Planning A South Pacific Island-Hopping Adventure

Yesterday I wrote about a trip I’m planning in order to review Malaysia Airlines A350 first class, Korean Air 787-9 first class, Singapore Airlines 787-10 business class, and more.

As I explained in that post, the reason I share my planning process is partly because you guys provide great tips that help me tweak trips and make them even better (you guys had some excellent ideas, and I’ve already modified my plan), and partly because I hope it inspires some of you to consider certain award redemptions.

At the moment I’m in the planning stages of a second review trip that I wanted to share the details of. In this case I’m in the much earlier stages of the planning process, and at this point I’m more fascinated by the possibilities than anything else, but don’t yet have a cohesive plan. Actually, I feel like I’m going deep down a rabbit hole here, because the more I look into this, the more I realize just how many options there are.

Aircalin & Air Niugini 

There are a bunch of small airlines based in the Pacific that fascinate the heck out of me. Let’s not get too technical here in terms of geography, but in general I’m referring to the smaller islands that are somewhere between Hawaii and Australia (there are some exceptions, like Papua New Guinea).

When you think about that area, the two biggest airlines that probably come to mind are Air Tahiti Nui and Fiji Airways. I’ve reviewed Air Tahiti Nui’s A340 business class, and have already booked a flight in their 787-9 business class, which will debut later this year. I’ve also reviewed Fiji Airways’ A330 business class between Los Angeles and Nadi.

Now my fascination is with the other airlines in the region. There are two that I’m most interested in — Aircalin and Air Niugini. This might sound crazy, but probably the single most requested product review I get (of airlines I haven’t flown) is for Air Niugini business class. Their business class looks similar to MIAT Mongolian’s, as it’s in a 2-1-2 configuration.

I wrote about my interest in Aircalin back in 2016. They’re based in New Caledonia and have two A330s in their fleet. Their longest route is to Tokyo Narita, though they also fly to Australia.


Image courtesy of lasta29

Aircalin is an Air France-KLM FlyingBlue airline partner, so you can easily redeem FlyingBlue miles for their flights. A one-way ticket between Tokyo and New Caledonia costs 75,000 FlyingBlue miles, which isn’t too terrible since there’s a 25% transfer bonus from Amex right now. While not what I’m planning on doing, note that the airline also flies to Tahiti, so you could fly them from Tahiti to Noumea to Tokyo.

Air Niugini is probably even more fascinating. They’re based in Papa New Guinea, and have two 767s in their fleet, which they fly to Hong Kong and Tokyo, among other destinations. They’re also partners with Qantas Frequent Flyer (as James wrote about yesterday), so you can redeem Qantas points for these flights, and business class availability is quite good. A one-way business class ticket between Port Moresby and Tokyo will cost you 53,000 points, for example.


Image courtesy of Montague Smith

How do you connect those two, though?

The cool thing is that both of those airlines fly to Tokyo Narita, so it seems like this could be a good nested ticket out of Narita. But what’s the best way to connect these two one-ways, given that there’s no nonstop flight between Noumea and Port Moresby?

I couldn’t even find a one-stop routing (other than through Australia), though there is a very interesting two stop routing. You can fly from Port Moresby to Port Vila via Honiara, located in the Solomon Islands. There’s even a 24 hour layover there, which is a cool opportunity to visit the country. Then you get to Port Vila, Vanuatu.

From there Air Vanuatu has a nonstop flight to Noumea.

Fascinating, eh?

But wait, there’s more!

The above is just one fairly simple trip I’m considering, but it barely scratches the surface of the South Pacific flights that fascinate me. I focused on the above because those are the two airlines with widebody aircraft operating these routes that I haven’t yet flown, though there are so many other cool routes.

Air Vanuatu has a single Boeing 737 in their fleet, which you can fly to Brisbane.

Fiji Airways has a fascinating flight from Honolulu to Nadi. On some days it routes via Apia (Samoa), and on other days it routes via Christmas Island. I’d love to visit Christmas Island, but the flight is only once a week, and realistically I’m not going to spend a week there.

