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Many South Pacific islands are developing rapidly, with modern, fast-paced cities replacing sleepy backwater ports, such as those at Papeete in French Polynesia and Suva in Fiji. However, there are still many remnants of the old South Sea days of coconut planters, beach bums, and missionaries.

  • Levuka (Ovalau Island, Fiji): No other town has remained the same after a century as has Levuka, Fiji's first European-style town and its original colonial capital in the 1870s. Levuka looks very much as it did when the government moved to Suva in 1882, with a row of clapboard general stores along picturesque Beach Street.

  • Taveuni Island (Northern Fiji): Like Savai'i, Fiji's third-largest and lushest island has changed little since Europeans started coconut plantations in the 1860s. With the largest remaining population of indigenous plants and animals in the South Pacific, Taveuni is a nature lover's delight.

  • Huahine (French Polynesia): Of the French Polynesian islands frequented by visitors, Huahine has been the least affected by tourism, and its residents are still likely to give you an unprompted Tahitian greeting, "Ia orana!" As on Aitutaki, agriculture is still king on Huahine, which makes it the "Island of Fruits." There are ancient marae (temples) to visit, and the only town, tiny Fare, is little more than a collection of Chinese shops fronting the island's wharf, which comes to life when ships pull in.

  • Aitutaki (Cook Islands): Although it is now one of the hottest destinations in the South Pacific, the little island of Aitutaki is still very much old Polynesia, with most of its residents farming and fishing for a living. The crystal-clear lagoon is something to behold.

  • Apia (Samoa): Despite a sea wall along what used to be a beach and two high-rises sitting on reclaimed land, a number of clapboard buildings and 19th-century churches make Apia look much as it did when Robert Louis Stevenson settled here in 1889.

  • Savai'i (Samoa): One of the largest of all Polynesian islands, this great volcanic shield also is one of the least populated, with the oval-shaped houses of traditional villages sitting beside freshwater bathing pools fed by underground springs.

  • Neiafu (Vava'u, Tonga): Although Nuku'alofa, the capital on the main island of Tongatapu, gets most of the ink about Tonga, the little village of Neiafu, on the sailor's paradise of Vava'u, has remained untouched by development. Built by convicted adulteresses, the Road of the Doves still winds above the dramatic Port of Refuge, just as it did in 1875.

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.