"Near Autona village, Hiva Oa" by Alex F via Flickr Creative Commons

For honeymooners, couples, and Jean-Paul Gauguin the islands of the South Pacific are the perfect tropical paradise. Isolated in a vast sea of blue, these often tiny retreats have inspired travelers for centuries. Swaying palms, clear coral filled water, year round sun, and charming resorts and hotels are just part of the lure. If surfing or diving are what you are after the beaches of Australia are also a safe bet.

  1. Bora Bora, French Polynesia While nearby Tahiti has the name recognition, Bora Bora has the better water and more tranquil atmosphere. There’s only a few small beaches on around the lagoon, but the over water bungalows and completely over water resorts here are among the world’s finest.
  2. Marquesas Islands These jagged volcanic islands like Hiva Oa, 800 miles northeast of Tahiti, are covered in lush green tropical forests and the occasional upmarket bungalow. Gauguin scenes and wild horses only build on the exotic charm.
  3. Mission Beach, Australia North Queensland’s Mission beach halfway between Townsville and Cairns is a stone’s throw from the Great Barrier Reef. One of Australia’s most sophisticated beach scenes with trendy dining, chic night spots, and boutique resorts.
  4. Easter Island, Chile The most isolated island in the world sits somewhere between the coast of South America and Australia. Mysterious stone statues called Moais, just a few new resorts, green hills, empty white sandy beaches and hiking trails, and a shoreline untouched by pollution are among the highlights.
  5. Fiji Islands The palm fringed crystalline Fijian shores maybe some of the South Pacific’s most isolated, but well worth the effort. Tiny islands like Taveuni, with tranquil beaches such as Lavena and Matei, are lined with stylish resorts and once and a lifetime sunsets.
  6. Moorea, French Polynesia Only a 25 minute ferry ride from Tahiti is this island where Tahitians go to get away. Almost an extension of Tahiti with the same resorts and scenery with slightly smaller crowds.
  7. Tahiti, French Polynesia As told through sailor’s songs, fisherman’s tales, wedding vows, and a surfer’s wave: Tahiti is paradise. Lush green jagged mountains and clear white sands dotted with some of the world’s most luxurious resorts.
  8. Bondi Beach, Australia Sydney’s favorite beach is an idyllic white strip of sand lined with hotels, beach bars, and restaurants favored by the buff crowd.
  9. Fraser Island, Australia Rainforests, surf spots, sand dunes, mangrove forests, and rare wildlife make Queensland’s Fraser island one of the country’s best beach destinations. The World Heritage Site has no paved roads and practically a giant sandbar making it an almost 78 mile long beach.
  10. Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand From Kaiteriteri beach to Wainui Bay in the country’s smallest national park you’ll come to many of the best golden beaches and rocky cliffs, not to mention hiking trails, bird life, and forests.

Click here for an Introduction to Beach Vacations