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Pohnpei

Micronesia, Pacific

This is the largest island in the Eastern Caroline Group and the capital of the FSM. It fits the typical South Sea island image...

string(3583) "This is the largest island in the Eastern Caroline Group and the capital of the FSM. It fits the typical South Sea island image with lush vegetation, abundant rainfall and tumbling waterfalls. Unlike other Micronesian islands it has tropical jungles, mist-covered mountains, one of the healthiest mangrove swamps and exotic flora in the Pacific. Situated in the northwestern Pacific, it is 880 metres high, 21 kilometres wide and shaped somewhat like a circular tent. Also known as the garden island of Micronesia, its boldest landmarks are Sokehs Rock and Nan Madol. Nan Madol is an ancient stone city built on the tidal flats of the eastern part of Pohnpei. There are approximately 100 artificial islets constructed of basalt logs of various sizes up to 70 tons each, making Nan Madol the largest and one of the most mysterious archaeological sites in the Pacific. The first European to visit the island group was Spaniard Diego de Rocha in 1526. The islands were originally called the New Philippines until 1696 when they were renamed the Caroline Islands. Occupied by Spain, Germany, Japan and the USA, Pohnpei experienced 100 years of foreign rule because it proved to be an ideal supply stop for the Pacific expeditions. Pohnpeian is the native language, however, both English and Pohnpeian are used in business. Archaeologists and engineers are attempting to discover more about the race which constructed the island city of Nan Madol. The stone fortress was built on a reef south-east of Temwen Island by the rulers of Pohnpei around 500 AD until it was taken over by Isokelekel, the warrior who installed the present traditional system in the 1520s. Nan Madol is reached by boat from the main town of Kolonia about 45 minutes away. It’s a full day boat tour which includes a visit to the spectacular Keprohi Waterfall and snorkelling in the lagoon. A 20-minute ride out of Kolonia takes you to the Nanpil River where further along are the spectacular Liduduhniap Twin Waterfalls, complete with thatched huts where you can picnic in a jungle setting. A day trip to privately owned Black Coral Island in the lagoon is the perfect way to safely snorkel the reef and, for a family day, visit Langer island with its simple cottages where visitors can stay overnight. In Kolonia you can see the Spanish Wall, built in 1889 as a boundary for Fort Alphonso XII. Nearby is the Catholic Mission Bell Tower, all that remains of the old German church torn down by the Japanese during WWII. Also take a stroll into the Polynesian village and watch the craftsmen whittle ornaments from locally grown ivory seed. Most tours operate from Kolonia, and many of the waterfalls and areas of historical and ecological importance can only be reached by guided tour. Accommodation is in both traditional Pohnpeian thatched roofed bungalows with garden showers, and Western-style hotels. There is no public transport, only taxis and rental cars, but most hotels offer shuttle services. Tourist facilities are clean and the service is friendly. A visit to the Pohnpeian cultural centres is a must for anyone wishing to experience traditional Pohnpeian life. Each centre has a distinctive program and performances include traditional dancing, singing, music, ceremonial sakau making, handicraft arts, and food preparation. The village shops specialise in handicrafts and popular items include carvings of sharks, fish, dolphins and canoes. When it comes to relaxing, try sakau, the numbing local drink which is used in ceremonies and also sold in bars. "
Upolu

Samoa, Pacific

The gateway to Samoa, Upolu is home to the international airport, the capital city, Apia, and the bulk of the country’s populati...

