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Koh Samui Koh Samui

Thailand, Asia

Koh Samui is an oasis of natural beauty with white sandy beaches and crystal clear water. Roughly circular in shape, the island...

string(2676) "Koh Samui is an oasis of natural beauty with white sandy beaches and crystal clear water. Roughly circular in shape, the island is the third largest island in Thailand after Phuket and Koh Chang and one of the most popular destinations for international travellers. The central part of the island is an almost uninhabitable jungle where Samui’s highest mountain, Khao Pom, peaks at 635 metres. The various lowland areas are connected together by a single 51-kilometre road that meanders mostly along the coast to encircle the bulk of the island. The old capital Nathon is located on the southwest coast of the island and remains the major port for fishing and inter-island transportation. Nathon is the seat of the regional government and for Samui locals is the recognised commercial hub. It has a charming pace, and is almost small enough to walk everywhere. The old Chinese shophouses along the middle street whisper of an exotic history. Although Koh Samui is in southern Thailand where Islam has a strong inf luence, the original inhabitants of the island, known as Chao Samui, are predominantly Buddhist. In the past, most of the locals made their living in the coconut farming business. Today, however, most islanders work in jobs related to tourism because in recent years Koh Samui has developed into a popular, tropical beach resort destination. While still maintaining its unique charm, from coconut tree fringed beaches to tropical jungles and a vibrant nightlife, it has something for everyone. Accommodations range from bungalows and villas to five-star boutique resorts and are suitable for all budgets. There are fine dining restaurants that offer a wide range of international and exotic local Thai dishes. If pampering is high on your list, there are many day spas available. Koh Samui offers an abundance of activities including elephant trekking, canoeing, sailing, diving, golfing, fishing, cycling and almost anything else you can think of! Nature lovers will find it a paradise of waterfalls, temples and jungles. There is a butterf ly garden, aquarium, tiger zoo, monkey theatre, snake and crocodile farm to visit. Day tours to the neighbouring islands of Koh Phangan, Koh Tao and the Angthong Marine National Park are also highly recommended. With direct f lights to Samui Airport from Bangkok, Singapore and Hong Kong as well as ferry services from Suratthani, Koh Samui is conveniently accessible. Koh Samui boasts many popular beaches including Chaweng and with its white sandy beaches, coral reefs and coconut trees it is easy to see why travellers from all over the world make it their preferred holiday destination. "
Palau

Micronesia, Pacific

This pristine paradise is a dream destination. Like giant green mushrooms scattered across a tranquil turquoise lagoon, the lim...

string(2610) "This pristine paradise is a dream destination. Like giant green mushrooms scattered across a tranquil turquoise lagoon, the limestone Rock Islands of Palau seen from the air are one of the most exquisite creations of nature found in the world. The spectacular Rock Islands Southern Lagoon was inscribed onto the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2012. But that’s just the beginning. From sunburnt volcanic savannahs to forests concealing endemic plant and bird life, to coral atolls and reefs teeming with marine life, the Republic of Palau is truly Nature at her most majestic. Within this archipelago is a marine diversity higher than most of Micronesia. Sharks thrive in waters that in 2009 became the world’s first shark sanctuary, setting an example that has been followed by many other island destinations. Palau’s rare dugong, known locally as the mesekiu, as well as endangered species such as the hawksbill turtle, or the chambered nautilus, a deep water shell species that inhabits only a few Pacific islands, can be found here. Not only does Palau protect its marine life, it puts new species on the lists. Trapped in an enclosed body of water, the mastigias of Jellyfish Lake have completely lost their sting because they have not had to repel predators. Instead, they spend their days in privileged leisure, pulsating gently from one side of the marine lake to the other while catching the sun’s rays and farming their own food supply of algae. Snorkelling surrounded by them is fascinating and surreal. Discovered in one of Palau’s deep underwater caves, a prehistoric eel was named Protoanguilla Palau as recently as 2011. Rainbow-filled walls and channels on the fringe reef provide homes for at least 1450 species of reef fish and 400 species of reef-building hard corals, as well as 150 species of soft corals, gorgonians, and sea pens. Some of the famous residents and visitors include manta rays, black or red snappers, napoleon wrasse, bumphead parrot fish and pelagic species including the colossal whaleshark, marlins, and tornados of schooling barracudas. Outside of the reef are sports fishing opportunities beyond your wildest dreams and fully equipped charters to bring back the proverbial “big one”. A democratic country that still abides by its culture and traditional leadership, Palauan villages were, and still are, traditionally organised around matrilineal clans. Men and women had defined roles. A council of chiefs governs the villages, while a parallel council of women holds an advisory role in the control of land, money and the selection of chiefs."
Visayas

