Explore thousands of islands (many still unexplored) that converge with tradition-rich indigenous cultures.
Coral Princess Cruises’ Vanuatu
Somewhere between the nighttime glow of Ambryn island’s two active volcanoes, the discovery of Maewo’s waterfalls, and meeting the Namba tribes on Malakula, you’ll realize that this five-night cruise on Oceanic Discovery through the archipelago of Vanuatu is the stuff of dreams. Departures on Nov. 23 and 28, 2007, and Dec. 3 and 8, 2007, from Port Vila, round-trip. From $3,150; coralprincess.com
Blue Lagoon cruises’ Fijian Gold Club
Spend seven days island-hopping on the Fiji Princess through that country’s remote Mamanuca and Yasawa Group archipelagoes, where untouched coral cays make for electric snorkeling and prime beach-side barbecues. Weekly round trip from Lautoka on Viti Levu. From $3,179 per cabin; bluelagooncruises.com
Aranui’s freighter to Paradise
Stow away in style aboard the double-duty Aranu 3, which delivers supplies throughout the remote Marquesas Islands and brings passengers from Papeete to 17 remote ports via the Tuamotu Archipelago over 16 days. World-renowned specialists lead explorations of mysterious ancient ruins and present-day island culture. Departs monthly. From $2,079; aranui.com
Princess Cruises’ Hawaii and Tahiti
Spend 11 days aboard the Pacific Princess, cruising in two of earth’s most seductive archipelagoes. Highlights include crossing the equator, surfing off Kailua-Kona, a waterfall hike on Kauai, snorkeling the lagoon of Bora-Bora and picnicking on Moorea’s barrier islets. Limited departures go back and forth between Honolulu and Papeete from September through December, 2007; from $1,199; princess.com
Ports not to miss
Hiva Oa, Marquesas Islands (Aranui)
See Gauguin’s grave and the most significant tikis outside Easter Island.
Ambrym Island, Vanuatu (Coral Princess)
Here you’ll find culture, temperamental volcanoes and sorcery.
Nanuya Lailai, Fiji (Blue Lagoon)
Explore the island’s cinematic aquamarine cove. The high chief of the Yasawa Group makes his home nearby on Nacula, granting visitors permission (often with a kava ceremony) to dive the surrounding reefs.
Taoihae Bay, Nuku Hiva, Marquesas Islands (Aranui)
See this cute port town’s cafes, crafts center, coral church and Herman Melville statue. Wander out of town to the 1,200-foot Ahuii waterfall for a quintessential island dip.
Christmas Island, Kiribati(Princess)
Join international anglers in the quest for bonefish in the 250 square miles of shallow flats surrounding Christmas Island. Keep an eye out for prized silver-lipped pearl shells, which you can take home in the form of jewelry made by local artisans.
Moorea, French Polynesia (Princess)
Trek deep into Moorea’s lush, mountainous interior, catching the scent of vanilla, pineapple and coffee farms en route to ancient, deep-jungle Polynesian ruins. An octagonal church built in 1822 is the oldest operational European structure in the South Pacific. Cool off later with a swim in the seductive shallows of Cook Bay.
A day on Fiji Princess
- Check into your home on this 197-foot catamaran that clips along at 15 knots and limits itself to four hours of sailing per day.
- Peer out of your sizable stateroom windows at Fiji’s landscapes
- Star gaze on the open-air deck bar.
Each issue of explores the most beautiful island destinations in the world, from tropical island outposts to the sophisticated gems of the Mediterranean. Our top-rate photographers and writers discover the quiet beaches, boutique hotels, and unique cultural experiences that make island travel unique.