Then there’s United’s famous Island Hopper, which is operated by a 737 and takes nearly 15 hours from Honolulu to Guam, as it stops in the Majuro Atoll, Kwajalein Atoll, Kosrae Island, Pohnpei, and Weno Island. Each stop is for only 35-45 minutes.

island-hopper

And this is only scratching the surface. I feel like I could spend weeks and weeks trying out all of these hops around the Pacific.

Help me out here, folks! How should I plan this trip? Which of these islands is most worth visiting?

Comments

  1. Do the UA Island Hopper, you can also spend two nights at one of the stops if you want to extend the trip/break it up

  2. Hey there Lucky,
    Why not use Sydney as your connecting point since both airlines fly there? You can also spend a few days in Sydney at the Park Hyatt. Best of luck with finalizing your itinerary.

  3. You shouldn’t miss out on Tinian and driving down runway able in a rental car. I’ll admit that Star Marianas probably doesn’t have much in the way of amenities, but it’s still an experience.

  4. Do It! there’s nothing that beats Island hopping in the South Pacific! Especially if arriving on a widebody..
    I also spent nights to figure out a useful connection plan in the south pacific area (endet up in a crazy drawn map in my living room).. To get to or from the south pacific consider the NZ 5th freedom route from L.A. to Rarotonga in the cook Islands, once there you can either hop over to Aitutaki (most amazing atoll with aviation history as the lagoon was a refueling stop for the TEAL flying boats on the coral route) on a an Air Rarotonga turboprop, go to Tahiti on an Air Tahiti ATR or fly to NZ or AUS..
    What ever option you choose, I’m very excited for you!

  5. just get in and out of Port Moresby if you must go. That city and that country are not places where I’d choose to spend much time.

  6. Funny, I’m planning something similar right now. My husband is a diver and I’m trying to figure out the most efficient way to see a few Islands. What I have so far is lax->nan->hir->vli->nou->akl->lax

  7. I need a lie down to process all these options hahaha.

    I’m most interested in the UA Island Hopper, west-bound, with a stopover, as I’ve been toying with it myself.

    I was disappointed with Samoa compared with South-East Asia (Apia is not a very nice place).

    Air Niugini didn’t make my list of best uses of Qantas points for a reason ; P

    Avoid overnight-ing in POM if you can help it.

    If you are looking for an idyllic, exotic South Pacific Island can I suggest Cook Islands/Aitutaki (Air NZ flies there).

  8. what do you mean u can’t find 1-stop routing on POM-NOU ?? kayak gave a few options that involve BNE.

    geographically you’d *think* CNS would be a more logical connection point, but surprisingly nothing came up.

  9. @ henry LAX — Sorry, I meant no interesting one-stop routings. I’d like to take as many interesting flights as possible, and mostly avoid Australia. Will update the post to reflect that.

  10. @Lucky — Doesn’t Aircalin have a flight from Nadi to Noumea via the Wallis and Futuna Islands? I’ve always thought that’s an interesting route.

    I went to New Caledonia a couple of years ago. One of the Loyalty Islands up north, Ouvea (you’ll have to catch a domestic flight), has one of the best beaches I’ve ever seen

  11. An interesting way to route to Guam might be to go to Taipei and then fly to palau and then to Guam.

  12. @Lucky – Air Niugini flies the 767 to Singapore too. They also are supposed to get a 787 sometime soon, though no idea on delivery.

  13. You’re “But wait, there’s more!” killed me. I burst out laughing at work – thanks!! I needed that this morning

  14. I will be flying PX as CNS-POM-HGU-POM-HGU-SIN in August (to experience the Mt Hagen Sing-Sing), albeit in J. Should be quite the experience, hopefully a good one!

