The Pacific is made up of some of the most spectacular islands in the world. We’re spoilt for choice when it comes to accommodation, flights, cultural experiences … even wedding travel in the Pacific. From a private surfing resort in Marshall Islands to overwater bungalows at Holiday Inn Port Vila or watersports in five star luxury at Likuliku Lagoon Resort in Fiji and your own private cabana at the world’s only private island beach club, Malamala.
Adventure in Vanuatu
If you’re looking for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure in the Pacific, live volcano Mount Yasur, located on Tanna island in Vanuatu, is calling your name.
It’s the most accessible live volcano in the world and will have you quaking in your boots as you stare into the fires of the molten lava below.
Unity Airlines offers a range of tours departing from Port Vila, including day, twilight, and overnight volcano tours.
Your trip begins with a 45-minute to one-hour trip to Tanna island in a 10-seater multi-engine Unity Airlines Piper Chieftan or Islander aircraft. After taking off from Port Vila, enjoy the astounding views of dozens of volcanic islands passing below you.
Arriving in Tanna, the tour continues with a 4×4 safari trip along a bumpy road up to the volcano. The constant rumbles of the earth beneath your feet and the breathtaking colours of the glowing lava against the night sky will be etched into your mind.
Visit www.unity-airlines.com or call (678) 24 475 or (678) 774 4475 for information about packages and to book your tour.
Tahiti style comes to Vanuatu
Adding a touch of island glamour to shopping in Vanuatu, Motu Tahiti has opened in Port Vila and specialises in products imported from another beautiful island nation, Tahiti.
Flowing women’s dresses, exotic fashion accessories and luxurious perfumes, oils and creams.
Motu Tahiti is located at Tana Russet Plaza in Port Vila.
Stay and Play on the big island, Espiritu Santo
The norrthern island of Espiritu Santo is a step back in time, a step off the beaten track and, without question, one of the most beautiful islands in the whole Pacific.
We love Santo for Champagne Beach, for its Blue Holes, for its phenomenal diving – Coral Quays Fish and Dive Resort takes house and day guests on the world’s largest, most accessible shipwreck the SS President Coolidge – as well as a huge range of reef dives.
Coral Quays has its own private jetty and beach in the St Michel area of Luganville. The boutique resort offers bungalow-style accommodation in mature, lush gardens.
There is a swimming pool and one of Santo’s best restaurants on site.
With regular curry nights, happy hours and themed buffets, it’s where the locals mix with visitors and the staff are only too happy to organise a tour to any one of Santo’s numerous attractions.
Air Vanuatu flies direct from Brisbane to Santo once a week, with twice daily connections from Port Vila.
Ratua Island Resort & Spa
Hidden within the pristine islands around Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu, is a little island paradise known as Ratua Island Resort & Spa. Set amongst 146 acres of lush tropical gardens, private beaches, lagoons and coral reefs, Ratua Island offers a barefoot luxury escape entwined with attentive service, enchanting accommodation, an over-water day spa and superb organic dining.
It’s the perfect place to unwind whilst still having easy access to all the cultural and natural wonders at your doorstep. Ratua’s 100% fresh organic ingredients include produce from the resort’s own farm gardens with the addition of local market fruits and vegetables.
Our favourite place to hang is the waterfront Yacht Club, a great communal space to chill where you can enjoy an island cocktail or two and the Island Night celebration every Friday night. The classic Ratua String Band plays every Friday whilst guests enjoy delectable canapés and seafood love bites cooked on a teppanyaki plate.
Every stay at Ratua Island Resort & Spa contributes to the Ratua Foundation, an independent, apolitical and non-religious organisation focusing on benefitting the education and health of children throughout Vanuatu.
Elysium provides an intimate space for those looking for something extra special. The fine jewellery is carefully curated, ensuring customers can always find something unique and the distinguished Swiss watch brands, including Tag, Longines and Gucci make it the premier destination for luxury goods in Vanuatu.
Their core value is to offer a heavenly shopping experience in a luxurious environment where you can relax and shop in comfort. The Elysium team is highly skilled and will be delighted to help you choose what is right for you depending on your personality.
