This South Pacific trip visited four countries using Air Pacific Air Pass (Fijian airline) but it meant having to connect through Fiji each time.  After arriving in Fiji, connection was made for two hour flight to Samoa where spent three days on the first of three visits.  Then back to Fiji with connection to two hour flight to Tonga where spent a few days and the only visit to Tonga.  Back to Fiji again and connecting to one and half hour flight to Vanuatu where spent another few days, again the only visit to Vanuatu.  Finally back to Fiji for a few days before heading home.  This was the second visit to Fiji.  Samoa and Tonga are Polynesian while Vanuatu and Fiji are Melanesian.

Samoa

At the time of this trip, it was called Western Samoa but now it has been shortened to Samoa.  This is the independent Samoa as opposed to its neighbor to the east, American Samoa.  Samoa is the bigger and more tourist developed of the two.  There are several islands in the country with the main one being Upolu which was visited on this trip, although it is not the biggest island.  The main town of Apia is on the north coast while the international airport is about a half hour drive west of it.  Apia is a pleasant town with a "South Pacific" feel to it.  There are not any real beaches around it though and so need to travel further away from the town for those.  The stay was at Aggie Grey's Hotel which is well known in this part of the South Pacific and perhaps the most famous hotel in the South Pacific.

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Tonga

Tonga is the only kingdom in the South Pacific and the only one without a colonial history (i.e. not governed by outside countries like other South Pacific nations).  Probably for this reason, it is more traditional and conservative than the others and on Sundays everything pretty much is closed and the main town of Nukualofa is deserted.  There are even no flights on Sundays including domestic.  Unlike some of the South Pacific nations around it, Tonga is fairly flat with no mountains.  There are numerous islands in the country with the main one being Tongatapu and the one visited on this trip.  Vavau is an island to the north about hour and half flight north of Tongatapu that is popular especially among sailing enthusiasts.

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Vanuatu

Vanuatu was formerly called the New Hebrides.  It's colonization history includes dual control by the British and French at one time.  There are numerous islands in the country with the main one being Efate.  Port Vila is the main town on Efate sitting in a picturesque harbor location.  Other noteworthy islands in the country include Espiritu Santo and Tanna Island, the latter known for an active volanco Mount Yasur and a strange cult called "John Frum".  A day trip was made to Tanna Island on this visit with a small plane flight from Port Vila (the passengers were also weighed before boarding!) and tour of the island.  Another noteworthy island is Pentecost, known for an annual ritual where natives dive on vines from tall constructed wooden platforms, and is the forerunner of bungee jumping.

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Fiji

This was the second trip to Fiji which is kind of the center of the South Pacific although not in literal sense.  Fiji also has numerous islands with the main one being Vitu Levu and where the international flights arrive and depart near Nadi on the west coast.  Suva on the southeast coast is the capital and also has an airport with a few international flights to neighboring countries but mostly domestic flights.  Stayed near Nadi on this trip and did a circle island journey by bus, going via the Queen's Road along the south from Nadi to Suva, stayed overnight in Suva and then returned to Nadi via the King's Road along the north coast.  Also visited the "Garden of the Sleeping Giant" an orchid garden established by Raymond Burr (of "Perry Mason" fame) that is not far from Nadi.

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