HOME NOW When you're swinging from a hammock and grilling shrimp on a private deck tucked into a forest of banyan trees and kentia palms, it's hard to imagine life beyond Lord Howe Island. In 2002, the Arajilla Retreat renovated 12 rooms, turning them into sophisticated Asian-influenced suites, each with complimentary use of snorkeling gear, fishing tackle, and backpacks. Cost: Suites start at $145 per night. Contact: Arajilla Retreat, 011-61-2-6563-2002, www.arajilla.com.au.
THE NEW LAGOON One look at the island of Aitutaki's lagoon30 miles in circumference, 15 feet deep, and ringed by isletsand you'll see why the designers of Pacific Resort Aitutaki placed this retreat on 17 beachside acres. Some 145 miles north of the Cook Islands, this cluster of 28 palm-roofed villas and bungalows, set in hibiscus gardens, just opened in October 2002. Cost: $350 per night. Contact: Pacific Resort Aitutaki, 011-68-2-20427, www.pacificresort-aitutaki.com.
Free Flipper Help researchers observe 11 Pacific bottle-nosed dolphins at one-year-old Dolphins Pacificthe world's largest natural habitat for dolphin researchon Ngeruktabel Island in Palau. These ocean mammals are free to roam a 200-million-gallon roped-off lagoon, while visitors swim and scuba dive to learn more about dolphin behavior and ways to protect them in the wild. Reach the lagoon via a five-minute boat journey from the town of Koror. Cost: $80 per swim, $120 per scuba dive. Contact: Dolphins Pacific, 011-680-488-8582, www.dolphinspacific.com. Dates: year-round.