Destination Solomon Islands
Diving Munda now even easier with Solomon Airlines
Stimulating dive-related tourism into the Solomon Islands’ Western province, Solomon Airlines has combined resources with Dive Munda and the Agnes Gateway Hotel in Munda to offer a value-added eight-night package complete with return flights to Munda ex-Brisbane.
Operating via Honiara on Saturdays and returning on Sundays, the package includes all accommodation at the Agnes Gateway Hotel and 12 dives with Dive Munda.
Available for sale until 16 July and valid for travel from 07 April to 29 July 2018, the program has been scheduled to offer seamless flight connections for passengers travelling on board Solomon Airlines’ services.
These include flights to/from Adelaide, Cairns, Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney in partnership with Qantas Airways.
Ex-Auckland connections are available with both Qantas Airways and Air New Zealand.
The Solomon Airlines flight to/from Brisbane to Munda via Honiara operate as follows: Saturday – Depart Brisbane 1030 via Honiara arrive Munda 1625; Sunday – Depart Munda 1055 via Honiara Arrive Brisbane 1530.
The eight-night package is readily available via Australian and New Zealand wholesalers packaging the destination.
Welcoming the commencement of the initiative, Solomon Airlines’ CEO Brett Gebers said the Brisbane-Munda service had the potential to act as a major boost for increased tourism to Munda, one of the Solomon Islands’ premier cultural, dive and sports fishing locations.
The area is also renowned for its WWII history.
From the Ivory Coast to paradise
It’s a long way from the dangers of the Ivory Coast to the sleepy island of Tulagi in Solomon Islands, but that’s where Kiwi expats Bob and Yvie Norton found themselves after more than 20 years in the airforce.
“We had worked all over the place before I moved to the Solomons to work for Toll as the country manager,” Bob explained.
“Yvie and I were working in Sudan when I took the contract in Honiara, she moved to Abidjan, Ivory Coast and ended up getting caught in the middle of their civil war.
“One day she rang saying she was headed for the border and would call me when she made it. I didn’t hear from her for three days and it was unbearable. When she finally made it, I said that’s it – you’re coming here to the Solomons.”
For the first year, the reunited couple spent their weekends learning to dive and fell in love with the sport, which is easy to do in the Solomons.
“When RAMSI (Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands) was winding down, Toll wanted to move me to Canberra, and I thought no way!” Bob laughed.
“We’d been diving a bit with the Tulagi crew and saw an opportunity to take over the only hotel on the island – Raiders.”
Bob and Yvie have completely turned Raiders hotel around, and refurbished all eight rooms, with a total of 14 beds, comprising three ensuite and five standard rooms, all featuring ensemble beds, soft linens and air conditioning.
A choice of fresh breakfasts are made daily to your liking, and quite often, freshly caught kingfish will feature on the lunch time or dinner menu – most often caught that day by Bob himself.
Tulagi offers plenty of activities, but is also perfect for relaxing and doing nothing at all. The large airy and shaded verandah features hammocks and seats overlooking the small coral garden right in front of the inn. Children will be entertained snorkelling out the front and playing on the small white sandy beach next to the verandah. The inn also has a kayak and a stand up paddle board for those looking for a little adventure.
But it’s the diving I had come to Tulagi for and Raiders’ dive shop is full of modern dive equipment and on the doorstep of some of the regions best diving.
The Solomon’s is known for its wreck diving, the Iron Bottom Sound was named by Allied troops during World War II because of the many planes and ships sunk there during the battle for Guadalcanal. Today it attracts divers from all over the world, but not as many as you would expect for a region with some of the best diving in the world.
I took a banana boat from Honiara’s yacht club over to Tulagi; you can organise this through the Solomon Islands Visitors Bureau if you’re heading over for a day trip, or Raiders will pick you up if you’re staying there.
The crossing of Iron Bottom Sound is quite spectacular, with the neighbouring islands of Savo and Malaita visible on a clear day. The seas are generally calm, but if it’s a sunny day go prepared with hat, towel for shelter and sunscreen as often the boats have no cover.
An hour after departing Honiara the nation’s former capital Tulagi (during British rule from 1896 to 1942) comes into view. A scattering of buildings along the water and up in the hills, ruins of old commercial buildings and a wharf shows this once bustling town has a rich history. Tulagi was attacked by the Japanese in May 1942 with Allied forces fighting back and failing to regain control of the small island. This attack lead to the devastating Battle of Guadacanal campaign.
