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Fiji once known as the “Cannibal Isles” because of it’s fierce and hostile people, is ironically enough now known as one of the friendliest places on the globe. Repeat visitors often cite the warmth and friendliness of the Fijians as the reason for coming back. Add to that a Fijians genuine smile, an idyllic island hideaway of dazzling white palm fringed beaches, booming surf and lush rainforests and the reasons to come back start mounting.
Whether you’re after an adventure holiday or a laze on the beach, Fiji has lots of options. Visit some of Fiji’s most hidden paradises. Ovalau and its offshore islands, Viti Levu’s Highlands, Taveuni’s national parks and Savusavu for an adventure cruise are all easy adventures and will give you a chance to experience Fiji’s somewhat less beaten track. If you’re looking for a beach to swim at, head for one of the smaller coral islands rather than the larger volcanic islands. Fiji is so well endowed with coral sea life, you can snorkel off almost every shore.
Nadi is Fiji’s third largest city and the countries tourism hub. The main street is packed with restaurants, souvenir shops, the produce market and the Swami Temple and are all well worth a visit. Inland are the Nausori Highlands and to the north lies the beautiful Sabeto mountain range. Fiji is very popular with honeymooners, divers, tour groups, golfers, backpackers, families, birdwatchers, and independent travellers. There are accommodation options and resorts for every budget as well as many day tours and boat trips to suit all types of people.
Vanuatu is a land of volcanoes, underwater ship wrecks to dive on, ancient art and dance, waterfalls and jungles to trek through and a myriad of hidden bays full of tropical fish and beautiful beaches to laze on.
Efate the island Cook called Sandwich, after Lord Sandwich. However the islanders’ own name for it Efate (ef-art-ay), has prevailed. For visitors, its many attractions include secluded beaches, jewellike islands, gourmet restaurants, excellent diving and snorkelling, a relaxed tropical lifestyle and the rich culture of Melanesia. Port Vila is built around the horseshoe-shaped Vila Bay. Port Vila climbs steep hillsides that offer stunning views over Vila Bay, Iririki and Ifira Islands. Its beautiful harbour, in combination with a faded French atmosphere, make it one of Oceania’s most attractive towns. Land diving – the most remarkable custom in all of Vanuatu is the naghol. Every year in April, as soon as the first yam crop emerges, the islanders in the south of Pentecost build tall wooden towers in the villages. From April to early June, men and boys dive from these rickety structures with only two long, springy lianas (vines) to break their fall. This ‘leap into oblivion’ guarantees a bountiful yam harvest.
New Caledonia is five hundred kilometres long, fifty kilometres wide and offers an endless variety of landscapes, from palm fringed white sand beaches in the Pacific to spectacular mountain retreats.
Surrounded by a 1,600 km long coral reef, New Caledonia also has the largest lagoon in the world. Lindéralique rocks – are towering black limestone rocks that start south of Hienghène and continue to the bay of Hienghène. Rising abruptly, they stretch to 60m (196ft) in places and are topped by jagged, sharp edges. At Lindéralique, you can kayak beneath the rocks and also visit a large cave, the Grotte de Lindéralique. The most famous of the rock formations is the Poule Couveuse, or the Brooding Hen which sits on one side of the entrance to Baie de Hienghène.
Noumea is an ideal starting point for exploring New Caledonia. It has all the facilities of a modern city, minus the frenetic pace. Restaurants offer superb gourmet cuisine, while close to hand are long, white beaches lapped by aqua waters.
Ile des Pins – this beautiful island often called the ‘Jewel of the Pacific’ was given its contemporary name by English explorer James Cook. Inspired by the proud araucaria trees that line the island’s shore. Cook called it the Isle of Pines. To its indigenous inhabitants, this little slice of the tropics is known as Kwenyii or Kunie (pronounced ‘koonee- yeh’).
Like other islands in the Society group, Tahiti is the creation of volcanic eruptions. When you visit you will find French cooking and fresh seafood, ancient Polynesian ruins and brilliant Tahitian dancing. Just offshore there are islands with golden beaches, world-class diving plus endless opportunities to just kick back and relax.
Papeete – Tahiti’s busy port capital does have heavy rush-hour traffic and concrete developments, but it also has a beautiful waterfront where yachts, ferries and cargo boats come and go, and the thriving market Marché du Papeete. The restaurants of Papeete range from French to Polynesian, Chinese to Vietnamese and Italian. You couldn’t possibly tire of dining in Papeete.
Moorea – this is the island paradise you have been day dreaming about. Mountains that leap vertically out of the clear lagoon, lush vegetation, restaurants dripping with fresh seafood, stylish accommodation and a languid pace of life. Tuck a tiare (fragrant white flower) behind your ear and jump on a bicycle and head south, where hotels are rare and islanders eke out a quiet existence.
Bora Bora – for many, the highlight of Tahiti is the high island of Bora Bora. Some regard it as the most beautiful island in the Pacific because of its lush-green volcanic peaks, huge lagoon, and the chain of sandy motu flanking its coast. Bora Bora, is as near as it gets to that picture-perfect tropical island.
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