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Pacific Cook Islands Rarotonga 001 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(3032) "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 percent 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."
Sanur

Bali, Indonesia, Asia

As well as a beautiful white sand beach and a safe swimming area, there are plenty of restaurants, nightspots and good shopping in...

string(2875) "As well as a beautiful white sand beach and a safe swimming area, there are plenty of restaurants, nightspots and good shopping in Sanur.Sanur, a five kilometre east-facing stretch of picturesque coast, is an idyllic location. It is an upmarket alternative to Kuta, yet not as exclusive (or expensive) as Nusa Dua.The area has a relaxed holiday atmosphere without the hustle and bustle of central Kuta. As well as a beautiful white sand beach and safe swimming area, there are plenty of restaurants, nightspots and good shopping.From the 13th to the 16th centuries, chronicles refer to the importance of Sanur priests and scholars and today, Sanur is one of the few communities still ruled by priests of the Brahmana caste.These priests recognised both the threat and opportunity that tourism presented and imposed the famous rule that buildings cannot be taller than the highest coconut tree and established village co-operatives to ensure that a share of economic benefits remains within the community.Known throughout Bali as a home to sorcerers and healers, Sanur is often revered. The black-and-white chequered cloth seen around Bali is emblematic of Sanur. Symbolising the balance of good and evil, it can be found adorning the many temples in the region.A string of ancient temples can be found near the beach. Their low-corralled walls and platform altars are peculiar to Sanur. Anniversary celebrations at these temples are exuberant and strange to Westerners. Sanur is also home to the oldest dated artefact found on Bali—a pillar, with inscriptions on it recounting military victories more than a thousand years ago and making reference to King Sri Kesari Varma who came to Bali in AD 913 to teach Buddhism.Prior to World War II, Sanur was popular with a few prominent Western artists such as Adrien Jean Le Mayeur, writer Walter Spies and anthropologist Jane Belo. The Belgian artist Le Mayeur lived in his house in Sanur from 1935 until 1958 and it is now a museum.Activities in the area include camel rides, cycling and a plethora of watersports such as sea walking and snorkelling at the nearby reef.Sanur is renowned for its spectacular kite flying competitions during July, August and September which are staged by the local community councils. The kites can be up to 10 metres long, require a dozen men to launch them and traffic is halted when they’re carried down the roads.Part of the charm of Sanur lies in its tranquility. Mainly a resort for families wanting to experience genuine Balinese culture, the nightlife is limited to the bars and discos in the larger hotels.A huge advantage is its proximity to inland destinations, such as Ubud, which is around 40 minutes away.Sanur is a place of remarkable contrasts. It is rich in culture, history and activity and is bound to intrigue any visitor."
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."
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(2286) "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 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."
Kosrae Strand Kosrae

Micronesia, Pacific

The State of Kosrae is one of four states in the Federated States of Micronesia and, as well as the island of Kosrae, consists of ...

string(2972) "The State of Kosrae is one of four states in the Federated States of Micronesia and, as well as the island of Kosrae, consists of several islands and islets, the most significant being Lelu Island.Roughly triangular in shape, Kosrae covers an area of approximately 110 square kilometres.The most eastern of the Caroline Islands, Kosrae has a population of approximately 7000 people and is located north of the equator between Guam and the islands of Hawaii. The coral reefs that surround the island are kept in a pristine condition through an extensive mooring buoy system and the area is becoming a favourite destination for scuba divers from all around the world. The island’s interior is covered with deep vegetation and steep mountains that keep it largely undeveloped. European contact with Kosrae in 1824 reported a highly stratified society that was typical of the surrounding islands at that time. Its cultural features included matrilineal lineage and clans with a feudal structure of nobles who controlled the land that was worked by commoners. The settlements consisted of small groups of relatives who shared a single cookhouse, usually with at least one earth oven.The first missionary post was established in 1852 after American missionaries felt the need to protect the people of Kosrae from the large numbers of whalers and beachcombers who had made the island, which they considered a paradise, their home.Even today religion plays an integral role in the culture of Kosrae. Sunday is considered a day of rest and most stores and shops are closed on that day.In 1874, the pirate Bully Hayes was shipwrecked on Kosrae when his ship, the Leonara, was stuck in Lelu harbour during a storm. During his stay of several months on the island, Nully terrorised the local people. He was finally arrested by Captain Dupuis aboard the HMS Rosario but managed to escape on a boat built of timber from the wrecked Leonara.Traditional foods on the island include breadfruit, coconut, banana, taro, yam and sugarcane. Woodcarving, traditional canoe and cottage construction, fishing, farming and fine weaving using hibiscus, pandanus and coconut palms continue to be an integral way of life on the island.The weather in Kosrae is warm and humid throughout the year with an average temperature of 25℃ and rarely exceeding 32℃. It has two distinct seasons, dry and rainy and during the rainy season, November to April, be prepared for showers everyday.Casual and summer clothing is worn throughout the year although swimsuits and shorts are not acceptable in the villages. Be respectful—cover your shoulders and knees, and don’t forget a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen.Kosrae is a wonderful gem, yet to be discovered by most modern travellers. A visit guarantees the experience of a lifetime—from the unhurried, friendly lifestyle and warm, island hospitality that are as unforgettable as the magical Micronesian sunsets."
Malaysia

