The South Pacific – a vast swathe of blue (11 million square miles, if you’re asking), dotted with thousands of tiny islands. The remoteness of these outcrops of coral and volcanic stone has left them relatively untouched in our globalized world, and while some are so far off the beaten track that tourism is virtually unknown, even the more popular islands have a daydreamy, laidback vibe. The islands of the South Pacific are divided into three regions: Polynesia, Melanesia, and Micronesia, and each has its own special flavor, but all are pretty-much-perfect pieces of paradise. The beaches are to die for, of course, but there’s also serious surf action, exhilarating snorkelling and diving, jungle hikes, or trekking to the top of a towering volcano. So yes, you can play Robinson Crusoe to your heart’s content, but when you want some company, there are plenty of friendly faces to help you find the best that island life has to offer.
An independent nation with ties to France and a charming Gallic flavor, French Polynesia is made up of 118 islands scattered carelessly across the ever-changing blue of the Pacific Ocean. This exotic destination has been seducing its visitors with unutterably romantic sunsets and sun-filled days cooled by balmy breezes for the past 50 years, and a handful of the islands have a well-developed tourist infrastructure, making them a hassle-free vacation choice.
Heading to one of the highlights of French Polynesia, Tahiti, your arrival point will be its quirky capital, Papeete, with its international yet still very sleepy airport. From there you can hop onto the local bus service to explore – these colorful open-air converted trucks are a great way to meet the locals and experience a slice of the real Tahiti.
Bora Bora, a 50-minute flight northwest of the main island of Tahiti Nui, is considered by many to be the most beautiful island in French Polynesia. The skyscraper emerald peak of the extinct volcano Mount Otemanu is surrounded by the ultimate blue lagoon, dotted with sandy islets known as motus. These satellite islands are where you’ll find some of French Polynesia’s most idyllic resorts, with their thatched overwater bungalows hovering at the end of elegant wooden walkways.
Tropical Tahiti is blessed with abundant sunshine and year-round air and water temperatures of around 80 degrees. There are two main seasons: the clear, dry winter months of May to October and the more humid summer months of November to April. Though summer showers are mainly sporadic (typically late-afternoon and overnight), this time of year can be a bit too hot to handle, so May onwards wins the best-time-to-visit crown.
Los Angeles International Airport is the gateway to French Polynesia, with flights taking around eight hours. You’ll fly into Faa'a International Airport in Papeete, the capital of the main island, from where you can catch connecting flights to the more remote islands. The tiny airport on Bora Bora is served by several daily flights from Faa'a International Airport, and the smaller airport on neighboring Moorea.
The 333 islands of the Republic of the Fiji Islands, 110 of which are inhabited, are known for their luxe private-island resorts – tiny tropical paradises just waiting to welcome the weary traveler. The main island of Viti Levu is home to the international airport at Nadi, the launch pad to whichever spot of powder-soft sand surrounded by sparkling blue you care to choose. When you get there, you’ll find strings of thatched-roof bures (bungalows) set discreetly along any of a seemingly endless array of pristine beaches. As well as honeymoon romance the islands are known for their exceptional diving among teeming coral reefs. Surfers come to catch a wave, and their remoteness means the islands have held on to many traditions, such as the breathtaking fire-walking ceremony known as Vilavila Revo, or "jumping into the oven", where scalding-hot stones seem a mere walk in the park for practiced feet.
Peak season in Fiji is between July and September, when the weather is dry and the sun shines high in the sky – unfortunately, the prices are up there to match, and the shoulder seasons of May to June and October are also nice times to visit, with fewer crowds. The summer months, from November to April, are the wetter season, and tropical storms are a possibility at this time of year.
Fiji's islands are about 11 hours by air from Los Angeles International Airport, with daily non-stop flights to Nadi International Airport on the main island of Viti Levu.
If you’ve ever wanted a desert-island holiday on your own secluded stretch of South Pacific beach, our Fiji villas are here to fulfill your dreams. Enjoy all the luxuries of a private-island resort, from pampering spa treatments to a small but perfectly formed four-hole golf course. Wake to the sun sparkling on your private infinity pool and step out onto your polished wooden terrace to gaze at the never-ending ocean. After a hard day’s sunbathing, sip a cocktail at dusk before enjoying an alfresco dinner as the sun sinks below the waves.
Our French Polynesia vacation rentals offer paradise properties on idyllic islands. Choose a luxury eco-resort on the gorgeous private atoll of Tetiaroa – home in the past to Tahitian royalty and the late Marlon Brando – or perhaps a beachfront villa on beautiful Bora Bora. Take your special someone to stroll along deserted beaches and bathe under the stars in your alfresco tub, or head out with the whole family to enjoy a five-bedroom property including a private boat with captain, and your very own French chef. Either way, you’re sure to fall in love with the lush tropical landscape and the views of endless blue – all right there on your doorstep for the taking.