The landscape of Ambrym, the Island of Mysteries, is beyond description: a primeval world of seething active lava lakes, ancient tree ferns, eerie mist-shrouded jungle, and jagged black moonscape. An enormous ash plain about 12km across occupies the centre of the island plain, representing the crater of the ancient volcano. The home of Mt. Marum and Mt. Benbow volcanoes, Ambrym holds a reputation for major sorcery in Vanuatu. Ambrym is famous for its drums with vertical slits and for its tree fern carvings, sand drawings and Rom Dance, an outstanding expression of the prevailing influence of spirits. The ni-Vanuatu world, as islanders are known, is still inhabited by spirits and demons, despite the missionaries' best efforts to expel them. Anything tabu is sacred or holy, and the word is in common use - on signs it can mean simply 'no entry'. Vanuatu's fractured terrain produces a kaleidoscope of cultures and more than 100 indigenous languages.
Arutua is an atoll in the Tuamotu group in French Polynesia. Arutua Atoll has a roughly pentagonal shape. Its lagoon is wide and deep with one navigable passage. Arutua has a population of 554 inhabitants. The main village is Rautini.
The Cook Islands, in the heart of the South Pacific, are made up of 15 islands spread over an area the size of India. These unique and friendly Polynesians have developed their own language and government. They also enjoy a vigorous and diverse culture, with significant differences between each island. Atiu Island, with a population of 600, is an eroded volcanic island. It's divided into 5 villages that radiate out from the center of the island on a flat-topped central plateau. Surrounding the plateau is a ring of taro water gardens and jungle-clad makatea (fossil coral reef). Notched into the cliffs of makatea are over 28 beaches untouched and virtually unvisited, except by those seeking a beautiful, quiet, and secluded spot. The Atiuans were a fierce warrior people and before the arrival of the missionaries they frequently attacked their neighbors, slaughtering and eating significant numbers of them in cannibalistic rituals.
Green volcanic peaks loom out of the Pacific as you approach Bora Bora. It is a view you will never forget. Bora Bora´s name, which means "fleet of canoes with silent paddles" in Polynesian, is both soothing and exotic. Guide your own outrigger canoe to a deserted beach, snorkel in turquoise lagoons, or bike the back roads of this paradise.
Champagne Bay is located on the north east coastline of Espiritu-Santo, Vanuatu. It is truly breathtaking with the most spectacular stretch of beach fringed with palm trees.
Fiji was first settled about three and a half thousand years ago. The original inhabitants are now called "Lapita people" after a distinctive type of fine pottery they produced, remnants of which have been found in practically all the islands of the Pacific east of New Guinea, though not in eastern Polynesia. Linguistic evidence suggests that they came from northern or central Vanuatu, or possibly the eastern Solomons.
Ducie Island, a rarely visited island and has been part of the Pitcairn Islands since 1902. There are no permanent inhabitants.The island is known for it's lagoon.
This protected atoll together with its six neighboring islands, originally including Taiaro, makes up a UNESCO classified nature reserve, which is the proof of the richness of the ecosystem of these atolls: the especially rare flora and fauna, including the hunting king-fisher, the Tuamotu palm, and in the lagoons, crustaceans such as squills or sea cicadas. Rotoava in the northeast near the Ngarue pass is a charming village, home to most of the atoll's 248 inhabitants and it's aerodrome. Fakarava's immense lagoon provide endless and exciting discoveries for snorkelers in dream-like purple water where 150 foot visibility is the norm, or you may choose to join the local villagers of Rotoava while they demonstrate their handicrafts and colorful cultural traditions.
Experience the natural wonder of the Bay of Virgins on beautiful Fatu Hiva, the most southerly island. The island is wild and spectacularly beautiful. The jungle greenery begins at the waterís edge, with narrow ravines, deep gorges and luxuriant valleys briefly open to view as the boat glides past, close to the sheer cliffs that plunge straight down into the splashing surf.
One of the smallest and most remote nations in the world, this unspoiled corner of the Pacific offers a peaceful, and non-commercialized environment that is ideal for rest and relaxation. Tuvalu, formerly known as the Ellice Islands, is a Polynesian island nation located in the Pacific Ocean midway between Hawaii and Australia.