    PX btw also does flights to TKK and PNI. So how about NRT-NOU // NOU-VLI-HIR-POM // POM-TKK // TKK-PNI-KSA-KWA-MAJ-HNL // HNL-APW-NAN // NAN-AKL-RAR // RAR-PPT-LIM (or SCL)

    that would pretty much cover the South Pacific in one long, possibly brutal, endurance test 😉

  15. The UA Continental Micronesia island hopper also gets my vote. However, any review mustn’t just be about the seat and food but some airport pictures would be needed. Air Nuigini is my second choice. I know Lucky will make the right choice!

  16. The ppt-rar flight is only on thursdays iirc and it’s not a plane that’s really suited to a 3 hour flight. However air New Zealand does fly a 777 to rar.

  17. Air NZ between Cook Islands and Auckland (daily) or Sydney (weekly) – from Sydney they fly the 787 – really worth a try – especially their PE cabins (though 777 is roomier).

  18. Can’t speak to business class on Air Niugini but having flown them dozens of times in economy while growing up in Port Moresby I have nothing but fond memories (Jacksons Airport in the 90s less so..). Definitely won’t be like your TAAG experience..

    Port Moresby isn’t a great spot but places like Madang, Goroka and Milne Bay are wonderful. And Port Moresby, despite all the negativity, is like any other unsafe place in the developing world: be smart and you’ll be fine.

    Whilst there aren’t so many heavies landing at Jacksons Airport you can go to the Airways Hotel, which is impressive, and snag a table in the restaurant or by the pool overlooking the runway. Nice approach into Moresby too.

    Lastly, miss that old livery! The new one is even more boring 🙁

  19. Omg. I’m so dying to read the upcoming South Pacific reviews. Love Rapa Nui and French Polynesia not to mention Hawaii. Planning to visit Fiji and New Zealand in the near future to finish the Polynesian triangle. Visiting these small islands will be icing on the cake!

  20. A colleague, an adventurous type who is a full-on bad ass, has only been mugged once in his life. Just outside the terminal at Port Moresby.

  21. I hope Air Niugini has improved since the 1980s. I flew them in first thanks to a bucket shop deal. That trip was HNL-POM-SYD-POM-HNL and it was a shitshow. The Aussie pilots were ok, but the 707 was worn out and the meal in F was the same as the meal in coach.

  22. Flew Fiji Airways (ATR) from Nan-Apw this past January, and was extremely disappointed with Apia. Yes, the country is beautiful, but other than visiting the ocean trench there isnt really much of anything to do.

    It’s also worth noting that when I flew Samoa Air (B737) from Apw-Akl I wasn’t able to make the reservation online, as their website wasn’t compatible. I emailed their reservation centre to make an inquiry, to which they asked me to print out a reservation form, fill it out, scan it and send it back to them. As ‘sketchy’ as this may sound it was indeed legitimate. When the day finally came to give Samoa Air a try, our boarding passes were written out, as the airport check-in counters didn’t have any computers (that I could see). We were the only departing flight that morning, and because of the inadequacy, check-in still took 1.5 hours!

    Samoa takes “island time” to a whole new level.

  23. What about Somoa Airways ( previously called Polynesian Airlines). Also wonder if United, Air Micronesia (previously Continental Air Mike) is still doing the Guam, Truk, Yap, Koror and Siapan, Honolulu rotations. Was a true island-hopper route.

  24. Consider the Le Meridien Ile des Pins,
    a SPG Category 6 property in New Caledonia. It’s been on my list for some time. Looks super!

  25. Lucky, you can also try Philippine airlines new business class on their new a321neo as there first planned destination is Brisbane. The first of the six planes will be arriving this month so I hope you’ll be able to ride it.

