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Pacific Tahiti Sofitel Moorea Ia Ora Beach Resort 2 Moorea

Islands of Tahiti, Pacific

Like all Polynesian islands, Moorea is enveloped in folklore. Legend has it that a golden-skinned lizard abandoned by its human...

string(2826) " Like all Polynesian islands, Moorea is enveloped in folklore. Legend has it that a golden-skinned lizard abandoned by its human parents became stranded on the reef of Emeho as it swam after them. The merciful gods turned it into the island of Moorea (which means ‘golden lizard’), one of the true jewels of French Polynesia. Only 17 kilometres from Tahiti or an eight minute flight and regarded as her sister island, Moorea is renowned for its natural beauty and tranquillity and often thought to be the inspiration for James Michener’s mythical island of Bali Hai. The island’s steep volcanic peaks rise sharply from the island’s basalt base and are best viewed from Cook’s Bay and Opunohu Bay. Moorea’s laid-back atmosphere provides the perfect backdrop for relaxation but the island also has a wide variety of recreational activities to suit the most active traveller. The island is home to a third of French Polynesia’s total hotel capacity, with accommodation ranging from luxury resort over-water or beach bungalows to hotel rooms and small local-style thatched roof ‘ fares’. One of the best ways to get to know this magnificent island is hire a car or scooter and tour the single road around the island, visiting secluded beaches, pineapple and vanilla plantations and small picturesque villages. The trip should take about four hours depending on how many stops are made along the way. Inland, lush forests cover Moorea’s mountains, which offer spectacular views of the island’s valleys as well as its lagoons and bays. The beautiful large garden and old colonial home in Opunohu Bay at the Kellum is worth a visit, built last century and well preserved. Opunohu valley is also home to stone marae temples and archery platforms used by Polynesian royalty in pre-Christian days. Le Belvedere Lookout Point offers an unequalled panorama of Cooks and Opunohu bays, divided by the sacred Rotui mountain. Moorea has many talented artisans whose creations are sold in boutiques around the island. Ideal for the tropical climate, handpainted pareus, sundresses, bikinis, shirts and beachwear add instant beach chic to any wardrobe or make perfect gifts. Tahiti’s prized black pearls are available loose or set in designer jewellery from jewellers and boutiques on Moorea, while the public market in Pao Pao beside Cook’s Bay has locally made shell jewellery as well as hats, tote bags, baskets and mats woven from palm fronds, pandanus and banana plants. Moorea plays host to a number of special events each year that are well worth attending, including the Tahitian Tamara’a Show. Visitors arrive by outrigger canoe at sunset, try foods cooked in a traditional underground oven, enjoy a spectacular Polynesian dance performance and stay for the bringue, or party, that follows. "

Indonesia, Asia

With its pristine white-sandy beaches, the magnificent Mt Rinjani volcano, and spectacular marine life to discover, the island of ...

string(4120) "With its pristine white-sandy beaches, the magnificent Mt Rinjani volcano, and spectacular marine life to discover, the island of Lombok in West Nusa Tenggara has no shortage of attractions both in, and out of the water. Lombok is located to the east of Bali and is geographically the same size. A wide range of destinations is guaranteed to suit even the most discerning visitors. Whether you wish to surf the massive breaks on the south coast, challenge yourself with a trek up steep volcanic peaks, or hire a bike and cycle through lush, abundant rice paddies, you won’t be disappointed with the spectacular natural beauty of Lombok. The island enjoys a tropical climate with warm and humid weather all year round with a temperature range of 21°C to 32°C. The wet season starts from November through to May and the dry season starts from May through to October. The island has a population of about 3.1 million and the local inhabitants are called Sasaks who comprise 70 percent of the population. The remainder consists of other predominant ethnic groups such as Balinese, Chinese, Arabian, and Javanese. Bahasa Indonesia is the national language but English is widely spoken. Lombok has three distinct districts with three main cities. Mataram, the centre of commerce and the capital city, is in the west, Praya is in the centre and Selong is located to the east of the island. Popular tourist resort area, Senggigi, is a township that is positioned on a sweeping bay providing magnificent views of a rich, fiery red sunset over neighbouring Bali. Visitors to Lombok also flock to one of the three Gili islands- Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air. These picturesque tropical islands are just a short 40-minute boat ride from Senggigi. The majority of the population is Muslim with most worshipping in the mosques on Fridays, their holy day. If you are planning on travelling around the island and visiting small villages, be respectful and considerate of the Islamic beliefs and wear or knee length shorts, a shirt with sleeves or a sarong. If you happen to visit during Ramadan, which is the Muslim month of fasting from sunrise to sunset avoid eating, drinking or smoking in public places during this month-long fast. Lombok has a reputation for amazing, woven textiles. Songkets (hand-woven textiles) and ikats (intricate dyed fabric) can be used, amongst other things, as sarongs, wall hangings, or tablecloths. The design woven is unique to each weaver and it is passed down through the generations. There is a traditional handweaving village in Puyung in central Lombok where visitors can try on a traditional Sasak costume, and the village of Sukarare is a must visit for kain ikat or handwoven textiles. Lombok is also known for its magnificent South Sea cultured pearls, and its pottery has gained in popularity and is now shipped all over the world. There are many other traditional handicrafts that make perfect gifts or souvenirs including wooden masks, baskets made out of ketak grass and wooden boxes decorated with shells. Visit the village of Banyumulek where arguably, some of the best pottery is produced. Public transport in Lombok comes in the form of buses and bemos (a small minibus). The main bus terminal is Mandalika at Bertais. Hiring a car or motorcycle is a convenient way to explore the island. Hotels and travel agencies offer the most competitive rates for car and motorcycle hire. To get to Lombok, you can travel by air, ferry or fast boat. There are daily flights between Denpasar, Bali and the capital of Lombok, Mataram. The public ferry travels between Padang Bai (Bali) and Lembar (Lombok) multiple times a day, and the trip takes roughly two and a half hours. Both motorbikes and cars can be taken on the ferry. Ferries also travel between Labuhan Lombok and Poto Tano on Sumbawa several times a day, and this trip takes one and a half hours. However, if you are prone to seasickness, the trip can be rough. Another option is by fast boat Blue Water Safaris run express boats from Bali to Lombok, the Gili islands and Lebongan Island. "
South Thailand

