We spoke with Lodi Francis to get an insider’s view on the South Pacific.
Q: How would you describe South Pacific Islands for visitors who haven't been there?
The South Pacific is beautiful and untouched, pristine and offers as little or as much activity as you would like to experience.
Q: What is the best time to visit and why?
The South Pacific Islands have spectacular weather all year long. The warm air and pleasant humidity change very little from season to season. There is a slightly longer dry season from May to October where it becomes a bit cooler and less humid. The trade winds pick up during this time and the tropical weather is warm and comfortable. The wet season in the South Pacific is from November to April where the humidity increases and rain showers are common. It is important to consider what area of an island you will be on. Trade winds blow most often from the east making eastern areas more prone to rain and heavier gusts. Whenever you decide to visit the Pacific Islands you are sure to enjoy the wonderful sunshine and the beautiful landscapes during any season.
Q: What are the top sights (cities, attractions, hidden gems etc.)?
Bora Bora in French Polynesia: Bora Bora is the crown jewel of the Tahitian islands. It is often referred to as one of the most beautiful islands in the whole South Pacific. The sight is truly breathtaking. The turquoise lagoon meets the sugary sand and is home to amazing snorkeling spots. Tall mountains create a picturesque backdrop for the stunning coastlines. The waters are dotted with overwater bungalows that French Polynesia has become famous for.
The Mamanucas, Fiji, are a chain of 20 islands near Nadi and Denarau. One of the most established resort areas in Fiji, the Mamanucas provide a stunning array of activities for all types of travelers. The surroundings were beautiful enough to star in 'Castaway' and 'Survivor.
Q: What are your personal favorite sights (locations that most tourists may miss)?
One Foot Island, Aitutaki, Cook Islands: From the air this island resembles a left foot. The island is a place of local legend and only accessible by boat from the mainland of Aitutaki. This tiny paradise is all powder-white beaches and crystal clear waters. Don't forget to stop at the post office on One Foot Island to get a unique stamp; a foot of course!
Blue Lagoon Beach, Nanuya Lailai, Fiji: This famous beach has the softest sand you have ever felt. Lush palm trees line the coast and the aqua water is clear and warm. Take a leisurely walk around the island and enjoy the cassava gardens, scenic views, and exotic wildlife.
Q: Do you have any interesting facts about South Pacific Islands you would like to share?
Tahitian Cultured Pearls are the world-renowned luster of Mother Nature's most perfect gem. Commonly known around the world for its Black Pearls, each pearl ranges in size and shape and the colors range from the darkest black to shimmering shades of green, blue, bronze or even pink. Tour a pearl farm on Manihi, Rangiroa, Raiatea, Huahine, Taha'a, Tikehau, and Fakarava or visit one of the many pearl shops.
Q: How would you describe the people and the culture?
Tahitians maintain their heritage and traditions of their ancestors. Oral history recounts the adventures of gods and warriors in colorful legends where javelin throwing was the sport of the gods, surf-riding was favored by the kings, and strongmen competed in outrigger canoe races and stone lifting as a show of pure strength. The Tahitian culture is rich in the islands, welcoming visitors from all over the world.
Fiji is widely known as the happiest place on earth. The people are warm and welcoming, and are delighted to have visitors in their country. They'll go out of their way to make you feel comfortable.
Q: Can you suggest any unusual accommodation options?
Tahitian Overwater Bungalows: In the islands of French Polynesia, traditional thatched-roof bungalows are perched above the turquoise lagoon waters. In many of the overwater bungalows, tropical fish swim below as you look through the glass floor or coffee table. With all the amenities of a first-class hotel room, here on your private balcony surrounded only by water and sky, you can enjoy both breakfast, often delivered by canoe, and the sunset, seemingly delivered by the heavens.
Q: What foods/wines/desserts would you recommend people try?
Tahiti: Fresh Fish and seafood, French Food
Fiji: Fresh coconut and fruits
Q: Do you have any tips for people planning a cruise to the South Pacific Islands?
A wide variety of cruise products set sail in these romantic isles. Each week cruise ships offer first-class meals and balcony cabins, Tahitian "super yachts" sail within the smooth-water lagoons, sailing catamarans offer small groups or families a vacation at sea, and barefoot cruising creates an environment for the independent and adventurous. Something for everyone on cruises found nowhere else on earth.
Please send us a message if you have any questions or comments about anything you see in the e-zine. We'd love to hear from you!