  26. I have no idea what the flight schedules are these days but here are some ideas:

    PX NRT-POM-TKK-PNI
    UA PNI-KSA-KWA-MAJ
    ON MAJ-TRW-INU-NAN
    SB NAN-NOU-NRT

    HA HNL-PPT
    SB PPT-NOU-NAN
    PX NAN-POM-NRT
    UA NRT-GUM-TKK-PNI-KSA-KWA-MAJ-HNL

    FJ HNL-NAN
    ON NAN-INU-TRW-MAJ-PNI
    PX PNI-TKK-POM-VLI
    SB VLI-NOU-NRT

  27. Talofa Airways. You can do 2 New Years Eve celebrations. One NYE in Samoa (Apia). Then a short flight to American Samoa (Pago Pago) by Talofa Airways. You depart on January 1st and arrive on December 31. Flight time is approximately 18 minutes.

  28. Another idea:
    NZ LAX-RAR
    AT RAR-PPT
    SB PPT-NOU-NRT
    PX NRT-POM-VLI
    FJ VLI-NAN
    ON NAN-INU-TRW-MAJ
    UA MAJ-KWA-KSA-PNI-TKK-GUM-ROR
    KE ROR-ICN-YVR (787)

  29. @Obichang: from ICN, Lucky should take OK to PRG, and then a short hop to AMS for the KL 787 back stateside.

  30. This article highlights why you are amazing. There is often decent revenue business class fares with Qantas from Perth all the way to Noumea which goes on the codeshared Aircalin flight from Sydney, I have always been interested to go and now after seeing all these amazing routings I’m even more inspired

  31. @James hey mate I once read years ago apparently there is an Australian island somewhere around there called “Lord Howe” island or something, apparently that is one of the most incredible uses for Qantas points haha 😉 if you can find availability :-p

  32. Give the 737’s on Air Niugini a try mate – one of the first airlines I experienced narrow body beds in business!

  33. My vote goes to Aircalin. Their A330 product looks fascinating! If you can, consider Our Airline as well, Nauru just seems like a fantasy fantastically random place to visit!

  34. Another cool airline you should fly not anything do do with this is surinam airways. They have multiple routed to Brazil, Zandery etc..

  35. @Lucky, the other Christmas Island is on the Indian Ocean, if you want to see the annual crab migration.

  36. I’ve been to RAR/TBU/APW/PPG/NOU/VLI/NAN
    Each of these islands is different, and each offers lots of stuff to do, and is worthy of a few days, especially if you get out further afield in Fiji and Vanuatu to explore out islands.
    In New Caledonia, a must is Ile-des-Pins

    There are lots of opportunities to redeem on FJ – including HNL-APW. Hawaiian flies to PPG and PPT. Flying Blue will let you redeem on Air Calin to Wallis.

    I must say I ve never had any interest in Port Moresby, nor have I heard anything flattering about the place.

    Feel free to contact me for tips

  37. Thanks for the ISLAND HOPPER LINK I know how to do it now 50K RT from HNL sounds Good and CHEAP for my next Hawaii trip .Stop over in Guam sounds Nice too .

    THANK YOU

    CHEERs

  38. Please check out Le Meridien Ile des Pins in New Caledonia. It looks amazing and is only a cat 6 spg. Would love a review of it and air Calin.

  39. Hi from Nouméa, New Caledonia. Will try out Air Caledonia this week to the Loyalty Islands and possibility Air Vanuatu next week. Not expecting much.

  40. The UA Island Hopper (North Pacific) is well worth doing.

    We took it last march with overnight stops in MAJ, KSA. PNI, al the way to YAP; return via OKA.

  41. Do UA154 HNL-GUM in seat 7A or in First. Be on the left for best views. You can’t get immigration stamps on all the islands but you can now photograph Kwajalein from the plane (still no de-planing due to security).
    Try to get on a flight that hits Kosrae and if you are lucky mechanic and legend Sherman Thompson will be on your flight. We became fast friends on my run and email occasionally.
    Be prepared to be laid over on one of the stops under extremely “rustic” conditions.
    If you haven’t read “The Sex Lives of Cannibals” by Martin Troste, grab it. It’s about his life on Kiribati and is a sobering and humorous look at true castaway life.