string(3108) "The gateway to Samoa, Upolu is home to the international airport, the capital city, Apia, and the bulk of the country’s population. Upolu’s coast is surrounded by white sand beaches and blue lagoons. One of Samoa’s most pristine beaches, Lalomanu Beach on the southeastern tip of the island with its translucent lagoon, is a protected marine reserve, teeming with a magnitude of tropical fish species and marine life. Just a little further north, head off to Namua Island and swim with the endangered green turtle in its natural ocean environment. South of Lalomanu there’s even more fauna to explore, including the seabird nesting grounds on Nuutele Island. From behind the hospital at Lalomanu you can take a short-guided walk to an extinct volcanic crater, which happens to be home to a whole army of flying foxes. Upolu’s interior exudes a very special and mystic charm. There are numerous tracks that lead deep through lush rainforests to a number or rivers and dramatically beautiful waterfalls. O Le Pupu-Pue National Park contains Upolu’s highest mountain, Mt. Fito at 1100 metres as well as Togitogiga Falls and some good hiking trails. Papapapai-Tai Falls, with a 100 metre drop makes these very spectacular falls. The Papase’ea Sliding Rocks are just six kilometres southwest of Apia. Soft vegetation under the water makes it possible to easily slide down the falls into the natural pool below. The idyllic To Sua Ocean Trench attracts those keen to enjoy a surreal swim in a giant swimming hole. Samoa’s capital, Apia is home to 38,000 inhabitants. Situated on a natural harbour, just 40 kilometres from Faleolo International Airport, Apia is the perfect place to acclimatise to island life, pick up some souvenirs, and immerse yourself in the cultural heritage and proud history of Samoa. The colourful Maketi Fou (food market) on Apia’s Fugalei Street, is a good place to stock up on fresh fruit like pawpaws or a bunch of sweet little ladyfinger bananas. About a 10-minute walk from the food market is the flea market, the perfect souvenir haunt where you’ll find everything from clubs and kava bowls to lava lavas (the Samoan sarong), baskets, jewellery and authentic Samoan music. The famous Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson, famed for classic books such as Treasure Island and Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, spent his final years in Samoa. He was known by the local people as Tusitala, Samoan for ‘teller of tales’. His beautiful mansion Vailima has been converted into a museum set within lush gardens and is open to the public. Visitors can also visit his grave located at the top of Mt. Vaea, along a trail named by the locals as “The Road of the Loving Heart”. The locals are famously hospitable and the city is easily explored by foot. Apia has a great nightlife, everything from busy pubs, nightclubs to cultural shows and excellent restaurants, where you can sing, dance and enjoy fresh Samoan cuisine. In addition to hotels in Apia there are some good resorts, guest houses and fales on the island."
Savai’I

Samoa, Pacific

Scenic Savai’i is Samoa’s largest island at 80 kilometres long and 40 kilometres wide. Less populated, it is renowned for its...

string(2217) "Scenic Savai’i is Samoa’s largest island at 80 kilometres long and 40 kilometres wide. Less populated, it is renowned for its slower pace, natural beauty, and lava fields. Its size and lack of population make Savai’i the ideal place to get away from it all, immerse yourself in true Polynesian culture and explore incredible landscapes. Savai’i is accessible by ferry from Upolu. The island’s main town and arrival point for ferries from Upolu is Salelologa in the southeast, accessible by the main road that encircles the island. Savai’i has plenty of pristine beaches, caves, blowholes, great snorkelling, kayaking and diving. Near Salelologa, in the southeast, the Afu Aau Falls plunge down a rock face to a deep freshwater pool. Stroll across the dramatic Saleaula lava fields where molten lava from the Mt Matavanu eruption buried five villages over a century ago. In the interior, Mount Silisili is Samoa’s highest peak. In the west, the Falealupo Rainforest Preserve features the Canopy Walkway. Cape Mulinuu is Samoa’s westernmost point, according to legend, this is also the place where the dead pass into the underworld. There are several archeological sites of interest in this area including Devil’s Haden, Vaatausili’s Cave, Paepae o Apaula, Vai Sua Toto (Blood Well), Lualotooalii Pool, Spirits Meeting Ground, and Fusipotopoto Pool. Aganoa Beach, on the southeast coast, is renowned for surfing. A wide range of accommodation options are available in Savai’i along with some of the best local food experiences in Samoa. Getting around is easy. Rental cars are available or can be brought over from Upolu by ferry. All visiting drivers in Samoa must have a temporary driver’s licence. Riding one of Samoa’s brightly coloured buses is a must-do local experience. In Salelologa, buses depart from the wharf or market. There are no bus stops, simply wait on the side of the road and wave your bus down. Bicycles are another popular way for visitors get around Savai’i, and you can hire a bike or scooter or join a guided bike tour of the island. Taxis are reasonably priced but don’t have meters so it’s best to agree on a price at the start."
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? "
Micronesia Yap Holiday Hotels Yap

Micronesia, Pacific

Part of the Federated States of Micronesia, Yap is situated in the Western Caroline Islands, between Guam and Palau. It is made...