Asia

Geographically divided into two, Malaysia has a peninsula stretching from Thailand to Singapore, and is blessed with enchanting is...

string(8689) "Geographically divided into two, Malaysia has a peninsula stretching from Thailand to Singapore, and is blessed with enchanting islands, beautiful mountains, tropical flora and fauna, as well as modern, thriving metropolises.Capital and major centresMalaysia consists of six major regions with Kuala Lumpur the capital city. Peninsular Malaysia’s central region is made up of the states of Selangor, Negeri Sembilan and Malacca, while the north is occupied by Penang, Perlis, Perak and Kedah. Terengganu, Kelantan and Pahang make up the east coast, and in the south is the state of Johor. The states of Sabah and Sarawak are on the northern third of the island of Borneo. Each region has unique qualities in terms of features, local culture, food and historical sites.The peopleMalaysia is a fascinating mix of ethnicities, ranging from the Malays, Chinese, Indians and indigenous Orang Asli (Original People) of Peninsular Malaysia to the diverse tribal communities of Sabah and Sarawak in East Malaysia. Although the national language is Bahasa Melayu (Malay), English is widely spoken amongst the population of around 31 million.NatureMalaysia has a precious collection of national parks and wildlife reserves, which have been established to protect flora and fauna unique to the region. More than 60 percent of the country is under rainforest cover, home to over 8000 species of flora in Peninsular Malaysia alone, as well as 2000 tree species. The fascinating wildlife in the country includes elephants, rhinoceros, tigers, leopards, tapirs, sun bears, orangutans and gibbons.The designated Permanent Forest Estate covers 3.8 million hectares of virgin jungle, and more than 1.49 million hectares of conservation area. Peninsular Malaysia’s great Taman Negara National Park is one of the world’s oldest tropical rainforests. Taman Negara National Park straddles the borders of Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang, the latter part being the most visited. Endau-Rompin, which covers the boundary between Johor and Pahang, boasts many unique and endemic varieties of plants that were discovered within the centuries-old forest. These include the magnificent fan palm, climbing bamboo and the slender stemmed walking stick palm.Moths and butterflies of every kind, and deer and wild boar can be found in this lowland forest, one of the few remaining in Peninsular Malaysia. On the Borneo side of Malaysia, Gunung Mulu National Park in North Sarawak is one of the state’s most popular sites. It boasts an extensive limestone cave system— including the largest cave chamber in the world, the Sarawak Chamber—and is home to the second highest mountain peak in Sarawak as well as many plants and animal species. Kinabalu Park has the Poring Hot Springs, and Mt Kinabalu, the highest mountain in Southeast Asia. Another cave site, Niah National Park is one of the largest limestone caves in the world. On the wild side, Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary is set in a virgin equatorial rainforest and has rare plants, animals and birds.The sightsKuala Lumpur (KL) delights visitors with its colonial architecture, which still manages to stand out against the shining office towers and multi-lane highways. Further south, waterfront developments are changing the face of Malacca (Melaka), Malaysia’s oldest town.The island of Penang, the oldest British settlement in Malaysia, is one of the country’s top tourist attractions. It is renown for its beach resorts and the historical George Town, noted for its cuisine. Penang Hill offers a spectacular view of the island, and is particularly popular at dusk.Langkawi’s archipelago offers stunning beaches and resorts, as well as myths and legends. There are also many spectacular mainland beaches such as Cherating in Pahang, where you can watch for turtles. Over on the east in Sabah, Mt Kinabalu, the Turtle Islands, Sipadan and the national parks are the main attractions. Sarawak’s capital city is ideal for travellers, with landscaped parks and historic buildings.Where to stayThere are plenty of hotels, condos and apartments in Malaysia. There is plenty of budget accommodation such as traditional Chinese hotels and dormitory-style guesthouses that can be found