Yearning the ultimate relaxed, laid-back experience on an idyllic island?
The South Pacific is home to some of the world’s best off-the-beaten-track islands, perfect for folks seeking a serene escape amidst stunning landscapes!
Whether you want to get sun-tanned on palm-fringed sandy beaches, swim in turquoise waters, or simply satisfy your wanderlust in peaceful and picturesque locations, this article is for you!
There are a lot of little-known South Pacific islands to visit, true paradises with hardly any visitors. Like Nuku Hiva, Pukapuka, Tanna, Tsoilik, Penrhyn, Mounu Island, Maupiti, Waya, Espiritu Santo, Rangiroa, and many more. With a simple laid-back lifestyle, pristine nature, and welcoming locals, they offer a real break.
We have visited each island on this list (and many many more :-)) and they all are perfect places to get away from everything and reconnect with unspoiled nature and oneself.
So, throw away that stress and take a break from that hectic routine as we go explore the 10 best little-known South Pacific Islands to visit. It’s time to relax and rewind!
1. Nuku Hiva (French Polynesia)
This South Pacific utopia features a mystical allure, where you can expect to experience the spiritual force of Polynesian culture firsthand. You will barely see any inhabitants plus a very relaxed environment. Far away from any touristic hustle and bustle, it is clearly at the top of little-known South Pacific islands to visit.
The top activities in Nuku Hiva include hiking, sightseeing, fishing, shopping Marquesan crafts, and swimming. The mountains have incredibly bizarre shapes with great valleys, tropical forests, and waterfalls. Not to forget the stunning volcanic black sand beaches. Restaurant menus are dominated by seafood options, and places to eat such as Hee Tai and Snack Tuhiva serve delicious French Polynesian meals. Chez Yvonne is famous for grilled crayfish.
Plus, there are hotels, bungalows, and Airbnbs you can choose for your stay. As a cherry on the cake – price levels in Nuku Hiva are a lot more reasonable compared to others islands! Dig up your french, though, because most of the locals barely speak English.
However, to get there, you’ll need to fly into Tahiti first, followed by a 4-hour-long flight to Nuku Hiva. Be ready for some jet lag as you arrive, but don’t let it stop you from exploring the island’s untouched beauty!
2. Pukapuka (Cook Islands)
Pukapuka – also called the ‘Land of beautiful girls’ (quite literally) – is hands down one of the most remote places on earth. With just around 450 residents and largely unspoiled landscapes and culture, this island promises a secluded stay to its nearly zero visitors. Speaking of little-known South Pacific islands to visit, it deserves its place on this list.
During your stay, you can explore isolated coral atolls, swim in lagoons, do water-based activities, and hike the surrounding reef. As the only accommodation, the locals run a guesthouse on the main Motu Wale, and cater for you during your entire stay, because there are no shops around. The local cuisine is incredibly delicious with lots of fresh fish, vegetables, and fruits.
To get to Pukapuka, you can fly into Rarotonga and take an about 3 hours charter flight to this island. Round flights including also the two other large atolls of the northern Cook Islands archipelago, Manikihi and Penrhyn (see point 5), are usually available only once every 4-6 weeks. But you can also become adventurous and take a 3-day local ferry boat ride to this breathtaking island.
If you’d like to know all the details about the paradise called Pukapuka, have a look at our website and our Travel Guide about all 12 inhabited islands of the Cook Islands.
Let us also take you around visually in our video about Pukapuka.
3. Tanna (Vanuatu)
An exotic island of Vanuatu and one of the best South Pacific Islands to visit, Tanna is home to one of the world’s most accessible live volcanoes: Mount Yasur.
As such, one of the most mesmerizing activities you can do here is marvel at lumps of dry lava fly in the air above you. Additionally, you can swim to underwater caves, enjoy other water-based activities such as snorkeling and diving, and explore undiscovered waterfalls.
