Kids Club: The Top 5 South Pacific Islands For Families

A woman and baby sit looking out to sea from a beach in Rarotonga

4.86min read

Published 31 May 2022


The five best Pacific Island destinations to take the kids on a family holiday are: 

  1. Rarotonga, Cook Islands 
  2. Viti Levu, Fiji 
  3. Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu 
  4. La Grande Terre, New Caledonia 
  5. Tahiti, French Polynesia 

Don't feel daunted. Travelling overseas with kids is easier and more rewarding than the Dinky couples who eye you warily at departure gates would have you believe. 

But, fair call, holidaying with our little wonders and young adults is a balancing act. First, there's their tick list: somewhere with a beach, with heaps of fun water sports, but with plenty of wifi too. Then there's ours: somewhere safe for travellers and devoid of large crowds a child could get lost in, somewhere with gentle shallow waters with lots of inexpensive activities for the whole family. 

There's no collection of destinations that unites the needs of kids with our needs when travelling with them better than the many islands dotted around our doorstep. The family friendly islands of the Pacific are warm, mesmerising and have a way of imploring us to explore, become immersed in local cultural activities and visit again and again. The islands are also famously family friendly, with people that adore children and always have the needs of little visitors in mind. Remembering too that all the best places you can venture within these family friendly islands aren't far from an international airport.

1. Rarotonga

The island of Rarotonga, the largest of the Cook Islands 15 islands, is ringed by a coral reef which makes it ideal to experience first-ever snorkelling adventures, especially Muri Beach. Even those with the shortest legs and minimal swimming experience can explore the magical underwater world of the island's lagoon to have family fun saying hello to colourful butterflyfish, parrotfish and Piccassofish in their natural habitat - perhaps even spotting manta rays. Key tip: pack reef shoes for yourself and the kids as the island's coral sands, while they make for beautiful white sand beaches, can be a little coarse on soft feet even around popular stays such as Edgewater Resort.

No Cook Islands holiday would be complete without a Saturday morning outing to Rarotonga's Punanga Nui Markets.  This is the best place to sample the island's delicious local fruits, quench little thirsts with drinking coconuts, shop for clothes and souvenirs and get an authentic Polynesian cultural experience. 

While accommodation options on the island are reasonably priced for a family holiday – and offers plenty of choice from island resort stays, hotels, motels and holiday homes – non-local food products from stores and supermarkets is pricey compared to Fiji.

With over 300 designated wifi hotspots and full mobile coverage throughout the island, staying connected while in Rarotonga is a breeze. Though, while you're out having the best holiday adventures with the kids (including cross-island hiking trails), you could be forgiven for forgetting the rest of the world exists. 

2. Viti Levu, Fiji

Fiji's main island is home to the Coral Coast, famed for its glorious sand, stand up paddleboard activity and its family friendly island resorts such as Plantation Island Resort.

A family sitting on a paddle board in the water just off the beach
A family sitting on a paddle board in the water just off the beach
A family sitting on a paddle board in the water just off the beach

Surf lessons, diving, beach snorkelling and paddle boards will keep the island adventures flowing faster than a water park for older members of your tribe. For the younger ones, the resorts' kids clubs provide fun adventure activities based on Fijian culture and the family friendly islands' unique sea-life, providing them with friends, fun, discovery and the chance to explore they'll never forget. Learning a traditional meke dance and crab races are just the beginning.

The island's holiday stays generally offer non-motorised kid friendly water activity like kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, snorkelling equipment free of charge, which adds to the effortlessness of keeping them all entertained in and around some of the most stunning white sandy beaches in the world. 

