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Aitutaki

Cook Islands, Pacific

Aitutaki, the second most visited island in the Cook Islands group, is geologically part volcanic and part atoll. Just 220 kilo...

string(2553) "Aitutaki, the second most visited island in the Cook Islands group, is geologically part volcanic and part atoll. Just 220 kilometres north and an easy 45-minute flight from Rarotonga, its lagoon is considered one of the most magnificent in the world. Local legend claims that its highest hill, Maungapu, is said to be the top of Rarotonga’s Raemaru mountain that was chopped off and brought back by victorious Aitutaki warriors. Polynesian myth holds that beautiful Aitutaki is a giant fish tethered to the seabed by a vine from the air. The light turquoise lagoon looks like a huge pale oyster against the vivid blue ocean. Captain Bligh discovered Aitutaki in 1789, only 17 days before the notorious mutiny on the Bounty. Christian missionaries followed which meant it was the first island in the Cook Islands to receive Christianity. Today the people live in villages along the coastline and island interior. Most roads are tar sealed and transport is mainly by motor scooter, although bicycles and cars are also used to get people around. The low rolling hills of the island are flanked by banana plantations and coconut groves. A triangular barrier reef seems to catch the exquisite turquoise Aitutaki lagoon like a giant fishhook. The crystal-clear water in the lagoon is ideal for sailing, swimming, snorkelling, kitesurfing, stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking, and scuba diving and beneath the blue surface is a world of sea creatures that will leave you fascinated. There’s also the elusive fighting bonefish which is favoured by anglers. To reach the summit of Maungapu, take a leisurely half-hour walk to the west side of the island. At its peak you’ll discover a breathtaking view of Aitutaki. The shopping and business district is between Amuri and Ureia, and also clustered near the wharf at Arutanga. Aitutaki offers a range of accommodation for any budget and there are a few restaurants and cafés on the island for your dining pleasure. Live entertainment can be found at hotels or local watering holes. Be sure to book a full-day lagoon cruise. There will be plenty of snorkelling opportunities and you can even hand feed schools of tropical fish and see giant clams up close. Some operators offer snorkelling gear and towels and serve a barbecue lunch when you arrive on an island. A cultural day tour is recommended as an opportunity to discover and interact with a culture that was hidden for 200 years, as a result of the influence of the new culture that was adopted in 1821. "
papua new guinea port moresby Port Moresby

Papua New Guinea, Pacific

Port Moresby is home to 200,000 people, with 700 diverse languages and cultures. The town consists of a complex traditional soc...

string(2296) "Port Moresby is home to 200,000 people, with 700 diverse languages and cultures. The town consists of a complex traditional society formed by historical bonds between the traditional land owners, the coastal Motuans and the inland Koitabu. Port Moresby fluctuates from the hustle of commercialisation to the serenity of a country town. Downtown at the waterside is the nostalgic Port Moresby. At the entrance of Fairfax Harbour are Lolorua and Daugo (Fishermen’s) Islands, favourite picnic areas for sailors. Beautiful views from Paga Point overlook Ela Beach and Koki Point. Juxtaposed to the metropolis is the partly stilt-based Hanuabada Village. Burnt down after WWII, the big village was rebuilt by the Australian Administration. Despite cosmetic changes, the character of the village is still there and is renowned for elaborate ceremonies. Koki market on the waterfront is a favourite for trade in fresh seafood and has a colourful fruit and vegetable market. Be sure to visit PNG Arts and Beyond Art, to see PNG’s largest collection of tribal artefacts. The National Parliament, a symbol of modern architecture, contrasts with the dignity of traditional design at The National Museum and Art Gallery. The first permanent display of local artefacts was established here in 1978 and is well worth a visit. Located on the slopes of Independence Hill at Waigani, it’s open weekdays and Sunday afternoons. In September join in the celebrations of the Hiri Moale Festival to commemorate the historical trade between villagers around the Gulf Province and the Motuans and Koitabuans of Central Province. The festival features canoe races, processions, choirs, string bands, sing-sings and the Hiri Queen contest.The Sogeri Plateau (46 kilometres from Port Moresby) is where the Kokoda Trail became the centre of war between Japanese and Allied Troops during WWII. Variarata National Park is a spectacular mountain region, with views over Port Moresby and the coastline. If you get up early enough, you can catch the mist blanketing the ranges. Westbound from Port Moresby is the Hiritano Highway, connecting the city with Bereina, home of the Kairuku and Mekeo people. The Mekeos are renowned for their strong chieftain system and grand traditional costumes. "
Oahu

