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A guide to its main attractions
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Selected by piero scaruffi | Back to the travel page | Suggestions
My pictures of Oceania
Oceania is traditionally divided into three regions ("nesia" means "island"): Polynesia: Tonga, Samoa, Tuvalu (Tahiti and other islands are still occupied by France); Melanesia (or "black islands", from the dark skins of its inhabitants): Fiji, Vanuatu, New Guinea, Solomon Islands (New Caledonia is still occupied by France); and Micronesia: Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau and Kiribati (Guam and other islands are still occupied by the USA).
States of Oceania:
  • Australia (Canberra)
  • Micronesia (Palikir)
  • Fiji (Suva)
  • Kiribati (Tarawa)
  • Marshall Islands (Majuro)
  • Nauru (Yaren)
  • New Zealand (Wellington)
  • Palau (Ngerulmud)
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Samoa (Apia)
  • Solomon Islands (Honiara)
  • Tonga (Nukualofa)
  • Tuvalu (Funafuti)
  • Vanuatu (Port Vila)

Trip of 2012:
  • Fiji
  • Fly Fiji to Tonga 13:30-15:50
  • Tonga's capital Nukualofa in Tongatapu island: Royal Palace, Royal Chapel, Royal Tombs
  • Tonga's Tongatapu island: Mua's ancient royal tombs, Haamonga trilithon, Houma blowholes, Anahulu Cave
  • Tonga's Eua island: Eua national park, Lakufaanga's Rock Garden
  • Tonga's Eua island: Eua national park, Lakufaanga's Rock Garden
  • Tonga's Tofua and/or Kao volcano islands (both visited from Pangai in Lifuka island)
  • Fly Tonga to Samoa 20:05-04:35 (transit in Fiji)
  • Samoa's Upolu island: from international airport to nearby Mulifanua ferry wharf to Savaii's Salelologa
  • Samoa's Savaii island: Bus to waterfalls and to Pulemelli step pyramid (oldest archeological site of Polynesia)
  • Samoa's Savaii island: Saleaula lava beds north of Mauga and ferry to Upolu and bus to Apia
  • Samoa's Upolu island: Apia, Bahai temple
  • Samoa to Fiji 00:40-01:40
  • Fiji
    • Nandi/Nadi: Shiva temple
    • Sigatoka Sand Dunes Park (between Nandi and Suva on the south coast)
    • Suva
    • Coloisuva Forest (near Suva)
    • Abaca/Abada (one hour bike ride from Lautoka, which is 30 kms north of Nandi): Koroyanitu Park
    • Navala village (1.5 hours by bus from Ba, which is about 80 kms from Nandi): traditional houses (but beware of photography fee and generally tourist-trap setting)
    • Mamanuca islands: direct ferries in the morning returning in the afternoon to most islands (but make sure you like to spend a day in a really tiny island)
    • Kadevu island (100 kms south of Viti Levu, with a very different weather pattern): wildlife
    • Yasawa islands: Kuata
    • Taveuni island: Bouma Forest Park, Dateline sign
    • Fly Fiji to Vanuatu 11:30 Port Vila 12:10
    • Vanuatu: Port Vila, Mele-Maat cascades and Erakor beach in Efate island
    • Vanuatu: Tanna island (main "adventure" destination, three ferries a week)
    • Vanuatu: Malekula island (the most "primitive" tribes, famed for cannibalism not that long ago, but only one ferry a week)
    • Vanuatu: Espiritu Santo (off the beaten track adventure)
    • Vanuatu: Pentecost island (land diving ritual, the original bungy jump)
    • Fly Vanuatu to Solomon 09:00 Solomon's capital Honiara in Guadalcanal island 11:00
    • Solomon: Marovo Lagoon in New Georgia island
    • Solomon: Malaita's Langa Langa lagoon with many artificial islands
    • Solomon: Lake Tenggano in Rennell island
    • Solomon: Matanikau Falls in Guadalcanal (2 hour walk from Honiara)
    • Fly Solomon to Fiji

    Future trip:
    • Tuvalu: Funafuti atoll, Funafuti conservation area, Funafuti lagoon
    • Kiribati: Tarawa
    • Nauru: Yaren, Coral pinnacles
    • Palau: Koror, Rock islands
    • Micronesia: Palikir, Lelu ruins in Kosrae island, Nan Madol ruins in Pohnpei island, Yap villages
    • Marshall: Road from Majuro to Laura (56 kms)

    Attractions in Australia and New Zealand
    Attractions in Papua New Guinea
    Map of Oceania:

