The South Pacific is a perfect escape for families, with warm and friendly local people who treat your children like their own, endless beaches for paddling and reefs for snorkelling, and a liberal sprinkling of resorts with kids’ clubs to give parents some much-needed flop-and-drop time. Here are just some ideas for family-friendly things to do in the South Pacific. Just remember to set your watch to “island time”.
Picnic at a Waterfall in Vanuatu
Vanuatu’s photogenic Mele Cascades are a serene spot for a picnic, just 10 kilometres from the capital, Port Vila. The cascades are a series of pools spilling down a hillside, culminating in a 35-metre waterfall. Some of the walk is a bit tricky for little ones, but can be managed with help. Take a dip in the waterholes while you’re there. You can take a guided tour or go it alone.
Also try: Teenagers might like climbing the active Mt Yasur volcano on Tanna Island.
Legends by Torchlight in the Cook Islands
Te Vara Nui village in Rarotonga in the Cook Islands delivers a cultural performance like no other, with an over-water night show featuring traditional dancing and music to tell the Legend of Tongaiti. Dine on an island-Western fusion buffet amid lush, tropical gardens. Children five and under are free.
Also try: Children eight years and older will love a quad-biking adventure through the jungle-clad island interior.
Alofaaga Blowholes in Samoa
Samoa’s famed Alofaaga Blowholes, situated in the village of Taga on southwest Savaii, shoot jets of water high into the air. For a small fee, villagers will throw coconuts into the holes, which are then blasted sky-high. Go at full tide to see the blowholes at their most impressive. Be aware that the rocks around the blowholes can be slippery.
Also try: Visit the beautiful Falefa Falls before taking a dip in the Piula Cave Pool on the northeast coast of Upolu Island.
More South Pacific inspiration:
Sail Away on a Tall Ship in Fiji
The tall ship Ra Marama sails to Tivua Island, a circle of white sandy beaches where turtles nest, surrounded by 200 hectares of coral gardens, part of Fiji’s Mamanuca Island group. The whole family can go snorkelling or take a glass-bottomed boat tour, and there is a kids’ club, kayaks, and beach volleyball to enjoy. Lunch and snacks are also provided.
Also try: Allow yourself a resort day – the children will be occupied with sarong painting, dance lessons and the like at the kids’ club, while you enjoy a cocktail by the pool.
Snorkel Duck Island in New Caledonia
New Caledonia's Ile aux Canards – aka Duck Island – is a marine reserve just out from Noumea’s Anse Vata beach. The water-taxi ride is sure to thrill, and you can swim and snorkel in waters that feel like an aquarium. There’s even an underwater trail with signs to help you explore the coral and recognise the myriad tropical fish. On land, you may see sculptures by Caledonian artists.
Also try: Check out Noumea’s Mwa Ka Totem Pole, topped by a chief’s hut (grand case), opposite the Musee de Nouvelle-Caledonie.
Browse the Market in Tahiti
Busy Papeete market (Le Marche) in Tahiti is bursting with traditional handicrafts, Tahitian foods, French pastries and more. Watch strings of brightly coloured fish arrive from the fishing boats each afternoon, and don’t miss the flower market on the ground floor. Pick up a pareo (wraparound skirt), some Tahitian vanilla or monoi oil products as souvenirs (but check what you’re allowed to bring home first).
Also try: Horseback riding along the beach or through the tropical countryside.