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The continent of Oceania encompasses the islands of the South Pacific. Some of these islands—Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, Fiji, Tahiti—you will no doubt already know a little or a lot about, and may even have visited. Others—Vanuatu, Palau, the Solomon Islands—likely won't even ring a bell unless you're a seasoned South Pacific traveller. This is a continent definitely worth many visits, because each island (or group of islands) offers such a delightfully unique travel experience.
For tourists, Oceania's appeal is two-fold. First of all, the islands are ocean playgrounds, with some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, some of the most exceptional and unusual beach accommodations, and some of the best snorkelling, scuba diving, sailing, and cruising adventures you'll ever have. But, the cultural adventures come a close second to the "ocean" ones.
Age-old customs and rituals still play a role in island life, and provide travellers with enchanting glimpses into the past. In Hawaii, for example, you can enjoy a luau, which is a traditional Hawaiian feast for which much of the food-meat, sweet potatoes, taro, bananas-is steamed in an underground oven. You can watch the ritual of land diving (nagol) and then indulge in some kava tasting in Vanuatu. And throughout the islands, you can enjoy performances of traditional dances—like the Haka in New Zealand—that have been passed down from generation to generation.
Flights are plentiful from North America to Australia, and New Zealand and there are several direct flight options. In order to reach the other islands of Oceania, however, you will have to make a connection or two, likely in the United States, and then possibly again on one of the islands, most likely Fiji. Of course, flights will cost more during the peak tourist season, which tends to be the dry season of each island so you'll need to book well in advance to find a reasonably good deal during this period. Keep in mind that even during the less popular wet season, flights tend to cost well over $1,000 CAD return, and because you're looking at very long flying times (i.e. Vancouver to Auckland, New Zealand is about 13 hours), you do lose a day travelling in each direction, so factor in both the cost and the time involved in getting to and from, and you'll quickly understand why going to Oceania for anything less than two weeks hardly makes sense.
The islands of Oceania enjoy tropical and subtropical climates. There are basically two seasons: a very hot, very humid wet season (this is also hurricane season), and a "dry season," which is slightly cooler. Regardless of the season, daytime temperatures seldom fall below the mid 20s, and often hit the low 30s (in degrees C).
Most tourists prefer to travel during the dry season, which is November through May in the islands north of the equator, and May through November in the islands south of the equator. The wet season tends to be too unpredictable with its heavy rains and tropical storms.
New Zealand is the exception to all of this. Although the North Island is called the "winterless" north and enjoys balmy subtropical weather year-round, the South Island has a more temperate climate, and in the far south temperatures can hover close to freezing during the cooler winter months of June, July, and August.