THE SOUTH PACIFIC
The South Pacific offers a wealth of destinations for the yachter who's looking to get away from it all.
From Hawaii to Guinea, Fiji, Samoa, and Tahiti, you'll experience varying cultures, languages, and culinary delights. Originally explored by residents of Southeast Asia, Sir Francis Drake led the first English circumnavigation of the globe from 1577 to 1580, opening the region to Europeans, who began immigrating to find wealth in the form of gold, silver, and spices.
The Pacific Islands, or Oceania, are subdivided into Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia and classified as either high or low islands. The area covers 11 million square miles and offers limitless opportunities for divers to get up close and personal with the abundant sea life. On land, play some golf, hike around live volcanoes, or visit the local markets. Of course, luxuries are not found only in the natural world, as many of the islands offer fabulous five-star resorts and restaurants.
You'll probably begin your journey in French Polynesia, taking a flight from Singapore, Sydney, or Los Angeles into Tahiti, the best-known island of the group. On the descent, you'll notice the sharp contrast between the clear-blue ocean and lush green rainforests. The capital of Papeete is a wonderful place to explore before heading to the harbor to board your chartered yacht. Take the short trip over to nearby Moorea, where Cooks Bay will draw you back to the mid 1700s when Cpt. Cook first set shore in the area. Bora Bora is the farthest west of the islands and is a popular honeymoon favorite due to its dreamlike setting.
Cook Islands are the next stop on your journey. Beautiful coral reefs and breath-taking lagoons make way for white-sand beaches lined with palm trees that herald your arrival from sea. The 15 islands that make up the chain rank among the best waters in the world for scuba diving. Explore myriad sea life along with a host of shipwrecks below the tranquil waters. With underwater visibility up to 200 feet, this locale provides ample opportunities for both advanced and novice scuba and snorkeling aficionados. When you head ashore, you'll find that tourism hasn't infiltrated the islands in the way it has other parts of the South Pacific, making your experience that much more enjoyable.
After exploring Cook Islands, make your way to Fiji, one of the favorite destinations for travelers to the South Pacific. The epicenter of the region, this is where cultures collide, creating a unique mix of Melanesia, Polynesia, India, and the Pacific—all tinged with both ancient and modern traditions. Of the 322 inhabitable isles, only 106 have residents, leaving more than 200 untouched. Guide your yacht to one of these and enjoy all the benefits of your own private island. You may even run across a hot spring, a remnant of the islands' inactive volcanoes. And, if the island is all yours, leave the swimsuit on the yacht and enjoy some natural wonder up close and personal.