You won't be stuck eating island-style food cooked in an earth oven, for the islands have some restaurants of remarkably high caliber. Here are a few of my favorites.
- Nadina Authentic Fijian Restaurant (Nadi, Fiji): Most resorts serve native food on buffets at their island night feasts, but this little restaurant serves great Fijian fare all the time, including miti, the tender young shoots of the wood fern, served with coconut milk.
- Vilisite's Seafood Restaurant (The Coral Coast, Fiji): This seaside restaurant, owned and operated by a friendly Fijian woman named Vilisite, doesn't look like much from the outside, but it offers a handful of excellent seafood meals to augment a terrific view along Fiji's Coral Coast from the veranda.
- Old Mill Cottage (Suva, Fiji): Diplomats and government workers pack this old colonial cottage at breakfast and lunch for some of the region's least-expensive local fare. Offerings range from English-style roast chicken with mashed potatoes and peas to Fijian-style palusami (fresh fish wrapped in taro leaves and steamed in coconut milk).
- L'O a la Bouche (Papeete, Tahiti): The chefs at this sophisticated bistro in the heart of Papeete range far from traditional French fare to items from Spain, Italy, and other countries. They're also good at coming up with creative spins using local ingredients. It's one of the best restaurants in French Polynesia.
- Le Lotus (Papeete, Tahiti): The most romantic setting of any South Pacific restaurant is in this overwater dining room at the Tahiti Beachcomber InterContinental Resort. Even if the food weren't gourmet and the service weren't efficient and unobtrusive, the view of Moorea on a moonlit night makes an evening here special.
- Les Roulottes (Papeete, French Polynesia): The Papeete waterfront turns into a carnival when meal wagons set up shop after dark, offering chargrilled steaks with french fries and a variety of other inexpensive fare. Most other islands have them, too.
- Le Mayflower (Moorea, French Polynesia): You'll want to write home about the lobster ravioli in cream sauce at this moderately priced roadside restaurant, Moorea's best. It's excellent value in expensive French Polynesia.
- Bloody Mary's Restaurant & Bar (Bora Bora, French Polynesia): A fun evening at the South Pacific's most famous restaurant is a must when on Bora Bora. That's because Bloody's offers the most unique and charming dining experience in the islands. Come early for a drink at the friendly bar, and then pick your fresh seafood from atop a huge tray of ice. After eating heavy French fare elsewhere for a few days, the sauceless fish from the grill will seem downright refreshing.
- La Villa Mahana (Bora Bora, French Polynesia): Corsican chef Damien Rinaldi Devio also offers relief from traditional French sauces at his little restaurant, where he uses exotic spices to enliven fresh fish and beef dishes.
- Tamarind House Restaurant & Bar (Rarotonga, Cook Islands): Noted restaurateur and cookbook author Sue Carruthers brings the seasonings of her native Kenya to this charmer in a seaside colonial house.
- Sails at Mulinu'u (Apia, Samoa): Ian and Lyvia Black own one of the South Pacific's best casual restaurants beside Apia Harbour on the Mulinu'u Peninsula. Most likely your table will be under the stars.
- Seaview Restaurant (Nuku'alofa, Tonga): In a country where restaurants come and go, this Austrian-owned establishment, in an old waterfront home, has long provided Nuku'alofa's best cuisine. Tonga is the last island nation with a reliable supply of spiny tropical lobsters, so have one here.
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.