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Jimbaran & Uluwatu

Bali, Indonesia, Asia

The Bukit Peninsula offers stunning ocean views and white sand beaches. The quiet fishing village of Jimbaran lies on a narrow ...

string(3794) "The Bukit Peninsula offers stunning ocean views and white sand beaches. The quiet fishing village of Jimbaran lies on a narrow isthmus connecting the Bukit Peninsula to the rest of Bali. Jimbaran is unique in that it borders two different coasts lying less than two kilometres apart. The geography around Jimbaran is distinctly different to the volcanic fertile soils found elsewhere in Bali. The Bukit Peninsula is comprised of a large limestone plateau offering stunning ocean views from its clifftops and white sand beaches. On the west coast is Jimbaran Bay and the Indian Ocean while the east has the shallow and sheltered Benoa Harbour. The region has remained sparsely inhabited due to the landscape and was at one stage a place of banishment where undesirables were sent. The Jimbaran area is a far less crowded alternative to Kuta or Legian thanks to careful planning by local authorities. The beauty of the beach has led to a number of luxury hotels being built along the shore. Budget accommodation is limited in Jimbaran, but the region is easily accessible from Nusa Dua or Kuta by taxi, bemo or bike. The sea temple of Pura Luhur Ulu Watu is the region’s most significant sight. The temple is one of several dedicated to the spirits of the sea along the south coast of Bali. Precipitously perched atop sheer limestone cliffs, the temple is certainly a dramatic sight, especially at sunset. Sunset at Jimbaran Bay is another popular sight. Seafood restaurants and warungs line the beach and tourists arrive in the late afternoon to witness the brightly coloured fishing fleets prepare for departure. An outlying reef protects the beach at Jimbaran quite well, however some of the world’s best and most dangerous surf beaches are located nearby at Uluwatu and Padang Padang. The Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park (GWK) is situated overlooking the South Bali tourist region and is one of Bali’s premier venues for performances, exhibitions, conferences, sightseeing and relaxation. Jimbaran has three major temples that draw tourists from around the world, Pura Dalem, Pura Puseh and Pura Desa. The anniversaries of the temples occur within four days of each other. At this time of year Jimbaran is vibrant and full of ritual activities. Although the number of tourists visiting Jimbaran is increasing, it’s still a relatively tranquil haven, offering many unique sights. Uluwatu Located on the western shore of the Bukit Peninsula on Bali’s southern coast, Uluwatu is famed for its spectacular rock formations, world-famous surf break, and dramatic cliffside temple. Heralded ‘the most famous wave in Bali’ Uluwatu is a surfer’s paradise, however there is plenty of other things to see and do in Uluwatu for the non-surfer. Uluwatu boasts one of the oldest and most impressive temples in Bali, Pura Uluwatu, built by Javanese priest Empu Kuturan in the 11th century. Dedicated to the spirits of the sea, the temple is an architectural wonder, carved in black coral rock and perched high on the cliff side, 70 metres above the Indian Ocean. The best time to visit the temple is in the afternoon, so you can watch the evening traditional Balinese Kecak Dance and Fire Dance performance (held at 6pm every evening) on the cliffside stage as the sun goes down in the background. When visiting the temple, it’s advised to be mindful of your belongings, as the cheeky monkeys that reside here may take off with your sunglasses and hold them ransom in exchange for a banana! This large limestone peninsula is just a short drive away from Kuta Bay, Jimbaran and Nusa Dua. Renowned for its spectacular sunset views its dramatic location, perched high on the cliff’s edge, provides the perfect locale to sit back, relax and enjoy the show. "
cook islands aitutaki the vaka lagoon cruise 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(2700) " Aitutaki, the second most visited island in the Cook Islands group, is geologically part volcanic and part atoll. Just 220 kilometers north and an easy 45 minute flight from Rarotonga, its lagoon is considered one of the most magnificient 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, snorkeling, 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 an opportunity to discover, and interact with a culture that was hidden for 200 years as a result of the inf luence of the new culture that was adopted in 1821. Punarei Culture Village offers visitors the experience of engaging in some cultural practices such as making umukai, sharing stories of the ancient past and visiting sacred and scenic sites. "
Waipio Valley Lookout Big Island

Hawaii, Pacific

Hawaii’s Big Island is the youngest, the most diverse and the grandest of all the Hawaiian islands. Larger than all the other...

