Lava's in the air: Volcanic romance in the Pacific Islands
Rugged volcanic peaks, technicolor reefs, and the heady pong of frangipani and gardenia blown on a warm tropical breeze. There's romance in the air on a Pacific Islands holiday. But there's more to these pristine paradises than swaying palms, white sands and coconuts. Get loved up with a massage for two beneath the stars, find a restaurant with a balcony then make like Romeo and Juliet, or seek romantic solitude on a desert island.
Just the two of us
Doze to the lullaby of waves lapping the reef. Sun yourselves side by side on beaches of the purest white sand. Float in warm, turquoise lagoons packed with gaudy fish and colourful corals. They say love is blind. There's something wrong with your eyesight if idyllic Aitutaki Lagoon in the Cook Islands doesn't float your boat. Step in to its vast triangle of shimmering aquamarine and lapis lazuli. Or take a lagoon cruise and peer at blue starfish and gaping giant clams on the sandy bottom.
For that authentic Robinson Crusoe feeling, head to Fiji's Yasawa island chain, where deserted beaches are the norm. Or castaway on Tonga's Vava'u archipelago with its 41 islands, many inhabited only by the colourful native birdlife. On Atiu, in the Cooks, beaches outnumber visitors by around five to one.
Nature in the raw
Volcanoes come as standard in Polynesia - hike hand-in-hand to the extinct cone in Samoa's national park. You might even catch sight of huge Tongan fruit bats. Don't worry - they won't bite. If you want to turn up the heat and get really steamy, head for volcanoes of the active variety on Ambrym or Tanna in the Vanuatu archipelago.
A dive to long-forgotten Fijian shipwrecks with your 'buddy' will bring out the romantic in you. Feed stingrays in Moorea, hold each other tight at the eerie lava fields in Samoa, and swim with whales and dolphins in warm Tongan waters. The foolishly love struck can demonstrate manly prowess with a bravura leap into the unknown in Vanuatu. The original bungy jump - leaping from a platform with your legs tied to the end of a vine - was invented here.
Because you're worth it
Treat yourself - and your better half - to a little luxury, South Pacific style. Spa resorts are prolific throughout the region. Book yourself into a traditional over-water villa-on-stilts. Think perfect privacy broken only when lunch is served by your very own butler. Over-water villas are a speciality in French Polynesia. You'll also find them at plush Likuliku Resort in Fiji and Aitutaki Lagoon Resort in the Cooks.
There's something rather dreamy about a massage under shady palms or starry skies. Indulge yourself at Sinalei's open-air spa on the Samoan island of Upolu. Or choose a discreet corner of the beach at Aitutaki's Pacific Resort in the Cook Islands.
Dinner for two
Forget candlelight. In the South Seas you dine beneath a glowing moon and star-studded sky. Sophisticated French cuisine is always on the menu on Le Taha'a in Tahiti. Impress your date by choosing ocean-fresh lobster and chilled French champagne. Bon appétit!
A romantic dinner for two doesn't have to cost the earth. You'll find just as much romance slurping plates of ika mata (tuna marinated in lime juice and coconut cream) in a Tongan café, the sun blazing red and gold as it sets over the Pacific. Or on the wide porch of a traditional Fijian restaurant like Nadina, where the food is cooked in a lovo (underground oven) and arrives at your table all ready to unwrap from banana leaves.