How to Visit Every Country in the Pacific – The Ultimate Guide for 2022
Travelling to the Pacific islands might sound like the perfect beach holiday. And that’s true if you are planning to spend a week in the Cook Islands or Tahiti. But if you wish to see more than just one country or some of the lesser-known islands, you may run into some logistical issues. You might also be one of the very few visitors on the island. If you are planning to visit every country in the Pacific, this guide is just for you.
Update 2020: This guide on how to visit every country in the Pacific was researched and written in 2020 to help travellers plan their trip. Sadly the pandemic had an impact on most of the Pacific which remains relatively closed and airlines have cancelled many flights. We will update this article in 2022 when hopefully travel is back to normal.
How to visit every country in the Pacific – The Ultimate Guide
Visiting countries or territories in the Pacific – know the difference
There are many islands in the Pacific. Some islands are independent countries, others are overseas territories. Here is a little list to help you understand the difference.
Every country in the Pacific – There are officially 14 countries in the region known as Oceania:
The Marshall Islands,
Micronesia (the Federated States of)
Papua New Guinea,
The Solomon Islands
And these are the dependent territories of five countries:
USA: American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Wake Island
New Zealand: Cook Islands, Niue, Tokelau
France: French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Wallis and Futuna
Australia: Norfolk Island
United Kingdom: Pitcairn Islands
PS: Don’t forget that there is also Hawaii. Not a territory but the 50th state of the USA.
This article focuses more on countries in the Pacific, rather than on the territories. There seem to be a few articles dedicated to the Cook Islands and French Polynesia, so I will try to focus on the countries as it’s harder to find more info.
Which countries in Oceania are developed for tourism?
When it comes to infrastructure for tourism and visitors, you would find plenty in some countries. Australia, New Zealand and Fiji lead in the region and are visited by many people each year.
You will find everything from tour operators to extensive options for accommodation. Check out Get Your Guide to book the best day trip and amazing experiences in this region.
Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands have been focusing on building tourism in the past few years. Especially considering the proximity to Australia these islands could see a rise in visitors as long as the infrastructure is there.
Don’t forget the real gems are located outside of the capital city and require another domestic flight.
When it comes to the remaining countries – the infrastructure is more limited as there are very few travellers or tourists here. That includes Tuvalu, Kiribati, Nauru, Marshall Islands and Micronesia.
This means limited flights and limited accommodation.
Of course, let’s not forget Hawaii which is a very popular destination in the Pacific for the US as well as international tourists.
Which territories should you visit in the Pacific?
When it comes to the territories, the easiest to visit would be French Caledonia (Tahiti and Bora Bora), the Cook Islands and New Caledonia. The rest of the territories are rather undiscovered.
Where should you go first?
This depends if you are planning to visit one country, multiple islands or try to see all of them in one trip. For multiple country trips, it’s probably best to look at flight connections and follow those.
For example, you might visit Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands with Vanuatu. Or use Fiji as a base to see Tonga, Samoa and Tuvalu.
If you are planning to visit all the countries in one trip, then careful planning and flexibility is the key. More on that below in our suggested itinerary.
How to visit every country in the Pacific – by plane, cruise or ship
Airlines in the Pacific:
There are numerous airlines that connect the Pacific with major air hubs:
Virgin Australia, Air New Zealand, Fiji Airways, Nauru Air, Air Niugini and United Airlines are the main players.
We used Skyscanner to plan and book flights for our itinerary around the Pacific.
From Australia, you will find direct flights to Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa and Nauru.
If you are in New Zealand, you can easily get to Tonga, Samoa, Vanuatu, Fiji and the Cook Islands.
Finally, when travelling from the USA, you can fly to Fiji, Australia and connect to the rest. But more importantly, the so-called United Island Hopper connects Hawaii with the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, and Guam and then flies onto Manila.
United is the only airline that currently connects the Marshall Islands and Micronesia and many choose to fly to Palau with United Airlines as well.
Please note this flight connects via Guam. Guam is a US territory so unless you are one of the lucky nationalities that qualify for Guam Waiver (CLICK HERE for info) you will need ESTA or USA visa to transit.