Hawaii, Pacific

Oahu suits beachcombers, honeymooners and adventurers of all ages. With its perfect weather, tropical flowers, pristine valleys...

string(4859) "Oahu suits beachcombers, honeymooners and adventurers of all ages. With its perfect weather, tropical flowers, pristine valleys, rainbows and waterfalls, quiet beaches and fiery sunsets, it’s truly a jewel. Honolulu, the capital, is surrounded by beautiful white sandy beaches and attracts some seven million visitors each year. It offers plazas, five-star restaurants, nightclubs, world-class shopping, great art and architecture, exquisite hotels and friendly people with old fashioned Aloha spirit. Enjoy all the convenience of city living with the ambience of the tropics. A great way to get an overview of Honolulu is to take the Historic Waikiki Trolley Tour, a two-hour narrated tour on a turn-of-the-century designed trolley which stops every 15 minutes at 20 locations allowing you to spend time at as many stops as you like before rejoining the route. Stops include Honolulu Zoo, Chinatown, Aloha Tower Marketplace and the Hawaii Maritime Centre, King Kamehameha Statue, Restaurant Row and several shopping locations. There are more than a dozen specialised walking tours in Honolulu and many focus on historical sites such as the Kawaiaha`o Church, Hawaii’s oldest. Chinatown has many buildings with architecture reminiscent of a bygone era. Stroll through the arcades past the exotic herb shops and see the famous open market. More than one million visitors a year experience a taste of old Polynesia and the charm and beauty of the seven South Pacific villages at the Polynesian Cultural Centre. While there, visit the Imax theatre, experience a luau and see the spectacular Polynesian show. Take a nostalgic trip to Pearl Harbour where you can visit the USS Arizona Memorial or step aboard the USS Bowfin, a real WWII submarine. You can learn more about this compelling wartime attack by visiting the USS Arizona Memorial Visitor Centre displaying WWII naval history and see a film about the attack. Outdoor attractions include Sea Life Park on Oahu’s South East Shore which has the world’s only ‘wholpin’, offspring of a false killer whale and an Atlantic Bottlenose dolphin. Waikiki Aquarium houses several endangered and rare species, interactive exhibits and a world-famous collection of tropical fish. At Waimea Valley Audubon Centre on the North Shore experience Hawaiian cultural and ecological treasures in a natural park. Numerous cruises offer the opportunity to see the spectacular Waikiki/Honolulu coastline and whale watching cruises are a highlight in season. Another way to sightsee is in a glass-bottom catamaran in Kaneohe Bay on Oahu’s East Coast, where you can enjoy the sail and make viewing stops along the coral reefs. A safe and interesting way to see the natural wonders of the reef is to take a trip in a high-tech Atlantis Sub to a depth of 30 metres and see a visual feast of reef fish and mysterious ocean predators. Other Oahu ‘musts’ include a visit to Diamond Head crater which has a one-mile hiking trail leading to the 231 metres summit where there are spectacular views of Waikiki and Honolulu. No visit to Hawaii would be complete without a swim or at least a walk along the promenade at famous Waikiki beach. Surfboards and boogie boards are available for rent with the option of lessons for the novice ‘guaranteed to get you up’. Other activities on Oahu include windsurfing, sailing on catamarans, kayaking, waterskiing and jet skiing. Parasailing under the direction of an experienced captain is a great way to view Honolulu and Waikiki from a new perspective, nine to 91 metres above the ocean flying tandem or by yourself. The Hanauma Bay Marine Preserve, Hawaii’s most famous snorkelling spot, aims to preserve nature and educate visitors about the fragile ecosystem. As well as having unlimited activities, Honolulu is a gourmet’s paradise with cuisine that is a blend of the spices of Asia and the Pacific with European styles and sauces. It is also a shopper’s paradise with everything from the International Marketplace ‘souvenir heaven’ (built around a 100-year-old banyan tree) to famous Ala Moana, one of the largest open-air shopping centres in the USA. With nearly 50 new retailers, the Waikiki Beach Walk is the largest development in Waikiki’s history. Nearly three hectares along well traversed Lewers Street is a colourful showcase and gathering place. This outdoor entertainment plaza includes several dining establishments and hotels, and benefits from the island’s cooling trade winds and year-round excellent weather. Where else in the world can you snorkel a crystal lagoon, climb a dormant volcano, surf huge waves, kayak along a pristine coastline, picnic on a sandbar, soar in a glider over tide pools, scuba dive over sunken aeroplanes, play golf at a championship course and sail into the sunset? "
Kauai

Hawaii, Pacific

The fourth largest and the oldest of the Hawaiian islands, Kaua’i is about 888 kilometres square in area, formed from one massiv...