Philippines, Asia

Within this stunning island group is Borocay Island, home to White Beach, which is considered the best tropical beach in the world...

string(2585) "Within this stunning island group is Borocay Island, home to White Beach, which is considered the best tropical beach in the world. The Visayas is the Philippines’ main island group. Situated to the east of Palawan, and between Luzon in the north and Mindanao in the south, there are multitudes of islands in the Visayas, large and small. The province of Cebu, probably the most well-known destination, comprises six of the 11 major islands in the country, and 161 smaller islands. Cebu retains much of its Spanish heritage in its historical and cultural attractions. It also provides an idyllic starting point for island hopping holidays, many within a couple of hours’ drive from downtown. Cebu City is a major gateway to the Visayas and, being the oldest city in the Philippines, it is often referred to as the ‘Queen City of the South’. Cebu’s five main cities are Cebu City, Toledo, Danao, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu (on Mactan Island). Cebu City is home to the Basilica Minore del Santo Nino, the oldest fort in the country, Fort San Pedro, and the restored 19th century home Casa Gorordo. Mandaue on the coast is the manufacturing centre, with the San Miguel brewery, Coca Cola plant, and a number of other factories from glass to rattan furniture and handicrafts. While in the Visayas it is a must to visit Bohol, the tenth largest island in the Philippines, famous for its Chocolate Hills comprising more than 1000 oval limestone mounds. A cruise down the Loboc River passes through the towns of Loboc, Loay and Bilar, which has a man-made forest that is home to the tarsier, one of the world’s smallest primates. Like Cebu, Bohol has a range of resorts, especially in Panglao, and also boasts dive spots. Iloilo in the western Visayas is an hour from Manila by plane. The city has wide, attractive streets and a number of historical monuments including churches and ancestral houses. The island of Negros, wedged between Cebu and Panay, is divided into two provinces, Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental, each with an impressive number of well-maintained historic buildings. The province of Aklan, also in the western Visayas, lays claim to two attractions—the fantastic religious and festive zeal of the Ati- Atihan Festival, the nation’s week-long mardi gras held in January—and Boracay Island. The seven-kilometre long Boracay is widely thought of as the ultimate island in the Philippines. On Boracay is White Beach with fine white sand and clear water. White Beach is considered by many to be the best tropical beach in the world. "
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. "
Sulawesi

Indonesia, Asia

Known for its dive sites teeming with pristine reefs, nature parks and volcanic mountains, Sulawesi is one of Indonesia’s most f...

string(1981) "Known for its dive sites teeming with pristine reefs, nature parks and volcanic mountains, Sulawesi is one of Indonesia’s most fascinating islands. Sulawesi’s main port of entry is Makassar, which has frequent flights throughout the archipelago. Manado acts as a secondary hub. Both airports are international airports with international flights to Kuala Lumpur from Makassar, and to Singapore from both airports. The south is home to Sulawesi’s capital, Makassar with a population of 15 million inhabitants. The southern plains rise to the mountains of Tanah Toraja, with beautiful scenery, unusual architecture and vibrant festivals which are among the island’s chief tourist attractions. Those after a more unhurried experience can soak up the tropical sunshine on the Togian Islands, one of Indonesia’s best-kept secrets. Manado, the largest city and main gateway to Northern Sulawesi, enjoys views to the emerald hills and the azure sea. The city has a European feel with the fun loving and extroverted Minahasa people living in neat, wood framed houses with fences and flower gardens. The city’s numerous shops and markets are filled with an abundance of consumer goods and agricultural produce and those with an adventurous palate should try the famously hot and spicy Minahasa cuisine. Manado offers easy access to some of Indonesia’s best diving and snorkelling. Of these, Bunaken National Park draws visitors from all over the world. It has warm water and visibility up to 30 metres with a myriad sea life, underwater volcanoes and coral reefs. A trip inland will take you to the Minahasa Highlands where you can visit intriguing prehistoric above ground burial sites, volcanoes and hot springs. There are breathtaking panoramas of lush mountains, coffee and coconut plantations, orchid gardens and terraced hillsides. Also, be sure to visit the Dua Saudara Nature Reserve at Tangkoko that is home to birds and wildlife unique to Sulawesi."
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. "

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