A tiny, shimmering isle rising out of an azure sea, Gaferut is the archetypal South Pacific atoll. Like many atolls, uninhabited Gaferut is an important and isolated site for bird and turtle nesting. Birders can expect to see three species of boobies, two species of noddies, and three species of terns, including the elegant Fairy Tern. Spectacular snorkeling can be had right from the shore as we step from the apricot sand into the balmy Pacific waters for our first glimpse at paradise underwater. If you're lucky, you may see some of Yap's many manta rays.
The Gambier Islands are a small group of islands in French Polynesia, located at the southeast terminus of the Tuamotu archipelago. They are generally considered a separate island group from Tuamotu both because their culture and language (Mangarevan) are much more closely related to those of the Marquesas Islands, and because, while the Tuamotus are comprised of several chains of coral atolls, the Gambiers, especially the primary island, Mangareva, are of volcanic origin.
Just 30 miles long and less than 9 miles wide, Guam is the largest of Micronesia's islands. A trip to Guam is like visiting the four exotic corners of the globe. Many people consider Guam one of the most interesting places in Micronesia. Guam's dramatic coastline and white sand beaches are ringed by coral reefs and clear, crystalline waters teeming with exotic marine life and blessed by a balmy tropical climate and gentle trade winds.
Henderson Island is an uninhabited uplifted coral island in the south Pacific Ocean, annexed to the Pitcairn Islands colony in 1902. Henderson Island was designated a World Heritage Site by the United Nations in 1988 because of its bird life and untouched phosphate reserves. The raised coral platform has 15 m (50 ft) coastal cliffs with three beaches on the northern side.
Above the steady rumble of the Pacific surge, the sharply sculpted mountains of Hiva Oa hide their summits in the mists of rain-filled clouds. The largest and most fertile island in the southern group of the Marquises, Hiva Oa has deep valleys, lush plateaus and thickly wooded forests.
The town is on the northern coastline and incorporates a small picturesque sea port at Point Cruz. Visitors will enjoy the hustle and bustle of Honiara and there are many things to do and see.
This mountainous island but with soft shapes has magnificent indented bays and some lovely white sand beaches. The islands dotted around the lagoons are given over to growing different types of melons and there is a varied and abundant supply of fruit and vegetables from these fertile soils.
Yap, The westernmost state of Micronesia is, made up of four large and seven small islands plus another 134 Islets. There are four indigenous languages in Yap: Yapese, Ulithian, Woleian and Satawalese. English is the common language of the FSM and is commonly spoken and understood. Many elderly Yapese are fluent in Japanese. Home to approximately 650 people, the island of Ifaluk is powerfully traditional. In their cooperative culture, the men fish to supply the entire island, and there is no word for "anger." Dance is an art form in Yap. Through dance, legends are passed down, history is recorded and entertainment is created. The dances of Yap are raucous, colorful and well orchestrated. Men and women both start at an early age to learn this special Yap tradition. This traditional life carries into the villages where fishing, sailing and weaving are still important parts of everyday life. Grass skirts for the women and thu'us, a type of loincloth, for the men are the basic garbs in the small towns that sit in tranquil settings around the island.
Lying 1,300 miles south of Hawaii, Christmas Island is a small tropical Eden far off the beaten track for tourists. Once a place of whalers or coconut oil and copra harvesters, today, Christmas Island is a protected wildlife haven. Its barrier reef pulses with colorful sea creatures and its bird life draws devoted birdwatchers from around the world. Nature lovers will appreciate the wildlife sanctuary being nurtured here. As home to nearly 20 species of birds and surrounded by water teeming with marine life.
Experience and be part of a living heritage. Levuka is a trip back in time, to a Fiji that is still untouched from mass tourism and commerce, it's still the way Fiji used to be in the old days. Founded by trader and settlers as early as 1830, Levuka was the first permanent European settlement in the pacific islands. In years to come the place flourished and attracted cotton and coconut planters, sandalwood and beche de mer traders. Merchants arrived to set up businesses such as shops, bars and hotels. ships and sailors of every nationality visited and Levuka turned into a rowdy place where anarchy ruled. Local chiefs had trouble to maintain control and and the self-proclaimed king over Fiji Tui Cakobau and his fellow chiefs ceded the islands to the queen and Fiji became a British colony in 10 October 1874, that's when Levuka became Fijis' first capital. Law and order took over and very soon the first school of Fiji was build. Just a few years later the founders were concerned for lack of space and the problem difficulties this faced for the growth of the capital. So in 1871 the capital was moved to Suva, businesses and many people left and Levuka seemed to be doomed to stand still in time.