string(3447) "Hawaii’s Big Island is the youngest, the most diverse and the grandest of all the Hawaiian islands. Larger than all the other islands put together, it’s a land of amazing contrasts with lush rainforests, monolithic cliffs, spectacular ocean vistas, white, black and even green sand beaches, plunging waterfalls, deserts, plains and active volcanoes. First discovered more than a millennium ago, the Big Island is where Polynesian mythology says Madame Pele, goddess of fire, dwells. She is said to live in the firepot of Halemaumau in Kilauea crater on the slopes of Mauna Loa, from where she actively pours new lava almost daily. Hilo is the seat of government and near it are rainforests and black lava rocks hugging a serrated shoreline that is expanding thanks to Kilauea Volcano, the world’s most active volcano. Volcanoes National Park is best accessed from Hilo. You can safely explore lava tubes and hiking trails around this amazing site. Nearby is Punaluu Beach Park with picturesque black sand beaches. North of Hilo the highway snakes between mountains and sea to Waipi`o Valley and Waimea through kilometres of fields where sugarcane once grew. Hidden amongst the mountains are a multitude of waterfalls including the impressive Akaka Falls. A must is a visit to the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden where you can see more than 2000 species of tropical plants. Across the island, near Kawaihae, is Heiau, built by King Kamehameha, which is now an historical site. In Waimea, the Parker Ranch’s historic homes house a magnificent collection of Italian and French period pieces and more than a hundred original paintings by masters such as Renoir and Degas. In this region you can learn about a different side of Hawaii that is also home to paniolos, or Hawaiian cowboys. Lapakahi State Historical Park, north of Kawaihae, was once an ancient Hawaiian fishing village. A short drive from the park is King Kamehameha’s birthplace and Mookini Luakini Heiau believed to have been constructed about 480 AD. The Kohala Coast is home to magnificent resorts with breathtaking views of lava flows. Anaehoomalu Bay, with its picture postcard beach, curves between the shallow bay and an ancient Hawaiian fishpond once used by royalty. Once home to Hawaiian royalty, Kailua-Kona is now a vibrant resort and shopping precinct with a rich cultural heritage. It is also a great base from which to explore Kona coffee country and the unique Painted Church where columns form the trunks of painted palm trees. The Big Island produces 39 percent of the world’s macadamia nuts and Kona is the only place in the US where gourmet coffee is grown commercially. It also has the world’s largest anthurium and orchid flower industries. There are 20 golf courses on the Big Island, many with green fairways carved from ancient lava fields. Activities include fishing for marlin, a helicopter or small plane ride over red flowing lava and diving at night with giant manta rays. Getting around the Big Island is convenient and easy. The most popular mode of transport for international visitors is to hire a car and explore the island at leisure. There are also bus tours, shuttles and taxis. There are plenty of options when it comes to accommodation on the Big Island. From charming bed and breakfasts to hotels, condominiums, lodges and five-star resorts, there’s something to suit every traveller and budget. "
fiji kadavu Kadavu

Fiji, Pacific

About 100 kilometres south of Viti Levu, Kadavu is one of the few remaining undeveloped islands in Fiji today. Completely unspo...

string(1395) "About 100 kilometres south of Viti Levu, Kadavu is one of the few remaining undeveloped islands in Fiji today. Completely unspoiled, Kadavu is one of the best places to experience Fiji’s incredible culture and natural beauty. Surrounded by the world famous Great Astrolabe Reef, the islands are renowned for diving and snorkelling. This magnificent reef is one of the largest in the world and home to an abundance of marine life unequalled in Fiji. You can swim with manta rays, dive wrecks and swim through amazing vibrant coral gardens. Fishing, surfing and kayaking are also popular, while inland you’ll find lush, green rainforests bursting with stunning birdlife, glorious waterfalls and good hiking routes. Bird watching is also a popular pastime, and the colourful Kadavu Parrot, which is now a protected species, can be easily observed. For travellers interested in getting away from the typical tourist spots, Kadavu is a great option where limited accommodation consists of a few small resorts and a guesthouse. Kadavu is easily accessible with flights from Nadi and Nausori (Suva) Airport. For those who want to experience inter island travel as the locals do, there is an overnight ferry that departs from Walu Bay, Suva, on Tuesday and Friday evenings. A shuttle bus is available to pick you up at Kadavu Airport to take you to wherever your boat is leaving from."
Maui, path near the ocean and sunset Maui

Hawaii, Pacific

This beautiful isle was born in a fiery explosion of two volcanoes. To one side of Maui is the 1764 metre Kukui and on the othe...

