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Most travelers, who plan their dream vacations, have fantasies that conjure up images of white sandy beaches in Tahiti and exotic lagoons in Fiji. The South Pacific Ocean is a haven to some of the most picturesque and romantic islands in the world, but beyond the gentle shores of the well-known paradise locations are dozens of tiny island nations who offer warm Pacific hospitality and a more intimate vacation option. As an added bonus, prices can often be lower as well. So while places like Kiribati, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Tonga, Cook Islands, Rarotonga, Vanuatu and New Caledonia may not exactly be household names, palm trees, crystal clear turquoise water and an idyllic lifestyle await you.

Air Pacific (www.airpacificusa.com) is the carrier that can get you started on your journey to the South Pacific and their airfares and specials are extremely attractive. They are currently offering the following round-trip airfares (taxes are additional) via Fiji:

  • Los Angeles to Honiara in the Solomon Islands: $1,245
  • Honolulu to Tongatapu in Tonga: $1,017
  • Honolulu to Apia in West Samoa: $1,117
  • Honolulu to Port Vila, Vanuatu: $1,067
  • Los Angeles to Tongatapu, Tonga: $995
  • Los Angeles to Apia, West Samoa: $1,095

All these prices are valid for travel from now until March 31, 2007.

If you are planning to travel in and amongst several South Pacific island groups, you may want to consider investing in a South Pacific Air Pass, which is on offer from several airlines that service the region including Air Calin New Caledonia (www.aircalin.nc), Polynesian Airlines -- Samoa (www.polynesianairlines.com), Air New Zealand (www.airnewzealand.com) and Solomon Airlines (www.solomonairlines.com.au). See the individual airlines' websites for further details and pricing options (unfortunately Polynesian Airlines' website is currently under reconstruction).

Examples on Solomon Airlines "Visit South Pacific Pass" valid until March 2007 include:

  • Nauru to Honiara, Marshall Islands or Kiribati: $220
  • Marshall Islands to Kiribati: $220
  • Nadi to Apia Samoa or Port Vila: $220
  • Noumea to Port Vila: $220
  • Nadi to Noumea: $250
  • Honiara to Port Vila: $270
  • Nadi to Honiara, Rarotonga, or Kiribati: $270
  • Port Moresby to Honiara: $270

These passes must be purchased before arrival in the South Pacific and a minimum of two sectors need to be purchased. Children pay 75 percent of the adult fare and infants pay 10 percent.

Air New Zealand (www.airnewzealand.com) has a vacation package that takes you to two of the most beautiful of the Cook Islands. Their Cook Islands Pacific Resorts package includes round-trip airfare from Los Angeles, all taxes, round-trip transfers from airport to hotel, inter-island airfare on Air Rarotonga, four nights' accommodations in a one-bedroom garden room at the Pacific Resort Rarotonga with tropical breakfast three nights in a Beachfront Bungalow at the Pacific Resort Aitutaki with full American breakfast daily and late check out. This luxurious Pacific package is priced from $2,664 per person for travel between October 1 and November 21, 2006. Travel from June 22 to August 22 is priced from $2,905. Discounted airfares on Air New Zealand to South Pacific destinations include:

  • Los Angeles to Cook Islands from $912 for travel from September 6 to November 21, 2006 and March 28 to 31, 2007.
  • Los Angeles to Samoa or Tonga from $1,036 for travel from September 16 to November 26, 2006 06 and January 16 to March 31, 2007.

Prices include fuel surcharges but exclude taxes and fees.Pacific For Less (tel. 800/915-2776; www.pacific-for-less.com) has a Cook Island Explorer package priced from $1,388 per person. It includes round-trip airfare from Los Angeles on Air New Zealand, airport hotel transfers, five nights' accommodations at the Edgewater Resort in Rarotonga in a garden room, tropical breakfast daily, all hotel taxes and US security taxes.

South Seas Adventures (tel. 800/576-7327; www.south-seas-adventures.com) has the following South Pacific specials:

  • In Apia, Samoa - Aggie Grey's Lagoon Beach Resort and Spa -- six nights in an ocean view room, with round-trip airfare from Los Angeles, full breakfast, massages, and complimentary water sports from $2,117 per person. Valid until August 31, 2006
  • In Cook Islands, Aitutaki Lagoon Resort and Spa with seven nights in a garden Bungalow plus air from Los Angeles from $2,280.
  • Edgewater Resort (Cook Islands) Honeymoon package with round trip airfare from Los Angeles, seven nights'accommodations in a garden room and breakfast daily priced from $1,540
  • Rarotonga Beach Bungalows (Cook Islands), seven nights' accommodations, breakfast daily, kayaking and snorkeling priced from $1540

All these specials are valid fro travel until March 31, 2007.

Journey Pacific (800/704-7094; www.journeypacific.com) offers paradise packages in Vanuatu. Each package includes round-trip economy airfare from Los Angeles, meet and greet with flower Lei, round-trip transfers from airport to the resort, seven nights' accommodations (generally in a garden deluxe room) and full buffet breakfast daily:

  • Le Lagon Resort from $1,549
  • Le Meridien Port Villa from $1,649
  • Iririki Island Resort from $1,649
  • Hideaway Island Resort and Marine Sanctuary from $1,499 (Cultural Walk & kava tasting in Mele Village, a glass bottom boat ride, use of snorkel gear, kayaks, paddle boat and Maricat sailboat and a snorkel safari to Coral Gardens)
  • Breaka's Beach Resort from $1,599 (no breakfast)

South Pacific Direct (www.southpacificdirect.com) offers a selection of land-only seven night accommodation and transfer packages in Tonga, Samoa and Cook Islands.

In Tonga:

  • Royal Sunset Island Resort (Tongatapu) is priced from $389
  • Fafa Island Resort(Tongatapu) from $544 (add $50 will all meals)
  • Sandy Beach Resort (Ha'apa) from $394
  • Tongan Beach Resort (Vava'u) from $384
  • Mounu Island Resort ( Vava'u) from $574 (add $43 will all meals)
  • Blue Lagoon Island (Vava'u ) from $624 (including all meals)

In Samoa -- one night in Apia at Kitano Tusitala Hotel and six nights at:

  • Siufaga Beach Resort (Savaii) from $454
  • Le Lagoto Beach Resort(Savaii) from $459 (including breakfast)
  • A beach villa at Stevenson's at Manase (Savaii) from $ 579 (including breakfast)
  • Four-star Sinalei Reef Resort (Upolu) from $649 (including breakfast)

These packages are also available with ferry tickets and car rental.

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