen this thread already but hoped to get more advice:
So far we are thinking:
Fraser Island (while in Australia) & Samoa (en route to San Francisco)
I have heard that the Cook Islands are meant to be nice too? Finally a friend of mine was disappointed with some of Fiji. That's all I know!
Any advice much appreciated.
Just one word of warning - make sure you're headed to Samoa (formerly known as Western Samoa) and not American Samoa. I was stuck in Pago Pago, American Samoa for a week once and regretted it very very much. American Samoa is a depressed area (very few jobs except in the tuna industry), people mostly on US food stamps and there is nothing much to do there. I have not been to the other Samoa, but understand it's quite nice - classic Polynesia. I too was somewhat disappointed in Viti Levu in Fiji, but the cultural mix was quite interesting (Fiji is really too large to be considered a S. Sea paradise). I have friends headed to Tahiti soon, but there are other islands that I would consider before Fr. Polynesia. I've always wanted to see Tonga myself.
Well, my first Pacific island trip will be next year, so out of experience I can not recommend any island.
But I would say Tonga is high on my list as well, as are Samoa and Vanuatu! As you mention the Pacific as a whole, I would say Easter Island as well, but it is not on the route to North America.
I am also attracted to some more off the beaten track islands like Tuvalu, but getting there requires a bit more planning as flights are far less frequent if there are flights at all (some islands are only reached by boat).
Stay clear of New Caledonia. It's extremely expensive and there is a real lack of tourist infrastructure. We were both very disappointed in it. Sure, you can take a day trip to the Isle of Pines but you will need to take out a second mortgage to do so.
Fiji is not bad, but a lot of your enjoyment can depend on picking the right place to stay at. The islands can be nice but they can also get boring pretty quickly.
I think Samoa (actual Samoa) is fantastic - exactly what I expected from a pacific island, and not expensive. I would definitely recommend it.
Fraser Island is worth a visit, but it's probably somewhere you'd only spend a few days really. A lot of people on RTW trips also go sailing in the Whitsunday Islands - I did this and really enjoyed it too.