South Pacific beaches are often touted as the most idyllic in the world with swaying palm trees, turquoise lagoons and deserted stretches of sand where your are the only footprints to be seen. In all South Pacific destinations you'll easily find such an idyllic beach, but they're not to be found everywhere. In fact, some islands don't have beaches at all - on others they sport black sand. Some are great fro swimming, whilst others, with exposed coral heads and passages with rips, are extremely dangerous. You don't need to worry about sharks: the reef sharks that cruise the lagoons are generally harmless; but a simple coral cut can easily get infected and spoil your holiday.
The following destinations are are favourite places for a good, fun and safe beach holiday, either with the family or just you and your loved one. If you're looking for a lively tropical beach scene though, stick to Asia or Hawaii - the rowdiest it gets here is tiny Beachcomber Island in Fiji and that is, by all accounts, very tame; the busiest is Anse Vata Beach in Noumea and much of the time this pretty beach is almost empty of people.
# 1 - Fiji
Fiji has many, many lovely beaches. The popular island beach resorts of the Mamanucas all have safe swimming lagoons, with Mana Island having particularly beautiful long sweeping beaches fopr exploring. The more remote Yasawa Islands are littered with stunning remote beaches with soft white sand and exceptional snorkelling reefs just metres from the shoreline. There's also some reasonable body-surfing beaches and secluded coves with deep sand and backed by ancient tropical rainforest just like the ones you imagine from the Robinson Crusoe tale. Beaches on the main island of Viti Levu are disappointing by such high standards, most with coarse sand and with lagoons too shallow for snorkelling or swimming.
# 2 - New Caledonia
New Caledonia has absolutely stunning white sand beaches in the Loyalty Islands plus two rather special beaches to visit: the River of Sands in the Isle of Pines is a unusual islet which makes for great walking and kayaking; Anse Vata beach in Noumea has great windsurfing, a lively promenade and decent night scene.
# 3 - Cook Islands
Apart from the serene and safe beaches on Rarotonga interspersed with holiday bungalows, the Cook Islands has some breathtaking archetypal South Pacific beaches on Aitutaki Lagoon which tempt you from the holiday brochures and postcards they are commonly broadcast from.
# 4 - Tonga
If you're looking for an uninhabited coral island with deserted beaches, then head to Tonga. Both Tongatapu Lagoon and the Haapai Group have dozens of such tranquil islands, whilst several in the Vavau Group have small resorts from which to enjoy them.
# 5 - Samoa
Samoa has a couple of beach resort areas in Lalomanu (on Upolu) and Manase (on Savaii). Apart from these pretty settings, there is a fantastic walk along the south-west coast of Upolu around Salamumu which takes you from one secluded beach to another for about ten kilometres. If you want to see a black sand beach, try Nu'u on Savaii or Aganoa on Upolu.
# 6 - French Polynesia
Tahiti also has some interesting black sand beaches with tremendous surf. The beaches on Moorea are pretty ordinary, and even on Bora the sands are not nearly as impressive as the majestic scenery and the overwater bungalows sitting on turquoise lagoons.
# 7 - Vanuatu
Known more for its adventure and scuba diving, Vanuatu is not really a beach holiday destination. The popular islands to visit of Tanna and Espiritu Santo as well as Port Vila where the main resorts are have few nice beaches - the best known is Champagne Beach on Espiritu Santo whilst there are a couple of nice stretches of sand around the south coast of Efate.