Swaying palms, white sand beaches and clear blue waters are just the beginning. The allure of the South Pacific goes far beyond the aesthetics. Remember that saying about how true beauty comes from within? A holiday to the South Pacific proves this time and time again. The locals are some of the warmest, friendliest and welcoming people you'll ever meet. So don't miss your chance to glimpse South Pacific islander culture in all its colour and glory. These entertaining, insightful and heart-warming cultural experiences are some of the best on offer in the South Pacific.
Cook Islands – explore Te Vara Nui Village
Rarotonga’s newest cultural attraction, Te Vara Nui Village is home to the biggest overwater night show on the Cook Islands. Sit back and enjoy a fascinating fusion of music and dance performed by flaming torchlight on the water and amongst the lush waterfall garden surrounds as you tuck into a traditional dinner. During the day, watch local artisans make traditional medicines, crafts and dance costumes, marvel at ancestral fishing and navigational techniques, and learn about the ancient legends and beliefs of these spectacular islands.
Fiji – take part in a Kava Ceremony
Just as tea is quintessential to Japanese culture, kava is iconic to the Fijian way of life – made from mixing the powdered root of the pepper plant with water. The national drink, kava plays a central role in important ceremonies, social events and everyday life, and while it’s easy to find in most open-air markets around Fiji, there’s no better way to try it than to take part in a traditional kava ceremony. Sitting in a circle on the floor, you’ll get to watch the fascinating process of pounding and mixing the kava and the clapping and drinking ritual before doing it yourself. You’ll quickly find it may not taste too fabulous, but that it’s mildly narcotic, relaxing and results in a numb feeling around the mouth, lips and tongue.
Vanuatu – enjoy a Tafutuna Cultural Experience
Get off the beaten track in Vanuatu to experience a rare slice of local culture all the way from Futuna Island, the most easterly island in the volcanic archipelago. You don’t have to go that far though. On Tanna Island, the Tafutuna Cultural Experience brings the magic to you – in a beautiful clearing in the middle of the lush forest. Learn traditional weaving and cooking techniques, hear the stories passed down over generations, step inside handmade huts and catch a spectacular dance and music performance by the Tafutuna warriors. If you opt for the night show, there are a few extra surprises, including fire-walking and a delicious traditional dinner.
Tahiti – visit in time for Heiva Tahiti
Immerse yourself in a world of pure Polynesian culture at Heiva Tahiti, a festival that continues the centuries-old tradition of gathering to dance, sing, play sports and partake in customary festivities. Spanning two colourful and fun-filled months in the peak of the Tahitian summer, you could find yourself admiring the unique sounds of an orchestra made up of traditional instruments or cheering on a fruit-carrying competition. From stone-lifting competitions and outrigger canoe races to dramatic dances and Tahiti’s own version of the capella, there’s no better time to visit Tahiti.
Samoa – browse the Apia Markets
Markets provide fascinating insight into local culture, and in Samoa, that has never been more true than when you enter the Apia Markets. Essentially open 24 hours a day – though admittedly quite sleepy at times and never truly ‘bustling’ – a wander through the stalls reveals a fascinating display of market goods. Only a few stalls target the typical tourist, spruiking some colourful sarongs, jewellery and beautiful woven goods. Once you’ve picked up a souvenir, the rest is all typical Samoan essentials: exotic tropical fruits and vegetables, cooking essentials and all kinds of fresh fish, as well as hand-crafted wood carvings and beautiful kava bowls. The food court also dishes up delicious coconut buns and deep-fried pancakes filled with banana or pineapple.