Just about every family in Australia has ticked off the Fiji all-inclusive holiday. Many have been to Bali too. We’re here to tell you that you may be missing out.
Fiji is a hit with families for a reason. It works. It’s easy. It’s affordable. But the South Pacific has dozens of other island nations that are just as easy and just as affordable.
Check out this guide to the other gems waiting for your family in the South Pacific.
Best for: Culture, tradition incredible diving.
Who will love it? Tweens and teens with an interest in history and ancient traditions.
The Solomon Islands archipelago consists of 992 islands. It’s a place where history and legend mix and where tales of head-hunters abound. We recommend seeing the 13th century Bao megalithic shrine complex – a group of 18 shrines built from large basalt slabs lined along a ridge in the interior of New Georgia Island. Teens will love the Skull Island, where the heads of former chiefs are kept and the Kakangora caves where legend says a tribe of human dwarfs empowered with incredible strength are said to roam naked.
The landscape consists of volcanic islands, emerald forests, tropical islets, pristine reefs, lagoons and even one of the largest inland lakes in the pacific. It’s a paradise for divers and snorkelers and families who love water sports.
Accommodation on the islands ranges from beach shacks to all-inclusive resorts. The best part is that it’s often cheaper than Fiji because it’s not as popular.
Best for: outdoor activities
Who will love it? Keen snorkellers, nature-lovers and active young kids
Six hours from Australia by plane, the Cook Islands are blessed with warm weather all year round, white sandy beaches and stunning island resorts.
The main island of Rarotonga is just 32 km around. There are no traffic lights, no McDonald’s and no building taller than a coconut tree. Dramatic jungle merges into azure blue water. A holiday here will have you on island time in no time. The best activities for kids are crab racing, snorkelling and jungle trekking. Many resorts also have bike hire – so you can explore all the island has to offer at your own pace.
No visit would be complete without an ‘Island Night’ cultural show, where passionate locals share their history and traditions through music, song, dance and food.
Accommodation again comes in all forms. You can spend as much or as little as you like. All-inclusive resort packages are available, including flights to make your life really easy. Most resorts have kids clubs so you can get a bit of time to yourself.
Best for: a varied holiday that combines natural wonders with Polynesian customs.
Who will love it? Primary-school children love the chance to do something totally different every day.
The South Pacific’s only remaining kingdom, Tonga is jaw-droppingly beautiful.
The main island of Tongatapu is home to the Royal Palace, blowholes, surfing, the ancient Ha’amonga ‘a Maui – the Stonehenge of the Pacific – and the Tongan National Cultural Centre.
In Vava’u, families can experience an authentic Polynesian lifestyle. Try a village feast with piles of tropical fruit. The fresh seafood is cooked underground in an umu pit. Explore the cathedral-like Swallows Cave at Maninita’s to view marine life, stalactites and centuries-old Tongan engravings.
Vava’u is one of the few places in the world where you can not only spot migrating humpback whales – but swim with them too. Every year between July and October, about 1000 whales gather in the warm tropical waters of Tonga.
Five-star accommodation in Tonga is affordable. Try Ha’atafu Beach Resort or Sandy Beach Resort.
Best for: adventure off the beaten path
Who will love it? Intrepid families with older teens who are interested in military and social history.
Papua New Guinea’s unique and largely untouched culture is intriguing. Travel can prove challenging. Port Moresby (the capital city) has few roads connecting it with other towns. But a family holiday here is worth the effort. Locals adore kids and the country is packed with wildlife, including unique bird and mammal species found nowhere else on earth. Papua New Guinea is also home to the Kokoda Trail, one of Australia’s most important WWII battle sites.
You’re best to seek out a travel agent for advice on travelling to Papua New Guinea as they can ensure your accommodation is safe and child-friendly.
Best for: Fashion, french language and a relaxed beach vibe.
Who will love it? Families with kids of all ages. Also fantastic for multi-generational holidays.
Two hours from Australia, New Caledonia offers families a taste of the tropics with a French twist.
Surrounded by the world’s second-largest reef, the islands that form the Loyalty Islands are some of Mother Nature’s most dazzling masterpieces.
A huge variety of underwater experiences are available for every age, from swimming and turtle-spotting to snorkelling shark feeding and diving. There’s even the more unusual sea walking – an activity that requires you wear a diving suit and helmet to walk the seafloor.
The capital, Noumea, is set on a hilly peninsula and is the largest city in the South Pacific. There, you’ll find indigenous cultural centres, an aquarium, gardens and more.
The Isle of Pines, famous for its long and lanky pines and brilliantly blue water, is a haven for families in search of paradise, laidback Lifou and unaffected Mare offer a more authentic experience of island life for intrepid families.
New Caledonia can be a touch more expensive for package deals. But we can assure you that it is worth it.
Source: Family Travel, Australia