Mighty Travels Guide to the Pacific Island Nations – Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu

The Pacific Island Nations are a confusing bunch for many of us. There are so many nations spread over the South Pacific and often it’s just one (small) island per nation. This Mighty Travels Guide to the Pacific Island Nations will help as we cover:

  • Micronesia
  • Fiji
  • Kiribati
  • Marshall Islands
  • Nauru
  • Palau
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Samoa
  • Solomon Islands
  • Tonga
  • Tuvalu
  • Vanuatu

Please note that we left Australia, New Zealand, French Polynesia and Noumea out of this guide.

Airline Credit Cards

Pacific Island Nations – Federated States of Micronesia

Pacific Island Nations

Travel & Visas

You will need a US passport valid for at least 180 days and there’s a departure fee of $20 when you leave each island.

Best way to get there

The United Airlines ‘Island Hopper’ – UA 154 makes a stop at Pohnpei International Airport. You can’t really make a stop without a major reprice of your fare (or by using more miles), though.

Pacific Island Nations – Fiji

Fiji Sunset

Travel & Visas

You need a passport valid for at least six months after your scheduled departure date from Fiji and there are no immigration fees.

Best way to get there

Alaska Airlines partners with Fiji Airways. Alaska Mileage Plan allows free stopovers en-route to New Zealand and Australia with Fiji Airways at Nadi International Airport (even on one-way redemptions).

Pacific Island Nations – Kiribati

Pacific Island Nations

Travel & Visas

Your passport must be valid for at least six months and an onward or return ticket will do the trick. There is an Airport Embarkation Tax of AU$20.

Best way to get there

Bonriki International Airport isn’t easy to reach, but Fiji Airways flies from Nadi. You should be able to use miles (more about that later) if fares are sky-high.

Pacific Island Nations – Marshall Islands

Pacific Island Nations

Travel & Visas

The Marshall Islands are closely associated with the United States. From what I read, a passport is not necessary and a fee of $20 is imposed for individuals aged 13 through 59.

Best way to get there

The United Airlines ‘Island Hopper’ – UA 154 makes a stop at Marshall Islands International Airport. You can’t really make a stop without a major reprice of your fare (or by using more miles), though.

Pacific Island Nations – Nauru

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Travel & Visas

Nauru does NOT make it easy to visit. You will have to obtain a visa in advance. The consulates don’t have a reputation for being fast, but surely they will be more organized than the consulate of Nigeria in Washington DC?

Best way to get there

Only Nauru Airlines serves the island, so if you would like to include it in your itinerary, you need to pay for it.

Pacific Island Nations – Palau

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Travel & Visas

If you are a US citizen visiting Palau for one year or less, you do not need a visa. You can also work and live in Palau without restrictions.

Best way to get there

Palau is a major resort island for visitors from Asia. United Airlines flies direct from Guam and Manila and many Asian carriers have direct flights to Palau as well.

Pacific Island Nations – Papua New Guinea

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Travel & Visas

Per the Papua New Guinea Immigration website, to enter the country you must have a passport that is valid for at least six months from the date of intended travel, an onward/return airline ticket and proof of sufficient funds. You may obtain a tourist visa (valid for stays of up to 60 days, with extensions available for an additional 30 days) or a single-entry business visa (valid for stays of up to 30 days) when you arrive at Jacksons International Airport in Port Moresby.

Best way to get there

Papua New Guinea shares a name with the Indonesian province of Papua. However, they are up in arms against each other, so there is no border crossing or flights. PNG is historically aligned with Australia and it comes as no surprise that Qantas and Virgin Australia fly there.

Pacific Island Nations – Samoa

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Travel & Visas

Travelers should have a valid passport and an onward/return ticket to enter Samoa. US citizens do not need a visa for stays of 60 days or less, while non-citizen US nationals will need a visitor permit before traveling to Samoa.

Best way to get there

Faleolo International Airport near Samoa’s capital of Apia does not have a lot of international flights. However, Virgin Samoa and Air New Zealand can both get you there. Virgin Australia is a transfer partner of several US loyalty programs and allows redemption on Virgin partners easily.

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Pacific Island Nations – Solomon Islands

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Travel & Visas

US citizens do not need a visa to enter the Solomon Islands for tourism purposes. Visitor permits for 42 days are granted upon arrival at Honiara International Airport and you may enter any number of times as long as your total time there does not exceed 90 days in a 12-month period.

Best way to get there

Virgin Australia has good connections to Honiara International Airport from Brisbane. The airline is a transfer partner of several US loyalty programs and allows redemption on Virgin partners easily.

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Pacific Island Nations – Tonga

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Travel & Visas

At the time of my research, the Tongan Immigration website was down, but the US Passports & International Travel site states that your passport should be valid for at least 6 months and you’ll need an onward or return ticket. A tourist visa is not required for a stay of up to 30 days.

Best way to get there
Air New Zealand, Fiji Airways and Virgin Australia all serve Fuaʻamotu International Airport.

Airline Credit Cards

Pacific Island Nations – Tuvalu

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Travel & Visas

For stays under 90 days, no visa is required for US citizens, but you’ll need an onward/return ticket, a passport with 6 month validity and proof of sufficient funds for your stay.

