Turquoise waters, emerald palm trees, and impossibly-white beaches are all hallmarks of the South Pacific islands. As are the glamorous hotels and resorts found dotted amongst them, each one seemingly more enchanting than the last.
From luxe overwater villas in the shadow of an ancient volcano to beachfront burés where the toughest decision of the day is which champagne to enjoy over breakfast, there’s no shortage of luxury escapes in Fiji, Tahiti, Vanuatu and beyond.
But which are the best?
In no particular order, and by no means a definitive list, here are ten of the most indulgent luxury hotels and resorts in the South Pacific.
The best resorts in the South Pacific
Four Seasons Bora Bora, French Polynesia
Think luxury hotels in the South Pacific, think French Polynesia. And while there are countless five-star resorts scattered throughout, one name often stands out among the rest: Four Seasons Bora Bora. It lives up to the hype too.
Set in the shadow of Mount Otemanu, a volcanic peak towering above the forest of Bora Bora, Four Seasons is the quintessential overwater resort, one where all your cares drift away on a warm breeze the moment you arrive.
Unwind in an elegant thatched bungalow gazing out to clear waters, enjoy unobtrusive service and pampering spa treatments, feast on artfully-presented dishes at restaurants such as Arii Moana and Faré Beach bar, and so much more.
Kokomo Private Island, Fiji
A self-described six star hideaway, Kokomo Private Island is an all-inclusive paradise in the southern reaches of Fiji. A blend of classic Fijian and modern design, it’s all about barefoot indulgence, with a deep commitment to sustainability.
Each of its 21 romantic villas comes with its own walled gardens, private pool, and beach access. In addition are five expansive residences, perched on the hilltop and enjoying impressive views, plus a dedicated butler and nanny.
As is the case for island escapes, getting there is part of the fun. Yet this resort takes the experience a notch higher, with a dedicated hangar and lounge at Nadi Airport, followed by a private transfer by helicopter or de Havilland Twin Otter.
Pacific Resort Aitutaki, Cook Islands
A slice of heaven in the Cook Islands. On the western shore of a small-yet-beautiful atoll, Pacific Resort Aitutaki is home to just 29 villas and bungalows, each built and styled with Polynesian flair.
Home to just 27 villas and bungalows, it’s a place where you can wake up to the sea lapping on the shore, feast on panoramic views from Rapae Bay Restaurant, stop for a cocktail or three at Black Rock Bar, and then treat yourself at the Tiare day spa. And then do it all over again.
Beyond that, the crystal-clear waters of the Aitutaki Lagoon – brimming with a rainbow of marine life – and famous Cook Islands hospitality will leave an impression long after you leave.
COMO Laucala Island, Fiji
Set amid 3,500 acres near Taveuni, COMO Laucala Island is the quiet achiever of Fiji’s luxury resort scene. Despite being a celebrity magnet and winning numerous awards, it somehow continues to fly under the radar – and that’s exactly why it’s so special.
Enveloped by greenery, COMO boasts 25 luxurious residences, each with a private pool, sundeck and outdoor bath. Among its most noteworthy is the Uda Residence, perched on a cliff’s edge with access to a private cove.
Lazy rounds on the 18-hole championship golf course, horse rides through lapping waves on the beachfront, and hikes through the forest are just a handful of the experiences on offer.
The Havannah, Vanuatu
A long-time favourite for Australian travellers, Vanuatu is a haven of hidden beaches and cascading falls, laidback culture and spectacular diving opportunities. It’s home to some gorgeous hotels too. Chief among them is The Havannah.
Just 30 minutes from Vanuatu’s capital Port Vila, the couples only resort sports a mix of waterfront, lagoon pool and garden villas, all set amid lush plantings. Not only that, there’s a pampering spa and restaurant with 270-degree views of the harbour too.
Guests can spend their days by the pool, getting to know some of the friendly locals at villages supported by the resort, or exploring the world beneath the waves at some 17 nearby dive sites.
