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Pacific Papua New Guinea The Islands The Islands

Papua New Guinea, Pacific

The Islands of Papua New Guinea are divided into four groups. East and West New Britain, the largest of PNG’s outer islands, h...

string(3700) " The Islands of Papua New Guinea are divided into four groups. East and West New Britain, the largest of PNG’s outer islands, has two main centres: Rabaul in the east and Kimbe in the west. Rabaul is the site of some of PNG’s most active volcanoes, Tavurvur and Vulcan. The last big eruption in 1994 completely covered the peaceful town and harbour in ash and forced the residents who remained to move the town to nearby Kokopo. The town has recovered and visitors are assured of a range of quality accommodations and services. Diving is still a big attraction here, even though the eruption hit many dive sites in the harbour quite hard. Ironically, the source of the town’s demise has now become one of its biggest attractions. Trips to the volcanic observatory and helicopter tours of the crater are not to be missed. There are a number of hotels operational in Rabaul Township and at Kokopo, a number of lodges, guesthouses and hotels are now open and provide excellent accommodation. A highlight of a visit to Rabaul is a visit to Palmalmal in the Pomio District, the Duke of York Islands and the Bainings. Like its neighbour in the east, West New Britain is surrounded by a turquoise sea, dotted with reef-fringed atolls and adorned with magnificent rainforests, which plunge into white sandy beaches. The fertile volcanic soil in this region is suitable for growing just about anything and lush plantations stretch from the mountains to the sea. The major attraction here is the diving in Kimbe Bay, accessible from land or via live-aboards. A chain of dormant volcanoes shields the bay from open ocean conditions, creating a pocket of calm on the north coast of the island. The landscape of extinct volcanoes creates a dramatic backdrop and steaming thermal springs, waterfalls, boiling volcanic pools and mud holes can be found within. New Ireland is an island paradise of sandy white beaches, towering mountains and clear springs and rivers that run the entire length of the island. A road made from crushed coral links north to south, but travel is easier by sea. The Malangan culture in the northern and central part of the island is unique within the Pacific and its people are particularly well known for their sorcery and shark calling. Diving in this region is fantastic and there are several resorts offering accommodation and diving services. The abundance of local seafood translates into gourmet feasts for visitors featuring coconut crabs, crayfish and a variety of reef fish. There are a number of hotels and guesthouses in Kavieng and small guest lodges are located on the islands in the harbour. Manus Island is a distant island group to the northwest of the mainland which can be reached by air or by coastal cargo ship and there are two main hotel lodges in Lorengau. Manus Island has vast tracts of forests in the central range and a magical coastline. The dancing by the locals is erotic and majestic, depicting a life of openness and joy. This island group is hailed as having exceptional diving and is occasionally visited by some of PNG’s live-aboards. The North Solomons as a province includes Buka and Bouganville Island, as well as hundreds of smaller islets, cays and atolls. Boating enthusiasts find this a marine wonderland with untouched reefs to explore with an everlasting supply of reef fish and shellfish. Buka Island is accessible by boat and plane from Rabaul and has a variety of accommodation varying in price and quality. Walking through village tracks and plantation roads is the best way to discover the magnificent flora and fauna. Whilst there are few hotels on mainland Bougainville, there are numerous guesthouses in Buka. "
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. "
Langkawi

Malaysia, Asia

The archipelago of 99 islands that make up Langkawi almost matches Singapore in land size and boasts modern amenities and infrastr...

string(2573) "The archipelago of 99 islands that make up Langkawi almost matches Singapore in land size and boasts modern amenities and infrastructure, while still retaining its traditional culture. Shrouded in myths about ogres, gigantic birds, warriors, fairy princesses, battles and romance, it’s a natural paradise unmatched anywhere else in Southeast Asia. Its geological history dates back 500 million years and the islands contain many unique rock formations including numerous caves with stunning stalactites and stalagmites. The outstanding geological landscape and features of Langkawi led to its classification as the first Geopark, not only in Malaysia, but Southeast Asia by UNESCO, with the aim of preserving and maintaining its unique attributes through conservation and ecotourism. The Chuping Limestone at Pulau Dayang Bunting dates back some 280 million years and it is this kind of history that makes Langkawi so spectacular. Nestled among Langkawi’s mist covered hills, limestone outcrops and lush forests are awe-inspiring waterfalls, like those of Telaga Tujuh, as well as mysterious caves and a rich diversity of f lora and fauna. Those looking for a holiday with a difference might try jungle trekking or taking a boat trip up the rivers and around the many islands. Kuah, located on the southeastern side of Pulau Langkawi, is the capital and entry point to the islands by ferry. Kuah is a thriving centre of modern hotels and, because of its duty free status, a shoppers’ haven. A visit to the Teluk Burau Oriental Village is recommended. Designed as a new concept in resort shopping, more than 30 specialty outlets offer a diverse variety and range of brands and products which can often be purchased very cheaply, from alcohol and perfume to electrical goods and tobacco. Langkawi International Fashion Zone (LIFZ) is a prominent international factory outlet showcasing many international fashion brands, like Gucci, Versace and Hugo Boss. Beaches such as those of Pantai Cenang on the west coast and Pantai Kok on the opposite side of the island from the capital offer relaxation while the clear, emerald waters around the islands are ideal for watersports and recreation. Nightlife is a special experience in Langkawi, as some of the bars are located right on the beach. Most popular nightclubs are located at the bigger resorts, however most of the local bars offer live music and performances as entertainment. There is a wide choice of dining options, from local fare to Western and Eastern gourmet cuisines with Asian spices. "
Maldives

