by Wendy Fougner
On one of our last family adventures, Bruce and I took the boys to Australia, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, and the Solomon Islands. We found highlights in each destination, as every place had its own charms and attractions.

My favourite destination throughout the trip would have to be Tasmania, Australia. I felt very at home in Tasmania, as if I could actually move there. The people are very genuine and friend­ly, the scenery – characterized by lush, undulating hills – is absolutely stunning, and overall it has a lot of character. It was easy to find good food and we never had to hunt around to find a decent meal. Despite the fact that it poured one day during our stay, the rain didn’t take away from Tasmania’s charm.
The most surprising destination was the Solomon Islands – the least developed of everywhere we went on our trip. The Solomon Islands are quite impoverished, which was very shocking at times. We found there to be a strong sense of tension and resentment between the locals and the growing Chinese population, and there were soldiers marching around Guadalcanal. Although it was unexpected, the soldiers were not at all intimidating. We also found that it was difficult to find good food and we usually had to hunt around for a nice place to eat. Despite this, there was still a lot to enjoy on the Solomon Islands. The weather was fantastic, on a day trip outside of Guadalcanal we experienced the islands’ beautiful scenery and our hotel was lovely.

After the Solomon Islands we travelled to Vanuatu where we stayed at the Warwick resort. We were all quite tired of moving around and wanted a place to relax and enjoy the sun. The War­wick was lovely – the food was good, the pools were beautiful and the resort offered a number of complimentary activities. There was a nice golf course at the resort and Bruce and the boys played a round of golf; however, golf balls and clubs were limited! The Warwick is located a short distance from downtown Port Vila which is a common stop on cruises through the South Pacific, so there were lots of touristy shops to do a little shopping.
Our next stop was New Caledonia, the French territory. This was one of Bruce’s favourites because he was able to practice his French. New Caledonia is very French and when we were visiting we felt a definite sense that we were in Europe. We stayed in an apartment, which was great because we could cook our own meals. The grocery stores have a great selection of food and we found lots of fresh, delicious produce. However, things are not very cheap in New Cale­donia because most of the goods are imported from elsewhere around the world.

After New Caledonia we ventured back to Australia and stayed in Sydney for a few nights. Sydney is a very fun, vibrant city and we all had a great time. The harbour was a definite high­light: there are people everywhere, different street performers and a lot of excellent food. The boys went out to a lot of bars and said that the nightlife was really fun, with genuine people and great music. One drawback, though, was the cost. The prices are actually quite a bit higher than in Vancouver. In Australia they have what is called a “right to a living” so wages start a lot higher and restaurants are more expensive.

Overall, we had a great time and it was a wonderful family trip. The South Pacific is a beauti­ful destination that offers everything from charming towns and stunning scenery to bustling cities with excellent nightlife. I would highly recommend the South Pacific to anyone looking for a unique destination to explore on their next adventure.