A South Pacific sojourn is all about “me” time, until you become a parent. Suddenly everything from where to stay to how to get there comes with a whole new set of requirements.
Enter Cruising, the ultimate holiday for every member of the clan. You’ve got kids clubs, a selection of family-size cabins and entertainment for every member of the family.
While you’ll never find a shortage of activities to keep everyone amused on board, shore excursions can be a little trickier. You might be keen to explore historic sights or shopping malls but your kids would probably just prefer to hit the beach.
If you know where to look, there are plenty of shore excursions that provide a great opportunity to teach your kids bite-sized bursts of history, along with action-packed adventures, eco-tours and wildlife encounters and beach days.
Here are some of our favourite shore excursions for families cruising in the Pacific:
An action packed tour combining Navua River adventures with Fijian culture is a winner with kids. Starting in Fiji’s Port of Suva, highlights include river canoeing, a cultural village tour, waterfall swimming and bamboo rafting.
You can get a kid-sized taste of New Caledonia on Noumea’s Tchou Tchou Train. You’ll travel through the city centre past the old colonial buildings all the way to Ouen Toro lookout, to soak up breathtaking views.
An island safari in Vanuatu’s capital, Vila, combines culture with water fun. Along with beach, bay and waterfall swims, you’ll visit a cultural village where you’ll meet Melanesian Warriors eager to share their customs and traditional way of life.
Adventure-loving teens will enjoy trekking the lush jungle paths past flowing waterfalls to see the colourful flora at Fiji’s only linear botanic garden, Kila Eco Adventure Park in Suva.
Enjoy a centuries-old spa experience in Fiji’s natural outdoor thermal mud pools at the base of the Sabeto, Lautoka. This one is a treat for older kids as there is a moderate amount of walking.
A cruise on Havannah Harbour in Vanuatu’s Vila is a perfect day tour for families. There are plenty of chances to stop for a paddle or a snorkel, plus a visit to a turtle conservation rookery where the children can meet baby hawksbill turtles.
Action and adventure
Soar through the canopy of the Vanuatu jungle and over canyons as you fly along six zip lines and cross two suspension bridges with Port Vila Zipline Canopy Tours.
Enjoy a little culture and a whole lot of adrenalin on an exhilarating jet boat ride up the Navua River in Suva with Fiji Rivers Jet Boating. The tour takes you for a swim under a waterfall, on an inflatable rafting adventure and for lunch at a local village.
Kids older than 12 can experience an introductory scuba dive with a qualified instructor in the clear waters of Port Vila, Vanuatu. Some cruise lines can even arrange PADI certification before you arrive. In Vila, kids as young as eight can also try Snuba, also known as ocean walking. A combination of snorkelling and scuba, Snuba uses swim fins, a diving mask, weights, and a diving regulator but with an oxygen tank that floats above you.
Experience a heart-warming welcome by the chief and villagers at Ekasup Cultural Village in Vila, Vanutau. Here, kids can learn about the history and culture of the indigenous people of Vanuatu through demonstrations of traditional medicine, hunting and cooking plus extraordinary tales of the past.
The amazing Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre in New Caledonia’s Noumea is as fascinating architecturally as it is culturally. The cool structure houses a wonderful museum that tells the story of the native Kanak people.
In Papua New Guinea, take a tour of Port Moresby’s National Museum and Art Gallery, which contains an enormous collection of archaeological and natural items as well as incredible native artwork, masks and costumes.
New Caledonia’s Isle of Pines is a popular stop on major cruise routes. Surrounded by soft white sand beaches and swaying palms, the kids can swim safely while the grown-ups kick back and dine on the fresh fish, lobster and local delights sold along the beach.
On Noumea’s Amedee Island, home to one of the tallest lighthouses in the world, you’ll be hard pressed to keep the kids out of the water. The kids can snorkel with green sea turtles just metres from the beach and may even be joined by a friendly dugong. Its abundance of marine life has earned Amedee Island its status as UNESCO World Heritage Listed.
Enjoy the sights of Espiritu Santo in Vanuatu en route to the azure waters of the Blue Lagoon. Fed by an underground spring and surrounded by lush rainforest, it provides an inviting escape from the tropical heat. Steps leading down into the lagoon allow easy access for the kids.
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