Travel guidebooks and websites can help you plan an unforgettable trip to the South Pacific.
South Pacific travel can be luxurious and relaxing, but there are plenty of stops off the beaten path where curious and adventurous travelers can discover ancient civilizations and breathtaking natural beauty. The region, which includes Tahiti and the Fiji Islands, is a classic honeymooning destination, but its rugged geography, Polynesian culture and fantastic scuba diving make it a draw for many other visitors. Planning a trip to the South Pacific is as much about singling out a destination as it is about booking accommodations and flights. There is far too much to see in one trip, but with the right resources, travelers can create an itinerary that fits their interests and passions as well as their budgets.
There are a variety of easy, flexible ways to plan a trip to the South Pacific online. The South Pacific Tourism Organization is the official inter-governmental website for travel in the islands and can help travelers organize their trips from beginning to end. Websites of travel publishers like Frommers have information on every step of the trip-planning process, including exchanging money, booking a hotel, deciding what to see and arranging transportation and guided tours. The site also features a "Best of the South Pacific" section that highlights the editor's favorite small towns, markets, historic sites and museums from different countries around the region.
Many of the smaller islands in the South Pacific do not have international airports, but the larger ones do. From the United States, Air New Zealand is one of the main carriers running flights to the region and offers seasonal discounts and special fares. Conventional trip-booking sites like Expedia, Orbitz and Travelocity are also useful when booking flights to the region. Travelers who want to book a flight and hotel room at the same time can often save money by purchasing packages through these vendors.
Because they allow travelers to ask questions and post advice as they go, discussion forums are one of the best sources of up-to-date information about South Pacific. Lonely Planet hosts the Thorn Tree Travel Forum, which has a section devoted to the region, on its website. Another rich source of information is the forum hosted by Trip Advisor, where travelers can find answers to all sorts of relevant (and occasionally irrelevant) questions. Travelers should take recommendations and advice posted on these sites with a grain of salt; however, as the people giving them may not be travel experts.
Guidebooks are extremely useful resources and, in some cases, hold enough information to get travelers through the trip without other help. Even when using online resources, a South Pacific guidebook is handy to have along on the trip to look up restaurants and tourist information. Not only do these useful volumes review hotels, restaurants and activities in the South Pacific, but they also provide an intimate look at each island's unique history, culture, traditions and quirks.
Two of the biggest publishers in the travel industry are Lonely Planet and Moon Travel Guides, both of which produce excellent guidebooks to the islands of the South Pacific. Each guide has its own style and perspective on the region's countries and provinces as well as on travel in general. According to the Wall Street Journal, Lonely Planet has more appeal with curious, low-budget travelers, but they both cover South Pacific's entertainment, dining, accommodations, shopping and sights in exhaustive detail.
David Stanley, author of Moons Travel Guides to the South Pacific, runs the South Pacific Organizer, a useful website with loads of information taken straight from his books on the islands.
Thumbing through newspapers and travel magazines is a leisurely way to get current advice and tips. The New York Times, for instance, maintains an online guide to the South Pacific (including Australia) that features insightful and well-written reviews of the region's countries and their most interesting cities. It also maintains an expansive list of accommodations, restaurants and things to do, with editorial ratings, user reviews and contact information for each.
Like newspapers, many magazines have published detailed write-ups and reviews of the South Pacific and its attractions. National Geographic provides historical and cultural background information on each of the region's countries, with good photo galleries and the occasional suggested itinerary. Though neither explicitly focused on travel, nor as rich in detail as the aforementioned guidebooks, New York Magazine has printed a brief but stylish guide to South Pacific. It reviews some of the region's best activities, including horseback riding, trekking and fishing, and it gives tips on saving money for travelers on a budget.