string(3711) " This beautiful isle was born in a fiery explosion of two volcanoes. To one side of Maui is the 1764 metre Kukui and on the other Haleakala, a 3055 metre dormant volcano with a Manhattan size crater that houses a vast desert of unusual flora including the rare Silversword. Add to this 190 kilometres of dazzling coastline, both dramatic and diverse for surfing, snorkelling and canoeing plus waterfalls plunging 300 metres, rainforests bursting with exotic vegetation and a stark lunar landscape so barren that the astronauts practised their moon landing here, and you have the extraordinary island of Maui. The dramatic variations in climate and land formations are a large part of what makes Maui so exciting. The West Maui Mountains are rugged and verdant, with jagged peaks and deeply grooved valleys hiding waterfalls. Central Maui and the slopes of Haleakala are agricultural areas where the rich volcanic soil supports sugar, pineapple and ranchlands. The south shore, except where irrigated, is desert and scrub because Haleakala snags the rain clouds and empties them before they cross her peak. The second largest of the Hawaiian Islands, Maui was settled by Polynesians and had its own ruling family. King Kamehameha’s warriors overthrew the kingdom of Maui to unite it with the other Hawaiian Islands. He made Lahaina in Maui his capital in 1802. Today Maui has evolved into a peaceful agricultural island of charm and rustic beauty, particularly Lahaina which has been restored to its previous colonial splendour. The non-profit Lahaina Restoration Foundation which began over 36 years ago has preserved and restored a rich collection of historical sites in Lahaina. The Maui Historical Society Museum in Wailuku is a delightful structure built between 1833 and 1850 and was the home of missionary Edward Bailey. Baldwin Home, built in 1838, is the oldest standing building in Lahaina and is made of thick walls of coral, stone and hand-hewn timbers. The banyan tree came to Lahaina from India when only eight feet tall. William O. Smith, the Maui sheriff, planted it in 1873 to mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of Lahaina’s first Christian mission. Today the banyan has 12 major trunks, varying girths and reaches upward to a height of 15 metres stretching outward over a 61 metre area. The Carthaginian, a replica of a 19th century brig which now houses a whaling exhibit, graces the harbour, which is also the departure point for a multitude of cruises and whale watching tours (in season). However, if it is off season, Whaler’s Village in Ka’anapali houses an excellent whale museum. Lahaina Jodo Mission Cultural Park, on a point of land known as Puunoa, was once a small village fronting the royal grove of coconut trees. Now the best known landmark in the area, the largest Buddha outside of Japan sits in the small park commemorating the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants in 1868. Don’t miss a journey on the famous Sugar Cane Train, modelled after the turn of the century railroads that transported Valley Isle sugar to Lahaina mills. The steam driven locomotive runs between Lahaina and Ka‘anapali and visitors can hop aboard at Puukolii and Ka‘anapali as well. While on Maui, you can explore the Maui Tropical Plantation which consists of 45 hectares of crops. Learn how to husk a coconut, create a delicious tropical fruit boat and string a fragrant lei. Then catch the Tropical Tram on a 40-minute circuit to see fruit cutting demonstrations, visit the marketplace and learn how to start your own tropical garden. At the Sugar Museum you will see the production of sugar, once one of Hawaii’s biggest cash crops, from beginning to end. "
East Coast Thailand

Thailand, Asia

The Gulf of Thailand offers a host of resorts where Thais and foreigners can unwind, relax on the superb beaches and enjoy the suc...

string(2641) "The Gulf of Thailand offers a host of resorts where Thais and foreigners can unwind, relax on the superb beaches and enjoy the succulent bounties of the sea. It is also home to magnificent mountains, waterfalls and lush tropical vegetation. Pattaya, in the province of Chonburi, lies 150 kilometres east of Bangkok and is one of Thailand’s best known beach resorts. It is a developed, vibrant city that draws families (mostly to Jomtien, two kilometres south of Pattaya) and singles (mostly to South Pattaya Road). It attracts visitors who love watersports and golf, as well as those looking for entertainment, dancing and action in its neon-lit go-go bars, nightclubs, cabarets and discos. For visitors looking for other activities, the Khao Kheow Zoo has more than 50 species of birds and animals, including deer, zebras and tigers, many of them indigenous to Southeast Asia. Each October, buffalo racing is held in conjunction with a fair, and there’s also a buffalo beauty contest. Since the 15th century, Chanthaburi has been known to Western travellers for its abundance of gemstones, and is as renown for gems worldwide as Bangkok. More than 70 percent of the world’s rubies come from Thailand, and Thai workers have a reputation for their skill and dexterity in faceting stones. Of all the Thai gemstones, deep blue sapphires and blood red rubies are the most highly prized, as are unusually coloured (such as yellow) sapphires. Covering an area of just 59 kilometres, Khao Kitchakut National Park is one of the country’s smallest and boasts a 1000-metre granite mountain after which the park is named. Many people make the four-hour climb to the summit of the impressive Phrabat mountains to see an image of the Buddha’s footprint and collections of natural rock formations shaped like an elephant, a large turtle, a pagoda and a monk’s bowl. Nearby, the far larger but less visited Khao Soi Dao Wildlife Sanctuary provides a home to many endangered species, including sun bears, spotbellied eagle owls, silver pheasants and elephants. Mountainous Ko Chang is the largest of the 50 or so islands that form the Ko Chang National Marine Park, two-thirds of which is sea. Inland exploration is difficult due to the rugged terrain, but it has excellent beaches, including the popular Sai Khao Beach, prettier and quieter Khlong Phrao Beach and the particularly beautiful beach of Ao Bang Bao in the southwest corner. The tourism industry in Ko Chang is in its infancy, a contributing factor is probably the fact that several of the islands consist solely of exclusive, privately owned resorts. "

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