Fantasy Islands in the South Pacific

The South Pacific has long beckoned romance-seeking travelers with its pristine beaches, unspoiled waters, and laid-back living.

Fact: There are more than a thousand islands spread across an area of the Pacific Ocean that’s 10 times larger than the United States. Stretching from Hawaii to New Zealand and Easter Island and collectively known as the South Pacific (or Polynesian Triangle), this corner of the world has spawned innumerable screensavers, holiday fantasies and romantic honeymoon dreams. But as with so many alluring destination choices, it may be a bit daunting to select your preferred paradise. Enter our all-you-need-to- know guide to choosing the right island mate for you. Whether your ideal honeymoon itinerary includes totally kicking back on a remote strand of sparkling sand or imbibing at one of the chicest restaurants, you’ll discover it here. Bon voyage and welcome to paradise. 

bride and groom in the cook islands
Photo courtesy of Cook Island Tourism Corporation

Cook Islands: Totally Off the Grid

A throwback to an age when travel was slow and savory rather than get-there-now, the Cook islands are for couples seeking the untainted and undiscovered south pacific. Located about halfway between Fiji and Tahiti, this english-speaking archipelago comprises two main islands — Rarotonga and Aitutaki —that could not be more different from each other. Beautiful Raro (as it is locally known) is dominated by a jagged volcanic peak that’s often wrapped in clouds, while Aitutaki is a classic coral atoll with a massive turquoise lagoon surrounded by a reef.

While other islands clamor for more tourism, the Cooks are content to let things evolve in a more natural way. There are no high-rise hotels, mega-resorts or any chains, for that matter. There’s zero tipping, a single golf course and nothing that could really be called a disco or music club. This is the place to relish the laid-back ambience and the freedom to walk on a beach where yours are the only footsteps.

cook islands
Photo courtesy of Cook Island Tourism Corporation

Although you’ll no doubt spend most of your time on the beach or in the water, Raro does have other worthwhile distractions. Storytelling guides lead bicycle, horseback and walking trips along the ancient stone road that rings the island. Jungle walks and volcano climbs are another option. And check out Cook island’s traditional dance, the fastest, hottest, most sensual moves in the entire pacific. Browse for local handicrafts and foods at the Saturday morning Punanga Nui Street market, also don’t miss the rowdy Friday evening happy hour with live entertainment at Trader Jack’s waterfront saloon.

A seductive, swept-away vibe prevails at Manuia Beach Resort on the west side of Rarotonga. Set along the edge of the beach and amid tropical gardens, the resort’s 24 thatched- roof bungalows blend barefoot island amenities like outdoor showers and modern creature comforts like Ipod docks, wireless internet and comfy beds. Grab a mask, fins and snorkel and wade into the adjacent lagoon to spy all sorts of tropical fish. Manuia’s rustic restaurant with its ocean views and sandy floor specializes in super-fresh seafood (room rates start at about $330 a night;

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