Asia

The 1190 low-lying coral islands that make up the Maldives are so small that dry land makes up one percent of the country’s tota...

string(8867) "The 1190 low-lying coral islands that make up the Maldives are so small that dry land makes up one percent of the country’s total territory. The 26 coral atoll nation is situated southwest of the southern tip of India and Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean, extending across the equator in a north-south strip. Capital and major centres Malé is a small, quaint capital city and the hub of the Malé Atoll. This chain, comprising the old North and South Malé Atolls, stretches for more than 120 kilometres from north to south, but only 10 of its islands are inhabited; some used for specific purposes. For instance, Funadhoo is an island where oil is stored; Thulusdhoo has two factories, Dhiffushi is a fishing island and Kuda Bandos is a picnic island for the general public. Malé is tiny when compared to other capital cities, however, it houses one third of the total population of the Maldives. Malé is different to the other atolls in the archipelago with its high-rise buildings, paved streets and small parks dotted about the city. Seawalls surround Malé and there are no beaches although an artificially landscaped beach now stretches to the new harbour in the southwest. To the west is the Alifu or Ari Atoll, in the north is the large island of Thoddu, and to the south of Alifu Atoll is the Faafu Atoll and the island of Nilandhoo. In the Laamu Atoll are Isdhoo and Gadhdhoo, both of which feature impressive ruins. The Huvadhu Atoll is the largest true atoll formation in the world, with a huge lagoon and in the Gnaviyani Atoll is Fuamulaku, one of the most fertile areas in the Maldives. Meedhoo is located in the southernmost atoll of Seenu and is one of the rarest naturally protected atolls in the entire archipelago. The people The inhabitants of the Maldives are thought to have descended from both Southern India’s Dravidians and Aryans from India and Ceylon. Dhivehi, the national language, is Indo-Aryan in origin and found only in the Maldives. A contemporary Dhivehi culture is strong, despite many foreign influences, which range from Hindi movies and oriental martial arts, to Western music and Muslim fundamentalism. It has been an Islamic nation since 1153 AD when the king converted the entire country from Buddhism. The religion is a delicate blend of traditional and modern ideals, with women having more freedom than in other Muslim countries. English is widely spoken in Malé, the capital, and on all the resort islands, and on Seenu, or Addu Atoll, where a British air base was formerly located. Nature The brilliantly coloured coral reefs result in the Maldivian seascape being among the most beautiful in the world. Since natural fauna is sparse, the most exciting wildlife is found under the water. If you visit the Maldives, make sure you grab a mask and snorkel so that you can discover amazing corals and fish such as butterfly fish, angel fish, parrot fish, rock cod, unicorn fish, trumpet fish and bluestripe snapper. Other marine life includes molluscs, clams and crabs while sharks, stingrays, manta rays, turtles and dolphins may also be spotted. While the larger, wetter islands have small areas of rainforest, for the most part plant life is limited. The most common plants include pandanus, banana, mangroves, breadfruit trees, banyans, tropical vines and coconut palms; and the main crops are sweet potatoes, yams, taro, millet and watermelon, citrus fruits and pineapples. Tropical flowers are found in abundance and grow either in the wild or are cultivated in gardens. There are 100 species of birds, most of them migratory. Other fauna includes giant fruit bats and tree shrews, lizards, skinks, rhinoceros beetles, paper wasps and colourful butterflies. The sights The capital city of Malé is only about two kilometres long and one kilometre wide but is neatly packed with buildings, roads and public spaces. The mosques, markets and small streets give it a charm of its own. The National Museum houses exhibits of the sultans’ belongings and some archaeological discoveries, while the nearby Sultan Park is a pleasant place for a stroll. The imposing white three-storey Islamic Centre & Grand Friday Mosque holds more than 5000 worshippers and dominates the city’s skyline. The oldest of the 20-plus mosques in Malé is the Hukuru Miskiiy, famed for its intricate stone carvings. Friday Mosque on Isdhoo is more than three centuries