by Nick Trend, The Telegraph, December 16, 2019
You’re spoilt for choice in the world’s biggest ocean, says Nick Trend
1. Hawaii hopping
With nearly 140 islands spread over 1,500 sq miles of the North Pacific Ocean, getting to grips with this far-flung region can be an adventure. American Sky gives you a good start with an island-hopping itinerary that starts in capital Honolulu on the island of Oahu, taking in the city’s surfing beaches of Waikiki. Further highlights include the vast volcano of Mauna Loa on Hawaii island, the golden sand beaches of Kaanapali and the lush interior of Kauai island.
Hawaii Island Hopping from £2,839 for 10 nights, room only, including flights. Excludes transfers. Departs May to October 2020. American Sky (americansky.co.uk).
2. Micronesia dive
This is a destination for experienced divers. Strong currents in the seas around the Micronesian island of Palau provide a habitat for some of the world’s richest and most varied marine life. It’s also a prime wreck-viewing destination because of the large number of Japanese ships and American planes that sank here during the air raids of 1944.
Palau Liveaboard from £4,765 for 12 nights including flights, transfers and all on-board meals. Departs December to February. Dive Worldwide (diveworldwide.com).
3. Easter excursion
More than 2,200 miles (3,540km) from the South American mainland, Easter Island is around a five-hour flight from the Chilean capital, Santiago. Tucan Travel offers an island stay as an add-on to its longer itineraries in South America with two-day trips included in the package price. The tour takes in many of the island’s famous stone figures, including those at the burial ground of Ahu Akahanga, the Rano Raraku quarry and at Ahu Tongariki. Also included is Orongo village with its images of birdmen carved into the surrounding rocks.
Easter Island add-on from £559 for three nights B&B including transfers and one lunch. Excludes flights. Tucan Travel (tucantravel.com).
4. South Pacific cruise
With February temperatures typically peaking at around 26C (79F), a South Pacific cruise makes a great winter getaway. Oceania Cruises offers a long-distance, island-hopping voyage from New Zealand’s Auckland to Tahiti on the recently refurbished Regatta. Passing through the Bay of Islands, ports of call include Mare island, Lautoka, Fiji, Samoa and Bora Bora with a rainforest walk, glass-bottom boat trip and a dolphin-watching excursion also available.
Supreme South Pacific voyage from £6,159 per person for 17 nights, including flights, transfers and all meals on board. Departs Feb 16 2021. Oceania Cruises (oceaniacruises.com).
5. Small ship adventure
The Gauguin is specially designed for cruising the shallower waters around the South Pacific islands and is compact enough (it takes about around 330 passengers) to call into ports inaccessible to larger vessels. This itinerary starts in Papeete, on Tahiti, and explores nearby islands including the beaches of Aitutaki, mountainous Rarotonga and the idyllic islet of Motu Mahana, finishing with two days of relaxation in the Bora Bora lagoon.
Cook Islands and Society Islands Cruise on The Gauguin from £8,965 per person for 12 nights including flights, transfers and all on-board meals. Departs January, March, July and October 2020. Audley Travel (audleytravel.com).
6. Solomon expedition
The Solomons are east of Papua New Guinea and among the lesser-known islands of the Pacific. You can get to know them through Intrepid Travel’s tour from Munda on New Georgia, one of the largest areas of land in the Western Province, where activities include jungle hikes to abandoned Second World War gun placements. The tour also visits a village homestay with a community feast or bung on Titiru, followed by a trip to Tetepare, home to endangered turtles.
Solomon Expedition from £1,740 for seven nights including some meals. Excludes flights and transfers. Departs May 16, June 13 and Sep 19 2020. Intrepid Travel (intrepidtravel.com).
7. Moorea escape
Ten miles (16km) from Tahiti, the French Polynesian island of Moorea is one of the archipelago’s most scenic spots. Alongside its distinctive landscape of jagged, volcanic peaks and thick jungle interior, it has idyllic beaches. Activities include hiking, 4×4 excursions, golf and the zip lines of Tiki Parc. Meanwhile, the Tiki Village Cultural Centre features traditional feasts and dance performances.
Moorea Escape from £3,029 (including a 30 per cent discount of £550 per person) for 12 nights B&B at four-star Manava Beach Resort and Spa including flights and transfers based on October 2020 departures. Trailfinders (trailfinders.com).
8. Caledonia sailing
Nouméa, with its busy waterfront, is the lively capital of the French territory of New Caledonia, and the steady trade winds offshore make it a popular year-round sailing base. Dream Yacht Charter offers a fleet of catamarans and monohulls for bareboat or skippered itineraries exploring local bays and marinas.
Oceanis 41 monohull sailing yacht from £2,187 for a seven-night charter for a group of up to six passengers, self-catering. Motor Yacht 37 from £4,068 for up to eight people. Prices exclude flights and transfers. Dream Yacht Charter (dreamyachtcharter.co.uk).
9. Galapagos explorer
These islands that straddle the equator a short flight from the coast of South America informed Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, and count giant tortoises, iguanas and lava lizards among their astonishing number of unique plant and animal species. Journey Latin America offers itineraries on small motor cruisers, including the MV Cachalote Explorer, a 16-berth vessel with an on-board expert naturalist guide.
Galapagos Islands voyage on board MV Cachalote from £5,667 per person for nine nights including flights, transfers, two nights in Quito and most meals. Journey Latin America (journeylatinamerica.co.uk).
10. Yasawa kayaking
The bays, beaches and calm waters of the Yasawa Islands north of Fiji are excellent for sea kayaking. World Expeditions offers escorted trips to this volcanic chain of around 20 islands and islets, which were closed to tourism until the late Eighties. With up to four hours of kayaking per day, the itinerary is planned according to tides and weather, and includes visits to villages, snorkelling expeditions, beach picnics and overnight camps.
Yasawa Islands Sea Kayaking from £1,550 including all meals. Excludes flights and transfers. Departs May to October. World Expeditions (worldexpeditions.com).