You’d be heavily mistaken for thinking that a cruise to the South Pacific will be little more than one island and beach after another. There’s a very good reason why the region is the most popular among Australians than anywhere else on Earth.
All you need to do is venture on an organised tour into the jungle or out of the city and you’ll find a myriad of well established, organised and professionally run activities and adventures – each provided by tour operations which have been carefully assessed by cruise lines for their safety, value & excitement factors to ensure their guests receive all the fun they can handle.
Like any list or rank, some stand out over the others as being particularly awe-inspiring, amazing or memorable. Let’s take a look at some of these now. It’s important to note that some tours may be offered by more than one cruise line, however there many be variations in the duration of each tour and its specific inclusions.
Please comment below with your opinions and let us know if we have missed your favourite.
Jungle Safari Giant Zipline Tour
Lautoka, Fiji and Port Denarau, Fiji
Zip-lining is one of those adventure activities that can still be done by almost anybody across a wide variety of fitness levels. It provides a great way to see the treetops and views of a particular destination while still engaging in a fast-paced and pulse racing endeavour.
Available on both Royal Caribbean and P&O Cruises ships, which respectively visit Lautoka and Port Denarau in Fiji, the excursion begins with a short bus ride from the ship to the Sleeping Giant Zipline, which offers five lines ranging in height from 80-160 metres. Your tour may offer an opportunity to go swimming in a cold water stream if time permits, while an opportunity to take lunch in an on-site cafe may also be available.
Forest and Secret Grotto
Lifou, Loyalty Islands
In such a small port such as Lifou, in the Loyalty Islands of New Caledonia, this short tour gives travellers a snapshot into ancient and modern life among the villagers who call this part of the world their home.
Beginning in the town of Mucaweng, an expert guide leads groups along a jungle trail, imparting knowledge about local plant life and focusing on the floral species used by the local population to make medicines over the generations. Then, groups venture into a pitch black cave to an underground limestone cavern, led only by torchlight, eventually coming out at a natural freshwater rock pool (unfortunately you can’t go swimming in it). The tour ends with demonstrations of how the locals engage in pig hunting or crab trapping.
This tour carries with it a minimum fitness requirement and is able to be enjoyed by most travellers. Guests are advised to bring insect repellent for when inside the cave.
Bora Bora Aqua Safari Helmet Dive
Bora Bora, Tahiti
It can take years of practice and experience to become a fully qualified scuba diver, but if you’re only after a short look at the underwater world, there are tours out there which will allow you to do so without all the personal investment in state-of-the-art equipment.
This particular excursion is only available on select Trans-Pacific one-way voyages stopping in the Tahitian island of Bora Bora, where you’ll encounter some of the bluest waters anywhere in the world. It’s this kind of visibility that allows this excursion to take place. You’ll take a short boat ride from the port to the dive site and fitted with a helmet fed by air from tanks on the surface, so there are no heavy tanks to wear on your back.
You’ll then have the chance to descend to the lagoon floor, about 10 feet deep, where you can mingle with hordes of colourful fish and maybe even the odd stingray. You’ll spend about 30 minutes underwater before returning to fresh air, however there may be a chance to do some snorkelling before returning to the ship.
The Alotau Festival
Alotau, Papua New Guinea
Limited to a maximum of 150 people, the Alotau Festival is a cultural extravaganza of music, dance and colourful costumes which showcases the skills of the Milne Bay Province.
Unlike a guided tour, guests have free reign to wander among the demonstrations throughout the day, checking out whatever they like at leisure. The festival grounds are at Wanigili, not far from the ship and shuttles will run between the two throughout the day, meaning you can spend as much or as little time there as you like.
Displays around the festival grounds and the water include the arrival of the Lopo War Canoes, all filled with warriors in elaborate yet traditional garments. These warriors engage in ritualistic ceremonies, many of which involve loud chanting and drum beats. There are also body art dancers, string bands and chances to enjoy a massage or have your hair braided.
The whole day is a vibrant example of Papua New Guinea colour and culture, however there are also more serene displays such as clay pot weaving, opportunities to purchase locally made arts and crafts as well as plenty of food including traditionally cooked pork & chicken.
Glass Bottom Kayak & Snorkel
Mystery Island, Vanuatu
Mystery Island can become much less mysterious for travellers on this tour, guided in a group tour of the coral reefs from above, where they can look directly through the bottom of their clear kayak at the sea life underneath. This 90-minute tour is taken at a very slow and comfortable pace, with paddling tips provided before you set off to ensure nobody gets tired.
Below you will see colourful coral reefs, tropical fish and other underwater landmarks on the very casual tour. After you return to the shore, you can head back out for a swim, feed the fish or just lie on the beach and soak up the sun before heading back to the ship.
Spa at Chateau Royal
Noumea, New Caledonia
If you’ve had your fill of islands and underwater adventures, and the idea of a major capital city isn’t your cup of tea either, you can lock yourself away from the world for a short period in Noumea by heading to the Spa at Chateau Royal – one of the five-star resorts in the city.
Guests can indulge in Aquatonic waters and the health benefits of keeping the waters at a very warm 34° all year round and the associated massage jets, geysers and jacuzzis. There’s a luxury tea brand you can sample along with French treats, all while overlooking the grounds of the luxurious resort. You must be 15 years of age or older to book this tour and each person receives a towel on site, so you don’t need to take your towel from the ship.
Water Music Experience
One of the more unique experiences you can witness in the South Pacific. After a short minibus ride north, guests arrive at a village inhabited by the Banks & Torres Islands right at the northern-most part of Vanuatu, one of the country’s more difficult places to access.
After settling in, you’ll have the chance to witness a 20-minute water percussion and music performance from the ladies of the tribe, dressed in traditional garments including armbands and headwear made from flowers and leaves. The show includes a cultural dance routine and the opportunity to view traditional preparation methods of kava, one of many customs held sacred by the tribe.
Countryside Drive and Fire Walking
This tour offers an opportunity to really explore Fiji outside the port. A 45-minute bus tour to the Arts Village at Pacific Harbour will give you a real look at the regional landscapes of the country before you arrive at your destination.
Blowing a conch shell, guests are greeted by a tribal warrior, before you have the chance to see a traditional and typically energetic song and dance show performed by the villagers, which tells the story of Fiji through interpretive dance.
Then, a hot coal pit is fired up and the ultimate display of discipline and self-control takes place as you see logic defied with the warriors subjecting their bare feet to the mercy of the fire pit. The experience concludes with demonstrations by the ladies of the tribe on how they make some of their handicrafts, which can then be purchased if desired.