Lifou is the largest of the Loyalty Islands. Its beaches are superb, the vegetation very dense, there are big forests, huge caves, and a wide variety of landscapes. The people are very friendly and there are good hotel structures with numerous activities awaiting you.
Malalo is part of Fiji, which, endowed with forest, mineral, and fish resources, is one of the more developed of the Pacific island economies. Fiji consists of 322 islands (of which 106 are inhabited) and 522 smaller islets. Fijians were originally described as "formidable warriors and ferocious cannibals." Today, the indigenous culture is very much an active and living culture, and is a part of everyday life for the majority of the population.
The Marquesas Islands are the island group farthest from any continent in the world, lying between 900 and 1,200 km (550 and 725 miles) south of the equator and 1,371 km (852 miles) northeast of Tahiti. They fall naturally into two geographical divisions: the northern group, consisting of Eïao, Hatutu (Hatutaa), Motu One, and the islands centered around the large island of Nuku Hiva: Motu Iti (Hatu Iti), Ua Pu, Motu `Oa and Ua Huka, and the southern group of Fatu Uku, Tahuata, Moho Tani (Motane), Terihi, Fatu Hiva and Motu Nao (Thomasset Rock), clustered around the main island of Hiva `Oa.
Maupihaa, also known as Mopelia, is an atoll in the Leeward group of the Society Islands. This atoll is located 72 km southeast of Manuae, its nearest neighbor. Maupihaa atoll is roughly 8 km in length and contains a lagoon that is up to 40 m in depth and is surrounded by submerged reefs on three sides. The atoll's outer reefs are continuous except for a small passage on the western side of the atoll. The eastern side consists of a narrow, thickly vegetated, and a number of islets. The only village on the atoll is located on Motu Maupihaa and as of 1985, the population consisted of just 10 people.
Moorea´s steep, green velvety peaks are visible from Papeete, 12 miles away. At the base of the mountains are reef-protected turquoise lagoons. To savor Moorea´s breath-taking beauty, find a deserted beach or circle the island by car or bike past quaint villages and ancient temples.
Inyeug (Mystery) Island is uninhabited, making it Vanuatu's most private island bungalow retreat. If you want to relax on white sand beaches surrounded by coral reefs then this is a good destination. Since nobody lives on Mystery Island, the bungalows are self catering and you need to bring at least some of your food and beverages with you. Local produce is available on the mainland and there are basic stores there too.
Niuafo'ou Island lies 640km north of Tongatapu and is the most remote island in Tonga with a population of 735. This island also known as Tin Can Island because of its unusual postal service. Since there was no anchorage or landing site on the island, mail and supplies for residents were sealed up in a biscuit tin and tossed overboard from a passing supply ship. Strong swimmers would retrieve the packages. Outbound mail was tied to the end of long sticks and swimmers would carry them, balanced overhead, out to the waiting ship.Today the harbour still has no anchorage and no wharf. Ships stop about 150m offshore and the crew drops two lines into the water, which are retrieved by swimmers and carried to the cement platform that serves as the landing site.
Niuatoputapu is probably the most remote destination you will ever visit. A dot in the middle of the Pacific, it's a part of Tonga, yet closer to the border of Samoa. Niuatoputapu is as the South Pacific used to be. Its attractions are its isolation, the wonderful scenery, and the friendly people. Tongans have a reputation as the "friendliest South Sea Islanders." You'll have a chance to decide this for yourself when we visit a Tongan village. The 176 islands of Tonga range from high volcanic to low coral terrain and create scenic variety seldom matched elsewhere in the world. The islands are divided into four groups and bordered on the east by the deep Tongan Trench. The inhabitants spoke formerly the Niuatoputapu language, but it has now been extinct for centuries and the inhabitants speak mainly Tongan.
