Explore The Pacific - Pacific Destinations
Encompassing close to a third of the planet’s surface, the vast Pacific Ocean, divided into the North Pacific and South Pacific, stretches from Antarctica in the south to the Arctic in the north, with Australia, New Zealand and Asia to the west and North and South America to the east. Island countries located in this magnificent ocean are generally referred to as the Pacific Nations, or Pacific Island Nations. The largest of the landmasses lying entirely in the waters of the Pacific is the island of New Guinea, which also happens to be the world’s second largest island.
More than a thousand islands, including the Cook Islands, Samoa, Marquesas Islands, Society, Tokelau, Tuamotu, Tonga, Tuvalu and Wallis and Futuna islands fall into an area referred to as the great triangle of Polynesia - connecting New Zealand, Hawaii and Easter Island. These beautiful tropical islands are inhabited by the Polynesian people who are believed to have originated from sea-migrating Austronesian people and there are a number of theories as to why and how these friendly, easy-going people came to inhabit this area. While all the islands lie in crystal clear waters with diverse and abundant sea life, some islands have become popular tourist destinations. These include Nuku Hiva with its striking volcanic landscapes and spectacular waterfalls, Bora Bora with its tall cliffs and turquoise lagoon and Au Pou with its fascinating volcanic rock formations, to mention just a few.
To the west of the International Date Line and north of the equator, the Caroline Islands, Marshall Islands and Mariana Islands are included in the multitude of small islands making up Micronesia. The people who live on their paradise-like islands are all descended from the Micronesian culture which developed from a mixture of Filipinos, Polynesians and Melanesians. The southwestern area of the Pacific is home to the islands of Melanesia, with New Guinea being the largest. Other notable island groups within Melanesia include Fiji, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands and the Bismarck Archipelago.