Honeymoon Ideas & Answers
South Pacific 101
Continued (page 2 of 5)
What type of weather can we expect?
Joe: In both Australia and New Zealand, our summer is their winter. If you're considering honeymooning in southeastern Australia (Sydney, Melbourne, or Tasmania), you may want to think twice about visiting in the cooler, wetter months (June to August) when the nighttime mercury can dip below 50 degrees. On the other hand, austral winter is actually the best season to visit Australia's desert and tropical regions, like Ayers Rock (Uluru), Kakadu, and the Great Barrier Reef. The only part of New Zealand that stays warm year-round is the top tip of the North Island. Something else to throw into the mix: June to August is snow season in both countries, so you might consider a ski honeymoon in a world-class resort like Queenstown (New Zealand) or Thredbo (Australia).
The weather in the rest of the South Pacific? Hey, it's the Tropics! The forecast is pretty much warm and sunny. If you want to split hairs, Tahiti, Fiji, and the other island groups do have seasons: a rainy period from November to April and a dry period from May to October. It's a bit cooler during the rainy season (80s during the day, 70s after dark), with a chance of some afternoon showers.
Tahiti and Fiji seem a bit pricey for our budget. Is there a way to visit either for less than $5,000?
Joe: Several companies offer one-week South Pacific packages for prices that come well under $5,000 for two. These include round-trip airfare from a major U.S. city, interisland transportation, and accommodations at mid-level resorts. At press time, Islands in the Sun (888-828-6877; islandsinthesun.com) offered seven nights in Tahiti for $1,799 per person and six nights in Fiji for $3,875 for two. Pleasant Holidays (800-742-9244; pleasantholidays.com) had several six-night, two-island combos in Tahiti, and a selection of five-to-seven-night stays at various Fijian beach resorts, all for less than $1,800 per person. Another option: the Cook Islands, where Islands in the Sun offered a range of five-night escapes starting at $1,400 per person. Two additional travel companies with South Pacific packages that won't bust your budget: Liberty Travel (800-863-1569; libertytravel.com) and Brendan Worldwide Vacations (800-257/4260; brendanvacations.com).
What are our cruise options?
Jad: If you want casual camaraderie, hop aboard a playfully rowdy three- or four-day Blue Lagoon Cruise (818-424-7550; bluelagooncruises.com), which sails through Fiji's gorgeous Yasawa Islands. Enjoy village visits and beach volleyball (don't challenge the crew—you'll lose), but also intimate hammock time during a day on a private island. The small, sensible ships range from 21 to 36 staterooms. Quarters are a tad tight, but nothing beats happy hour on the top deck. At the opposite extreme is the sinfully luxurious Bora Bora Cruises (800-780-4014; boraboracruises.com), whose sleek twin yachts Tu Moana and Tia Moana run weekly cruises in the calm waters around Tahiti's leeward islands: Bora Bora, Taha'a, Raiatea, and Huahine. The 35 spacious staterooms have picture windows, not portals, and each morning you'll enjoy made-to-order breakfasts instead of continental buffets. Cruise aficionados adore the 320-passenger Paul Gauguin, Radisson Seven Seas' floating Tahitian resort (877-505-5370; rssc.com). All the staterooms have ocean views and half have balconies. You can try thalassotherapy at the Carita spa, sip cognac at La Palette, and play roulette at Le Casino. But do remember to disembark now and then—the islands are pretty spectacular, too. The region's largest ship, the 750-passenger Tahitian Princess (800-PRINCESS; princess.com), goes farther afield with ten-day itineraries to Tahiti's Society Islands and the nearby Cook Islands. For born-in-the-wrong-century couples, the working freighter Aranui 3 (800-972-7268; aranui.com) delivers the adventure of a lifetime: two weeks cruising through the wild Marquesas. Standard cabins are tiny (choose a deluxe cabin or suite for a queen-sized bed) and the food is buffet-style, but you'll be the hit of cocktail parties back home with your lusty tales of the last unspoiled islands in the South Pacific (and maybe a tattoo or two).