Nuku Hiva is the main island in the northern archipelago with the town of Taiohae serving as the administrative and economic centre. It is best known for its Ahuii waterfall in the Hakaui Valley. It is the largest island in the Marquises archipelago.
With a capital whose name translates as 'Abode of Love', there has to be something going on in the Friendly Islands that we don't know about. Most Tongans are warm and welcoming, but it's difficult to see how they could be otherwise when home is a series of lush Pacific islands, bordered by unbelievable beaches, surrounded by coral reefs, basking under a tropical sun. That's hard to beat.
Ouvea is very often called: "The island closest to paradise", the white sand there is so fine that you'd think it was flour. Its vegetation and climate are exceptional. The inhabitants of this paradisiacal island are very welcoming, and in spite of the lack of leisure facilities, you couldn't possibly come and visit Noumea or the Loyalty Islands without coming to Ouvea.
An atoll with a land area of one square mile, Palmerston is the only true atoll in the southern Cook group. It consists of six sandy motu (islets) scattered around a coral reef and surrounding a lagoon about seven miles across. When Captain Cook landed on Palmerston on June 16, 1777, the island was then uninhabited. Cook named the island in honor of the First Lord of the Admiralty, Lord Palmerston. Tradition has it that an ancient name for the island was Avarau, meaning "two hundred harbors." In 1863 a ship's carpenter and barrelmaker (cooper) named William Masters arrived from Manuae with two Polynesian wives and annexed the island. He shortly added a third wife and from this harem he propagated a large family and settled in firmly as virtual king and autocrat of the community until his death in 1899. Palmerston's current population of 50 is descended from him and his three Polynesian wives. Masters is said to have originated from Gloucestershire and the island's population speak excellent English with a distinct Gloucestershire accent. William's descendants now spell their name "Marsters."
The uninhibited waterfront town of Papeete lies on the island of Tahiti, the most magical name in the South Pacific. Spend a day on a palm-fringed beach, visit the Gauguin Museum or tour the lush interior to see the waterfalls. In town, sample boutiques and sidewalk cafes along Boulevard Pomare.
Pohnpei is the largest and tallest island in the FSM. Its peaks get plenty of rainfall annually and this creates more than 40 rivers that feed the lush upper rain forest. Pohnpei's waterfalls range from pleasant to spectacular, creating a refreshing and breathtaking experience for those venturing to the base of the falls. Pohnpei is famous for its energetic dances and also for the relaxing drink sakau, a kava-like brew. Pohnpei's people offer a look at family life island style. Communities come together to weave a new boathouse or just wash the daily clothes. Kids frolic in the water of the many rivers that flow from the mountains and down past the villages.
Pretty Port Denarau is the hub for day tours to the Mamanuca and Yasawa island groups.Enjoy a leisurely day beachcombing, or venture out, bound for islands and dive sites offshore.You can also take a scenic flight from here to get a bird’s-eye view of Fiji's lush interior highlands, dotted with waterfalls. See Fiji’s beautiful coral reefs and tropical isles. Snorkel and Dive - Be whisked to outer-reef sites in a high-speed, purpose-designed dive boat to view the spectacular coral and marine life.
Pukapuka, is a small coral atoll in the northeastern Tuamotu Archipelago, sometimes included as a member of the Disappointment Islands. This atoll is quite isolated, the nearest land being Fakahina, located 182 km away from it to the Southwest.
Rabaul, the capital of New Britain Island in the Bismark Archipelago, is the largest of Papua New Guinea's islands. Rabaul, the former provincial capital, is located in the Gazelle Peninsula on the southern side. Covered by tropical rain forests and surrounded by a colorful coral reef, Rabaul is also sprinkled with World War II relics.
The largest of the Leeward Islands, Raiatea is totally surrounded by a reef but has several navigable passes and the only navigable river in French Polynesia. Raiatea shares a protected lagoon with the island of Taha'a. Discover fascinating underwater scenery within Raiatea's deep lagoon, which is rich with fish and surrounded by mountains. The island offers lush green valleys, numerous waterfalls and pineapple and vanilla plantations.
Rangiroa is one of the biggest coral atolls in the world. Diving in and around the two passes, TIPUTA and AVATORU is just indescribable.
