Adventurous ways to see the South Pacific

By Stephanie Holmes

Tired of the flop and drop? Stephanie Holmes finds some memorable adventures for your next tropical getaway.

Explore French Polynesia from a chartered catamaran. Photo / 123RF
Explore French Polynesia from a chartered catamaran. Photo / 123RF

1. Birdwatching in Tonga

Pests have been eradicated on Maninita in Tonga's Vava'u group and now the tiny island is a haven for 19 species of birds, including three species of breeding land birds (the wattled honeyeater, banded rail and white collared kingfisher), and seabirds. Further north on Nuiafo'ou, the critically endangered Tongan megapode can be found, while on the southern island of 'Eua, you'll be able to spot the rare red-breasted koki. Visitors to the private Mounu Island Resort can book birdwatching tours arranged by owners Allan and Lyn Bowe, who also run Birdwatch Tonga.

2. Trek the jungle in Rarotonga

Rarotonga has a variety of hiking trails, including the Papua Waterfall, Avana Valley, and Turangi tracks, and the Raemaru Lookout. To combine a Cook Islands' cultural experience with your trek, book in with local legend Pa on one of his walking tours. With blond dreadlocks, bare feet and loincloth, 70-something Pa is certainly a character. He guides Cross Island Treks or Nature Walks, and along the way he'll tell tales of his childhood, his family (12 children and 22 grandchildren), the famous people he's walked with (the Dalai Lama), and the beautiful island's many myths and legends.

3. Charter a yacht in Tahiti

What better way to explore French Polynesia than on your own private yacht, skipping from island to island, watching sunsets from the deck, and being lulled to sleep by the gentle sound of the waves lapping against the hull?

Right now is a great time to think about a sailing holiday around the many islands of French Polynesia, with The Moorings offering a 5 per cent discount on 3- or 4-cabin catamarans if you book with Tahiti Tourism before September 12. The yachts are custom designed for charters, and the discount is for "Bareboat" bookings, where you take the helm yourself. Pay extra and you can get a captain to do the hard work for you.

4. Cycle around Samoa

The island of Savai'i, the largest of Samoa's islands, has a tarsealed road yet hardly any traffic, making it a great destination for a cycling holiday. You'll get to pass through villages, meeting the locals as you travel, stop off at swimming holes and secluded beaches to cool off, and stay at a variety of accommodation between stops. Outdoor Samoa offers a range of options for those looking for a two-wheeling holiday, including extended itineraries, guided group tours, or bike hire so you can set your own pace.

- NZ Herald

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