The South Pacific is considered a true paradise by many beach aficionados. The warm, blue waters of the Pacific, combined with idyllic seaside landscapes of its islands are the perfect setting for a beach vacation. Most people associate Polynesia with luxury vacations. Indeed, high end resorts and villas are found on many islands, from Tahiti to Hawaii. But there are also eco-tourism retreats and basic bungalows that are perfect for budget travelers who want to experience the beach, but don’t need a $600 per night room in order to enjoy themselves.

Want to find luxury, adventure, beauty or nature in the South Pacific? These islands are the perfect places to start.

The South Pacific is considered a true paradise by many beach aficionados. The warm, blue waters of the Pacific, combined with idyllic seaside landscapes of its islands are the perfect setting for a beach vacation. Most people associate Polynesia with luxury vacations. Indeed, high end resorts and villas are found on many islands, from Tahiti to Hawaii. But there are also eco-tourism retreats and basic bungalows that are perfect for budget travelers who want to experience the beach, but don’t need a $600 per night room in order to enjoy themselves.

Want to find luxury, adventure, beauty or nature in the South Pacific? These islands are the perfect places to start.

Maui

Maui
Photo: proshotsphotos / Flickr

Maui is one of Polynesia’s most recognizable names. This island is not quite as populated as the most crowded island of Hawaii, Oahu, but is has a good infrastructure and a wide range of accommodation options. The beaches of Maui are clean and mostly uncrowded, and there is plenty of inland nature for those who don’t care for the resort and beach scenes. In short, Maui has the best of both worlds: great infrastructure and laid-back, uncrowded beach scene.

Kauai

Kauai
Photo: Chuck 55 / Flickr

Kauai is another Hawaiian island. Unlike Oahu and Maui, it is deliciously undeveloped. This is not the place to come to find a package resort vacation and an energetic party scene. Nature holds the upper hand on this island, and those seeking solitude and a wilderness experience will find this the perfect destination. The beaches are beautiful and the inland areas just as lush as any other island in the state, but the complete lack of crowds and the feel of isolation makes Kauai the perfect choice for a quiet deserted-beach getaway.

Tahiti

Tahiti
Photo: tyler corder / Flickr

Tahiti boast the best qualities of the South Pacific and also, according to many travelers, the best of France as well. Officially part of the far-off European nation, Tahiti is a favorite of Francophone vacationers, though its white sand, its great infrastructure and the prevalence of palm trees make it a top choice for travelers from the US and other parts of Europe as well. Tahiti has it all, from traditional culture and dance to surfing, resorts and nightlife. It is not the cheapest island to visit thanks to its Europe-like prices, but for a complete South Pacific experience, it is hard to beat Tahiti.

Palau

Palau
Photo: aSIMULAtor / Flickr

This tiny group of islands south and east of the Philippines is a very unique destination. The islands are sparsely inhabited and there are only a handful of resorts to choose from. Most visitors wouldn’t consider this is a traditional “island destination.” However, Palau has a diverse collection of reefs and wrecks that makes it one of the world’s best diving destinations. Divers don’t even have to head to the open ocean. Palau’s Jellyfish Lake is a utterly unique place to swim (tank-aided diving is not allowed) amongst jellyfish.

Savaii

Savaii
Photo: Simon_sees / Flickr

Savaii is the largest island in the nation of Samoa. However, it is sparsely inhabited and has a very limited infrastructure. It is a wonderful place for those who are seeking the quintessential Polynesia vacation experience. Savaii is a paradise for surfers, divers, eco-tourists and beach-lovers. Sure, some of its best seaside spots are hard to reach, but they have that deserted feel that so many travelers dream about.

Easter Island

Easter Island
Photo: Ndecam / Flickr

Easter Island (also known as Rapa Nui), one of the most remote islands in Polynesia, is also one of the most interesting destinations in the region. The sun, sand, and resort scene is not a characteristic of this part of the South Pacific. However, the gigantic head statues, easily recognizable by anyone in the world, make this a well-known destination. These statues, called Moai, are a major attraction and the reason why many people visit this island, which officially belongs to the South American nation of Chile. However, there are other attractions besides the mysterious statues. Scuba diving, surfing and even spelunking are on the agenda and can provide island visitors with a complete vacation experience in a very unique setting.

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