Don't come to the South Pacific islands expecting opera and ballet, or Las Vegas-style floor shows, either. Other than pub-crawling to bars and nightclubs with music for dancing, evening entertainment here consists primarily of island nights, which invariably feature feasts of island foods followed by traditional dancing.
In the cases of French Polynesia and the Cook Islands, of course, the hip-swinging traditional dances are world famous. They are not as lewd and lascivious today as they were in the days before the missionaries arrived, but they still have plenty of suggestive movements to the primordial beat of drums. By contrast, dancing in Fiji, Tonga, and the Samoas is much more reserved, with graceful movements, terrific harmony, and occasional action in a war or fire dance.
Weekend Pub-Crawling -- Fundamentalist Christians may own Sundays in the islands, but Friday and Saturday nights definitely belong to the sinners. That's because bar-hopping -- or pub-crawling as it's known here -- is the thing to do after dark on weekends. Every island has its favorite bars, which are packed until the wee hours on Friday night, until midnight on Saturday. There's a dark side, however, for fights can break out, and drunken driving is a problem on those nights.
- French Polynesia: Hotels are the places to see Tahitian dancing. The resorts rely on village groups to perform a few times a week. The very best shows are during the annual Heiva i Tahiti festival in July; the winners then tour the other islands in August for minifestivals at the resorts.
- The Cook Islands: Although the Tahitians are more famous for their dancing than the Cook Islanders, many of their original movements were quashed by the missionaries in the early 19th century. By the time the French took over in 1841 and allowed dancing again, the Tahitians had forgotten many of the old movements. They turned to the Cook Islands, where dancing was -- and still is -- the thing to do when the sun goes down. There's an island night show every evening except Sunday on Rarotonga. The best troupes usually perform at the Edgewater Resort and the Rarotongan Beach Resort.
- Samoa: Among the great shows in the South Pacific are fiafia nights in the main building at Aggie Grey's Hotel & Bungalows in Apia. The show culminates in a fire dance around the adjacent pool.
- Tonga: The shows at the Tongan National Cultural Centre are unique, with expert commentary before each dance, explaining its movements and their meanings. That's a big help, since all songs throughout the South Pacific are in the native languages.
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.