Should you hear any noises about needing a "break from the beach" on your holiday ( particularly from older children), you can catch a regular day trip river safari up the Sigatoka River by jet-boat to explore the island's lush jungle interior. Though be mindful to keep your crew lathered in insect repellent as Viti Levu's inland waterways are the domain of mosquitoes - not the best place to stay overnight if you're thinking of camping. For an intrepid but family friendly hike into the hinterland, taking a day trip on the 3.3km round trip to explore the island's 20-metre tall Savu Na Mate Laya waterfall is well worth the trek.

quote position image

Expert tip

Get used to saying Bula! It means life, but is commonly used as a greeting. Fijians are some of the friendliest people and they love welcoming visitors to their homeland. Bula vinaka! (wishing you happiness and good health)


Travel Expert


3. Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu

Although it doesn't have the drama of the active volcanoes of neighbouring islands, this lush green island boasts Vanuatu's most spectacular beach experiences as well as being home to more of the archipelago's famed blue holes than any other island as you head north. These serene "oases of azure" amid the green jungle are large pools formed by spring waters rich in minerals filling limestone caverns – and make for unrivalled swimming experiences for intrepid families. Many of the blue swimming holes on the island have jumping platforms and swing ropes to dial up the fun. Locals will charge a small fee for their use for adults and older kids, small children can usually play free.

The ni-Vanuatu people are family friendly and nurturing children is a pivotal part of their culture. As for toddlers, their erratic behaviour is easily tolerated a whole lot more than it is in western societies, and kids of all ages are welcome wherever you go.

Accommodation and food on this island is more than reasonably priced, as it is throughout Vanuatu. Although you may be tempted to tip a taxi driver here, or a cafe there, with everything seeming so cheap, ni-Vanuatu consider it rude and a little confusing to be offered tips.

4. La Grande Terre, New Caledonia

It's amazing to think that our nearest South Pacific neighbour is a part of France – and just a short flight from Sydney, which makes this island a perfect overseas getaway for family island holidays or for those with kids who don't travel well.

A tradition house made out of natural materials
A tradition house made out of natural materials
A tradition house made out of natural materials

New Caledonia's main island, La Grande Terre, is an intriguing blend of French and indigenous Kanak cultures. And because New Caledonia isn't exactly chockers with resorts, this is a good excuse to treat your kids to immersive and authentic cultural experiences.  

Many of Le Grande Terre's remote indigenous Kanak villages have recently opened their doors to tourists, offering affordable but unforgettable stays perhaps with an informal guided tour. Kanak families are very warm, generous and eager to share their culture.

5. Tahiti, French Polynesia

Tahiti, the largest of the 118 islands of French Polynesia, is about as beautiful as the South Pacific gets. The full combination of gin-clear lagoons, powdery beaches and stark volcanic outcrops dressed in lush rainforest give it the South Pacific eye-candy award. This island is actually two family friendly islands joined by a small isthmus.

A boat in the water with green mountains in the background
A boat in the water with green mountains in the background
A boat in the water with green mountains in the background

Opportunities to swim, snorkel, kayak and paddleboard are handy no matter where you choose to stay. But for a special activity, try booking a va'a lesson. A va'a is an outrigger canoe and a proud Tahitian tradition. To successfully crew a va'a, everyone onboard must work together to get anywhere – the perfect family team building challenge. 

The other main French Polynesian island of Bora Bora might be famous for its overwater bungalows off the beach, and although they offer a highly snap-worthy stay, they're perhaps not the best place to bring pre-school water magnets.

Which Pacific island is best?

It depends on what you are looking for! All five are family friendly islands, all with lagoons, safe beach experiences, tropical climates and amazing cultures to become immersed in. So what's the best island paradise for your family? Vanuatu definitely has off-the-beaten track appeal, Fiji for resorts and a free kids club, Rarotonga for its ultra-laid-back vibe, New Caledonia is so nicely close, and Tahiti dazzles with its island paradise vistas. 

Flight Centre

Flight Centre acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia.

© Flight Centre Travel Group Limited. ATAS Accreditation No. A10412.

*Travel restrictions & conditions apply. Review any specific conditions stated and our general terms at Terms and Conditions. Prices & taxes are correct as at the date of publication & are subject to availability and change without notice. Prices quoted are on sale until the dates specified unless otherwise stated or sold out prior. Prices are per person.