Surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, Polynesia is home to seventeen nations comprising more than one thousand islands. Most were raised above the sea by volcanic action.
One of the most remote places on earth, the Polynesian islands also boast some of the most pristine destinations in the world. The waters surrounding the islands stretch into the distance in almost endless shades of blue and in the reefs below colorful fish play in fields of exotic corals.
Here you can hike through rain forests to see unique plants and animals, climb volcanos and dive in the colorful reefs. On the Easter Islands some of the most recognizable relics on earth have been carved by the ancient indigenous people and in French Polynesia and Hawaii modern resorts, hotels and casinos beckon visitors to their lovely shores.
Countries in Polynesia
The only United States territory in the Southern hemisphere is a group of ten Polynesian islands, American Samoa. These tropical islands are blessed with natural splendor seldom seen in such abundance.
Here densely forested slopes drop into the sparkling blue water of the South Pacific Ocean. The National Park, preserving the verdant primeval rain forests forms a large portion of three of the islands. Vibrant coral reefs teeming with colorful fish surround the islands. Jagged hills form a dark backdrop to the white sand beaches. Mountain ranges clad in tropical forests loom over plunging waterfalls.
Pago Pago, the capital, is group of villages strung along the coast. In the villages the traditional ways of life have been preserved, and customs that go back thousands of years are still observed. The port in Pago Pago is considered one of the most beautiful natural harbors in the world.
The Cook Islands consist of a chain of fifteen islands in the centre of Polynesia. The islands occupy a million square kilometers of ocean.
The Cook Islands epitomize the perfect Polynesian island where the pure coral white beaches, fringed by coconut palms reach out to the warm clear waters of the South Pacific. Snorkel, swim or sail in the tranquil, blue waters of the many bays on these islands. In the evenings enjoy the traditional dancing and music of the native people.
Roratonga, the largest of the Cook Islands has a rocky and mountainous interior, covered in jungle that is great for climbing and hiking. Aitutaku has one of the biggest coral lagoons on earth, a diver’s dream destination.
Here you can explore the limestone caves, visit the surrounding coffee plantations or charter a boat to explore one of the world’s most beautiful lagoons.
French Polynesia is comprised of over one hundred islands scattered over a large section of the South Pacific. With rugged volcanoes, tranquil white beaches and turquoise bays this is one of the most popular of the South Pacific island destinations.
Game fish, dolphins, turtles, sharks and manta rays share the warm waters around the islands. The islands are surrounded by coral gardens where divers and snorkelers can explore the wide expanses.
Ringed by stretches of white, pink and black beaches, the lushly forested interiors are mountainous and rugged peaks touch the sky. Surfing and kite surfing are popular as there is an almost constant breeze.
Tahiti and Bora Bora are the most popular of the islands and there is plenty to do around the islands. Here visitors are accommodated in lovely stilted huts, perched over the waters of the bay. The area caters to tourists so there are excellent restaurants, resorts and spas.
Niue, an island in the South Pacific is only 260 square kilometers and has a population of just 1200 people. Whilst this country is fully responsible for its own domestic affairs, New Zealand bears responsibility for its defense and foreign affairs.
The capital Alofi is spread along the coast and is made up of two villages. This is the second smallest capital in the world after the capital of Papua New Guinea.
Discovered by Captain Cook, who named the island Savage Island, its current name means “Behold the Coconut”.
The island is a raised coral atoll, one of the largest on earth. The diving and snorkeling in the area are exceptional. Because the island has no rivers that drain into the ocean you can see one hundred metres under water. Here humpbacked whales nurse their young and giant manta rays sail the seas.
The beaches on the island are surrounded by limestone cliffs that form small and private beaches. Above and below water cave systems are some of the most spectacular in the South Pacific.
In 1790, on the run from the law, the mutineers of the HMS Bounty found safe harbor in a bay on Pitcairn island, one of the most remote places on earth. They were the first Europeans to set foot here. All would be dead within a decade.
