The Pacific Ocean is the largest ocean in the world, covering approximately 60 million square miles of the Earth's surface. More than 25,000 islands are in the Pacific, including the nations of Fiji, Samoa, the Cook Islands, Papua New Guinea, Micronesia, French Polynesia and the Solomon Islands. While many are beautiful, some stand out as especially stunning.
In the French Polynesia group of islands, two of the most visited are Bora Bora, the romantic island, and Moorea, the magical island. Bora Bora is thought of as the "most beautiful island in the world," according to many sources and travel experts. It is also one of the most-expensive island destinations, but reasonably priced honeymoon packages and luxury vacations can be found if you book in advance. Moorea is the second-most frequented island in French Polynesia and offers exciting adventures such as snorkeling with manta rays, swimming with dolphins and parasailing along the island's exhilarating shoreline.
The 322 islands of Fiji are well-known for their incomparable over-water, hut-style accommodations with see-through sections of flooring. Fiji is also home to some of the best surfing resorts in the world, where visitors can stay and surf as part of an all-inclusive vacation package.
Many of the 15 Cook Islands are undeveloped, leaving much of the nation to still be explored. Lagoons found around the islands look similar to pieces of turquoise, smooth like glass and vibrantly colored. Travelers consider the Cook Islands a must-visit, bucket list destination, as much of its scenery resembles a screensaver picture.
Comprising 10 islands, the nation of Samoa features many attractive attributes, including rugged mountains, lush rain forests and pristine white-sand beaches. The undeveloped island of Savai'i is home to nothing but Samoan villages where inhabitants live in the same manner as their ancestors did for generations. Samoa is a peaceful destination with one of the lowest crime rates in the world.
New Caledonia is one of the larger islands of the Pacific, following closely behind Papua New Guinea. As a division of France, it is primarily a French-speaking island and has been dubbed the "Paris of the Pacific." Windsurfing is a favorite pastime in New Caledonia thanks to the optimum trade winds, and world-champion windsurfers were born here, including Michael Quintin and Robert Teriitehau.
Micronesia's island of Palau is considered one of the top diving destinations in the world for its underwater caves, reefs and diverse marine life. Palau is made of hundreds of limestone formations, and its biggest attraction is the Rock Islands, which resemble emerald shapes floating in a royal blue sea. The Chuuk Islands of Micronesia are another popular stop for tourists because of their infamous lagoon full of World War II shipwrecks and crashed fighter planes.
Made up of 992 islands, the Solomon Islands encompass about 11,000 square miles in all. Travelers to the island can stay in thatched-roof bungalows right along the beach. Surfing here has been called as good as the waves in Bali, but without the crowded beaches and surf breaks. If you'd prefer snorkeling, reefs are abundant around the islands and feature marine life species such as rays, eels, angelfish, parrotfish, grouper and sharks.
Made up of more than 170 islands, the kingdom of Tonga is considered a favorite yachting destination in the South Pacific. Visitors to the island can embark on adventures such as monitored swimming tours in the vicinity of humpback whales, cave diving or taking guided tours on foot, via kayak or horseback.
Locals call the islands of Vanuatu "the land that time forgot" because much of its land is undeveloped and inhabitants still practicing traditional village living and customs. Vanuatu is the only location in the world that has an underwater post office inside an island marine sanctuary. Diving and snorkeling are favored activities here, as is soaking in the bright blue hot springs found in the heart of the jungle.
Papua New Guinea
As an island nation in the South Pacific, Papua New Guinea is best-known for its unspoiled landscape and trekking adventures along its scenic Kokoda Trail. Archaeological evidence shows the nation's more than 600 islands have been inhabited for more than 50,000 years. It boasts diverse cultures of people that speak around 800 indigenous languages.