  42. flights from Sydney to Noumea are like a thousand one way if you book on Aircalin though if you book on Qantas from Perth to Noumea its still a thousand and then you can also go for the same price fly Qantas 787 within Australia from Perth to Melbourne to Sydney or you could do multi stop all the way to Tokyo

  43. I think you should try a flight on air Vanuatu, I flew on them in 2011 and they were really good! I was flying economy and didn’t get a meal but later asked for one ( I was 11 so being difficult) and it came with a business class dessert.

  44. Lucky you would really enjoy the once a week Fiji Airways flight that stops at Christmas Island as it flies between Honolulu and Nadi. It took that flight in business class in Jan this year. The plane stops in Christmas Island for 1 hour. If you are travelling thru in Business class, the FA’s will allow you to walk out onto the stair case and walk down to the last step and take all the selfies and photos you want. But, you cannot not step off the staircase onto the ramp. That is where the line is drawn, customs and immigration wise. As long as you stay on the staircase, you are fine and can take all the photos you like. The other cool thing is that during the layover, the FA’s hand out their “signature” rum pre departure beverages, all over again, yum. From the stairs, you can see both the old terminal, which is rustic and tiny, and the brand new terminal that was half complete in Jan. It might be done when you take your flight. Also, both the descent into the island and the departure out has great sight seeing from air. Christmas Island is huge. It’s the largest coral island in the Pacific and you can really see that best from the air. In just one short hour, you will get lots of photo opportunities, a brand new terminal, and you can even double dip on the welcome cocktails. I love doing that flight. It is also pretty easy to book that with Alaska miles, which is how I did it.

  45. An idea
    – Positioning flight to HNL
    – United island hopper to GUM
    – GUM-NRT JAL or ANA
    – NRT-POM-HIR-VLI-NOU Air Niugini
    – NOU-ILP-NOU Air Caledonie (So you can review Le Meridien Ile de Pines which I loved)
    – NOU-NRT Air Calin

  46. Wow, the crap in these comments.

    Air Niugini is fine, but unless you’re heading into the center of the country, there is no reason to visit. Port Moresby is a dangerous hellhole that makes Kingston, Jamaica, or Caracas look like Shropshire.

    Micronesia is mostly a bust, unless you’re heading to Yap, which is fascinating on land and in the water. The ruins of Nan Madol on Pohnpei are amazing to see by kayak, but the rest of the island is oddly dull and stuck with bad weather much of the time. Nasty packs of wild dogs, as on Samoa. Chuuk is xenophobic and to be skipped unless you are diving wrecks in the lagoon. Guam is horrible — reminds me of Houston with the unplanned development and strip clubs (but fewer guns, and Houston still has birds, as the there are no brown tree snakes as on Guam).

    Other than the post-apocalyptic former mining islands of Nauru and Ocean Island, the Marshalls and Kiribati are probably the saddest places in the Pacific. The Americans and Brits screwed them with nuclear testing, just as the French did to French Polynesia with testing on Mururoa and Fangataufa (but the French tested longer and paid a lot of francs/euros to try to buy off the locals, so French Polynesia has industry and infrastructure).

    Vanuatu is amazing, but you need to get beyond Efate. Land diving (prehistoric bungee jumping) on Pentecost. Tanna’s volcano, scenery, and amazing coffee. Ambrym’s volcano and sculptures. Air Vanuatu is a catastrophe — poor service, ancient planes, inedible food. My departure was delayed for 2 days while the big plane was sitting in Auckland with a cracked windscreen. Charter a private plane within Vanuatu — look for the guys who worked as crop dusters in Australia, as they have the best flying skills and newer planes.

    @Steven M. Not expecting much? The great prize here is New Caledonia. While Grande Terre is magnificent, fly onward to Ile Des Pins or Ouvea (in the Loyalty Islands) for spectacular beaches and scenery. Le Meridien on Ile des Pins is lovely if you’re using points (the one in Noumea’s not bad either), but Ouvea is my pick. A 20-km blinding white-sand beach. Go before the civil war re-erupts, as there’s no guarantee that the French will actually honor the promise of a 2018 independence referendum. I thought Aircalin from Tokyo was excellent. Dated business class seats, but good service, food, and wine.

