The islands of Tahiti, Fiji, Tonga, the Cook Islands and more make for an endless swath of South Pacific tropical paradise. The people of this part of the world are among the friendliest, the waters are crystalline and the recreational possibilities are numerous; this part of the world is also immensely popular with honeymooners. Between now and just before Christmas, prices are reliably low, with incentives galore; they drop down again after the New Year. We've rounded up some of the best.
The Tahiti Tourism Board site (tel. 310/414-8484; www.tahiti-tourisme.com) geared toward travelers from North America, is quick to point out to the uninitiated that the tropical island is less than an eight-hour flight from Los Angeles. To boot, there are a handful of vacation deals listed being offered by third-party agencies, including a "Heiva Getaway" offered by Tahiti Vacations, with six days and five nights from $1,149. The deal includes roundtrip airfare from Los Angles, five nights at the Sheraton Hotel Tahiti with a garden, lagoon-view room, five minutes from the airport and a few minutes from Papeete. The hotel has a swimming pool, Jacuzzi, gym, spa and restaurant with water views. The rate is good for travel November 1 -- December 15.
Air Tahiti Nui (tel. 877/824-4846; www.airtahitinui-usa.com) recently opened up a new route with nonstop service to the South Pacific from New York City -- bypassing the West Coast entirely. Those without much time to spare might like that Air Tahiti Nui recently introduced its "Happy Hour In New York, Nightcap in Tahiti" incentive. The airfare, from $379 one-way from JFK, is based on a roundtrip fare purchase of $648 pus $110 fuel surcharge. The sale is on until October 10, and it's valid for travel between October 27 and December 12, 2005, and January 10 through March 31, 2006. You must stay a minimum of three days and no more than twelve in Tahiti. York on a Thursday, fly to Papeete and return on a Sunday with a maximum stay of four days permitted. Unfortunately, the cancellation fee of 50 percent applies after the ticket is issued; there's a change fee of $200 and you must buy the ticket within 24 hours of making a reservation.
The other good thing about Air Tahiti's site is that it lists dozens of specials offered by travel partners (a la the Tahiti tourism site) and allows you to search by departures that also include Canada and Mexico.
The California-based operator Newmans Vacations goes to Tahiti, Fiji and other Pacific Islands (tel. 800/342-1956; www.newmansvacations.com). They're running a "Passport to Tahiti" trip from Los Angeles to Papeete on Air Tahiti Nui for six nights, at the Moorea Pearl Resort with a garden room or a bungalow. All inter-island flights and transfers are covered. Travel from November 1-December 15 is $1549 for double occupancy garden room; travel up to October 31 is $1649 for same accommodation choice. For weekend travel (Friday-Sunday), tack on another $45 each way.
Go-Today (tel. 800/227-3235; www.go-today.com) is offering a "Seven Nights Raratonga Special," located in the Cook Islands northeast off the coast of New Zealand. The air inclusive deal starts from $1119 for travel up to November 21; purchase deadline is October 27. The accommodations at this price are Spartan -- at Backpackers International, a hostel -- but for just $1389, you can upgrade to Club Raro, which has a pool, restaurant, and air-conditioned rooms. Some rooms have water views and others are poolside, so be sure to ask when you book. The rate is based on Los Angeles departures, but other cities are available for additional fee, such as Tucson ($135), Seattle ($305), Chicago, Newark or Washington Dulles ($440). Travel after this date range, from November 22-December 12, starts at $1,419.
Unsurprisingly, Go-Today is offering a "Fiji Honeymoon Special," starting at $1229 for five nights, including airfare based on Los Angeles departures. The rates are good through November 21, but the purchase deadline is October 27. Roundtrip airfare to Nadi, hotel transfers, unlimited local beer, wine, and spirits are included, as are a fruit basket and activities such as a fire walking show, and rentals for snorkeling, kayaking and canoeing. For this package, Go Today also guarantees an early check in and late check out, a bottle of champagne on arrival and daily breakfast.
Fiji is about 10 hours from Los Angeles, via Air Pacific (tel. 800/227-4446; www.airpacificusa.com/alldeals). Currently, they're running a $995 roundtrip special fare from Los Angeles for travel until December 4; after that the fare jumps to $1,255 until February 22, 2006. They're also running fare sales from Honolulu to different islands including Solomon Islands and Vanuatu (The latter was the locale of the ninth Survivor season).
Pleasant Holidays (tel. 800/742-9244; www.pleasantholidays.com), whose stock in trade is resort and beach-oriented the "Moorea Super Saver," from $1,176 to Club Bali Hai. The island is part of French Polynesia and the resort boasts views of Cook's Bay and the Moua Roa mountain range. The deal includes roundtrip airfare from Los Angeles, five nights with the sixth night free, hotel accommodations. It's good for travel November 1-December 15; hotel transfers are included.
Finally, locations such as Samoa and Tonga have tourism promotion machines, but they're not nearly as omnipresent as those for Fiji and Tahiti. A good place to start is South Pacific Tourism Organization (www.spto.org), which features brief descriptions of resorts and their contact information. We encountered a listing for the legendary and Aggie Grey's Hotel and Bungalows and the newer Aggie Grey's Lagoon, Beach Resort and Spa (www.aggiegreys.com), located in Apia, Samoa, part of the Polynesian Islands. The older part of the resort (the one with the bungalows), built in 1933 and beloved by writer James Michener, has some a special that's designed for New Zealand and Australian citizens, but only if you book with a travel agent. Their stay-pay offers -- stay seven nights and pay for five or stay for ten nights and pay only seven, are good through March 31, 2006, and only on garden poolside rooms. Rates vary depending on time of travel. For those with impending nuptials, Aggie's also offers wedding packages through their website.
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