With year-round tropical weather, warm locals ready to welcome you with a smile and easier access options than ever before, the South Pacific is always a good idea. Travelling between April to August offers an excellent opportunity to swap the bitter Aussie cold for sunny island life. (Although technically it’s also Winter in the region there’s less chance of rain and lower humidity than travelling in the Summer). Or, alternately, those considering a cruise should do so between May and October – when gentle winds make water-journeys smooth. While any of the islands of the South Pacific are a piece of paradise, here are five perennial favourites.

Cook Islands

Looking for an unspoilt escape (a place where government legislation requires all buildings to remain smaller than the tallest coconut palm tree)? The Cook Islands will serve you this kind of experience on a platter. The highlights of this 15-island archipelago can be found on the largest one, Rarotonga, which is home to lush mountain ranges and the national capital Avarua. Or Aitutaki Island (to the North), which is also popular for its coral-reef encircled lagoon. The truth is though, with the country renowned for its many snorkelling and scuba-diving sites, you’ll never be far from crystal clear waters and soft sandy beaches. 

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Vanuatu

Grab some breakfast, head to the airport and by lunchtime, you could be dipping your toes into the warm waters of Vanuatu! Flights from Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne take 3, 4 and 5 hours respectively, (the journey from Auckland can be done in 95 minutes) and travellers to this 80-ish island ocean nation usually opt to stay in the capital Port Vila – situated on Efate. As well as a National Museum, exploring the nation’s Melanesian culture and underwater wrecks (such as the WWII-era troopship SS President Coolidge), Vanuatu offers unparalleled opportunities to scuba dive among some truly spectacular coral reefs and caverns.

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Tahiti

Intimate, idyllic and indelibly incredible. The superlatives bestowed upon the largest island in French Polynesia are well-deserved. Divided into Tahiti Nui (the western section) and Tahiti Iti (the eastern peninsula), this figure-8 shaped island, gets a 10/10 for its natural beauty. Among the wonders enticing those who travel to tropical Tahiti are turquoise lagoons, coconut-fringed black-sand beaches and cascading waterfalls set among lush green forest – including Topatari Falls, Vaiharuru Falls, and Puraha Falls. Budget permitting, consider staying in an overwater bungalow. These exquisite ocean huts will convince that heaven is actually found at your feet.

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Samoa

East Coast flights from Sydney and Brisbane can deliver you to Samoa’s capital Apia in approximately five hours (or eight, if you’re coming from Melbourne). Which means that in the same amount of time it takes you to re-apply a new layer of sunscreen you could be diving into the To-Sua Ocean Trench (a dramatic clearwater swimming hole), visiting the Alofaaga Blowholes (a dynamic lava formation created by seawater rushing into tubes and shooting out of the lava rocks), stocking up on traditional handicrafts (the best ones can be found at the Apia flea markets) or just sipping a coconut smoothie under the Samoan sun. 

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Solomon Islands

Easy, breezy and affordable. The Solomon Islands’ relaxed, under-the-radar presence makes them an excellent option for those looking for a laidback escape – for less. Often overlooked for more popular neighbours, such as Fiji, Solomons’ pristine 992 tropical islands and atolls offer everything you would expect from a South Pacific paradise – including overwater sports and underwater volcanoes, dolphin-spotting opportunities, surfing hideaways, lagoons teeming with marine life and friendly locals keen to show you just how special a stay in the Solomon Islands can really be.

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