Best way to get there

Fiji Airways flies from Nadi or Suva to Funafuti International Airport, near the capital of Nuku’alofa, as does Virgin Australia from Sydney.

MightyTravels 2016-09-08 at 2.20.22 PM

Pacific Island Nations – Vanuatu

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Travel & Visas

US citizens need a valid passport, an onward ticket and proof of sufficient funds in order to enter Vanuatu. Tourist visas are not required for stays of up to 30 days.

Best way to get there

Bauerfield International Airport used to be one of the most connected in the region, but Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand recently suspended flights due to the state of the runway. They even went so far as to cancel the codeshare agreement with Air Vanuatu.

Cash Tickets vs Miles & Points in Pacific Island Nations – Strategy

Using Cash Tickets

Searching is straightforward, though a number of airlines are not listed in a ‘GDS’ as they aren’t the safest. This means they won’t show on tools like ITA Matrix. I had success looking up routes using MT Flights or Kayak.

While distances are usually small, airfares between the islands in the Pacific can be shockingly high – or very moderate – depending on the route and the competition.

The 5-hour flight from Fiji to Christmas Island (Kiribati) will cost you $741 or you can use 18,000 Qantas Frequent Flyer points and $140.

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Other routes (like the competitive route between Port Vila, Vanuatu and Nadi) are cheap – often really cheap!

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Using Miles in Pacific Island Nations

There are a number of carriers that can be booked with miles.

Fiji Airways using American AAdvantage miles

American Airlines can book any trip in the South Pacific on Fiji Airways (and onwards with Air Tahiti and even some New Zealand codeshares) for 15,000 miles one-way and no fuel surcharges.

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Fiji Airways using Alaska Mileage Plan miles

Alaska Airlines has a great award chart for flights to New Zealand via Fiji Airways. You can have a free stopover in Fiji (and then make this the start of more exploration within the Pacific Islands). Note that Alaska Airlines has no chart for intra-South Pacific flights.

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Solomon Airlines and Fiji Airways

Fiji Airways is partly owned by Qantas (it has a 46% share) and Qantas also has an equity stake in the Solomon Islands. In addition, the company maintains a codeshare on Air Niugini (you can earn and USE miles).

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Qantas Frequent Flyer charges anywhere between 8,000 and 18,000 points plus fuel surcharges (which can be $100+) for a flight. Given the many options and low points requirements, this is a great option for our exploration. Qantas Frequent Flyer is a 1:1 transfer partner with the US ThankYou points program run by Citibank.

Virgin Australia/Virgin Samoa with other Virgin frequent flyer programs

Most interesting to Americans, Virgin America (and also Virgin Atlantic) allow redemptions on Virgin Australia and Virgin Samoa. Both are transfer partners in several exchangeable mileage currencies.

Air New Zealand/United using Star Alliance miles (primarily United MileagePlus)

United has some very favorable redemptions for long trips all over the South Pacific, including 12,500 miles one-way (no fuel surcharges) from Japan and 15,000 miles from North Asia.

The trouble is the very restricted award availability on Air New Zealand. The flights touching the United hub in Guam usually have good availability.

Suggested itineraries for the Pacific Island Nations

There are so many ways to explore these islands. I have listed an itinerary I would like to do soon – one that seems the most reasonable to me.

Note that the following bookings are all one-way flights unless otherwise specified. You will need to book your onward ticket before you can go through immigration (though a separate refundable booking will do).

1) Use an award to New Zealand (even Christchurch) and stop over in Nadi to begin your adventure.

2) Buy a one-way cash ticket to Port Vila, Vanuatu, which should be cheap.

3) From there, use the competitive rates to get to Honiara in the Solomon Islands with another one-way.

4) From the Solomon Islands, I would redeem miles to Brisbane on Virgin Australia (Virgin America Elevate seems especially easy to book).

5) From Brisbane, I would go on to Apia on Virgin Samoa, again using miles from the Virgin family.

6) From Apia, I would redeem United miles on Air New Zealand (though availability can be rough) all the way to Tonga (with a long 24-hour layover in Auckland if possible).

7) From Tonga, I’d fly Virgin Australia to Sydney (this route often has reasonable cash prices).

8) From Sydney, I would opt for an award on Qantas and Air Niugini to Port Moresby. These tickets can be expensive, but Qantas Frequent Flyer points can be a lifesaver in this situation.

9) If you are a bit adventurous, you could pay for a flight on Philippine Airlines (or use Etihad Guest miles) to Manila from Port Moresby (watch out for the frequency of this flight).

10) United Airlines flies from Manila to Palau (!) and onward to Yap, Federal States of Micronesia.

11) Yap is a great place to catch the ‘Island Hopper’ (likely using an award) back to the US.

What did I leave out?

Tuvalu needs to be done from Fiji as a round-trip from Nadi or Suva as only Fiji Airways currently serves the airport. You can redeem Qantas Frequent Flyer miles or buy a cash ticket.

Kiribati can be done as a round-trip from Nadi by redeeming Qantas Frequent Flyer miles.

Nauru – only the national airline flies there so there’s no miles redemptions; that and the visa situation make me want to leave this island for another day.

What’s your take? Have you been and how did you do it?

3.5 / 5 stars