Nanuku Resort, Fiji
A two-hour scenic drive from Nadi will bring you to Nanuku Resort, a beachfront oasis amid 500 private acres at Pacific Harbour. Part of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World stable, the highly-acclaimed resort is stunning from every angle.
Among its offerings are 13 newly-unveiled one and two-bedroom villas, together with vast one to six-bedroom beachfront residences, and luxury suites. Cliffside feasts, private picnics on the beach, and a bespoke menu high in the treetops are just a few of its dining options.
For those looking to leave a lasting positive impact on Fiji, Nanuku offers the Batiwai Project, which encompasses a myriad of sustainable initiatives such as coral planting, reef conservation, mangrove tree planting and shore protection.
The Brando, French Polynesia
Set on the breathtakingly beautiful private island of Tetiaroa – an atoll comprising a dozen small islands surrounded by crystal waters just 30 miles northeast of Tahiti – The Brando is a luxurious five-star resort which opened to huge fanfare less than a decade ago.
As you probably guessed, the island and the resort have a connection with Marlon Brando. Once a holiday spot for Tahitian royalty, the atoll was purchased by the legendary actor and became his retreat from the hectic life of Hollywood for many years.
The resort features 35 gorgeous private villas, each adorned in an island-meets-70s-Hollywood style, plus a tranquil day spa and three fabulous restaurants. In other words, no ordinary resort.
Le Méridien Ile de Pins, New Caledonia
Less than three hours flight from Brisbane and Sydney, New Caledonia is widely hailed as one of the jewels of the South Pacific. Among its 140 emerald islands, Ile de Pins – known for its pencil-straight pines and crystalline waters – is arguably its most precious.
Hidden on the island’s pristine northeastern shore, Le Méridien Ile de Pins is an idyllic base to discover all it has to offer, combined with ample time lounging by the infinity pool of course.
Rooms are all tastefully furnished in light and bright style with a zesty Parisian twist. However, it’s the beach and bay front bungalows you’ll be wanting to check into. Mere steps from each leads you to the warm, clear waters of Oro Bay.
Vomo Island, Fiji
Just 15 minutes by seaplane or chopper from Nadi, Vomo Island is an architectural masterpiece surrounded by long sandy beaches, swaying palms and vibrant turquoise waters.
It’s consistently ranked among the best luxury hotels in Fiji.
Whether checking into a beachfront villa or private residence staffed by a private butler, the same care and attention to detail has been employed in its design. If we had to pick a favourite though, it would be The Palms four bedroom residence on Yasawa Beach.
Beyond the rooms guests will find The Reef and The Rocks restaurants, both overseen by Australian executive chef Iain Todd, with the latter catering exclusively to adults.
Motu Nao Nao, French Polynesia
Just 1.5km off Raiatea, also known as the sacred island, lies Motu Nao Nao – one of the newest and most enchanting luxury resorts in French Polynesia. Welcoming just six guests, it’s also one of the most exclusive.
With three luxurious two-person villas amid 74 lush acres, and with staff able to arrange bespoke experiences 24 hours a day, it offers barefoot castaway vibes with a liberal sprinkling of luxury (and no need for a companion named ‘Wilson’).
There’s no need to catch your own fish either, as the resort’s private chef is on hand to create bespoke menus from locally and ethically sourced ingredients. A farm on the island produces eggs, vegetables and spices, while fish are plucked straight from the lagoon.
Fiji: National carrier Fiji Airways flies to Nadi from Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, and Adelaide. Virgin Australia offers services from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, while Qantas also jets off from Sydney.
Cook Islands: Jetstar and Air New Zealand regularly jet off to Rarotonga from Auckland.
Tahiti: Air Tahiti Nui and Air New Zealand fly to Papeete from Auckland.
Vanuatu: Qantas and Air Vanuatu both service Vanuatu’s capital of Port Vila from Sydney.
New Caledonia: Air Calin and Qantas offer regular flights to Noumea from both Sydney and Brisbane.