Cities and Towns in Australia and Pacific
Gritty looking Pago-Pago is beautiful located at the bottom of a protected bay surrounded by lush green mountains. It's spread out along the waterfront. As busy as the harbour is, as quiet is the rest of the town. As American Samoa is American territory there are expats and the US navy is also present.
No traveller likes Nadi. It's not because it's horrible, far from, but it's just a place you eventually will spend way more time in than anticipated while travelling in Fiji. Downtown Nadi is small. The main street is full of souvenir shops and touts, but the nice covered market has a bustle with friendly vendors. However, most budget travellers stay down at New Town Beach, where there are plenty of hostels. The sparkling new area of Denarau, where the ferry terminal is, tries to be posh with many upscale resorts, but it's beyond us why anyone who goes to Fiji will stay for longer periods at one of Fiji's most crap beaches, when paradisaic Mamanuca and Yasawa islands are literally right at the doorstep.
With a "soaring" population of almost 170,000, Suva is not only Fiji's capital, but also the largest city in the South Pacific. It's a real port town with a busy harbour and bustling downtown. But it doesn't feel big as few buildings over five floors and spread out over lush hills with lots of shady trees. There are still a handful of gracious colonial buildings, but there is nothing Pacific beauty over Suva, but nevertheless it's a pleasant encounter. There are plenty of markets, parks and great eateries to keep any visitor busy for a day.
Apia is certainly not the reason why travellers come to Samoa. The capital is by all means alright in terms of facilities, but it's not pretty nor interesting. The few colonial buildings are mixed with "modern" complexes along with a lot of shabbiness. The waterfront is nice and the fish market next to the bus station is also worth a look, particularly on Sunday mornings.
The main town on Savai'i is not the worst place to stay. It's where the ferry comes in, there is a bank, and buses depart from here to all other places on Savai'i. There are no sights to see beside the covered market at the bus station. Keep in mind, that the lastest buses back to Salelologa tend to be very early in the afternoon (around 2-3 pm).
The capital of Solomon Island is a weird place. Run down and devoid of anything slightly pleasing to the eye. The drab town can seem sleazy at first sight, but any small talk with the dodgy looking characters in the streets will only bring out big red smiles (betel nut) and handshakes. The colourful central market is the main (well, only) point of interest. A rowdy affair (as rowdy as it gets in the Solomons) and a great place to meet people from the outer islands. Don't judge the Solomon Islands based on your first impression of Honiara, for the only thing that is the same is the great Melanesian friendliness.
By Tongan standards Neiafu is a sizable town. There are banks, shops, a harbour and churches (of course, every Christian branch is represented). Due to the high numbers of tourists in whale season (July to October), there are even tourist facilities like guest houses, cafes, souvenir shops, bike rental and tour agents. It's a pleasant place to base yourself, while exploring the rest of Vava'u's islands.
Though the capital of Tonga has an exotic name, the town isn't very appealing. There are a few sights in the town itself, like the Talamahu market, royal tombs and royal palace along with some churches, but else Nuku'alofa is best used as a base to explore the rest of Tongatapu Island. Local buses go to every village, though not frequent, else day tours and taxi can be booked for seeing the sights of Tongatapu.
Pangai is the main town in Ha’apai Islands group. It's an extremely quiet affair with the usual range of churches and nondescript Chinese shops, all selling the same crap. It has become a fashion among the Chinese shop owners to have the sound turn on their Chinese calculators. Anyway, there are also money changers, ATM, both police and fire stations, and even a few cafes, in the most simple sense.
Tuvalu consists of four islands and five coral atolls. The main atoll is Funafuti, which consists of several islets, the largest is Fongafale. It's a long narrow sliver of land, 12 kilometres long and no more than 400 metres wide. The town, which takes up the "albue" of the L-shaped islet, doesn't seem to have a united name, instead people refer to the four “villages” which make up the town. Officially, the capital of Tuvalu is the entire atoll Funafuti. The population for Fongafale is about 5500, half of Tuvalu’s entire population. It feels like just like one small town, with one road running from one end to the to other with surprisingly many motorbikes and even cars. The focal point of Fongafale is the airstrip, which runs the entire length of the town.