Introducing Wallis & Futuna
These two forgotten specks that lie smack in the centre of Polynesia/Melanesia make up one of the world's least known countries. The inhabitants, who are markedly more reserved than in most Polynesian isles, are happy to keep it that way. And why not? This French colony has managed to keep its culture remarkably intact throughout serious Catholicism and a strong French presence. France pours in the money and the people continue to live as they always have, fishing and planting taro and manioc - but now they also drive brand-new Toyota 4WDs, go to church and watch satellite TV. This is a country that has figured out how to get all the perks of colonialism without losing its soul. There are no plans for a push for tourism and, as long as the airfares and cost of living stays as high as they are (this place makes Tahiti seem cheap), it's not likely to receive heaps of honeymooners or package tourists any time in the near future. Movements for independence are few: the hospitals, schools and highly paid government jobs are all welcome enough additions that the people are happy to put up with a few handfuls of French expats.
Wallis Island and Futuna & Alofi, which lie 230km away from each other, are linked through French colonialism, period. Wallis has ancestral connections with Tonga while Futuna traces its roots to Samoa. This is evident in the languages, which are quite different although mutually comprehensible, as well as the Samoan-like tapa designs of the Futunans and the Tongan-influenced designs found on Wallis. The two islands remain competitive with each other but Wallis, being more populous and the centre of government, retains the upper hand.
Remote South Pacific islands you can visit (without a sailboat)
Have you ever wanted to get way, way - and perhaps even one extra 'way' - off the beaten path? The vast Pacific ocean presents no shortage of opportunities for those seeking isolation. If you don't know your aft from your starboard, these five island nations are about as far as you can go - no sailboat required.
South Pacific phrasebook
OK, so you can get around on lots of the Pacific islands with just English or French, but pack a little of the local languages and you'll be able to go beyond the 'one umbrella or two?'. Covers Fijian, Hawaiian, Maori, Samoan, Tahitian, Tongan and more
Wallis & Futuna destination guides
How to choose a South Pacific island
The South Pacific confounds even the savviest map buffs with its splatter of dots spread across the world's biggest ocean. What you can't tell from a map, or even most tourist brochures is that these palm-laden pinpricks are as diverse as the region is vast.
South Pacific: travel books to read before you go
This excerpt from Lonely Planet’s South Pacific guide provides a selection of literature to get you in the mood for your trip. There are many excellent books that have been published about the Pacific.