The stunning Cook Islands are a tropical paradise located deep in the South Pacific Ocean. The Cook Islands are self-governing and are in free association with New Zealand which lies to the southwest. Also nearby are French Polynesia (including the islands of Moorea and Bora Bora) and American Samoa. Within the Cook Islands are 15 major islands divided into two groups: the Northern Cook Islands and the Southern Cook Islands. The Northern Cook Islands consist of six coral atolls. The capital of the Cook Islands is the city of Avarua, on the most populous island Rarotonga. The island of Aitutaki is also a popular destination for tourists. Visitors to the Cook Islands can enjoy swimming in the crystal blue ocean waters, sunbathing on the spectacular white sand beaches, or snorkeling over the fertile reef. The Cook Islands are also popular for weddings and honeymoons.
The breathtaking paradise of the nearly 1000 islands that make up the sovereign state of the Solomon Islands is a haven for divers, snorkelers, and beach loungers alike. The Solomon Islands are located in the Oceania region of the Pacific Ocean, East of Papua New Guinea, and are home to just over half a million people. The ancient peoples of the Solomon Islands first arrived an estimated 32,000 years ago, and were known for headhunting and cannibalism before the arrival of Europeans in the late 1500s. Today, the Solomon Islands area has been rising in popularity as a destination for scuba divers, though the growth of tourism has been slowed due to lack of infrastructure and transportation difficulties. But for those who can get there, the Solomon Islands are an unmatched slice of heaven on Earth.
The stunning white sand beaches and beautiful mountains of Moorea amaze even the most seasoned traveler. A small tropical island in French Polynesia, Moorea is neighbor to the island of Tahiti, and the island of Bora Bora is also nearby. Romantic Moorea is a popular honeymoon destination, known for its exquisite scenery, excellent snorkeling and diving, and enchanting rain forests. Visitors can get to Moorea via a ferry that departs daily from Papeete, Tahiti. The island of Tahiti is home to Faa’a International Airport, the gateway to this region.
The sunny South shore of the island of Kauai (known as the “Garden Isle”) in the tropical state of Hawaii in the United States is home to Poipu Beach. Poipu Beach is consistently ranked as one of the world’s top 10 beaches due to its pristine white sands, swaying palm trees, and sparkling blue waters. The activities to be enjoyed in the area are seemingly endless and include kayaking, scuba diving, snorkeling, hiking, surfing, mountain biking, deep-sea fishing, horseback riding and ATV tours. There are also two 18-hole golf courses. The classic beach is popular for weddings and honeymoons. There is a large variety of accommodation in the area, including the exceptional Villas at Poipu Kai. The Villas at Poipu Kai is a new boutique condominium resort with 3-4 bedroom poolside villas, 2-4 bedroom garden villas, and a stunning private home on the villas property.
Officially a collectivity of France, the island of Bora Bora lies in the Leeward group of the Society Islands of French Polynesia. With its amazing reef, fantastic white sand beaches, and laid-back local population it is easy to see why Bora Bora is considered by many to be paradise on Earth. The island itself features an extinct volcano in the center and is surrounded by a lagoon and a barrier reef. Bora Bora is a tourist hot-spot and many resorts and over-the-water bungalows have been built on the island. The population of locals is just under 9,000 with Tahitian, French, and some English spoken. Visitors can enjoy world-class diving and snorkeling, as well as sunset catamaran cruises, fishing trips, and jet ski rentals.
Once a backpacker’s secret, Thailand’s Phi Phi islands exploded onto the tourist map after the release of The Beach, a movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio that was filmed on one of the islands. Ko Phi Phi Don and Ko Phi Phi Lee are located between the island of Phuket and mainland Thailand off the West coast of Thailand in the Andaman Sea. Ko Phi Phi Don is the larger of the two islands and is home to permanent residents and a myriad of accommodations for tourists. Ko Phi Phi Lee has spectacular white sand beaches and can be visited by boat only, with trips leaving from the larger island throughout the day. Visitors can enjoy diving, snorkeling and kayaking in the waters off both islands.
Nosy Iranja is a small tropical island located off the Northwestern coast of Madagascar, 45km (28 miles) South of Nosy Be, a slightly larger and more popular island. Nosy Iranja consists of two islands that are connected by a bank of white sand only visible at low tide, but can still be traversed at high tide. Nosy Iranja is emerging as a popular tourist destination in Madagascar due to the idyllic white sand beaches and the excellent diving and snorkeling that can be had there. Visitors also come for the interesting wildlife, including green and hawksbill sea turtles, large coconut crabs, and many varieties of bird life.