The largest of four islands Pitcairn is the only inhabited island and is home to under fifty people who can all trace their legacy back to the mutineers. This British Overseas Territory in the South Pacific is just five square kilometers. Covered in lush tropical vegetation the island is ringed by steep cliffs that drop vertically into miles and miles of surrounding ocean.
Finding a way onto the islands is difficult and not for the fainthearted since no plane or helicopter has ever landed here and there is no mooring for ships. Once on the island you’ll travel the interior by quad bike. Kayak, fish, birdwatch, snorkel to the wreck of the HMS Bounty and just enjoy the isolation.
A group of ten enchanting tropical islands in the South Pacific make up the country of Samoa. Here the weather is warm and balmy throughout the year and the lifestyle is slow and laid back.
With magnificent waterfalls, tranquil pools, jungled mountain ravines, the beaches fringed by jungle and date palms are long and white and the sea so shallow that the water is clear and faded blue. Little wonder that Treasure Island author Robert Louis Stephenson made this his home.
The surrounding waters are alive with nine hundred species of fish, turtles, reef sharks and rays. Here you can snorkel or dive go rock diving, boating, hike through the forests, along a crater or in lava fields, swim with green turtles or play a round of golf right next to the ocean. This is prime surfing destination and the game fishing is also great.
There are no luxury beach resorts here. Humble beach huts constructed on the soft powdery sand serve as accommodation.
Located in the South Pacific the island of Tokelau is a New Zealand territory. Tokelau consists of three coral atolls, all of which make up a land area of just ten square kilometers.
These islands are extremely remote and the journey to get there must be carefully planned. The only access to the islands is a twenty-four-hour boat ride from Samoa, its nearest neighbor. The same boat is the only connection between the islands where distances take as much as nine hours to travel. It takes between seven and nine days to complete the round trip.
While there is a hotel on Tokelau, there are no large shops or restaurants, you can fish or collect coconuts or swim and snorkel in the warm tropical waters of the surrounding lagoons.
If you crave a restful holiday amongst friendly and curious people this is the place for you, but if you seek constant stimulation you may find the lengthy travel and stay more than you can bear.
Tonga, a group of one hundred and seventy-six Polynesian islands floating on the incandescent, sapphire sea, is simply beautiful. Rimmed by white sand beaches, the interior is covered in tropical forests.
The surrounding waters house magical coral reefs. The overlapping islands and reefs create a sheltered area that is calm as a lake. Tonga is a diver’s paradise, with tropical warm waters colorful fish and humpback whales.
This is the last remaining Polynesian kingdom and it stretches back a thousand years. Here you will find that many of the islands have not been influenced by the twentieth century with several not yet electrified, and many of them uninhabited.
Tongatapu is the main island, where most of the inhabitants live. Here you will find ancient shrines, tombs and moats, as well as modern shops, hotels and restaurants.
Tuvalu is one of the earth’s lowest-lying island chains. These remote islands in the Pacific Ocean, halfway between Australia and Hawaii, see very few tourists to their shores. In fact, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation this is one of the least visited places on earth.
The lagoon in the capital, Funafuti, offers excellent diving, snorkeling and swimming. Take a boat trip to the other islands and find lagoons and reefs untouched by other human beings.
With little infrastructure, this country is the typical Lost island getaway. Scientists calculate that these islands could be the first to succumb to global warming, disappearing under the water and off the face of the earth.
Wallis and Futuna
Wallis and Futuna, a group of three volcanic islands and several islets lie scattered in the spangled sapphire and turquoise waters of the South Pacific.
They are surrounded by spectacular coral reefs home to parrot fish, stingrays and butterfly fish and in the waters above dolphins and pygmy killer whales share the space.
The powdery white sands of the isolated and unspoiled beaches are lined by the tropical rainforests that cover the interior. In the lush inland jungle crater lakes, waterfalls, tropical flowers, birds and reptiles make for some spectacular hikes.
Here you’ll find the ancient remains of a Tongan village and a number of beautiful and unique churches. Although not a tourist hotspot there are several small hotels and French and Polynesian inspired restaurants on the islands.