Cruise ships in the Pacific
The obvious option to see islands is to search for a cruise in the Pacific.
While cruising might not be for everyone, some can find a pretty good deal when signing up online. It can be practical if you are also planning to see a bit of Australia or New Zealand as many cruise companies incorporate these two destinations with a few other islands, usually Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Fiji and Samoa.
Also, many cruises usually visit more territories than countries.
The cruise that seems to cover a few of the islands for a great price is the Norwegian Jewel from Sydney to Papeete. You can check the best deals on this cruise and many more by searching on Expedia.
Cargo boats in the Pacific:
The last option is for the most adventurous with more flexibility. Cargo ships ply the oceans everywhere and technically there is a chance you could score a ride. There are probably two common assumptions:
1. It’s easy to get on board a cargo ship in the Pacific.
2. It’s free or cheap. Both are false.
To find more information on cargo ships you can read this article written by Thor, the man who is trying to visit every country in the world without flying. He is definitely the right person to talk about cargo ships.
How to plan your trip to visit countries in the Pacific – suggested itinerary
Planning any multi-country trip to the Pacific starts with airline routes. Unfortunately, despite some major airlines flying into the Pacific, not all islands are connected with daily flights.
In fact, some fly only once a week. Especially when it comes to the less-visited countries. There are a few suggested itineraries below. They’ve been put together based on airline connections and the overall cost of flights.
If you are based in the USA or planning to visit Palau, Micronesia and Marshall Islands
While you can technically visit these three countries by three different airlines, the most common route for most travellers is with United Airlines on Flight 154/155.
The route is known as United Airlines’ Island Hopper. Flying from Honolulu (HNL) to Majuro (MAJ) to Kwajalein (KWA) to Kosrae (KSA) to Pohnpei (PNI) to Chuuk (TKK) to Guam (GUM), or the reverse. From Guam, you can fly to Palau and Manila.
Check Skyscanner for the best flight deals on the Island Hopper
If you have any points with United Airlines or Star Alliance then it is a good idea to use them on this flight as the cost of the ticket is high. The flight itself is considered a bucket list item, for flight enthusiasts.
If you fly from Honolulu it can take up to 20 hours to reach Guam. You can disembark at each airport except Kwajalein.
The only food service is breakfast out of Honolulu so you will be hungry, make sure you bring some snacks.
The is one annoying part: Once you reach the Marshall Islands or depart from there, the flight lands every hour for Kwajalein, Kosrae, Pohnpei, Chukk and then Guam. Your in-flight entertainment will start all over again so you will never finish the movie.
Note: Should you not be able to fly on the flight with United you can access these thee countries by other routes:
Palau – There are flights from Manila, Taipei and Seoul with United Airlines, China Airlines, Asiana Airlines
Micronesia – There are weekly flights from Port Moresby with Air Niugini
If you are based in Australia and planning to visit South Pacific and Melanesia
Australia is a great base to access some islands on multiple trips. Virgin Australia flies to multiple countries.
Regional Airlines such as Air Niugini, Solomon Airlines, Fiji Airways and Air Vanuatu all fly to Australia as well. You can choose to visit on a return flight or combine a few countries on multi trips.
Flights depart mainly from Brisbane or Sydney.
Here is the list for 2020: Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Nauru
If you are planning to visit every country in the Pacific in just one trip
The ultimate challenge is to visit all the countries in the Pacific on a single trip. Here are a few options on how to do it.
Sydney to Nuku’alofa to Nadi to Apia to Nadi to Suva to Funafuti to Tarawa to Yaren to Majuro to Pohnpei to Guam to Koror to Manila to Port Moresby to Honiara to Port Vila
How to visit every country in the Pacific – Flight itinerary ex Australia
Sydney/Brisbane to Port Vila to Honiara to Tarawa to Funafuti to Suva to Nadi to Apia to Nadi to Nuku’alofa toNauru to Majuro to Pohnpei to Guam to Palau to Manila to Port Moresby.
