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The Best Diving & Snorkeling

All the islands have excellent scuba diving and snorkeling, and all but a few of the resorts either have their own dive operations or can make arrangements with a local company. Here are the best:

  • Fiji: With nutrient-rich waters welling up from the Tonga Trench offshore and being carried by strong currents funneling through narrow passages, Fiji is famous for some of the world's most colorful soft corals. This is especially true of the Somosomo Strait between Vanua Levu and Taveuni in northern Fiji, home of the Rainbow Reef and its Great White Wall. The Beqa Lagoon is also famous for having plentiful soft corals.

  • Rangiroa and Fakarava (French Polynesia): Like those surrounding most populated islands, some lagoons in French Polynesia have been relatively "fished out" over the years. That's not to say that diving in such places as Moorea and Bora Bora can't be world-class, but the best is at Rangiroa and Fakarava in the Tuamotu Archipelago. They are more famous for their sea life, including sharks, than colorful soft corals. Go to Rangiroa to see sharks; to Fakarava for more fish than you ever imagined existed.

  • Tonga: The north shore of the main island of Tongatapu fronts a huge lagoon, where the government has made national parks of the Hakaumama'o and Malinoa reefs. The best diving in Tonga is around Ha'apai and Vava'u.

The Best Sailing

One would think that the South Pacific is a yachting paradise, and it certainly gets more than its share of cruising boats on holiday from Australia and New Zealand or heading around the world (the region is on the safest circumnavigation route). However, the reefs in most places make sailing a precarious undertaking, so yachting is not that widespread. It has only recently gained a toehold in Fiji. There are only two places where you can charter a yacht and sail it yourself:

  • Raiatea (French Polynesia): Firms have charter fleets based in Raiatea in the Leeward Islands of French Polynesia. Raiatea shares a lagoon with Tahaa, a hilly island indented with long bays that shelter numerous anchorages. Boats can be sailed completely around Tahaa without leaving the lagoon, and Bora Bora and Huahine are just 32km (20 miles) away over blue water.

  • Vava'u (Tonga): The second most popular yachting spot, Vava'u is virtually serrated by such well-protected bays as the Port of Refuge. Chains of small islands trail off the south side of Vava'u like the tentacles of a jellyfish, creating large, quiet cruising grounds. Many anchorages are off deserted islands with their own beaches.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.