Savaii in Somoa.
Must-visit Pacific Islands: Savaii, Samoa
Welcome to South Pacific gem, Savaii in Somoa. Where is it and how to get there Savaii is located 13 kilometres from Samoa’s main island, Upola. Virgin Australia flies to Upola from $399 one way (virginaustralia.com.au) then take an hour ferry ride to Savaii.   Why you’ll love it Savaii is Samoa’s biggest island – it’s actually Polynesia’s third largest island – but is home to just 24% of Samoa’s population who reside in communal villages ruled by chiefs. There’s just one paved road that circumnavigates the island; the speed limit is set at 40 kilometres per hour because piglets, chickens, dogs, horses and children rule the roads.   On Sundays, everybody attends church and spends the remainder of the day taking part in family feasts. In the evenings conch shells are blown to indicate evening prayer (sa) and your voice must be lowered. But it’s one of the South Pacific’s most underrated island destinations.   Entirely circled by coral reef, tiny villages lie beside huge, blue lagoons. There’s a handful of beachside bures for visitors, although some high-end accommodation options have just opened. Tourism is low-key, although tourist attractions are plentiful. Savaii is the home of the largest continuous patch of rainforest in Polynesia where visitors are permitted to trek.   There are also mountains to climb, volcanic rims that drop down hundreds of metres and it is home to some of the Pacific’s most striking waterfalls. There are also many significant Polynesian archaeological sites.   You can’t miss A Sunday feast with a local family. Help prepare the feast before church, then attend church with local families to witness the sweetest voices in the Pacific before making your way home for an all-day feast.   When to go Cyclone season runs from December to March and is best avoided.   Stay at Stay in a luxurious beachside bungalow overlooking the lagoon with amazing sunsets at Le Lagoto. See lelagoto.ws   More info: samoa.travel; savaii.info
Mangaia, Cook Islands.
1. Must-visit Pacific Islands: Mangaia, Cook Islands
Welcome to Mangaia in the Cook Islands.
Isle of Pines, New Caledonia.
Pining for the Perfect Isle
Locals confidently claim that the Isle of Pines is ‘the perfect place’... so naturally IT must investigate. Words and photography by Zoë Morley.
The Naka, Phuket.
Phuket’s top 5 remote hotels
Beyond the tourist touts, sleazy bars and backpacker crowds, we reveal the peaceful and party-free parts of the island. JW Marriott Phuket Resort and Spa Where is it? North-west coast, adjacent to the Sirinath Marine National Park, 15 minutes by car from Phuket international airport.   Flanking tranquil Mai Khao Beach, the JW Marriott Phuket offers traditional Thai pavilions and terraces with wraparound balconies sprawled across a tropical oasis.   In 2011 Condé Nast Traveller readers voted it one of the top 20 resorts in Asia. Highly recommended is the award-winning Mandara Spa’s signature treatment, the Javanese Lulur ritual (a spice scrub, yoghurt-milk bath and floral oil massage).   There are 252 rooms and 13 suites; add six restaurants, including the theatrical Kabuki Japanese dining room, five ‘chill lounges’ plus three enormous pools to the mix, and there’s already enough to indulge guests for days.   But it’s the unique in-house activities, particularly for kids in the tricky ‘tweens’ that sets the resort apart from others: circus acrobat and trapeze instruction, traditional dancing, batik painting and Thai cooking classes to name a few. Details Rates start from $194 per night for a Deluxe Garden View room. 231 Moo 3, Mai Khao, Talang; jwmarriottphuketresort.com Renaissance Phuket Resort & Spa Where is it? The blissfully undeveloped north-west coast, 20 minutes by car from Phuket international airport.   The Renaissance Phuket Resort & Spa is nestled amongst vibrant gardens on the edge of a palm-fringed 17-kilometre stretch of sand. Its contemporary design is both minimal and luxurious, but in no sense precious. [caption id="attachment_3753" align="alignleft" width="1000"] Tranquil: Renaissance Phuket Resort & Spa.