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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. "
The Marianas

Micronesia, Pacific

The Marianas are a crescent-shaped chain of islands in the western Pacific, a tropical paradise offering white and black sand beac...

string(4107) "The Marianas are a crescent-shaped chain of islands in the western Pacific, a tropical paradise offering white and black sand beaches, crystal clear waters, as well as award-winning dive sites, oceanfront golf course, luxury shopping, and much more. A commonwealth of the United States, The Marianas are an archipelago of 14 islands - including Saipan, Tinian, and Rota - in the sub-tropical Western Pacific. The Marianas are home to indigenous Chamorro and Carolinian people, as well as over 20 different ethnicities from around the world who live and work in this harmonious tropical paradise. Ancient latte stone limestone monoliths, traditional nature-based ocean navigation not reliant on modern technology, and a culture seasoned by East and West influences are just a few of the experiences found in The Marianas, where pristine sea, sand, and skies are only a 3–4-hour direct flight from major Asian gateway cities. Inter-island flights connecting Saipan to Rota, Tinian and Guam operate daily. Saipan The largest and most populated of the Northern Mariana Islands, the capital island of Saipan boasts gentle beaches and a wide lagoon on the western and southern coasts, a rugged and rocky eastern coast, a hilly interior, and dramatic cliffs in the largely undeveloped north. Plunge into a variety of water sports at any time of the year, including swimming, snorkelling, paddle boarding, kayaking, banana boat rides, parasailing, kiteboarding and windsurfing. Discover underwater wonders with a wide selection of shore, boat, wreck, and cavern dives. The Grotto, with passages to the open sea, has been rated as one of the top cavern dives in the World. In the heart of a marine conservation area, the tiny Managaha island is a short boat ride away, where the crystal waters of the lagoon offer award-winning snorkelling. Hope on a sailing canoe in the lagoon and learn about the indigenous skill of open ocean navigation using only natural phenomena like stars, the sun and moon, and ocean currents. Several professionally designed golf courses offer sit along cliff lines, offering a memorable round of stunning ocean views. The CNMI Museum of History and Culture is a good starting point for first time visitors to grasp the expanse of this island’s 4,000-year history. American Memorial Park offers a look at the island’s World War II history. Don’t miss a stop at the Last Command Post of the Japanese Imperial Army or the other historic and natural wonders of the Marpi area. Tinian Tinian is the closest island to Saipan and is easily accessible by air via a 10-minute flight. History abounds on Tinian, from Taga Stones, huge prehistoric monoliths quarried and transported by unknown methods by the ancient Chamorros. Explore the very runways and loading docks that put atom bombs aboard the Enola Gay to stop WWII. Tinian is all that and more with temple ruins in the jungle, natural trails, and quaint, boutique hotels to accommodate your visit. Tinian boasts numerous clean and quiet white sand beaches. The pristine water, colourful marine life and coral reefs surrounding the island offer an ideal environment for snorkelling, scuba diving, and bountiful fishing. Rota Known as ‘the friendly island’, beautiful Rota possesses a unique character and charm that wins over just about everyone that goes there, starting with the customary wave among drives on the island’s roads. On the western side of the island, take a refreshing dip in the cool, clear water at Rota’s famous Swimming Hole. Take some great photos at Tweksberry Park with its perfectly lined rows of coconut palms. Continue east along beautiful Sasanhaya Bay and get a great view of Wedding Cake Mountain. See two well-preserved Japanese swivelling cannons and other interesting sights in an awe-inspiring back road driving tour. No trip is complete with sampling local delicacies, from in-season ayuyu (coconut crab) to kadun pika (hot spicy beef soup), the choices abound and are served best in the company of newfound friends in this friendly community. "
Denarau Island

Fiji, Pacific

Situated on Viti Levu, the largest of the 333 Fijian islands, Denarau Island is located across a tiny causeway separating the isla...

string(2093) "Situated on Viti Levu, the largest of the 333 Fijian islands, Denarau Island is located across a tiny causeway separating the island from the Nadi end of the mainland. This major tourism complex is a 20-minute drive from Nadi International Airport and includes The Westin Denarau Island Resort & Spa, Sheraton Fiji Resort, Sheraton Denarau Villas, Hilton Fiji Beach Resort & Spa, Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa, Radisson Blu Resort Fiji, Club Wyndham Denarau Island, Golf Terraces, The Palms Denarau, an 18-hole championship golf course, a golf and racquet club, waterpark and a private-berth marina. The resorts boast ocean frontage, and the Bula Bus island shuttle runs frequent transfers between the resorts and Port Denarau, while golf carts whiz guests around and between the resorts. Apart from offering a sophisticated hotel and residential experience, Port Denarau, with its shops and growing marina, has become a major marine transit hub for Fijian tourism. With many of the smaller islands in the archipelago primarily accessible by boat, it is now the main transfer point for the resorts off the coast of Nadi in the Mamanuca and Yasawa Islands. Port Denarau is the principal departure point for vessels. Departing from the port are water taxis, chartered yachts and catamarans, island day cruises, multi-day island-hopping cruises and brigantines offering sunset dinner cruises. Sport is big on Denarau with the Denarau Golf and Racquet Club offering a spectacular 18-hole championship golf course. The course has been designed around the island’s extensive waterways. An impressive clubhouse comprising a pro shop and restaurant that overlooks the 9th, 10th and 18th holes. A driving range and adjacent tennis courts extend the club’s facilities. There is a yacht club and development is continuing on Denarau with other major up-market hotels under construction. Port Denarau is a commercial and retail centre, food and beverage outlets, and cultural attractions, making Denarau one of the leading integrated tourism destinations in the South Pacific. "
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."
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. "
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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