During our four months in the South Pacific, we completed some of the best hiking trails in the region. With dramatic coastlines, rugged interiors and challenging trails, the islands offer far more than sun, sea and sand. Here are five of the best hiking trails on offer.
1. Lavena Coastal Trail, Taveuni, Fiji
If you’ve made the effort to get to Taveuni off the main northern island of Vanua Levu, this hike should be on top of your list. The lush interior of the “Garden Island” makes it a perfect destination for day hikes and the coastal path provides fantastic panoramas of the island. The route crosses several dramatic waterfalls with icy cold pools ideal for cooling off in the humid heat.
2. Mt Matavanu Crater, Savai’i, Samoa
Samoa can get stiflingly hot and there’s no natural water available on the scorching hike to Matavanu’s peak so take plenty with you. It’s a six-hour round trip if you hike from the coastal road but the view of the wild overgrown crater – once the mouth of a devastating volcano – is worth the effort. Moreover, you’ll get to meet “Da Craterman”, the larger-than-life guardian of the crater – worth the trek alone!
3. Cross Island Walk, Rarotonga, Cook Islands
Rarotonga is mesmerising in its natural beauty and this route showcases the island at its best. Threading its way through the lush interior, the trail winds up to the rocky terrain of Te Rua Manga (the Needle) at 413m, offering stunning vistas of the island below. The path then twists its way down to the island’s south coast. Here, ultramarine waters await you – the perfect reward after a hot day of hiking.
4. Millennium Cave, Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu
This fun-filled active day out is more than just a hike. You’ll also spend your time splashing through icy cold waters underground, swinging through steep rocky canyons, floating down rivers and hiking muddy trails through remote villages. This is the only guided tour on the list, but provides opportunities to meet local villagers along the way, plus the cost of the tour supports local education programs. A great day out.
5. ‘Eua Island, Tonga
Tonga’s “forgotten island” is also its oldest island at 40 million years. More importantly, it is also one of its most beautiful. The island boasts a dramatic coastline with wild surf crashing against steep, rocky cliffs. There are hidden caves, sinkholes, staggering natural rock formations as well as a jungle-like rainforest to explore inland. There are several hikes to complete on ‘Eua, but our favourite took us along the southeast coast to the prehistoric rock gardens and a natural limestone bridge. Stop off at Ha’aluma Beach on the way back for a plunge in the lively breakers.