6 South Pacific Islands You've Never Heard Of

Everyone loves a vacation to a beautiful tropical island. Thankfully there are plenty of beautiful islands sprinkled across the Earth’s oceans. In particular, many people love the idea of a holiday on a South Pacific island. Most of the time, people focus on well-known locales like Bora Bora or Tahiti. But if you want to visit a South Pacific island that isn’t crawling with tourists, start making plans for one of these six places.

Rarotonga

Photo of clear blue water and the green island of Rarotonga
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Imagine a beautiful island that is so unspoiled that there aren’t even traffic lights. That’s not a dream. It’s Rarotonga, the largest of the Cook Islands. While it is the most populated of the island chain, it still manages to be an untapped treasure full of friendly people, coral reefs, and a gorgeous volcanic mountain. Rarotonga is so small that you can navigate to any spot around the island within 45 minutes. While you can soak in the beautiful nature and local culture by day, you can also enjoy the vibrant nightlife when the sun goes down.

New Britain

Photo of volcanos on New Britain island
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If you’re a fan of history — especially World War II — then New Britain needs to be on your wander list. The island is divided into two provinces, East New Britain (ENB) and West New Britain (WNB), that are starkly different from each other. ENB is highly developed and modern, with a large concentration of European expats. WNB is more remote and untouched, making it an ideal place to visit if you prefer to be immersed in nature with minimal interactions with others. For history buffs, head over to the Gazelle Peninsula to explore shipwrecks from World War II.

Fakarava

Photo of a tropical island coastline with palm trees, clear water, and coral
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Maybe you’ve decided that you’re going to start your South Pacific vacation in Tahiti, but you’ll island-hop from there. If this sounds about right, then add a stop in Fakarava. The island is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve because it is an atoll, making it an ideal spot for divers to discover exotic aquatic animals. Even if you’re not into diving, you’ll appreciate the beautiful nature of Fakarava and its relative proximity to other atolls and islands within French Polynesia.

Tanna-Vanuatu

Photo of a tropical mountain landscape
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This one can be a little confusing. Vanuatu is an island chain comprising 83 islands within the South Pacific. Most of the islands are uninhabited, but one island in particular that you should consider visiting is Tanna. If you’ve always wanted to get up close and personal with a volcano, this is the place to do it. Mt. Yasur is an active volcano that is so accessible that you can walk within nearly 500 feet of the rim. Opt for guided tours rather than trying to navigate the volcano on your own. But if your real goal is to soak in the local culture, there are plenty of traditional villages dotting the island that will give you that chance.

Maupiti

Photo of a small fishing boat on the water in front of a tropical mountain landscape
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Maupiti is another island gem in French Polynesia that you should consider visiting if you’re in the area. The island is near Bora Bora, making it a great add-on for an island-hopping adventure within the Tahitian island chain. Maupiti is accessible via plane or boat and is only 195 miles northwest of Tahiti. The island is ideal for romantic getaways thanks to secluded beaches, low foot traffic, and picturesque vistas.

Niue

Photo of a rocky cave on the coast of the ocean
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Imagine a tiny country with a massive coral reef that’s centrally located between some of the most popular islands in the South Pacific. This place is real, and the name is Niue. Niue is a very small island that’s not far from Fiji, the Cook Islands, Tonga, and Samoa. It’s accessible via a non-stop flight from Auckland. Like some of the other islands we’ve outlined before, Niue doesn’t have stoplights but does have a laid-back vibe that will help you relax, reset and recharge before you go back to the hustle of your regular life.

So which place will you choose?

Aerial photo of lush tropical islands in the ocean
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The South Pacific is a region that’s full of beautiful, vibrant islands — each with its own pace. Even if you opt to start your vacation in one of the better-known islands, there’s no reason not to include some of the lesser-known spots that are within proximity. And that means that you can create a vacation that creates the perfect balance between popular hot spots and-off-the-beaten-path island seclusion.

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