The South Pacific is inhabited mostly by Polynesians, people with brown skins and straight hair. Off to the west is Melanesia, meaning black islands, a name derived from the darkness of island vegetation or the dark tones of the region’s inhabitants. The inhabitants tend to have kinky hair. Micronesia, to the northwest, means small islands, aptly describing the tiny islands, several of which were the scene of bloody battles during World War II. The inhabitants are brown-skinned, with Malaysian and Polynesian traits. All are believed to have originally come from Asia by way of the Malay Peninsula.
Eighty percent of the visitors to the South Pacific come via North American travel agents. The area lends itself to Special Interest Travelers (SIT’s) and Group Inclusive Travelers (GIT’s). Package tours are a natural for the South Pacific as well as for the individually planned tours, the FIT’s. Don’t bother to take the inter-island freighters that ply the waters of French Polynesia, or of Tonga either. They frequently break down and concern over lifeboats is negligible, if they are available.
Only a few years ago accommodations in the smaller islands were few and modest. Today, places like Tahiti and Fiji have elegant hotels and the lesser known islands of Tonga and Western Samoa have a few first-class hotels.
Old-timers may not feel as comfortable in the new Tusitalia Hotel in Western Samoa, a government-owned property, as in Agie Grey’s, a rambling assemblage of rooms with plenty of atmosphere and the only good hotel in Western Samoa for many years. If so inclined, today’s visitor can experience the local culture by living in a native fale, an open hut, on one of the less developed islands in Western Samoa. The average tourist would find it fairly uncomfortable.