string(3049) "The fourth largest and the oldest of the Hawaiian islands, Kaua’i is about 888 kilometres square in area, formed from one massive volcano of which Mt Waialeale forms the eastern rim. The main road circles the coastline with the exception of a 24-kilometre stretch at the north shore cliffs which is inaccessible. When Captain Cook came ashore in January 1778 he was received as a god. Today, visitors to this beautiful island of gardens and rainbows are greeted in much the same friendly way. Lihue, the capital of Kaua’i, still has few buildings taller than a coconut tree. Yet the island offers visitors all the ingredients for a perfect holiday including luxury accommodation, gourmet cuisine, a host of watersports and activities including world-class golf. Po`ipu, a leisurely 30 minutes by car south of Lihue, has been called Kauai’s playground, with its pristine beaches protected by a necklace of offshore reefs. Just one kilometre from the resort area is sailing, diving, deep sea fishing and daily boat tours from Kukuiula Harbour. At nearby Spouting Horn, a turbulent wave action causes surf to shoot through a lava tube and out a hole in the coastal rock. This geyser sometimes reaches heights of 18 metres and more. On the west side of Kaua’i you’ll find what Mark Twain called the ‘Grand Canyon of the Pacific’, Waimea Canyon, 1097 metres deep in parts, with red and green vistas punctuated by waterfalls. North from Lihue you can stop off to take a ride on one of the flat-bottom river boats that takes you to the Fern Grotto. Further north past the Coconut Coast you pass by the turnoff to The Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge which shelters thousands of seabirds. Near Princeville and Hanalei, made famous by the song Puff the Magic Dragon, is Ke`e Beach. Close by are the wet and dry caves, prominent in ancient Hawai’ian myth and the start of the 17 kilometres Kalalau hiking trail. Further south is Lumahai Beach the famous nurse’s beach in the movie South Pacific. On the island’s north shore the scenery runs riot, grey mists hang over the sheer Napali cliffs, waterfalls tumble into deep valleys. Much of this region and the island’s interior cannot be reached by road, so a helicopter or fixed wing plane tour can give you a perspective otherwise unobtainable. Kaua’i is called the Garden Island with good reason. The National Tropical Botanical Gardens in Lawai Valley and the Allerton Estate Gardens, as well as the Limahuli Gardens in the north, are among the major attractions that showcase nature at her best. Kaua’i’s diverse scenery has lured filmmakers to her shores for decades and such classics as Jurassic Park, Raiders of the Lost Ark and of course, South Pacific mean visitors can occasionally experience déjà vu. Also Kaua’i is very popular with practitioners of the healing arts giving it the reputation of being a special place for those seeking rejuvenation and relaxation combined with a taste of traditional local culture. "
Palau

Micronesia, Pacific

This pristine paradise is a dream destination. Like giant green mushrooms scattered across a tranquil turquoise lagoon, the lim...