Thailand, Asia

The region abounds in sandy beaches fringed with palm trees. The narrow peninsula of southern Thailand stretches from the borde...

string(3145) "The region abounds in sandy beaches fringed with palm trees. The narrow peninsula of southern Thailand stretches from the border of Myanmar to Malaysia. The region has a rich multi-cultural heritage, and abounds in sandy beaches fringed with palm trees. Phuket is Thailand’s largest island and one of the most popular holiday destinations in Southeast Asia with many traditional fishing villages transformed into holiday resorts. Longtail boats take visitors to sights such as the extraordinary limestone stacks of Phang-Nga Bay. Phuket Town is a perfect place to shop for truly unique gifts, as well as giving tourists the opportunity to see Thai and Chinese temples. Covered in lush green hills and rice paddies, Phuket’s major attractions include Karon, Kamala and Kalim beaches, as well as Patong Beach and Promthep Cape. The clearest waters, best sand and most luxurious hotels are found on the west coast. Patong is the most densely developed resort while Karon and Kata are quieter. Patong Beach owes its popularity to its easy access and long stretch of beach. Most of Phuket’s evening entertainment is found here, as well as cheap shopping opportunities. Patong Beach is where Phuket’s action is, and it is by far the most frequented destination on the island. It has several white sandy beaches and is packed with restaurants, hotels, bars and shops and is a great place to start your exploration of the surrounding areas. Nature lovers won’t want to miss Mai Khao Beach, where sea turtles lay their eggs between December and February. A visit to a pearl farm is also a popular day trip for tourists. Krabi, 180 kilometres from Phuket, is a small fishing town with an important role as the ferry connection point for islands such as Ko Lanta, Ko Phi Phi and the beaches around Ao Nang. Towering limestone outcrops have become the signature of the twin Phi Phi islands, and the challenging conditions attract rock climbers from around the world. The beautiful paradise of Koh Samui is Thailand’s third largest island. It has a forested hinterland of granite and limestone hills and a shoreline of world famous palm-fringed beaches. Koh Samui is the second most popular island destination in Thailand. Chaweng Beach has a reputation as a hangout for the international party crowd while those looking for peace and quiet should try Mae Nam, Bo Phut and Big Buddha on the northern coast. Trang is a coastal province on the Indian Ocean that was the first area in Thailand to grow rubber, which is now a major part of the economy. Hat Chao Mai Beach is of particular interest to tourists, and on offer are amazing experiences such as paddling on Phang-Nga Bay, allowing adventurers to explore a network of interesting caves and scenic deserted beaches. Phang-Nga, located next to the Andaman Sea, has amazing natural beauty and offers breathtaking scenery and landscapes, with mountainous areas alongside forest and some wonderful islands and beaches. It has a charm of its own, without the hustle and bustle of Phuket, and is nestled amongst soaring mountains that rise up around the town. "

Fiji, Pacific

Nadi is the gateway to Fiji and sits on the western side of Viti Levu. Nadi has a population of more than 42,000. Because of it...

string(2951) "Nadi is the gateway to Fiji and sits on the western side of Viti Levu. Nadi has a population of more than 42,000. Because of its proximity to the 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 dotted along its undulating coastal fringe, providing holidaymakers with everything they desire. It also acts as a gateway to other Fijian 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 are mud pools, zip-lining, 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 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 glimps 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, go river rafting 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. 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-ira offer great hiking, diving, kiteboarding and windsailing. From Nadi you can visit Momi gun site, bunkers and gun emplacements installed to repel a World War II invasion by the Japanese that never eventuated. Or take a trip to Mt Victoria, Fiji’s highest peak with three native reserves and breathe the clean, still air which is found only above sea level. There are day cruises to both island and jungle locations and cruise boats will pick you up from Port Denarau Marina and take you down the Nadi River and on to the Mamanucas 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. Nadi has one of two international standard 18–hole golf courses in Fiji. It lies within easy reach of the town’s hotel belt. "