in most cities. The homestay concept is still relatively new, but is a great way to learn first hand the Malaysian way of life.Getting aroundTaxis are very common in Malaysia, and although meters are often used, it is always helpful to agree on a price beforehand. For trips to airports and railway stations, purchase coupons at the taxi counter stationed at both places. Several car rental agencies offer self-drive and chauffeur-driven cars. The national KTM train runs from Kuala Lumpur to Padang Besar in the north, Singapore in the south, and up to Tumpat on the east coast. Buses are fast and economical, and seats can be reserved fairly easily.Food and entertainmentThe food in Malaysia is nothing short of fantastic. There is a choice of Chinese, Malay, Indian, Indonesian, Japanese, Thai, Korean and Western. Nyonya cuisine is probably the most famous of these fusions and is a blend of Chinese ingredients and Malay spices. Malay food uses seafood, meat, coconut and other indigenous fruits with rice.Street stalls or hawkers are where the best local cuisines can be enjoyed cheaply. The theatrical ambience of these hawkers is like no other, with continuous demonstrations of wok tossing, teh tarik (tea pulling), the artful skill of flipping rotis (Indian bread), and barbecuing of satay sticks.As a Muslim nation, there are restaurants offering halal food prepared in religiously approved conditions. Malaysia is famous for its wide variety of tropical fruits, including rambutans, mangosteens, jackfruit and durians. Sights of roadside vendors selling fruits and other snacks are common and the prices are usually cheaper than in supermarkets, especially when the special skill of bargaining is employed.Although Malaysia is a Muslim country alcohol is widely available in bars and nightclubs, especially in capital cities and tourist areas. Nightlife in Malaysia is anything but boring. Kuala Lumpur offers a wide choice of nightspots with entertainment ranging from cultural shows to Western-style bars and discos. Hot spots include Petaling Street, Jalan Alor, the Asian Heritage Row, Bangsar and many neighbouring suburbs.ActivitiesFor those without much time in Kuala Lumpur, a city tour on the Hop-On Hop-Off bus is a great way to see the highlights. The huge Batu Caves will give tourists an unforgettable cultural experience. Golfing is on offer at 200 courses in diverse settings such as hill resorts, islands, beaches, cities, towns and off the beaten track.The diving and snorkelling off Tioman Island and Redang Island is superb, both islands boast underwater caves and incredible coral reefs. Sipadan Island, off the coast of Sabah, is said to have some of the best diving in the world.Trekking through the jungle trails of Taman Negara Park, visitors may see elephants, tigers, panthers and rhinos, although sightings are rare. A hike up Mount Kinabalu in Sabah is amazing as tourists can watch the sunrise from beneath the clouds that surround the peak.ShoppingKuala Lumpur is very good value, with a variety of fashionable products and handicrafts available from shopping complexes, department stores, boutiques and markets. The Central Market in Chinatown is a centre for handicrafts, antiques and art. Here visitors can employ their bargaining skills to get the best prices on ‘branded’ merchandise. There is also the Chow Kit Market, a Malay market with many roadside vendors lining Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman (also known as Jalan TAR).On Saturday nights, some streets are closed to traffic and host lively night markets. Visitors should be prepared to negotiate a good price and go home with a bargain!CurrencyThe Malaysian Ringgit is usually written as RM. Tipping is not expected although much appreciated.ClimateTemperatures range from 21°C to 32°C with cooler temperatures in the hills, particularly during the evenings. The east coast, Sabah and Sarawak have heavy rainfalls during November to February. The west coast of the peninsula is wet from April to October.Cool, lightweight summer clothing is best with medium-weight woollens at night in the cooler highland areas.Entry requirementsAll visitors need a valid passport/travel document with minimum validity of six months beyond the period of intended stay. Visa requirements vary for different countries so be sure to check."

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