[/caption] The palate of blues and warm oranges complement the local woods, marble and glass used throughout the resort. Surrendering to relaxation, spa pampering and healthy eating is the resort’s mantra.   That’s easy in the Ocean Front Pool Villas. Under curved sea turtle carapace roofs are spacious dwellings with up-to-the-minute mod cons opening onto private sun decks with jet-enforced plunge pools.   With revived chakras, head barefoot to the sandy-floored poolside bar at sunset before dining aloft in the breezy Takieng restaurant to savour sour and salty Thai delicacies including Yum Pla Duk Foo (crispy sea bass with spicy green mango salad). Details Rates start from $153 per night for a Deluxe Guest Room through to $468 per night for an Ocean Front Pool Villa. 555, Moo 3, Mai Khao, Talang; renaissancephuket.com The Racha Where is it? On Racha Yai, a tiny island just off Phuket’s southern tip. It’s a 35-minute speedboat ride from Chalong Bay, which is a 50-minute drive from Phuket international airport.   The Racha is a boho-licious playground set on the shores of a pristine beach lapped by luminescent waters. The 85 white-washed low-rise villas have crisp contemporary furnishings and dark wood accents – and some have private plunge pools. [caption id="attachment_3752" align="alignleft" width="1000"] Lobby (and sea) view: The Racha, Phuket.[/caption] The vibe here is one of pared down eco-chic for those seeking a remote island paradise and outdoor adventure. There are ample facilities including tennis and basketball courts, a yoga studio, gymnasium and a dive centre offering explorations off the island’s coral reef fringe teeming with marine life.   Wind down in the Anumba Spa, immerse yourself in the beachside pool’s underwater music, and watch movies under the stars. This fantasy island sways to a tranquil beat. Details Rates start from $266 per night for a Deluxe Villa. 42/12-13 Moo 5, Rawai, Muang, Koh Racha Yai; theracha.com Cape Panwa Hotel Where is it? South-eastern tip of Phuket, approximately one hour by car from Phuket international airport.   Tucked away on a former coconut plantation, the all-white Cape Panwa Hotel exudes a colonial charm. Sea facing suites and pool villas are settled amongst nodding palms and verdant greenery along the silky soft sands of Cape Panwa Beach. The protected alcove is great for swimming, windsurfing, catamaraning and canoeing, whilst snorkelling and scuba diving expeditions are scheduled daily to the reefs off nearby Coral Island. [caption id="attachment_3754" align="alignleft" width="1000"] Island high: Cape Panwa Hotel, Phuket.[/caption] With 11 dining and drinking venues, two swimming pools, fitness centre, day spa, badminton, table tennis and more, there’s plenty to satisfy families.   Not to be missed is a beachfront Thai feast in the fairytale-like Sino-Portuguese mansion. Details Rates start from $120 per night for a Superior Room. 27, 27/2, Mu 8, Sakdidej Road, Cape Panwa; capepanwa.com The Naka Phuket Where is it? Central west coast, 40 minutes by car from Phuket international airport. [caption id="attachment_14472" align="alignleft" width="1500"] The Naka, Phuket.[/caption] The Naka Phuket is an exclusive hideout. Its ultra modern treetop villas with glass façades cantilever down a hillside providing endless panoramas of the Andaman Sea.   Discreetly integrated amongst lush vegetation, each is equipped with private pools and an outdoor bath and shower.   The resort’s calling card is the accessible private beach at its base, and the picture-postcard outlook is best experienced from the comfort of the rooftop spa or during sunset tipples in the Meka Sky Bar.   Though cocooned in a peaceful valley, The Naka is just twenty minutes by car to Phuket Town (if you can peel yourself away from the Olympic-sized infinity pool, and fresh market produce served in any three of the resort’s restaurants). Details Still in its ‘soft opening’ stage, the resort is scheduled to be completed by mid 2014.   The one-bedroom pool villas start from $955 per night (the two and three bedroom villas are not yet available). 1/18, 1/20 Moo 6 Kamala, Kathu; thenakaphuket.com

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