string(4614) "This pristine paradise is a dream destination. Like giant green mushrooms scattered across a tranquil turquoise lagoon, the limestone Rock Islands of Palau seen from the air are one of the most exquisite creations of nature found in the world. The spectacular Rock Islands Southern Lagoon was inscribed onto the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2012. An archipelago divided into sixteen states, each with their own distinct features and attractions. Renowned as one of the seven underwater wonders of the world, this Pacific Island nation boasts a vibrant culture, a people so hospitable, and a stunning marine ecosystem that beckons explorers from far and wide. But that’s just the beginning. From sunburnt volcanic savannahs to forests concealing endemic plant and bird life, to coral atolls and reefs teeming with marine life, the Republic of Palau is truly Nature at her most majestic. Within this archipelago is a marine diversity higher than most of Micronesia. Sharks thrive in waters that in 2009 became the world’s first shark sanctuary, setting an example that has been followed by many other island destinations. Palau’s rare dugong, known locally as the mesekiu, as well as endangered species such as the hawksbill turtle, or the chambered nautilus, a deep water shell species that inhabits only a few Pacific islands, can be found here. Diving in Palau is an unforgettable experience. The crystal-clear waters, abundant marine life, and stunning underwater landscapes make it a paradise for divers. What sets Palau apart as a diving destination is its commitment to sustainable tourism practices. The government of Palau, in collaboration with local communities and conservation organizations, has implemented measures to protect its marine resources while offering exceptional diving experiences. Its dedication to preserving the environment is deeply ingrained in its historical narrative and forms an integral part of its identity. Not only does Palau protect its marine life, it puts new species on the lists. Trapped in an enclosed body of water, the mastigias of Jellyfish Lake have completely lost their sting because they have not had to repel predators. Instead, they spend their days in privileged leisure, pulsating gently from one side of the marine lake to the other while catching the sun’s rays and farming their own food supply of algae. Snorkelling surrounded by them is fascinating and surreal. Discovered in one of Palau’s deep underwater caves, a prehistoric eel was named Protoanguilla Palau as recently as 2011. Rainbow-filled walls and channels on the fringe reef provide homes for over 1450 species of reef fish and 400 species of reef-building hard corals, as well as 150 species of soft corals, gorgonians, and sea pens. Some of the famous residents and visitors include manta rays, black or red snappers, napoleon wrasse, bumphead parrotfish and pelagic species including the colossal whale shark, marlins, and tornados of schooling barracudas. Outside of the reef are sports fishing opportunities beyond your wildest dreams and fully equipped charters to bring back the proverbial “big one”. Beyond diving, Palau offers an array of natural wonders and cultural experiences. Palau is comprised of diverse terrains – including lush jungles, hidden caves, pristine beaches, and rock islands. Moreover, it is rich in biodiversity. Approximately 75% of Palau is covered in native forest and mangroves that are home to various endemic plants and faunas. Over 100 plant species and birds have been recorded, of which at least one third of these species are endemic to the island. Hidden away in the lush tropical jungle and forests, lie obscured waterfalls that preside magically over their respective natural domain. Palau stands out not just for its breathtaking natural scenery but also for its people. The warmth, welcoming hospitality, and sincere smiles contribute significantly to Palau’s beauty. A democratic country that still abides by its culture and traditional leadership, Palauan villages were, and still are, traditionally organised around matrilineal clans. Men and women had defined roles. A council of chiefs governs the villages, while a parallel council of women holds an advisory role in the control of land, money and the selection of chiefs. The Palauan people adhere to a spirit of respect, known in their native language as omengull, which illuminates various aspects of their way of life. This character extends to the treatment of all individuals and entities within their community. "
Nadi

Fiji, Pacific

Nadi is the gateway to Fiji and sits on the western coast of Viti Levu. Nadi has a population of more than 71,000. Because of i...

string(2808) "Nadi is the gateway to Fiji and sits on the western coast of Viti Levu. Nadi has a population of more than 71,000. Because of its proximity to the Nadi international airport, it essentially caters for tourists. Facilities include accommodation, restaurants, nightlife, duty free shopping, sightseeing tours and interisland cruises. Nadi town itself is small in comparison to the capital, Suva, but is still a bustling centre of business with around 20 hotels for all budgets dotted along its undulating coastal fringe, providing holidaymakers with everything they desire. It also acts as a gateway to other Fijian regional destinations. The starting point for many scenic tours and sporting activities, Nadi is close to Viseisei Village, regarded by most Fijians as the ‘foundation village’ of Fijian heritage and culture. Also close by in Sabeto are mud pools, zip-lining, Rise Beyond the Reef Shed Shop, Aviva Farm and Fiji’s largest privately owned gardens, the Garden of the Sleeping Giant. Twenty kilometres north of Nadi Airport is the city of Lautoka, which is a major commercial and administrative centre. It is also an important seaport and home of Fiji’s Sugar Corporation, the largest sugar mill and the South Pacific’s largest distilleries. Trekking tours can be arranged to the nearby Koroyanitu National Park with great scenic views along the way. Driving north past fields of sugarcane and the occasional glimpse of an offshore island, are the towns of Ba and Tavua. In Ba, you can visit the local markets, pick up some handicrafts and fresh seasonal vegetables or take a trip to the picturesque Navala village in the Nausori Highland, the only village in Fiji where the majority of houses are still bures. This region known as the Suncoast, is a strikingly beautiful stretch of countryside along Viti Levu’s western and northern coast with a cluster of resorts on the peninsula. This land of abundant sunshine, azure skies and dramatic grass-covered peaks is chequered with sugar-cane fields, rural villages and quaint market towns. The offshore islands of Nananu-i-Ra offer great hiking, diving, kiteboarding and windsurfing. From Nadi you can visit the historical Momi gun site, bunkers and gun emplacements installed to repel a World War II invasion that thankfully never eventuated. Or embark on a cross-island hike with Talanoa Treks – Fiji’s only dedicated hiking company. There are day cruises to both island and jungle locations and cruise boats depart Port Denarau Marina to the Mamanuca Islands. If scuba diving is one of your hobbies, why not join one of the schooners departing from the Denarau Marina at 9.30 am daily. You can choose between one- or two-day dive programs. Non-divers are catered for with snorkelling equipment. "

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