nightlife south pacific islands

The South Pacific is a rather quiet holiday destination, known more for its romantic ambience than its clubs and cuisine. Despite this there are some destinations with a little more panache than others and some where you can get on down with the local scene.

One of the main drawbacks for those that like their food is a lack of choice in where to eat - when you're staying on a small island resort or a retreat tucked in a secluded bay backed by tropical rainforest, there's nowhere to dine except the resort restaurant and if you don't like the food then tough - you're stuck with it!

# 1 - New Caledonia

If anywhere in the Pacific could be labelled as suave, Noumea is it. With casinos, street dining and a succession of pretty harbours filled with multi-million dollar yachts, this Mediterranean influenced city is French after all.

# 2 - Cook Islands

If you like you're food sitting overlooking the beach and knowing the fish you're eating is fresh from the lagoon, head to the Cook Islands. Rarotonga is one of the few beach destinations where you can choose to dine out at an independent restaurants. It also has the best little town to enjoy an evening out with the locals - don't miss a Friday night out at the Banana Court in Avarua Town.

# 3 - Vanuatu

The Vanuatu kava (local grog) is the strongest in the South Pacific and is drunk from dingy kava bars not only in Port Vila but at village huts in rural areas - just turn up, pay a dollar for a coconut shell and get to know why the locals all have bleary blood-shot eyes.

# 4 - Tonga

Tonga is so laid back that almost everyone sleeps as the sun goes down - except when the yachties are in Neiafu Town (Vavau). The waterfront bars here are a hive of activity from May to October when skippers and their crew call in to port after months in isolation on the big blue ocean, determined to let their hair down. Don't miss the yachts though - its a virtual ghost town when they run from the cyclone season (Nov - April).

# 5 - Fiji

Being the population hub of the South Pacific, Suva has all sorts of bars and nightclubs from trendy to a downright seedy underground to explore if that's your inkling. Nadi too can be fun for tourists: Port Denarau has the South Pacific's only Hard Rock Cafe and some lively waterfront restaurants from Indian to local Fijian, Italian to a good old steak house.

# 6 - Samoa

Not much going on here apart from Apia Town which sports some great restaurants and bars as well as nightclubs where the local patrons get blind drunk! They also have some of the best fire-dancers with the performance at Aggie Grey's Hotel being particularly enchanting.

# 7 - French Polynesia

Apart from the flair of its French influenced cuisine, Papeete is a lively town with some famous nightclubs.