For over a year, we have heard whispers and rumours that Australia could potentially open up a travel bubble with neighbouring countries like New Zealand, Singapore, Fiji and the rest of the Pacific Islands.
Finally, that pipe dream is becoming a reality –– the New Zealand travel bubble is in full swing, and the Australian government is in talks to open one with Singapore in the coming months.
But what about the Pacific Islands? After all, we could all use an idyllic beach holiday right about now, especially as it’s getting colder here in Australia.
Here is everything to know about the potential Fiji and South Pacific travel bubble.
What is the Fiji travel bubble?
Now that the trans-Tasman travel bubble has opened between Australia and New Zealand, our government is in talks to open similar bubbles with other countries.
Singapore is reportedly top of the list, and there has been much speculation that the Pacific Islands will be open to Australians relatively soon.
Fiji has only reported 67 COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, so it’s likely that Australian authorities will deem it a safe country to open borders with.
How does a travel bubble work?
A travel bubble is an agreement between two or more countries that have had relative success in suppressing the spread of the coronavirus over the past year. People will be allowed to travel freely between these zones without needing to quarantine or self-isolate.
Is there a date for the Fiji-Australia travel bubble?
There is not yet a set date that Australians will be able to travel to Fiji. However, it may be sooner than you think.
With the reopening of borders for quarantine-free leisure travel between New Zealand and the Cook Islands, experts are optimistic about Australia entering into a similar agreement with Pacific Island nations within the year.
Health experts are speculating that once we are all vaccinated the coronavirus may be treated as a simple cold. Infectious disease expert, Professor Robert Booy, told Today in early May that he believes more travel bubbles will open between Australia and other countries in the coming months.
He said one country after the other would say yes if all agreed they had good control of the virus.
Is it safe to fly to Fiji?
Fiji has only recorded 206 cases of COVID-19 during the entire pandemic at the time of writing, with long stretches of no daily infections. So long as a travel bubble is established, with COVID-free “green zone” flights, it will be safe for Australians to fly to Fiji.
How to enter Fiji and Pacific Islands — the travel bubble requirements
It’s almost a certainty that travellers wanting to take advantage of a Fiji or Pacific Islands travel bubble will need to be fully vaccinated. Once vaccinated, you will receive a certificate that will allow you to travel.
Travellers heading from Australia to New Zealand have to fill out declaration cards before arriving in each country and it’s likely a similar system will be implemented if a travel bubble opens with the Pacific Islands.
Best places to travel in the Pacific Islands
The Pacific Islands are home to arguably some of the most beautiful places on the planet. From private island resorts to low-key beach bungalows, there’s truly something for every vacation style. The only hard thing is deciding where to go –– the South Pacific region stretches all the way from Australia to Hawaii so there are a lot of options.
Here are a couple of guidelines to get you started.
The Cook Islands
This group of 15 islands is a blend of Polynesian and New Zealand culture, just three-and-a-half hours from Auckland. It’s a super laid-back and welcoming destination and is a favourite spot for families thanks to its modern infrastructure. Here, you can chill out in high-end resorts, or get adventurous with hiking, kayaking, and sailing.
You absolutely must try the traditional ‘Island Night’ Polynesian feast on Rarotonga’s main beach. Pork and local vegetables are slow-cooked in an earthen oven for one of the most delicious meals you will ever taste.
Far and away the most popular spot in the South Pacific, Fiji has a reputation for being an island paradise. Despite this, it’s still wild and natural, with lush tropical forest and endless stretches of white beaches.
Snorkellers and divers should visit Fiji, which is surrounded by coral reefs abundant with marine life. There is really no shortage of things to do here, from splurging on five-star resorts to zip-lining and water-skiing.
Want to visit France without having to travel to Europe? Tahiti and its islands are the perfect mix of French culture and island living. This is the place to travel if you want a luxury island holiday. Think overwater bungalows, private residences, and helicopter trips to remote beaches. A cheeky trip to Bora Bora, anyone?
But it’s not just about chilling in your resort. There are also some great wineries on the islands, and quad-biking tours for any thrill-seekers out there.
Despite being a rugged slice of paradise, Samoa has been largely untouched by mass tourism. That makes it the perfect place to go for a chill holiday, especially if you want to get out and about in nature. Its rainforests are filled with lush waterfalls and blowholes, while its beaches put even the most stunning desktop backgrounds to shame.
Stay in a basic beach hut (fale) for the full experience and take a trip to the local markets to stock up on fresh fruit and produce for your stay.
Much like Samoa, Tonga is a more untouched island –– a place to visit if you are happy to rough it a little. One of the least developed islands in the Pacific, this is the place to come if you really want to log off and disconnect. Forget any concept of time, here it’s all about chilling out and letting go of organised holiday schedules.
Another country that’s a mash-up of French and Island culture, New Caledonia has long been a favourite holiday spot for Aussies. You can get from Sydney to the capital city of Noumea in under three hours –– faster than New Zealand!
Here you won’t have to compromise on creature comforts, as there are plenty of modern bars, cafes and restaurants serving up delicious food that you won’t ever want to stop eating. The beaches are, of course, idyllic, and it’s home to the world’s second-largest great barrier reef, with incredible marine biodiversity.
Let’s hope that the pacific travel bubble does not burst before it starts.
By Joe Cusmano