    @James, since when is Southeast Asia the appropriate comparison to Apia? Samoa has some of the worst weather in the Pacific (it’s always sweltering, both hot and humid), but it has one of the most vibrant cultures in the Pacific. The strong sense of family and tribe have fended off western cultural influences and make for an interesting experience, albeit not at a 5-star hotel. There’s good western food to be had here, great history (Robert Louis Stevenson’s house is fascinating), and beautiful south coast beaches. If you want to talk about a crap destination, let’s focus on Tongatapu. Or Suva.

    If the destination (rather than the points or the airline) were the drivers here, I would aim for:
    — Maupiti, west of Bora Bora, a beautiful island and lagoon enjoyed by locals
    — Mangareva, four hours SE of Tahiti, spectacular lagoon and the jumping off point for Pitcairn
    — Palau — snorkeling and diving in the Rock Islands
    — Hiva Oa, Marquesas — huge volcanic island, great hiking and landscapes; there was a reason Gaugin settled here (and not just to chase the local women/girls — he was a creep)
    — Ambrym and Tanna, Vanuatu (see above)
    — Tetiaroa (if money is no object) — Marlon Brando’s former idyll is stunning, though I miss the pre-hotel days of anchoring a boat in the lagoon and sleeping under the stars on the beach

    Ben, I think we need your review of the Brando on Tetiaroa. And Air Tetiaroa.

  47. I did something similar lately I was already in Singapore.

    I fly SIN SGN SYD NOU in business 65k FB miles and 65 euro
    That was an vietnam a320 i think amd their 787. Then continued A330 aircalin.

    Next day Air vanuatu ATR to port vila (didnt fly their 320). Then I had to fly Honiaria with the Solomon air A320 but its in maintenance for ??? Time and was replaced by Air Nauru. Didnt fly that either so ok.

    Then solomon to papua on 737 air niugine amd i had to have a 767 to singapore then. This way around its a day flight. But 1 of their 767 in service for longer time. The other 767 got broken that day in HongKong.

    KEEP IN MIND THE 767 FLIES TO SINGAPORE JUST ONE OR TWICE A WEEK!!!!!!

    Trip reports vanutu on my blog 🙂 not the flights yet.

  48. Fantastic to see that my suggestion of some trips through the South Pacific has been taken up!
    Port Moresby to Noumea via Honiara and Vila sounds a great option along with United’s island hopper.
    Be aware that Port Moresby is not a safe city. In fact many Australian businesses shuttle their staff in daily from Cairns, Australia!
    Another new route to try is Jetgo e170 Brisbane to Karatha, western Australia then on to Bali.
    Should also try Air Chathams convair from Christchurch or Wellington to Chatham Islands
    And Qantas Link Dash 8 to Lord Howe from eastern Australia

  49. Ben, PX has standard lie flat seats on its 767 and 737 fleet. The 767s only serve the SIN, HKG and BNE routes (with Shanghai to come later this year), whereas the 737 goes to DPS, MNL, SYD, CNS (also F-100 a/c), TSV (also F-100 a/c), HIR, VLI, and NAN. I think AKL is on the cards as a near term destination.

    So you might want to try the overnight flights from SIN and HKG on the 767 to POM as your transit point to SYD on the 737. Or continue to BNE perhaps, with the 767. Or you could choose another Asian departure point listed above. Almost all of these are early morning arrivals into POM (between 4 – 5am typically). Its up to you. If you choose a Pacific departure point to go to POM, the aircraft will be a Fokker 100 with no lie flat seats.

    Both the biz hard and soft product are solid rather than spectacular. But my oh my…..the cabin crew are warm and friendly in that Melanesian way. These days, I fly mostly SQ, QF and PX. I prefer the hard product on SQ and QF, but the cabin crew is where PX shines!

