VacationFilter: South Pacific
August 12, 2017 5:07 PM   Subscribe

Daydreaming about getting away over the holidays has turned into some serious planning for a week in the South Pacific. Have you stayed somewhere amazing? Please, do tell!

We’re planning to spend about 7 days (plus travel time), roughly Dec 24-31, relaxing in the sun/water, disconnected from reality, and not doing much of anything. We haven’t done this type of vacation before - we tend towards more rugged, active vacations (we went backpacking in Guatemala for our honeymoon) with lots of hiking, hanging out with locals, etc. But we have super-stressful jobs and we’re celebrating some big milestones so we are going to treat ourselves.

If we aren’t steered elsewhere, we will likely stay in Rangiroa at the Hotel Kia Ora, in a pool villa.

What we love about this place (that we’d want to have if we stay somewhere else):
- Huge suite with lots of privacy, a private pool (!!!), outdoor soaking tub, sun deck, big shower.
- Snorkeling and the opportunity for excursions, especially to see sea creatures. We love animals! If there were dogs or horses around it would be even better.
- It’s “affordable”. We don’t have strict budget but the idea of spending >$1000/night for lodging seems absolutely crazy.

What makes this place not quite perfect:
- Very limited dining options, so we’ll probably have to eat at the hotel restaurant every night and the reviews aren’t great.
- Seems like snorkeling and diving are the only water sports, and we aren’t divers. We’d love to be able to paddle board, kayak, etc.
- There’s a small village but not much else to explore. We won’t get much of a chance to check out local places/meet local people.
- Zero hiking. It’s not the focus of this trip, but it would be nice to have it available. However, snorkeling > hiking.

What we don’t want:
- Changing locations mid-vacation. It’s ok if it’s hard to get to the location, but once we’re there we want to stay there until it’s time to go home.
- So many possibilities for things to do that we feel like we have to cram a bunch of stuff into the time we have. We (mostly me) will feel like we need to program manage the vacation which is exactly what we need a break from.
- Over water villas - not that we dislike them, but we’d prefer the private pool and/or being on the beach.
- High temps below 80F. I’m a Florida girl... anything less than what others call sweltering heat feels chilly to me and I hate to be chilly. Seems like this won’t be an issue in the South Pacific which is why we chose the region.
- Mega resorts, kid friendly places. It doesn’t have to be adults only but if they market to families it’s probably not for us.

Specific hotel/resort recommendations would be great. If you’ve stayed at the Kia Ora we’d love to hear about your experience (good or bad). Also, if you have a place you think is absolutely perfect but isn’t in the South Pacific we’d still like to hear about it (as long as it meets the temperature requirement).
posted by jshort to Travel & Transportation around Houston, TX (4 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Most islands in the South Pacific, even ones like Fiji, which are comparatively heavily touristed, are still very sleepy compared to many other places that are your points of reference. Locals tend to be quite wary of outsiders and are generally very timid, particularly for Americans (which, with all due respect are at the complete other end of the scale) and so many people there may strike you as unfriendly.

The islands are also all quite isolated and expensive in comparison to other similar destinations due to a lot of modern day foodstuffs needing to be imported. With the exception of locally grown produce (which isn't as much of a thing as many think it is), food generally is quite expensive except for cheap unhealthy foods, which explain the obesity epidemic that the region is renowned for.

If you are happy with a holiday just sitting around doing not much and reading and swimming etc. then go for it, but keep your expectations very low on exactly how much there will be to actually do there. Fiji is easily the most popular and excursion-rich island in the South Pacific, although I suspect you'd probably find it too touristy - the main tourist market are holidaying families from Australia and New Zealand.
posted by ryanbryan at 4:23 AM on August 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

Also, if you have a place you think is absolutely perfect but isn’t in the South Pacific we’d still like to hear about it (as long as it meets the temperature requirement).

Bluefields Bay in Jamaica. The South Pacific is remote and expensive, especially if you don't really like diving and just want a private pool and nice weather.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 2:47 PM on August 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Well the temperature won't be a problem since you'll be there at nearly the height of summer. I'm partial to Vanuatu since I lived there for 3 years. I spent one Christmas at Tranquility Island Resort, located on a small island just off the coast of Efate (where the capital is). They've got adorable baby sea turtles, a brutal-but-satisfying series of hikes to pristine beaches, scuba and snorkeling, tropical forest teeming with coconut crabs, all kinds of good stuff. From Port Vila you can also day trip to Tanna to see the Mount Yasur volcano. Also, Ni-Vans are extraordinarily friendly people so you'd have no trouble meeting/hanging out with locals.
posted by orrnyereg at 8:44 AM on August 14, 2017

Response by poster: In case people are curious, we ended up booking a premium garden pool bungalow at the Manava Beach Resort in Moorea.

Vanuatu/Tranquility Island Resort looks like exactly our kind of place, but in the end we decided we wanted a little more luxury this time around. We will probably go there on our next trip to the South Pacific (hopefully next year!).
posted by jshort at 1:50 PM on August 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

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