old and features lacquered supports, flowing calligraphy and finely carved rafters. Gadhdhoo is home to one of the Maldives’ most impressive ruins, from which rises an enormous stupenda, formerly a huge, white limestone pyramid. The solitary and exceptionally fertile island of Fuamulaku produces vegetables and fruits such as mangoes, oranges and pineapples, which are not grown anywhere else in the country. Baa Atoll is famous for its handicrafts, which include lacquer work and finely woven cotton felis (traditional sarongs). Where to stay The wide variety of accommodation ranges from island resorts and hotels to modern, motel-style rooms and guesthouses, with more on offer in the high-end range. Hotel rates usually include full board. There are also yachts and yachtdhonis, specially converted Maldivian vessels licensed to sleep guests. Developed on uninhabited islands, some exclusive hotels accommodate a limited number of guests while some cater more or less exclusively to certain nationalities, notably Italian, German, French and Japanese visitors. Some resorts have better access to specific dive sites, local villages, or Malé than others and while all offer scuba diving, some are known as hardcore divers’ destinations. Bungalows equipped with modern conveniences and en suite facilities offer magnificent views. Getting around Transfers between the islands are by either dhoni (local boats), speedboat or seaplane. Transfers for visitors with confirmed reservations in the Maldives are arranged by the host. Taxis, private cars, motorcycles and bicycles are used for transport on the larger islands including Malé and Addu Atoll. There are two companies operating regular seaplane services in the Maldives. Tourism is strictly regulated, and independent travel is discouraged as it is seen as disruptive to traditional island communities. Cruising across all atolls is now allowed with a permit. Food and entertainment Almost everything needs to be imported in the Maldives, except for fish, coconut and some fruit such as watermelon and banana. Fish and rice are the staple foods of Maldivians, with meat and chicken eaten only on special occasions. While there are strict local laws against the consumption of alcohol, liquor is freely available at the resorts. The local brew, raa, is a sweet liquid from the crown of the palm trunk. Maldivian men enjoy ‘short eats’ (small snacks) in the many small teahouses. Nightlife in Malé is confined to these teahouses and a few Western-style restaurants. Various resorts offer weekly dances with live music from local musicians and tourists are encouraged to hire boats and attend the dances on other islands. Activities Seenu, the ‘second city’ of the Maldives, is the best base from which to visit traditional Maldivian island communities, while Gan is linked by causeways to the adjacent islands and a bicycle is the easiest way to get around and see village life. For those keen to learn to dive, all resort islands have schools run by fully qualified instructors, while some offer training up to professional diver level. The warm lagoon has coral gardens, turtles, shells, crustaceans and schools of brilliantly coloured fish. Trips in dhonis visit some of the best fishing grounds in the world. Night fishing expeditions for snapper and barracuda or dawn excursions seeking tuna, dolphin, fish and rainbow runners are excellent. Other pursuits include cruising from atoll to atoll in boats with bunk beds or private cabins, yachting with professional crews, waterskiing, windsurfing, parasailing, and beach volleyball. Shopping Malé is the best place in the Maldives for shopping, and has minimum duty on most items. Best buys include reed mats and lacquered wooden boxes, woven sarongs called ‘felis’ in wide black and white stripes, Chinese ceramics, electronic items and souvenirs such as coral rings and sea shells. Climate It is warm and tropical throughout the year with a cooling sea breeze. The average daily temperature is between 25°C and 32°C. What to wear Light, informal cotton and linen clothing is recommended. Most resorts do not enforce any dress regulations. In Malé visitors must wear appropriate attire and cover up. Currency The currency is Maldivian Rufiyaa. Credit cards are accepted at resorts, as well as with travellers cheques and tipping is not discouraged. "
Pacific Tahiti Papette Papeete

Islands of Tahiti, Pacific

Papeete is the bustling capital of Tahiti and her islands, and contains the government offices, gendarmerie, hospitals, clinics,...

