Encapsulated by an imaginary box drawn on the surface of the South Pacific, the islands of Melanesia represent some of the most diverse and beautiful destinations in the region. Although originally Polynesian, each island has its own version of this traditional culture. The scenery, however, is spectacular no matter where you go.
The largest and most developed nation in Melanesia is Fiji. Its 300 islands have a unique mix of Indian and Fijian culture and the best infrastructure in the region. Fiji’s tourism hub is the town of Nadi, where all kinds of outdoor excursions can be organized. Water sports, scuba diving, horseback riding and trekking are all popular activities here.
Fiji has done a decent job protecting its indigenous culture amidst its development. Visit one of the remote crafts villages to see traditional lifestyle in action. Unfortunately, Fiji is also plagued by frequent military coups which causes tourism to stutter.
A better alternative to tenuous Fiji is Vanuatu. These diverse islands offer a taste of everything, and the quality is topnotch. On land, the smoldering Yasur Volcano makes an exotic site for hiking. This is accompanied by large areas of protected tropical forests ideal for nature lovers.
There is also superb diving in Vanuatu. Dozens of shipwrecks add diversity to the healthy coral reef systems teeming with sea life. Of course, Vanuatu’s beaches are also superlative and a close rival to the idyllic scenery found in places like Bora Bora.
More off the beaten track are the Solomon Islands. These interesting atolls are worth visiting if you want a little adventure. In addition to its unique culture, the Solomon Islands arguably have the finest snorkeling and scuba diving sites on earth, yet very few people visit them. There is also incredible fishing, both in the sea and in the South Pacific’s largest fresh water lake.
But if you prefer a tropical beach holiday with a Club Med feel, New Caledonia fits the bill. Most of the resorts here are package deals or all-inclusive, taking much of the hassle (and fun) out of planning your South Pacific getaway.