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5 South Pacific Islands That Are Awesome for Backpackers

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Which South Pacific Islands are Great for Backpackers?

Often when you hear about the South Pacific Islands, you think of luxurious paradise holidays that are well out of reach for backpackers. Well, think again. Turns out that some of the South Pacific Islands are well within the everyday backpacker budget and what’s more, you’ll even have enough money to jump on some activities!

So when it comes to backpacking the South Pacific Islands where should you go? Well, the travelling between countries becomes the most expensive thing, so if you’re travelling on a budget, we recommend picking an island and making the most of it. That’s why we’ve narrowed it down to just five South Pacific Islands that have the infrastructure to make travelling on a budget easy.

1. Fiji

The number one South Pacific backpacker country has to be Fiji (after New Zealand, of course, but we’re biased here). Fiji has a bustling tourism industry making backpacking in Fiji a breeze. Visitors usually pick a resort and stick to it, of which there are plenty of budget options with backpacker dorms. However, to travel around you can choose to tackle it independently or join a tour for some island hopping.

Like the sound of Fiji? Head on over to our Fiji – Guide for Backpackers or check out FijiPocketGuide.com for a complete travel guide to Fiji!

Hermann Luyken on Wikipedia© Hermann Luyken on Wikipedia

2. Tonga

There’s so much variety in terms of activities and experiences to be had on Tonga between immersing in the culture and swimming with whales! To stick to your budget you’ll have to be choosy. Expect “big activities” like diving and cruises to be at a similar price to New Zealand’s big activities. Nevertheless, accommodation is cheap with backpacker hostels, budget lodges and guest houses.

Totally turned on by Tonga? Check out Tonga – Guide for Backpackers or check out a complete travel guide to Tonga at TongaPocketGuide.com.

 Naval Surface Warriors on Flickr© Naval Surface Warriors on Flickr

3. Vanuatu

If you want to see a diverse range of cultures (about 115 different ones), then Vanuatu is your place! Snorkelling, volcanoes and waterfalls are also highlights of the Vanuatu islands, which include a mix of free, cheap and more pricey activities. What’s more, there are many extremely affordable motels, lodges with dorm rooms and guest houses to make your stay cheaper.

Vanuatu got you buzzed? Check out Vanuatu – Guide for Backpackers.

 Roderick Eime on Flickr© Roderick Eime on Flickr

4. Samoa

With rugged volcanic landscapes that have formed awesome swimming holes, it’s not just all about the beaches in Samoa. There are plenty of natural wonders to be explored on Samoa from waterfalls to blowholes so keeping the costs down is a breeze. Although there is not much in the way of “backpacker accommodation” on Samoa, the cheap private rooms in beach fales, hotels and lodges (costing around NZ$55-$90) certainly make up for it.

Think Samoa sounds awesome? Then dive into our Samoa – Guide for Backpackers.

Pixabay© Pixabay

5. The Cook Islands

It’s like a sunnier more island paradise-like New Zealand. So if you liked your backpacking experience in New Zealand, then you’ll find similar prices on The Cook Islands. There’s plenty of tourist infrastructure for getting around easily, especially on Rarotonga, the main island, with scooter hire, buses, horse treks and even hiking guides. However, backpacker hostels are non-existent on the Cook Islands, but couples or friends will benefit from double/twin rooms for a similar price to budget private rooms in New Zealand (around NZ$85 per night).

The Cook Islands sound cool? Then head over to Cook Islands – Guide for Backpackers.

Peter Gill on Wikipedia© Peter Gill on Wikipedia

More About the South Pacific Islands

Although not quite South Pacific, Hawaii is also easy to visit from New Zealand. Find out more about visiting Hawaii in our guide, How to Plan a Trip to Hawaii from New Zealand.


The information in this guide has been compiled from our extensive research, travel and experiences across New Zealand and the South Pacific, accumulated over more than a decade of numerous visits to each destination. Additional sources for this guide include the following:

Our editorial standards: At NZ Pocket Guide, we uphold strict editorial standards to ensure accurate and quality content.

About The Author

Laura S.

This article has been reviewed and published by Laura, the editor-in-chief and co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. Laura is a first-class honours journalism graduate and a travel journalist with expertise in New Zealand and South Pacific tourism for over 10 years. She also runs travel guides for five of the top destinations in the South Pacific and is the co-host of over 250 episodes of the NZ Travel Show on YouTube.

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