Philippines, Asia

Voted World’s Best Island in 2013 and 2015, Palawan, often referred to as the last ecological frontier of the Philippines, has m...

string(2024) "Voted World’s Best Island in 2013 and 2015, Palawan, often referred to as the last ecological frontier of the Philippines, has much to offer its visitors. Officially the Province of Palawan, it is an island province that is located in the Mimaropa region. The biggest island in the Philippines, Palawan. It is part of an archipelago with more than 1700 islands on the western side of the country and its eco diversity includes grasslands, jungles, mountains and pristine beaches. The northern part is characterised by incredible clear waters, white beaches that line the coast and many species of flora and fauna. One of the most visited places, El Nido, is known for its sandy beaches, coral reefs and is the gateway to the Bacuit archipelago, a group of islands with steep limestone cliffs. The area has many dive sites, including Dilumacad Island’s long tunnel leading to an underwater cavern. When El Nido is crowded during the peak seasons and you prefer a quieter environment, Taytay is a great place to visit. It has loads of things for visitors to do. You can swim in the many hidden lagoons, kayak on beautiful Lake Manguao, swim around the beautiful waterfalls, snorkel or island hop. The capital of the province is the coastal city of Puerto Princesa. It is a great base from where visitors can take boat trips through the huge limestone caves as well as the underground river in Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park. Around the city are great dive sites that are only five to 40 minutes from the beach inside Puerto Princesa Bay with the closest being White Beach and Red Cliff. They offer slopes and walls just seven metres under the surface where colourful fish, turtles and rays can be seen. Not to be missed is a visit to the 19th-century Immaculate Concepcion Cathedral. The cheapest option for getting around Palawan is by local jeepneys and tricycles. Getting from one island to another is possible with daily boat trips available. Car and van rentals are also available."

Thailand, Asia

A holiday in Phuket gives travellers the chance to escape to pristine beaches, crystalline waters, sumptuous cuisine and a pulsa...

string(3041) " A holiday in Phuket gives travellers the chance to escape to pristine beaches, crystalline waters, sumptuous cuisine and a pulsating nightlife. Phuket has it all. Dubbed ‘Pearl of the South’ by the tourist industry, Phuket is Thailand’s largest, most populous and most visited island. A whirl of colour and cosmopolitanism, Thailand’s only island province revolves around and thrives on tourism but still retains a spark of the real Thailand. Phuket has a long history. In centuries past, it was an important trading post. Two centuries ago, extensive tin mining drew thousands of Chinese labourers to the island and their influence has remained, leaving the province of Phuket with the highest percentage of ethnic Chinese in the country. The southern and coastal areas of the island were predominantly inhabited by Muslim fisherman. Whether it’s world-class diving in the Andaman Sea, golf at the world standard championship courses or exciting eco-adventures in tropical forests, it is the place to extend your horizons. Take an exhilarating speedboat ride to the surrounding islands or enjoy a serene cruise around mystical Phang Noa Bay. Or why not enjoy the vibrant nightlife at legendary Patong Beach with its bewildering mix of restaurants, bars, discos, live music clubs and cabarets. Inexpensive deals abound for this stunning destination and there is a wide variety of holiday packages available that need not break the budget. Phuket is more than a provincial capital; it is also a fascinating location for enthusiastic shoppers with all kind of budgets. You will find items ranging from antique Asian art and crafts, clothing boutiques, household knickknacks to bolts of famous Thai silk with bargaining the order of the day. With its idyllic tropical weather, Phuket is a favourite with beach lovers. There are, broadly speaking, two seasons: the dry and the wet. The dry season begins in December and lasts until April, when the rainfall increases. Wet or dry, temperatures remain remarkably consistent, nestling around 30°C and always with a dash of humidity. Just a 45-minute speedboat jaunt and a 90-minute ferryboat ride from Phuket are the towering limestone outcrop of the twin Phi Phi Islands. The larger and inhabited island, Phi Phi Don attracts hundreds of visitors to stay on its lovely shores. It is paradise perfected with beautiful beaches, stunning rock formations and vivid turquoise waters teeming with colourful marine life. Without roads, there is no hustle and bustle, no reason to hurry. Longtail boats make the many secluded beaches around Phi Phi Don accessible. The sheer limestone walls of the smaller Phi Phi Leh are dotted with caves and passages and the island’s shallow blue-green lagoons and coral gardens are a snorkeller’s paradise. So whether you want to snorkel the day away, relax in the sun, dance ‘til dawn at a club, or indulge in Thai specialty cuisines, it’s not difficult to see why Phuket is considered the ultimate holiday destination in Thailand. "


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