Situated in the easterly region on Oceania, Polynesia is a group of over 1,000 islands spread across the central and southern Pacific Ocean. The Polynesian Triangle formed by connecting three major dots of the region including Hawaii, New Zealand and Easter Island is home to plenty of other major islands such as Samoa, Tonga, the Cook Islands, Wallis, Kiribati, Tuvalu, French Polynesia and many more, exhibiting Polynesian culture, beliefs and practices. Explore the splendours of Mother Nature in the region with plenty of other expeditions here.
Rich culture. Polynesian ethnicity. Nature in abundance. Volcanic islands. Coral reefs. Mesmerizing Beaches. Diverse wildlife. Beautiful architecture. Water adventures.
Expensive. Mosquito based diseases.
Over 1,000 islands scattered over a huge area comes together to form Polynesia with three main countries marking its boundary namely Hawaii, New Zealand and Easter Island. New Zealand is the largest nation of the region both in size and in numbers of Polynesian Ethnicity. All the three countries are blessed with nature in abundance; Easter Island is known for marvellous stone carvings. Kiribati experiences the first sunrays of the region while French Polynesia (comprising of Bora Bora, Tahiti and Moorea) is claimed to be the most beautiful island in the world. Tonga houses two major volcanic islands along with exuberant vegetation, traditional culture and open-sided houses. Tonga is yet another country known for its friendly people and fusion of traditional and modern cultures. Niue is a coral island lying halfway between the Cook Islands and Tonga. Apart from that, there are plenty of smaller overseas properties of larger nations including Hawaii, Midway Islands, Pitcairn Islands, Tokelau, Wallis and Futuna and many more.
The accommodation options in Polynesia are available in abundance ranging from international hotels chains and small family-run hotels to furnished properties and guesthouses. However, the options each island offer may vary. At some islands one with find eco-friendly accommodations in order to preserve the natural habitat and national culture. Some hotels also offer camping grounds.
Polynesia comprises of two distinct cultural groups namely: East Polynesia and West Polynesia. The West Polynesian group of Tonga, Niue, Samoa and the Polynesian outliners, with high population, is known for their strong belief in the institution of marriage, and well-developed system of judiciary, money and trading. However, the East Polynesian group (the Cook Island Tahiti, Hawaii, Eater Islands, the Tuamotus, and the Marquesas Islands) adapted the culture of non-tropical environment. There is also a very rich culture of vocal and instrumental music in the region. Christianity is the major religion in the region along with a major chunk of people following the native religion and Polynesian belief system of animism. Maori, Tahitian, French and English are the most spoken languages in the region with plenty of other native languages of the islands.
Seafood, in particular, fish forms the primary staple food of the region mostly eaten raw, poached or grilled. About 300 varieties of fish are there in the Polynesian waters alone. Accompanying most dishes are root vegetables and tubers such as sweet potatoes, yams and taro or cocoyam, which are again part of staple diet. A wide range of tropical fruits are also grown in the region including bananas, plantains (similar to bananas), mangoes, papayas, and pineapples. Poi, made from taro root is a uniquely Hawaiian dish. Coconut is available in abundance here and is yet another main dietary staple. Coconut is widely used in the food in its actual form or in form of milk. Breadfruit is fruit with bread like texture and is often part of dishes here. Spices such as soy sauce are used to enhance the flavours. Corned beef and pork have become quite popular throughout the region. Coconut milk and beer serves as the major beverages in Polynesia.
Carry your sunglasses, hat, sunscreen, sunhat, flip-flops, swimwear, and light summer clothes during summer season, as it gets hot during the season. Do not touch, grab or stand on corals as they are alive and can be easily damaged. In addition, collecting corals, shells, or other sea creatures is illegal. Make sure to follow the guidelines while indulging in water related activities and avoid damaging the fragile ecosystem. Carry mosquito repellent, especially for the outer islands. Make sure to carry the prescribed medicines and first aid kit a dengue is quite common. Violent crimes are almost unheard of but take care of your belongings and valuables.
Polynesian countries are known for its thrilling and pulsating nightlife. Bars, pubs, jazzy nightclubs, cabaret shows and concerts are dotted all across the region except few islands. If you are in Samoa, there are many cinemas offering movies in English and Chinese with subtitles. Tuvalu and Tonga offers very limited options restricted to music and dance in hotels, clubs and sometimes at the Yacht Club. However, the scene is quite different in countries such as New Zealand, Hawaii, Tahiti, and French Polynesia etc. where options are unlimited.
Local crafts made from various products is one of the specialities of the Polynesian region producing some of the most beautiful works. Each island has its own unique forte. If you are visiting Tonga check out woven floor coverings, woven and hand decorated tapa cloth, ‘Ali Baba’ laundry baskets, polished coconut shell goblets and ashtrays, brooches, rings, ornaments and silver inlaid knives etc whereas Tuvalu is known for its Tuvalu weaving, shell jewellery, and traditional lidded wooden boxes. Buy Marquesan woodcarvings, dancing costumes, shell jewellery, Tahitian perfumes, scented coconut oils, vanilla beans and brightly patterned pareu fabric from Tahiti and its other islands while Samoa is famous for its kava drinking bowls, mulberry barks painted with native dyes, mats an baskets.
Polynesian festivals are events that are mostly linked to the state or the church. Other than that, many festivals celebrate arts in form of music, films and dances. Tapati Rapa Nui (Easter island), Flag Day (American Samoa), Independence Day (Port Vila), Constitution Celebrations (Niue), Heiva i Tahiti (Papeete and Bora Bora), Bastile Day (Marquesas) are some of the major festivals of the region.
Water direct from tap is not fit for drinking at most places, so go for bottles water that is easily available. Medical facilities in general are of high standards at most of islands, however, it is strongly recommended to get a medical insurance. One might face long delay if you are on one of the outer islands. Vaccinations against tuberculosis and hepatitis B are advised sometimes. Apply sunscreen while outside and keep yourself hydrated especially during the midday sun i.e. between noon and 3:00 pm.
Polynesian region has strong roots of old customs and traditions with many rituals common to islands. Greetings in Polynesian societies differ from island to island. Casual attire is usual form of dressing in the region; however, avoid swimsuits and shorts in the villages and some of the outer islands. Also, make sure your attire covers your knees and shoulder; it goes for both men and women. Islands including Bora Bora, Tahiti, and Noumea are exceptions where French Influence has led to topless beaches. Tips are not expected or encouraged in the region but are appreciated, especially at restaurants.