string(3333) "Part of the Federated States of Micronesia, Yap is situated in the Western Caroline Islands, between Guam and Palau. It is made up of four main islands, Yap South, Gagil-Tomil, Maap and Rumung.The landscape consists of rolling hills with lowlands covered in thick jungle-like vegetation. Most of the coastal areas are mangrove with occasional coral beaches. Like other FSM islands, there is a coral reef, so snorkelling is popular as is diving in the clear lagoon with the giant manta rays which appear throughout the year. The town of Colonia on Yap Main Island is the capital and is more urbanised than the village areas. Yap also has about 130 outer islands stretching nearly 1000 kilometres east of Yap Main Island. Most of the outer islands are coral atolls and are sparsely populated by a people that differ from those from the Yap Main Island both in culture and language. Four indigenous languages are spoken. These are Yapese Main Islander, Ulithian, Woleaian and Satawalese. English is the official language spoken every day, though some local government organisations still conduct business in their own vernacular. Because of its position, Yap was minimally affected when the Spanish colonised Micronesia in the 1500s, and again during German occupation from the end of the 1800s to the beginning of the First World War. The same thing occurred during the Japanese occupation, so by Micronesian standards, Yap remains relatively unaffected by modern society and influence. Most of the lands outside of Colonia downtown are privately owned properties so visitors are asked not to litter or to take any pictures of people without securing their permissions first. The stone money of Yap (largest in the world), though not legal tender in the international currency marketplace, is still used as legal tender on the island. The value of these limestone, disk shaped coins varies, though not according to size but to the stories behind them. Today, the money is still owned but not moved, even though ownership may change. Visitors can still see some of the traditional houses in the villages. The villages of Yap Main Island still retain the foundations of meeting houses and platforms used by the elder male residents to discuss community matters. Only a limited number of tourists visit Yap each year, and the locals, who are naturally warm and friendly, are more responsive to those who respect their culture and customs. All land and beaches on Yap Main Island and the outer islands are privately owned by the traditional leaders and chiefs. If you want to get off the beaten track, request to explore further by asking permission from the village/island elders. You may also have to pay a small fee for the privilege. Yap remains a distinctive destination because of the way the people value their culture, custom and history. The traditional dress is brightly coloured loin cloths for men and colourful grass or woven hibiscus skirts for women. The official currency is the US dollar and credit cards are accepted at tourism accommodation properties, restaurants, supermarkets and the main shops. It is recommended that you bring some US$ cash or you can use any of the two bank ATMS on the island, which allow for cash withdrawals using international credit and debit cards. "
Rarotonga

Cook Islands, Pacific

Surrounded by a clear, turquoise blue lagoon, Rarotonga is 32 kilometres in circumference. The lagoon often extends more than a...

string(3031) "Surrounded by a clear, turquoise blue lagoon, Rarotonga is 32 kilometres in circumference. The lagoon often extends more than a hundred metres to the reef and then slopes steeply to deep water. The reef fronts the shore to the north of the island, making the lagoon there unsuitable for swimming and watersports, but to the southeast, particularly around Muri, the lagoon is at its widest and deepest. This part of the island is the most popular with tourists for swimming, snorkelling and boating. Agricultural terraces, flats, and swamps surround the central mountain area. Rarotonga is the main island of the Cook Islands and caters to almost 90 per cent of the country’s tourist accommodation and offers many activities. The population is approximately 13,000, mostly indigenous Cook Islands Maori and almost half living around Avarua on the north coast. The Maori ancestors landed on the Cook Islands in their magnificent, giant double-hulled canoes that are still proudly part of the traditional way of life. They were guided by their knowledge of the stars and the famous power of Polynesian navigation. Rarotonga is a small volcanic island with a landmass of only 26 square miles. It is dotted with pretty villages, a friendly atmosphere, lovely mountain views and hiking trails. It has a reputation for excellent snorkelling off the beaches that line most of the coast. Rarotonga enjoys a climate that is warm and sunny all year round. There is more rain and higher humidity between the summer months of December to March. The high season for tourism is during Christmas when New Zealanders and Australians visit during their summer school holidays. Tradition and a cultural heritage are trademarks of the island. Music is an integral part of the culture and part of the islander’s daily routine. Stunning chants and hymns emanate from the churches and local string bands use a combination of electronic and traditional ukuleles made from coconut shells to entertain. Visitors will often be invited to join with the hip-swaying dancers when the music begins. Fishing, paddling, sailing, stand up paddle boarding, snorkelling and swimming are just some of the activities that abound in this tropical paradise. If you feel like more adventure, take a trip into the hinterland and experience the unique flora and fauna of the lush rainforests. Take time to listen to the legends of ancient wars and love affairs that stretch far back into an almost forgotten time. Getting around Rarotonga is easy. With no traffic lights to be seen, relax and meander on a bus around the island. Buses uniquely travel both clockwise and anticlockwise on the road that circles the island and obliging drivers will pick-up and drop-off at will. Scooters are also a popular mode of transport. While nurturing its culture and tradition with sensitivity and pride, Rarotonga is also very much part of the present and offers everything today’s visitors expect. Experience Rarotonga and you will not be disappointed. "

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