Also, many locals still live in tribes like a hundred years ago, and you can dive into cultural experiences that are very rare in today’s world.
Visit the village of Yakel to witness this.
There are many accommodation options catering to every budget, including luxury resorts, traditionally bungalows, and village stays in local communities. You’ll find lots of seafood options at its restaurants, and the price levels of Tanna are considered moderate (not too expensive, not too cheap).
The best way to get to Tanna is by taking a 45-minute flight from Port Vila (Vanuatu’s capital).
If you are fascinated by active volcanoes, take a look at our photography website with lots of pics of Tanna and its continuously active Mount Yasur.
4. Tsoilik, New Hanover (Papua New Guinea)
Tsoilik Island is one of the most secluded areas of Papua New Guinea sure to offer you the remote experience you’ve been looking for. It is featured by pristine lagoons, reefs, and little islands.
One of the best places to stay here is in the Tsoilik Lagoon Guesthouse. Its location at the tip of the island will give you panoramic views of the entire stunning landscape.
Here, you can go fishing, snorkeling, swimming, and learn traditional weaving and rowing in an outrigger canoe. Plus, you can explore villages and waterfalls. The price levels vary and can accommodate a range of budgets.
To get there, you can fly into Kavieng and then take a 3-hours boat ride to Tsoilik.
5. Penrhyn (Cook Islands)
The most remote island of the Cooks is Penrhyn and with 233 km2/ 145 mi2 one of the largest atolls of the area. It is featured by a lagoon surrounded by the glistening pearl shell.
Here, you’ll find many opportunities for fishing, exploring local craftsmanship, and swimming.
Spearfishing with the locals and snorkeling is thrilling because the atoll’s lagoon is very pristine and features vibrant marine life. Having the nickname “Shark Island”, Penrhyn is home to an incredible amount of sharks of many species, and marine biologists suspect that even unknown species can be found there. So – dive into it!
You can stay in awesome little guesthouses, where the locals take care of all your needs. Like on Pukapuka, there are no shops and vehicle rentals, so your host provides you with everything you are looking for. The food you’ll find will mainly come from the ocean, including Penryhn’s famous clams, plus lots of greens and coconuts.
This island is quite reasonable to visit (NZD 150/ day for the “all-inclusive” accommodation), and you can find a handful of tours and excursions to join for a couple of bugs only.
To get to Penrhyn, you can fly into Rarotonga and take an about 4 hours charter flight to this island. Round flights including also the two other large atolls of the northern Cook Islands archipelago, Manikihi and Pukapuka (see point 2), are usually available only once every 4-6 weeks. But you can also book yourself on an adventurous 3-day local ferry boat ride to this magic lagoon.
And then you are truly on the way to one of the most little-known South Pacific islands to visit.
6. Mounu Island, Vava’u Group (Tonga)
A 6.5-acre island situated in the archipelago of Vava’u, Mounu Island is one of the stunning yet little-known South Pacific Islands to visit, in the far north of the Kingdom of Tonga. It is operated as an eco-resort that constitutes several units plus a restaurant.
If you’re looking for silky white-sand beaches and clear waters full of jolly whales, this island is for you. Some activities you can enjoy are kite-surfing, fishing, diving, and snorkeling. Plus, you’ll find good food and exquisite wines.
However, the stunning location means it can get slightly pricey (USD 405 for a standard room). You can get here conveniently with a one-hour flight from Nuku’alofa, Tonga’s capital, up to the Vavau Group, and an additional 45-minutes fantastic boat ride from Neiafu harbor to the island.
7. Maupiti (French Polynesia)
Maupiti – a tiny, very ravishing island – is Bora Bora’s discreet little sibling. With endless sandy beaches, a glistening lagoon, roaring rocky peaks, and rich culture, this island is perfect for a relaxing stay in nature.