    POM airport is not huge, but it has been refurbished ahead of APEC this year and is quite pleasant to hang around for a few hours with better eating/shopping options than before. I fly through POM every two months and typically spend between 3 – 5 hours there without problem. And as a business pax you can access the new PX ‘Paradise Lounge’. The seating is very comfortable, it also has showers, buffet, and free wi-fi. Interestingly, the Paradise Lounge catering has been outsourced since its inception to a 5* hotel rather than in-house. Catering ex POM is good, but from overseas, its average.

    BTW: that 767 pic features the very very old 1989 livery. A new design was introduced 5 or 6 years ago, and all aircraft have since been re-painted. Try posting that instead.

  50. Add in a flight on Air Nauru (OnAiir). They fly from the Marshall Islands from time to time.

  51. You must fly the island hopper, West bound only so you there during the day. The views of the colorful water off the islands in unbelievable.

    Palau and Yap are great, as are the Cook Islands. No one wants to spend time in POM.

    Perhaps one itinerary that works is nou-nrt-pom-hir-inu-trw-maj- Island hopper-gum on calin, niugini, Nauru air and United. I would stop in pohnpei, Tarawa (though not Betio), and New Caledonia.

  52. Lucky, you have to go to Port Moresby and spend a night at the Airways Hotel, a fantastic hotel, with a strong aviation theme. The restaurant upstairs with an old DC-3 as part of the decor and uninterrupted views over Jacksons International Airport. It’s a must see.

  53. Ben, I read your blog on my husband’s account. I haven’t said anything to you before but can’t hold my tongue any longer.

    PLEASE STOP USING “GUYS” in your narrative. It is not classy and offends me as a woman. Not all readers are male. Thank you.

  54. I went to POM a couple of years ago to visit my brother who spent a couple of years working there. The day after I submitted a visa request at the High Commission in London, I received a call from the staff wondering why I was only going to to be staying in POM for my three day visit – as they considered it not to be safe to do so.

    Anyway I flew CX from HKG to CNS, a QF Dash-8 up to POM, and then the PX 767 to BNE using QF points. As mentioned earlier, the Melanesian service is quite friendly.

    It’s been about 10 years since I flew to VLI on an Air Vanuatu 737 from SYD. My memories of the immigration shed at VLI were of my wife’s comment that she could get a mobile connection, but no data. It was a glorious five days without an internet connection nor email.

  55. Lucky – Vanuatu is a real paradise. Flew to Port Vila from Brisbane with Virgin Australia Business Class – OK, I guess. Stayed at The Havannah in Efate – dreamlike! Visited Tanna and the volcano – amazing! Returned to Sydney on Air Vanuatu Business Class. You have to review the “lounge” in Port Vila airport (sad…). But the flight (including food) was actually great. Look forward to reading your reviews!

  56. Any opinions from people that have been to Niue? Seems to be 2x weekly service AKL-IUE on NZ.

  57. @Jack — That may be the most comprehensive and stimulating comment I’ve seen on this blog (and I’ve been reading it for a few years).

  58. Air Calin is fine to fly. Flew them on 737. And as others said book Le Meridien in Isle des Pins. It is beautiful.

  59. In Jan 2018 I flew the following 15 day itinerary AMS-SIN-DPS-SYD-NOU-NAN-SUV-NAN-AKL-MEL-DPS-SIN-AMS.

    I flew Aircalin SYD-NOU-NAN. Overall, very impressed with them. The Business Class meal was the largest I have ever seen – Rubeus Hagrid and a pack of wolves would be hard pressed to finish it!

    However, one tip – do not stay in Noumea. On the plus side it is by far the cleanest and tidiest French department I have ever been in. The flip side however, is that it is hideously expensive and quite frankly, boring. A night there is wasted time.

  60. In case, you’re going to fiji, make sure, your visit the new Marriott there!
    From nadi you can do some amazing trips on small seaplanes to remote islands (pacific islands air, no premium cabin, but seaplanes from the 50s with stunning views from every seat plus the chance to sit beside the captain, if you’re lucky!)

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