Most backpackers travel to the South Pacific in search of warm weather and a relaxing beach setting with the majority being European travellers on round the world excursions or taking a side-trip from Australia or New Zealand. Fiji is the most popular destination with a good number of flights transiting from USA to Australia / New Zealand. but other transit destinations across the Pacific include Cook islands, Samoa and Tonga.
# 1 - Fiji
Fiji is the backpacking centre for the South Pacific and offers an excellent network of locally run beach huts and a convenient hop-on / hop-off boat pass to visit the gorgeous islands of the Mamanuca and Yasawas. More adventurous backpackers looking to bypass this rather clichéd route of sun, sand and beer head to Levuka and the small islands offshore or to the larger islands of Taveuni or Kadavu with its dense rainforest, traditional villages and exceptional scuba diving and snorkelling reefs.
# 2 - Samoa
Samoa is regarded as the alternative destination for backpackers to the South Pacific, a little more remote and a bit more genuine than the well trodden islands of Fiji. Staying in a beach fale is the thing to do, cheap, convenient and romantic, with the best beaches being Lalomanu on Upolu Island and Manase on Savaii Island.
# 3 - Cook Islands
The Cook Islands makes a really convenient stop-over for backpackers - you literally get off the plane, and in ten minutes you can be relaxing on a lovely beach - it's also probably the safest destination in the world to visit for single women which make up a high percentage of the travellers staying in the beach hotels.
# 4 - Tonga
Tonga is more an adventurous destination and backpackers tend to head to the outlying islands of Haapai and Vavau to swim with humpback whales and get lost on an uninhabited island.
# 5 - Vanuatu
Vanuatu is great for its culture, for visiting kastom villages, as well as diving wrecks and hiking to an active volcano.
# 6 - New Caledonia
New Caledonia is a bit too expensive for backpackers, but there are a few affordable tribal huts to stay on in the beautiful Loyalty Islands, and you can camp or stay at a guesthouse on the Isle of Pines, both good for its beaches.
# 7 - French Polynesia
Like New Caledonia, Tahiti is an expensive destination to visit, even more so. There are campgrounds and hostels on Moorea and a couple of budget bungalows on Bora Bora or its little cousin, Maupiti, but save up before you visit and think about doing your own cooking to save money.