A visit to the Western Pacific, one of the least populated parts of the planet, offers time, space and endless sea and sky, even before encountering its fascinating indigenous culture that has been shaped over millennia. Beaches rarely get more pristine, or the pace of life more laid-back. With breath-taking landscapes, incredible sunsets and some of the friendliest people in the world, the only challenge will be when to book another visit.
It’s clear why 80% of visitors to Maui spend time in Lahaina – the former capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii is a beguiling mix of history, entertainment and culture, with a waterside setting where views of the West Maui Range never cease to enchant.
Don’t miss the elegant old Courthouse, the chance to walk the Historic Trail or get an Instagram-worthy shot of the stunning giant banyan tree which provides welcome shade. Then it’s time to kick back on Front Street, rightly ranked as one of the ‘Top Ten Greatest Streets’ in the US thanks to its mix of options for retail therapy, cool cocktails, art galleries and brilliant seafood dining.
Hawaii’s luau parties offer visitors the chance to eat, drink and watch traditional Polynesian dances, before maybe even joining in — Lahaina is exactly that kind of place.
As if that weren’t enough, in the winter months this is one of the world’s best places to spot magnificent humpback whales.
Enchanting Kauai is a true corner of paradise — it’s known as the Garden Isle with good reason, thanks to its tropical landscape that explodes with greenery. Nawiliwili Harbor, the location of the famous opening scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark, is Kauai’s main port and the jumping-off point for countless visitors, including in 1778 British explorer Captain James Cook.
Today, Kauai offers visitors a wide range of excursions and activities, including visits to charming and historic Old Koloa Town or shopping at Kalapaki Beach, especially for the famed and delicate locally-crafted Niihau shell leis.
Further afield, the NaPali Coast or the Mt. Waialeale volcano are well worth a visit – but come prepared for the latter as it is one of the wettest spots on the planet. For adrenaline-seekers, helicopter tours of stunning Waimea Canyon, known as ‘The Grand Canyon of the Pacific’, snorkelling the crystal-clear waters or even ziplining and kiteboarding can all be arranged.
Majuro, Marshall Islands
Yokwe! That’s the greeting heard across The Marshall Islands, a tiny independent country made up of 64 coral atoll islands in the vast western Pacific. Remarkably, only around 5000 visitors a year make it there, so it’s a very special place indeed.
It’s no surprise that truly world-class diving, snorkelling and game fishing are three of the biggest draws here, but make time to explore the sleepy capital of Majuro — there’s no chance of getting lost as there’s only one road that runs the length of the main island. On it is the picturesque and quaint Cathedral of the Assumption as well as the island’s Post Office, perfect for sending postcards with an unusual stamp and postmark.
Don’t miss the Alele Museum, which tells the story of the islands, notably a sobering reminder of how in the 1940’s and 50’s the US tested 67 nuclear weapons across the region, most famously at Bikini Atoll.
Mist and forest-covered mountains dramatically rising out of the ocean make Pohnpei in the Federated States of Micronesia look like something out of Jurassic Park.
The island’s largest mountain, Mount Nahnalaud is considered sacred and is another one of the wettest places on the planet, receiving around 400 inches of rain every year. But all that water makes the spectacular waterfalls such as Kepirohi and Liduduhniap incredibly impressive.
A visit to the enigmatic Nan Madol ruins, called by some the ‘Venice of the Pacific’, is a must. The ruins show how a complex and advanced city of man-made islands was built around channels filled by the oceans, a site that once housed an ancient civilization. To this day, no one knows exactly when or how it ended.
Back in the main town, stock up on local souvenir delicacies from stalls and stores including delicious flavored salts and coconut oil, used both in beauty treatments and cooking.
With world class family-friendly reefs and watersports, warm, welcoming people and a fascinating cultural history, the beautiful US territory of Guam is full of surprises for visitors.
Local indigenous Chamorran culture and history is brilliantly explained at the brand-new interactive Guam Museum, while the Pacific War Museum explains the island’s crucial role in the Second World War.
Once primed, don’t miss island sights including Two Lovers Point, a dramatic cliffside viewing spot overlooking the ocean. The Valley of the Latte has nothing to do with coffee but celebrates the unique indigenous architecture and way of life, combining river tours with walks amidst the stunning lush jungle scenery, while the south of the island is dotted with Spanish colonial-era churches and more.
...the US territory of Guam is full of surprises for visitors.
Beach clubs, boat tours and parasailing are all popular during the day, while Guam is also famous for its shopping, dining and entertainment, with countless malls, restaurants, bars and more. Don’t miss the island’s rightly-famous local barbecue to round off a visit in culinary style.
Inspired by this article and want to speak with an expert travel agent about how you can plan an unforgettable Pacific island voyage? Let one of Vacation’s on-call travel experts match you with an expert travel agent, who can customize the dream cruise itinerary that you deserve.