The romance of old Polynesia is alive in Rarotonga, largest of the Cook Islands. Relax on its white sand beaches or explore the lush beauty of its tropical interior. Rarotonga´s gentle people remain close to their legends, which give their weaving and woodcarving a special dimension.
Waters that sparkle with phosphorescence at night, parrots and eagles soaring overhead, luxuriously rich coral reefs it's hard to imagine a more perfect paradise. The rich history here includes a legacy of matrilineal inheritance, developed during headhunting days when women were usually spared but men were not. Other enduring traditions include a unique way of making tapa cloth from the bark of the paper-mulberry tree and tinting it a pale blue using a dye made of crushed orchid leaves. There is very little development on the island and no roads beyond a short stretch in the Provincial Capital Buala, and the town of Kaevanga on the south coast.
The Federated States of Micronesia comprise Kosrae, Pohnpei, Chuuk and Yap, four island states of more than 600 tiny islands and atolls, stretch almost the entire width of Micronesia, 1,800 miles across the western Pacific from east to west. Each speaks its own language with its own distinctive culture, traditions and history. Resident population close of 500 speak their native language, Satawalese. In addition, there are many Satawalese on Yap proper. The island of Satawal is the home of one of Micronesia's most legendary figures, master star navigator Mau Pialug. He was responsible for starting the revival of traditional Polynesian voyaging 20 years ago, and today, giant canoe houses once more dot the shore. Without charts or compasses, these mariners rely on their knowledge of star positions, ocean swells and other natural phenomenon to navigate immense stretches of the Pacific in their traditional canoes.
Savai'i is the largest Polynesian island outside of Hawaii or New Zealand, but also one of its least populated. Here, one can view volcanic craters and lava tubes, witness dramatic blowholes, and enjoy traditional Polynesian villages. Savai'i is just 10 miles to the west of Western Samoa's smaller, "main island" of Upolu and its capital town of Apia. Both islands are dormant volcanic islands, covered in tropical rainforest, which are home to many exotic birds. The last eruption lasted from 1905 to 1911, when huge volumes of lava trickled from inconspicuous Mt. Matavanu towards the coast, burying villages and filling in the lagoon. Traditional Samoan villages, many comprising open-air Fale houses, now line the coast of the island. A typical Samoan village is made up of a series of families called an aiga. A matai is voted to lead the aiga, and is also responsible for the labor, activities, well-being, and housing of his family.
The rich aroma of vanilla greets you on Tahaa, sometimes referred to as Vanilla Island because of the numerous "black gold" plantations. Sharing the same barrier reef as Raiatea, Tahaa is a lovely and tranquil isle where you can experience the authentic flavor of Polynesia. Snorkelers will love the beautiful coral gardens, and the white sandy beaches invite everyone to relax and enjoy.
This charming little atoll, 12 miles by 4 miles, with no reef pass, is almost totally given over to pearl farming. It is here that the South Seas "gem", the rare black pearl, was first farmed. Tuamaotus' sheltered lagoon is the perfect environment for growing and collecting the baby mother of pearl.
Tikehau is a coral atoll in the Tuamotu Archipelago. It is located in the Palliser group, the westernmost of the Tuamotus. The atoll's oval-shaped lagoon is 27 km long and 19 km wide. and is surrounded by an almost continuous coral reef. There is a great density of fish and other marine life in the lagoon. The islands are covered with coconut palms, and support a population of 407 inhabitants. The main village is called Tuherahera. There are also tourist resorts on Tikehau.
The Solomon Islands have long been known for their fierce headhunting tribes, which have led to the islands' isolation until only recently. Descended from voyaging Tongans, Tikopian culture differs from that of its neighbors, and islanders still follow a traditional lifestyle. Women wear tapa cloth skirts, catch fish with handmade nets from ancient fish traps, and cook in communal ovens. Men catch flying fish with airborne nets resembling tennis rackets, wear tribal tattoos, and chew betel nuts. There are no cars on the island, and it is still ruled by four clans, each with a chief who may only be approached by crawling. It's a fascinating place with a colorful history. The island is actually part of the British Solomon Islands, yet culturally as well as linguistically, Tikopia is classified with Western Polynesia. This Island is home to approximately 2,000 people. Hunting was never used as a means of food because of the lack of animals on the island. Therefore marine life is the main source of food in their diet. The Tikopians are distributed into 21 villages located along the coastline. The 21 villages are divided into two major social-geographical districts, named Ravenga and Faea.
