I’ve been lucky to travel on three South Pacific cruises so far, and have been very impressed with the amazing places I got to visit. Cruising is an economical way to visit many remote islands that would otherwise be costly to get to, the only compromise being the short amount of time you get stay.
Below are my five favourite South Pacific Cruise Stopovers, which may help anyone considering going on a cruise decide which itinerary suits them best.
No. 5 - Mystery Island, Vanuatu
Mystery Island is a long way out of the way, so as a consequence is relativity untouched, visited mostly by cruise ships. It is a beautiful, small uninhabited isle with no roads, shops or development in general.
Snorkelling around the island is amazing, untouched reef with many varieties of tropical fish just of the shore, or pay for a local boat tour for offshore reefs and fishing.
You can walk around Mystery Island in a short time if you want to stretch your legs, or visit the markets if you want to buy some local souvenirs.
Mystery Island Markets
No. 4 - Pentecost Island, Vanuatu
Pentecost Island is not often visited by cruise ships or tourists so consider yourself lucky if you get to stop there. It is a very rural island, with no towns as such, just locals living in huts and small farms.
Pentecost males partake in an interesting ritual called land diving, which was the inspiration for modern day bungee jumping. It is a test of courage that most young males take part in, where vines are tied to their ankles and they dive of various platforms set at various heights into a pit of mulch and turned soil.
No. 3 - Ouvea Island, New Caledonia
Ouvea, with its crystal clear waters, soft white sands and coconut tree lined beach, is close to many people’s idea of a tropical paradise.
It is part of one of the three main Loyalty Island groups, probably the least visited due to difficulty of access. If you are not visiting on a cruise it can be expensive to fly, stay and eat here compared to nearby places.
Due to its natural beauty it is probably worth the expense to spend some time here. Our visit was too short, there was much more to see and do here than we had time for. The snorkelling was meant to be extra special, but we were not able to get onto the day tour due to capacity.
No. 2 - Isle of Pines, New Caledonia
The Isle of Pines is well known as the ‘closest island to paradise’, a beautifully scenic place that has been visited by generations of both cruisers and tourists. The Kanumera Bay area we got to visit is particularly nice, with amazing snorkelling and swimming within the translucent green waters.
There are some great scenic and historical walks in the area, as well as some interesting bird and native wildlife.
No. 1 - Port Vila, Vanuatu
Port Vila has something for everyone. It may not be as scenic as some of the amazing tropical islands around New Caledonia and Vanuatu, but it has some picturesque areas, especially as seen from a local helicopter tour.
There is good snorkelling and diving available off Iririki island, as well as a variety of sailing and waterspouts, but the main attraction is the town.
There are duty free bargains to be had, interesting markets to explore and some great food adventures at some of the local restaurants, including our favourite, whole coconut crab. These are the crabs that can break open a coconut with their claws and they taste great.
Best of all are the people of Port Vila, who for the most part are outgoing and friendly.
Port Vila Local Kids
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