Bob took me on two dives, the stunning Twin Tunnels lava tubes and the wreck of the Catalina seaplane. Both were magical and I wished I had more time to see more. Whilst a day trip is possible, staying at Raiders gives divers the chance to experience so much more than just the underwater world.
Should you wish to experience life in a typical village, Bob and Yvie will happily arrange to take you and your travel companions to a nearby village by hotel boat, where they have an arrangement to provide the village with some financial assistance in return for guests being welcomed for a day trip.
Upon arrival, the local villagers will eagerly scale a nearby coconut palm to husk fresh drinking coconuts, while the happy carefree pikininis gather around to watch and giggle at the visitors.
At the end of the day, after a freshly cooked dinner and cold beer, you can wash the day away, climb into the most comfortable of beds and drift off to sleep in the luxury of cool air conditioning, ready and fresh to wake up the next day and do it all over again.
Heritage Park Hotel, Honiara
With a planned refurbishment well underway, Honiara’s Heritage Park Hotel is now even better. The hotel chosen by Prince William and Kate for their tour of Solomon Islands is centrally located in Honiara and caters to business travellers and tourists.
With fantastic conference facilities it is the first choice for the MICE market in Solomon Islands.
Already boasting three of the best dining experiences in Honiara, Heritage Park Hotel’s restaurants and bars cater to the most discerning tastebuds.
Stop by for a leisurely bite to eat at Splash Bar & Grill or enjoy a full fine dining experience at GG’s Restaurant. If you are after something in between try out The Terrace Restaurant, open for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Destination Marshall Islands
In recent history, the Marshalls and much of Micronesia was occupied by Germany until WWI, then Japan until their defeat in WWII. Thereafter the US took over, using the islands as a strategic base until their transition to ‘Free Association’ and renamed the country as Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI). The US military still maintains a presence on Kwajalein.
Older Marshallese still remember the post-war atomic tests such as the famous Bikini Atoll explosion, where an entire fleet of captured and retired warships was obliterated in a single blast. There is also a persistent, but lesser known story surrounding the disappearance of Amelia Earhart in 1938, which places her forced landing in the Marshalls.
Today leisure visitors arrive to enjoy spectacular sport fishing, amazing scuba diving and perhaps to explore the poignant war relics left behind after the fierce battles of WWII.
The major international airport is located on Majuro where modern accommodation facilities are also to be found.
Many locations can be reached on foot, but the local informal taxi service is both fun, economical and functional. Taxis stop to pick up passengers anywhere along their island-long route and will never cost more than a few dollars.
Otherwise a quality rental car is available from reliable operators like Majuro Motors nearby the Marshall Islands Resort.
Nauru Airlines files from Brisbane and Nadi to Majuro.
Things to do
The RMI is fast gaining a reputation as a world-leading destination for adventurous scuba diving. With more than 1000 species of fish, 250 species of hard and soft corals as well as some of the most famous WWII shipwrecks (like the world’s only diveable aircraft carrier), it is truly for the most intrepid divers while still holding appeal for novices and snorkellers.
Deep Sea and Lagoon Fishing
There is fishing for everyone in the RMI. Whether you are a deep sea fisher looking for the trophy pelagic bill fish or just some more leisurely lagoon species, fishing is an exciting activity the whole family can enjoy.
For the serious anglers, as many as ten tournaments are held every year. Day charters and excursions can be booked on a wide variety of vessels. Best time for fishing is May to October.
Described by expert surfers as a tropical cocktail mix of Hawaii and Indonesia and a delightful, relaxing location to boot. For the technical, the majority of surf is right-handed point reef breaks that attract surfers between the ideal season of November to March when a lazy 10 knot breeze blows all day long.
Beran Island Resort is a 45-minute domestic flight from Majuro and is described as a true paradise for water lovers. Built by Australian surf explorer and entrepreneur Martin Daly, the resort has hosted the likes of Kelly Slater and other world surfing champions, as well as ‘average’ holiday makers from around the world. The resort features four king suites, and four loft style queen bedrooms with an additional twin share.
And no, you don’t have to be a surfer to stay at the luxury resort – divers, kite-surfers and the like are also catered for!