The many islands within this huge atoll are crowned with natural beauty. The outer barrier reef is punctuated with idyllic sand spits dotted with coconut palms. The high islands in the central lagoon rise into the blue island skies. Wild orchids and other flora are found in the scenic and sometimes rugged terrain of the islands. Lush vegetation and simple living punctuate the lives of the lagoon. Fishing, weaving and tending garden supplant the subsistence lives that many sustain on their individual islands. It is not unusual to see women waist deep in the mangroves hunting for a special delicacy or men walking the reefs by torchlight at night looking for baby octopus. Boat makers create vessels high in the hills of the inner islands and take them down to sea when finished. Open-hearth fires are still used to cook the daily meals. Life here is close to nature and lived in conjunction with the land and the sea. Local carvers are also famous for using beautiful local woods to carve warrior masks and busts. And the Chuukese love stick is part of a legendary practice of courtship unique to this island group.
Tubuai is located south of Tahiti. Oval-shape volcanic island featuring a particular relief constituted by its 2 volcanic chains among which Mount Taita is 422 meters at its highest point. Surrounded by a turquoise lagoon and many motus (islets). It offers several plateau suitable for fruits and vegetables agriculture among which taro, potatoes and coffee that are sent to Papeete market.
Ua Huka is the smallest island and famous for its wood carvings which are considered the best in Polynesia. A crescent shaped island situated 22 miles east of Nuku Hiva and 35 miles northeast of Ua Pou, Ua Huka is the smallest of the northern Marquesan group and home to 539 inhabitants. A vast plateau spreads out at the base of Mount Hitikau, with an arid, desert like topo scrub brush. Wild horses roam the tablelands and herds of goats graze around and on the small airstrip. Wild cotton and fragrant herbs cover the hills of the southern coast and offshore islets are home to thousands of sea birds. The coast off Haavei is rich in sea life, filled with sharks, dolphins, manta ray, big turtles, lobster and a variety of fish.
In a world where even small remote islands have become popular tourist destinations, it's increasingly rare to find a sizable South Pacific isle that has remained largely undeveloped. And therein lies the basic charm of Vanua Levu, the second largest among Fiji's 300 or so islands. The interior of the island is rugged, and green fields of sugar cane cover the north and west coasts like a scene from long ago Hawaii. Gaze across the gloriously blue waters of vast Savusavu Bay, and you may find it hard to understand why there aren’t more visitors.
Vanuatu is an archipelago of 83 islands with a unique blend of intact tribal communities, resorts, beaches and geography ranging from accessible volcanoes to pristine underwater environments, offering unique and memorable experiences.
The largest island, Viti Levu (pronounced Vee-tee Lay-vu) is home to 70% of the population and is the hub of the entire Fiji archipelago. Viti Levu has it all - cities, offshore resorts, cane fields, nightlife, low life, villages and as elsewhere in Fiji, no shortage of friendly local people.
For a tropical island that's so small and remote - and barely rates a mention in the guide books - Vanuatu's Wala (pronounced Wolla) is a revelation for passengers wanting to know more about Melanesian way of life - past and present. Separated from a much larger Malekula Island (south of Espiritu Santo in the country's north) by a deep passage, Wala is a primitive spot, as if cocooned from 21st century ideals.
Yap Island is one of the 134 islands and atolls of Micronesia. Only open to tourism for the past seventeen years, the old stone pathways lined with tropical plants and flowers remain intact alongside traditional thatched-roof villages, where women wear grass skirts and men wear thu'us, a type of loincloth. Yap is internationally recognized for its sport fishing and diving - in particular for viewing the fascinating giant manta ray.
Fiji´s western-most islands, the Yasawas lie on the azure sea like a broken chain of pearls. The typical "South Pacific" beauty of the Yasawas is legendary, with sandy beaches backed by rugged green cliffs. The village of Yasawa-i-Rara offers an isolated dream world for relaxation.