How to visit every country in the Pacific – Flight itinerary ex Australia Nbr (2)
From Asia – Round trip from Manila
Manila to Guam to Palau to Pohnpei to Majuro to Kiribati to Nauru to Nadi to Apia to Nadi to Nuku’alofa to Nadito Suva to Funafuti to Suva to Nadi to Port Vila to Honiara to Port Moresby to Manila
There are of course a few other combinations available. Here are a few hints that may help you when planning for each country.
Tuvalu – Is connected with Fiji Air three times a week from Suva, not Nadi and it’s the only reliable flight at the moment. Air Kiribati connects Tuvalu with Kiribati on Wednesday but this flight is often cancelled.
Kiribati – Is connected with Fiji Air twice a week and also with the Solomon Islands on Monday/Tuesday. A great link between Melanesia and Polynesia. Nauru Airlines also connects Kiribati to the Marshall Islands and Nauru.
Nauru – The only country that almost everyone requires a visa for and it can take some time to obtain. You can find more info here. The only airline flying to Nauru is Nauru Airlines.
It also connects Nauru with Brisbane but the ticket is expensive. In 2020 Nauru Airlines cancelled flights Nauru – Pohnpei and Nauru – Honiara.
Micronesia – Apart from the United Airlines flight that connects it with the Marshall Islands or Guam, you might consider flying in or out of Port Moresby with Air Niugini. The flight was only about $280, but it has been suspended in February due to coronavirus.
Samoa/Tonga – Both countries have direct flights in and out of Australia or New Zealand and it’s often cheaper to fly on return from there as opposed to nearby Fiji.
Accommodation – visit every country in the Pacific
Travelling across the Pacific doesn’t come cheap. Fiji and Tonga were the cheapest, the most expensive would be the Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Nauru.
Each one of us travels differently and while you can spend a few weeks in Fiji or Vanuatu, you might run out of things to do in places like Nauru, Tuvalu or Marshall Islands.
Personally, for us, we would put the countries in a few groups:
Australia and New Zealand – You can easily spend months in both countries. While New Zealand is smaller it is a fantastic place for many outdoor activities.
Fiji, Vanuatu, Samoa, Tonga, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands – A week in each place will give you enough time to see it and you might venture to neighbouring islands too. Fiji does have the best infrastructure and you will eventually come back to this island at some point in between flights.
Tuvalu, Kiribati, Nauru & the Marshall Islands – As some of the smaller and less developed nations, you might be happy to spend 3 days in each place.
Most travellers fly into Tarawa in Kiribati and while we have heard the outer islands are beautiful, if you are staying on the main island a few days will be enough.
Micronesia & Palau – Personally we spent some extra time in Micronesia at Pohnpei and really loved it there. It’s green, with amazing ruins of Nan Madol and you can go snorkelling or fishing. The people were super lovely and the food was great.
Palau is another gem with fantastic snorkelling and diving opportunities. While it’s not easy for budget travellers, it is beautiful. Here are 10 awesome things to do in Palau and don’t miss the chance to go swimming with a million stingless jellyfish. Read more about this amazing experience in Palau’s Rock Islands in this post.
Money in the Pacific
Money in Tonga
There are a few currencies used across the Pacific. A full list is below.
Please note you will need cash for Tuvalu as there is no ATM. As a general rule, make sure you have some money in AUD and USD when travelling in this region for a few weeks.
New Zealand Dollar
Papua New Guinea
New Zealand Dollar
Solomon Islander Dollar
The Marshall Islands
New Zealand Dollar
French Polynesia & New Caledonia
French Pacific (CFP) Franc
Travel Insurance for the Pacific Islands
Make sure you get travel insurance before hitting the road. Trust us, it’s one of those things you don’t want to leave home without. We recommend either World Nomads or SafetyWing, depending on the type of traveller you are.
We hope this article has helped you to plan your visit to the Pacific. And if you are planning to visit every country in the Pacific, feel free to comment with any more in-depth questions.
Want to read about our challenges trying to visit every country in the Pacific?
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A coffee lover, history junkie, former tour guide, and endless optimist. The mastermind of logistics and chief navigator for Very Hungry Nomads, two women on an adventure to visit EVERY country in the world. Marty is a social butterfly who describes her life as “just livin’ the dream".