My boyfriend and I are planning a long vacation. He’s going to New York for a conference in November and I’m tagging along, and we figured we might as well just get a round-the-world ticket once we’re going that far.
But, we need some advice. We really want to spend some time, probably a week, on a Pacific island and we can’t decide which one. We don’t have that many friends who have traveled to that part of the world so I’m asking you: Which Pacific island would you recommend and why?
We don’t want something overly touristy, but nice weather, peace and quiet and some nice food would be what we’re looking for.
I’ve never been there, but if I had a choice, I’d go to an island that has those cool over the water huts, like Bora Bora in French Polynesia. Sounds like great fun! It’s pretty far from New York, though.
Do you have your heart set specifically on a Pacific island? Because if there’s anyplace tropical in the world that I’d like to recommend, it’s Phuket , in the Andaman Sea off the coast of Thailand. Phuket itself is an island, and it has tiny island resorts even further offshore.
Since you can actually drive to Phuket from the mainland over the bridge, something tells me that may not be what she had in mind.
I have a friend in New Zealand – ex-US citizen married to a Kiwi airline pilot – who loves Tahiti.
I’ve only been to Hawaii as far as the Pacific per se goes, and I can recommend that, but you have to know the place to be able to avoid the “really touristy” stuff,on the main island of Oahu. But somehow I feel Hawaii is not what you were looking for either anyway. But the island of Kauai is quite nice, with lots of nature stuff to see. November is during whale-watching season off Maui, too.
You might be able see some whales in late November, but whale watching season “officially” begins in mid-December. Hawaii is great, but I wouldn’t recommend Oahu. Of course, if the OPer is from europe, the exchange rate now is great and they could stay in some first class accomodations on Kauai or Maui for 1/2 what it would cost us Americans.
Have you considered Hainan? It’s supposed to be China’s premier island resort etc etc. I haven’t been :smack: but a couple of friends have (seperately) and they had a great time, and as it’s not a massive tourist destination prices are pretty low. I only mention it because many haven’t heard of it and it got an award for ‘best resort’ by a major publication some time back. All very vague, I know, but just a ‘heads up’ if you’ve not heard of it. One caveat is check the weather for the time of year you’re going, it’s near Hong Kong so there’ll be plenty of data available.
I thought whale-watching season began in October, but then it’s been awhile since we lived there. Plus it was January when we went whale-watching.
Anyway, Phuket gets a lot of press, but we honestly don’t find it as nice as some of the Hawaiian beaches, although it’s a good jumping-off point for other nearby islands. The Phi Phi Islands north of Phuket are better, and there are even nicer non-island beaches on the mainland. We’re partial to Hua Hin ourselves, down the peninsula a bit on the Gulf of Thailand coast.
The Cook Islands are beautiful, and if you go off Rarotonga, not touristy at all. Having said that, Rarotonga isn’t exactly choked by resorts, but it’s the biggest island in the group, making more touristy but easy to fly in and out of.
Fiji is much bigger than the Cooks, and beautiful if you go to a resort island. (Not that Viti Levu isn’t beautiful in it’s own right). The tourism industry took a big hit with the coup, so you should be able to pick up a decent package deal.
Actually, if peace and quiet is what you want you really might consider Bribie Island.
But if a “classic” coral rimmed lagoon, clear warm water, coconut palm, thatch hut experience is what you’re after (and you don’t want to shell out for Tahiti/Bora Bora), I recommend the outer islands in Fiji. Well supplied, yet quiet and exceptionally peaceful and beautiful.
Thailand and Indonesia also have some great, culturally distinct experiences (Bali is really out of this world). Don’t get too hung up on finding the perfect place. Go somewhere and make it yours.
Anthony Kiedis in his autobiography describes Phuket as “full of Eurotrash party animals” and said that he went to one of the more obscure, secluded and smaller islands to re-couperate from his drug addictions.
If you think Bali might be nice but busier than what you are looking for, there is always Lombok.
Palau has snorkeling and scuba diving that is insanely spectacular.
On the off chance you are considering less developed Micronesian islands, I lived in the Federated States of Micronesia for 3 years so could tell you about Pohnpei, Chuuk, and Yap. Those spots have pretty limited tourist infrastructure, however, so may not be what you want. (They are also expensive to reach.) They are cool, though.
If you live in china and want to go to a tropical island with a nice beach in china, then this is the place. However, there are so many nicer places to go to on vacation that Hainan is NOT the place I’d recommend. In fact, I’d say it ranks as a very distant destination.
Koh Samui I think is nicer than Phuket. There are lots of great areas in SE Asia.
To the OP, I honeymooned on Saipan. It’s basically a Japanese resort. I wouldn’t recommend it as it’s not cheap, not easy to get too, and not great. I mean, if you live in Japan, want to go to a foreign country that isn’t too foreign and doesn’t need a visa during Chinese New Year with your fiancee, then Saipan is great. Guam too by all accounts is a pass.
The Micronesian States mentioned sound pretty cool. Buddies that have been think French Polynesia is awesome. Careful though, Keith Richards fell out of a tree there.
Thank you so much for your suggestions. I now have lots of new entries on my list of places I want to visit. It looks like we’re going for the Cook Islands and divide our time between Rarotonga and Aitutaki. I think it’s going to be a great vacation, hopefully the long flights won’t be too exhausting.
Good choice. On Rarotonga, I recommend that you see a bit of the interior of the island - it’s basically jungle-covered mountain with beach round the outside. Assuming he’s still around (and I’m sure he is), there’s a guy called Pa who runs guided walks (of varying levels of strenuousness) across the island. Anyone at the hotels will know him and be able to get you in touch with him.