There are plenty of activities to do here – for example, kayaking, diving, and lagoon excursions. Although there are a few luxury vacation rentals, Maupiti is majorly featured by family-run pensions. Plus, restaurants mostly serve mouthwatering French Polynesian cuisine.
So, even you’re close to very well-known travel destinations like Bora-Bora and Tahiti, you find yourself far away from their hustle and bustle and at an awesome spot on the list of the little-known South Pacific islands to visit!
If you plan a solo trip to Maupiti for a week, you can expect to pay between USD1200 and USD3000, depending on the choices you make.
To get to this island, you can fly into Tahiti and then take a further 50-minute flight into Maupiti.
8. Waya Island (Fiji)
Waya Island is featured by hilly terrain, natural springs, coastal views with towering peaks, and magnificent panoramas.
Strolling around Likuliku Bay, exploring its four villages, swimming with manta rays, and scuba diving are some of the fun and unwind activities to do here. From one higher-end resort with traditional Fijian huts (bures) to more affordable apartments, there are a few options for accommodation. Plus, some Fijian boat cruises include visiting the beautiful Waya Island and the Yasawa Flyer, a local hop-on hop-off boat service that connects Waya daily with Denerau on the mainland Viti Levu.
If you’re a solo traveler planning a week-long stay, you can expect to pay around USD 2000 for your trip.
One convenient way to get there is by flying into Nadi Airport, Denarau Marina 20 minutes away, and then cruising 1-4 hours to Waya Islands, depending on the service you chose.
A stay on Waya takes you away from crowded Fijian tourist attractions and into unspoiled nature, with few (limited) visitors only. This is why it deserves to be on the list of little-known South Pacific islands to visit.
9. Espiritu Santo (Vanuatu)
Despite being the largest island in Vanuatu, Espiritu Santo is largely unexplored and unspoiled. Here, you’ll find the contrast between sea and desert, virgin beaches, rock formations, and blue holes, clear freshwater lakes in the middle of the rainforest.
During your stay, you can go hiking, snorkeling, swimming, and relax on the most pristine beaches. It’s an extraordinary paradise for divers because of its natural reefs, but also many sunk planes, boats, and military vehicles from WWII. Alternatively, there are options for tours and day trips to explore the land.
Although there are hotels and Airbnbs, you can stay in one of the island’s Glamping camps for a unique experience. Additionally, there are restaurants and cafes serving local cuisine. For a 7-day trip of a solo traveler, a budget of around USD 2200 would do.
Finally, to get to Espiritu Santo, you can take a 50-minutes flight or a boat ride (including pangas and yachts) from the state capital, Port Vila.
It is one of the stunning and little-known South Pacific islands to visit, that offers you a lot to relax and unwind.
10. Rangiroa (French Polynesia)
Last but not least on the map of little-known South Pacific islands to visit. The world’s second-largest atoll, Rangiroa’s loop of islands is surrounded by two types of ocean: Moana-tea and Moana-Uri. It is undeniably one of the best South Pacific Islands to visit!
During your stay, you visit the Pink Sand Beach, go diving in its lagoon, marvel at its biodiversity (including turtles, butterflyfish, and hammerhead sharks), and more!
For accommodation, you can choose from apartments, villas, luxury hotels, Airbnbs, and home rentals. Plus, you can eat at high-end restaurants or inexpensive snack bars. For an idea of price levels – $2500 would do for a solo 7-day trip.
The best way to enter Rangiroa is by flying from Tahiti, which will take around 55 minutes.
The Ultimate Secluded Experience Awaits You!
All 10 islands mentioned above are exceptional in their own ways and are definitely some of the best little-known South Pacific Islands to visit. No matter which one you opt for, you’re sure to have a great time rewinding and relaxing amidst breathtaking vistas.
What are you waiting for? Go snag that peaceful and serene experience!
You might be also interested in…
The Cook Islands in the heart of the South Pacific are one of the last untouched paradises on earth. Discover their 12 inhabited paradise islands for your once-in-a-lifetime experience.