Notes (2011)
  • June to october are the coolest and driest months in Fiji
  • The best months to visit Micronesia are December to March (dry season)
  • Geographically, the itinerary that would make sense in the South Pacific is: Fiji- Tonga- Samoa- Vanuatu- Solomon- Nauru- Kiribati-Tuvalu-Fiji and (separate) Marshall- Micronesia- Palau, but flights are rare and expensive, so most travelers end up zigzagging through the ocean and being stranded for several days in places with little to see and do.
  • The easiest places to visit as a group are Fiji- Tonga- Samoa- Vanuatu- Solomon (all of them with Air Pacific in 2012, almost always returning to Nadi befor the next one), while Tuvalu, Nauru and Kiribati are a bit more isolated, and Micronesia/Marshall can only be reasonably reached from Honolulu, and Palau from the Philippines, Taiwan or Japan.
  • Using Fiji as a hub, one can also visit Solomon, Nauru and Kiribati (in this sequence) and on to Fiji. Tuvalu requires an expensive round trip from Fiji. The additional problem is that some of the flights have a weekly frequency, which means, for example, that you have to wait for a week in Nauru before proceeding to Kiribati.
  • Nauru/Our Airline does a loop from Majuro to Tarawa (Kiribati) to Nauru to Nandi (Fiji) to Brisbane and in the other direction Nandi to Tarawa to Majuro to Nauru to Brisbane, each branch of the loop once a week (2015)
  • Nauru requires a visa and the visa is not easy to obtain. Very few countries are exempt. Citizens from a handful of countries can obtain an expensive visa upon arrival but these include only a couple of Western countries (Canada and Australia). In any case you must have a confirmed hotel booking. There are only two hotels in Nauru and they are often full. There is absolutely nothing to see in Nauru other than those two hotels.
  • Airlines flying to Samoa: Polynesian, Virgin Samoa, Inter Island Airways, Air Pacific, Air New Zealand
  • A way to connect between the southern islands (Fiji, Solomon and neighbors) and the nothern islands (Palau, Micronesia and Marshall) is via the Philippines, which can be reached via Singapore or Hong Kong. From Manila one can then fly to Guam and from on with US airlines to Palau, Micronesia and Marshall. Alternatively, one can also fly from Fiji to Hawaii and then to Marshall Islands. Both ways (via Manila or via Honolulu) are extremely expensive.
  • In theory there are multi-island passes to fly around Oceania. Air Pacific has the Bula Pass. Qantas has its own, and several airlines share the "Visit the South Pacific" pass. In practice, i found them to be completely useless or non-existent (2012).
  • Palau can be reached only from Asia (2013). Map of air connections.
  • These days the Pacific islands are emblematic of the environmental disaster caused by plastic: there is absolutely not a meter of beach that doesn't have plenty of plastic garbage.
  • The island with the capital town is also invariably plagued by too much traffic. Cities like Majuro and Tarawa that have only one road enjoy nonstop traffic. It is hard to believe that such small populations have so many cars. The speed is generally very low, so one wonders why can't they just build a light rail running the axis of town and get rid of most of the vehicular traffic (and save a lot in petroleum).
  • Last but not least, alcohol (and even drugs in some places) has devastated the social fabric. Some villages are introducing a "no alcoholic beverage" policy but of course those addicted can just buy alcohol at the next village. Taxes on alcohol and cigarettes are a major source of revenue for these governments.
  • From Micronesia to Kiribati i saw many projects gifted by foreign countries (typically Japan, Taiwan, European Union, New Zealand) but i am not sure that international aid is what these islands need. When international aid is available, a problem becomes a business opportunity. Instead of solving it, wait for international aid to come. Then the politicians benefit (it pays their salary and sometimes they get a cut of the project). A politician's motivation to solve a problem is very low. The motivation to create a problem is very high. I am not sure that international aid truly benefits these islands in the long run. I don't see any real plan on how to develop them, not even for tourism.
  • No mosquitoes on most of these islands (except those that have swamps like Papua and Solomon) but expect lizards in your hut/bungalow and sometimes the occasional wandering crab.
  • Micronesia and Marshall Islands: Taxis are very cheap (2015), $1 or $2 to any destination, and people often give you rides for free.
  • Micronesia (2015): $15 airport tax, no matter how expensive your air ticket was. Marshall Islans: $20.
  • United Airlines routes (2015):
  • The Pacific islands love dogs. If you don't feel comfortable being confronted, surrounded and chased by dogs, these islands are not for you.
  • Feb 2015 trip to Micronesia and Kiribati
  • Palau visitor information.
  • Marshall Islands visitor information.

Notes of 2012 (Fiji and southern Pacific)

Notes of 2015 (Marshall, Micronesia, Kiribati)