string(3548) " Papeete is the bustling capital of Tahiti and her islands, and contains the government offices, gendarmerie, hospitals, clinics, banks, telecommunications centres, airline, travel agencies, boutiques and black pearl shops. With a distinct colonial feel, Papeete’s CBD is designed for walking despite the city’s rapid growth in recent years. The city curves along the Boulevard Pomare waterfront and sprawls several blocks inland. The sleepy ‘Papeete town’ of years gone by has been replaced with a modern municipality, which hums with business and trade activity, with a healthy dose of camaraderie. Cargo freighters, copra ships, luxury liners and sailing yachts share the harbour where ‘people-watching’ for travellers and residents alike from the many outdoor cafés and bars is still one of the most popular pastimes. The social set like to linger at lunch, share the latest gossip and watch as gaily painted pareu and tifaifai bed covers are sold at sidewalk tables, amidst the laughing atmosphere of the Tahitian artisans. Papeete comes alive at night when nightclubs swing into action and the sounds of disco and jazz compete with the pulsating rhythm of the tamure, Tahiti’s tantalising national dance. Renowned for their natural grace, innate pride, gentle beauty and warm hospitality, the Tahitians know how to live. Music, flowers, dance and song make up an important part of their lives and dominate the annual Heiva I Tahiti festival. This very popular celebration is also called the Tahiti Festival and is held each July. Traditional Polynesian competitions are held alongside European sports and Asiatic arts so that a festive carnival atmosphere pervades Papeete for the entire month. Papeete Public Market or Le Marché is the heart of the city, providing a central marketplace for local Tahitian families. It is also a photographer’s delight, with colourful displays of ripe fruit, together with chinese vegetables, strings of brightly coloured fish, farm fresh meats, squealing pigs and noisy ducks. A stunning selection of tropical flowers is on sale year-round, including orchids, anthuriums, marigolds and daisies, red ginger and jasmine, as well as locally made shell necklaces, woven hats and baskets. Upstairs is reserved for artisans selling pareus, tifaifai quilts, cushion covers and other handicrafts. Papeete offers a wide range of activities for the traveller, spanning the larger island of Tahiti Nui as well as Tahiti Iti, joined to the main island by the isthmus of Taravao. Helicopter and plane tours offer a great way of seeing the two islands. The 4WD tours around the island provide a more complete view of the islands. Explore the breathtaking Papenoo Valley and enjoy a swim in one of its many waterfalls, visit the Vaihiria Lake and the many maraes (Polynesian temples). Take a leisurely bushwalk into tropical jungle featuring giant ferns at an altitude of 1400 metres or climb Mount Marau for a spectacular view of Tahiti’s neighbouring islands. Tahiti also has a wide range of activities to keep the most active traveller entertained, with hang gliding, bowling and tennis, deep-sea fishing, sailing, surfing, and scuba diving, windsurfing, jet-skiing, waterskiing and snorkelling. The island’s mountainous interior provides challenging and unusual trekking tours into valleys and up mountains, as well as discovering lava tubes, burial caves and hidden grottoes. The islands of Moorea, Bora Bora and Tetiaroa are also all close enough for a day trip from Tahiti. "
Outer Islands

Vanuatu, Pacific

With diverse terrains and a plethora of natural wonders, the islands of Vanuatu are small pockets of beauty and adventure. An ...

string(2283) "With diverse terrains and a plethora of natural wonders, the islands of Vanuatu are small pockets of beauty and adventure. An exploration of the outermost of the nation’s 83 islands will reveal famous volcanoes, magnificent coral reefs, historic shipwrecks and traditional villages. The southernmost inhabited island of Vanuatu is Aneityum Island. The northernmost islands of Vanuatu are the Banks and Torres Islands, volcanic in origin and home to active volcanoes on Gaua and Vanua Lava islands. Tanna Island Tanna Island is famous for its volcano, Mt Yasur, its wild horses, its custom villages and the cargo cults that have grown up there. It is possible to take a day trip to Tanna however there is plenty to see and do, so visitors who wish to truly experience. this extraordinary island should arrange a stay of at least two nights in order to see the island’s many attractions. A night trip to the crater edge of mighty Yasur Volcano is a great experience. Also visit the White Grass Plains, home of the wild horses, and go to a custom village to experience the age-old village culture, where people still dress and live in the traditional ways. Espiritu Santo The largest and oldest island in the group, with a wide range of natural sights, Espiritu Santo is a truly romantic island and a great place for diving. You can visit the SS President Coolidge, the largest intact shipwreck accessible to scuba divers in the world, the destroyer USS Tucker lying outside the channel and Million Dollar Point, the place where war surplus equipment was dumped after WWII. See a large experimental plantation and farm, stay in Melanesian-style bungalows, refresh yourself in a natural pool, and go to famous Champagne Beach in the north. Pentecost Only on Pentecost Island can you see the mind-boggling land dives. There is minimal accommodation for visitors, so you can either do a weekend package or a day trip. As many as 25 jumps may be performed in a day from one tower and as the height of the jumps increases, so does the tempo of the traditionally-dressed men and women dancing and chanting alongside. It’s an experience you’ll always remember. This annual event occurs during April, May and June on every Saturday and some other weekdays. "

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