South Pacific

Herman Melville called the Pacific Ocean “the tide beating heart of earth”. Indeed many other artists and writers have been inspired by the sensuous beauty and romance of the destination.

Few places are as rewarding to visit as the South Pacific. The lifestyle everywhere is always relaxed and the diversity of cultures and landscapes is unmatched.

Once you arrive in Australia you'll discover that what you've heard is true. Australia is an amazing land, a land of extremes. It is the only country in the world that has a whole continent to itself, with the world's largest rock and longest reef. Australia's cities are cosmopolitan metropolises where you'll find five-star and small boutique hotels, great restaurants and internationally acclaimed arts centers. Its national parks, from the Blue Mountain forests with their koala bears to Kakadu's crocodile-filled rivers, are spectacular wilderness preserves. Its outback, setting for the country's favorite song, "Waltzing Matilda," is a terrain of harsh beauty where you'll see age-old Aborigine rock paintings and baby kookaburra birds. Its offshore islands along the Queensland coast are sun-splashed landfalls set in the middle of a marine wonderland. And through it all are the people, individuals every bit as interesting and unique as the land they inhabit.

Centuries ago the world knew "the Fejee Islands" only from the journals of explorers, traders and missionaries, who wrote mostly about the archipelago's fearsome cannibals; none of the great romantic writers who waxed rhapsodic about its South Sea neighbors showed up to chronicle Fiji's charms. But now more and more of the world's travelers are discovering what these early writers did not: Fiji is a place of incredible beauty. Today's visitors are finding that with 300 islands to visit and explore, Fiji literally has something for everyone.

New Zealand, with the largest Polynesian population of any nation in the world, is also an island country with a culture firmly attuned to its Pacific past. And, perhaps above all, New Zealand is a nation where everyone is tied to the land by a deep respect for how generous nature has been to them. New Zealanders know their land is among the most beautiful and varied the world can offer-and they're waiting to share it with all who journey to see it.

Tahiti. It is the most dreamt-of isle in the South Seas, one of the most romanticized spots on earth. Those who have visited it have called it heaven or, at least, Eden. First discovered by Europeans during the Age of Enlightenment, Tahiti became a place to escape the world. "All the time our visits to the islands have been more like dreams than realities," wrote Robert Louis Stevenson of his days in French Polynesia. Paul Gauguin, who sought out the islands to overcome the torment of his life in Europe, wrote in his journal that in French Polynesia "the reality of yesterday becomes a fable and one forgets it."