Pacific Islanders are known for their love of music and dance. The ‘enjoy life’ motto that the islanders live by tends to rub off on visitors. Festivals are an important way to celebrate various aspects of life for the islanders, with many traditional events revolving around saying thanks, honoring the sea, and paying respect to ancestors. Of course, as tourism has grown on the islands, so have events that attract and entertain tourists. The following is only a small and select list of the festivities and events on some of the most popular island nations. Each island has its own schedule of events that visitors should seek out individually.
Palau Sport Fishing Tournament
In April/May, Palau is packed with fishing enthusiasts when the annual Palau Sport Fishing Derby takes place. Anglers from all over the Pacific Islands come to try their luck at catching the biggest fish. All catches are showcased on the shore for everyone to see. A new category of ‘Ladies Sport Fishing Derby’ has also recently been added.
Taapuna Master Surfing
Some of the best surfers from around the world congregate in Tahiti every May to compete in the Taapuna Master Surfing contest. Events are held on the best surfing days in month, and include both amateur and professional divisions. Visitors can see incredible surfing talents competing in drop-knee, stand-up paddling, and body boarding, among other disciplines.
Tahiti Pearl Regatta
In May every year, sailors from all over the world flock to Tahiti to participate in the Tahiti Pearl Regatta. Beginning in 2003, this regatta takes place across three-stages over a three-day period. The race course usually covers the Pacific Islands of Raiatea, Bora Bora and Tahaa. Even if you don’t take to the water yourself, it is amazing to see the colorful sails against the clear blue waters of the Tahitian ocean.
Considered the biggest annual festival in Tahiti, the Heiva Festival is a celebration of Polynesian culture and Pacific Islands life. The displays were formerly used as war rituals, but now offer a wonderful opportunity for visitors see traditional costumes, dance and music. There are athletic competitions as well, where contestants have to show their skill in climbing coconut trees. This is an event not to be missed for those visiting Tahiti in June/July.
The Bula Festival in Fiji dates back to 1960, when it was established to raise funds for local charitable projects. Taking place in July every year in Nadi, the festival has become popular among tourists, who come to see traditional dance, music and art. The festival also includes a beauty pageant and Pacific dancing contest. All proceeds go towards local charities, so visitors can contribute to worthy causes by attending.
Kona Coffee Cultural Festival
Hawaii grows some of the most expensive and exclusive coffee in the world. At the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival, which takes place in November every year, visitors can taste some of these amazing varieties. The festival includes all kinds of competitions, such as in coffee recipes, coffee-making, and coffee roasting. It also offers a great opportunity to buy some exclusive Hawaiian produce.
The Honolulu Marathon is probably one of the most popular and largest amateur marathons in the world. More than 30,000 runners from all over the world come to the Pacific Islands in early December every year to run this marathon. What makes it so popular is that it is open to all entrants, and organizers will wait for everyone to cross the finish line - if they can - as there is no cut-off time. Those wishing to participate need to register with the Honolulu Marathon organizers; registration is open from May to December.