One of the many fascinating aspects about the South Pacific is the varied topography of the region, with maps of the area displaying numerous islands spread around the biggest ocean in the world.
So many of these palm-laden pictures of natural beauty may contain views that adorn many a postcard displaying a paradisiacal scene, but you would be mistaken for thinking that all the locations are similar.
There are many South Pacific cruise ship itineraries that you can find on certain Australian cruise sites, so you have plenty of chances to go island hopping, and experience the diversity that each particular area has to offer.
How the South Pacific islands are divided
You will find that the South pacific islands are both culturally and geographically divided into Polynesia and then Melanesia.
Amongst the Polynesian islands that many will recognise are places like the Cook Islands, French Polynesia, Samoa, Tonga and Easter Island. Melanesian islands include stunning locations such as Fiji, the Solomon Islands, New Caledonia and Vanuatu.
The Cook Islands
Many people who have visited the sparsely populated Cook Islands consider it to be an excellent interpretation of what heaven on earth may actually look like.
The islands offer a haven of peace and sanctuary where you can really relax and immerse yourself in the culture, whilst enjoying many of your favorite activities like sunbathing and swimming against a backdrop of clear blue skies and inviting crystalline seas.
You will find that many tour operators will direct you towards Rarotonga or Aitutaki because they are the only islands sufficiently developed for mainstream tourism, but you will definitely not feel that the Cook Islands are anything like your regular tourist destination.
Many of us are familiar with the story of Treasure Island and the author Robert Louis Stevenson was presumably so inspired by Samoa that not only did he use the Pacific Islands as the backdrop for his story, but he also chose to spend his retirement living in Samoa.
It is not hard to understand why he chose this location, as Samoa is one of the Pacific’s most iconic, beautiful and scenically varied destinations, which attracts many astute travelers who appreciate that traditional culture remains of importance and is very much part of the attraction along with the stunning views and delicious Samoan food.
If you were asked to describe all the attributes of a perfect South Pacific island you would probably end up describing French Polynesia, with its numerous palm trees, crystal clear waters, lush vegetation and even a volcano or two.
There are a number of cruise ships that include a trip to French Polynesia amongst their destinations and it is also easy to see why it is also one of the top venues in the world for spending an idyllic honeymoon.
There is a wonderful fusion of French and European cuisine combined with local flavors and delicacies, so make sure you get the chance to experience the local speciality of barbecued suckling pig at one of the indigenous-style buffets that are staged on a regular basis.
Island hopping in the South Pacific will always be an adventure and with so many stunning locations to choose from, it may take more than a few holidays to settle on your favorite place.
Ryan Posa, former District Sales Manager for Carnival Australia and founder of Cruise Republic, has cruised to such spectacular destinations as Mexico, Alaska, New Zealand, and the South Pacific. After seeing the world aboard a several cruiseliners, he very much enjoys writing about the most striking and fascinating locations across the globe. Keep up with Ryan’s latest Tweets here.