South Pacific – Moon Handbooks
This is definitely the most comprehensive travel guide you’ll be able to find. It provides in-depth information on 15 nations and territories of Polynesia and Melanesia (Micronesia is not included). It also contains over 100 detailed maps, more than 70 photographs and illustrations, notes on the region’s history and culture, practical tips, and very useful language sections. The only minus: current edition (8th) was published in 2004, so it is now considerably out of date.
South Pacific – Lonely Planet
This guide is very similar in form to the Moon’s Handbook. It is, however, much less thorough. It doesn’t cover all the countries in full detail – Wallis and Futuna, Tuvalu, Pitcairn Islands, Niue, and Tokelau are described only cursorily. Notwithstanding that, the book is extremely user-friendly. It gives a lot of background information on the region, has an interesting ‘Which island?’ feature, a very helpful survival guide, and quite a few chapters dedicated to journey planning. Current edition (5th) was published in 2012. Next edition is due in 2016.
South Pacific – Frommer’s Complete Guides
It’s quite hard to treat this handbook as a complete guide to the South Pacific, as it concentrates solely on the most visited countries: French Polynesia, the Cook Islands, Tonga, Samoa, American Samoa, and Fiji. Nevertheless, it is a very useful planning tool with a great deal of practical information, money-saving tips, fun facts, and an absolutely amazing ‘The Best of the South Pacific’ section. Current edition (11th) was published in 2008.