Monday, September 12, 2011

Dreaming of warmer, sunnier places :-)

Today I had a sick day and so spent the day in bed with my laptop. After exhausting the news websites I found myself on travel websites (yet again). I thought I might like to see Fiji next year. Two things on my travel bucket list are visiting as many different Pacific countries as I can and going diving somewhere at least once per year. I really wanted to spend my 25th birthday diving with sharks and Fiji's the place to do it apparently.

However despite a lot of google searching, I just can't seem to find what I'm looking for there. I'm sure it's there somewhere, hidden behind the countless resorts that all look much the same, with their included breakfast and probably extortionately priced other meals, and loads of families and honeymooners. I'm after something a little more low key and I like to spread my dollar (the little that I take with me) around the community. I'm a big believer in tourism being the key to development in the Pacific Region.

I'm also a fan of lists. Here's my current top 10 things I'd like to see in our Pacific backyard - it's ever evolving the more I learn (and there's a lot of learning about these places at school at the moment in my Pacific Studies paper).
  1. Kiribati (pronounced Kiribaas) - both Kiritimati Island which is supposedly stunning, a direct flight from Fiji and the island the country is promoting as its tourism jewel. I'd also love to visit the densely populated and polluted Tarawa which is rich in World War Two history and to see the other side of life in the Pacific. The side with sky high rates of domestic violence, unemployment and a per kilometre population density as great or greater than the likes of Singapore - the side you don't see in the tourist brochures.
  2. Diving with whales in the Ha'apai and Va'vau Island groups of Tonga. The whales rock up in late July and leave in October. Tonga's also renown for it's excellent drift diving. I might have heard a rumour about a family run restaurant in Tongatapu dishing up authentic cuisine on woven plates as well.
  3. Rapanui/Isla Pascua/Easter Island  - self explanatory really. Who wouldn't want to visit?!
  4. Belau/Palau - have you seen photos of this place? Forested islands plunging steeply out of the ocean, a pond of jellyfish and apparently some of the best diving you can find. Still a little expensive to get there having to go via Asia I think...
  5. The Solomon Islands - the must sees here are Tetepare Island. We watched a doco in class about the destructive logging that's happened across the archipelago. When the doco was filmed the local villagers were tossing up opening Tetepare, an uninhabited, unspoilt island up to logging too. Thankfully I've discovered they've instead set up an eco resort, basically camping with only a handful of people allowed there at a time. People also seem to overlook a lot of the accomplishments Pacific peoples achieved back in the day - it wasn't all grass huts and hula skirts. They even built and island from scratch. That is something I'd like to see.
  6. Dendroglyph in Chatham Island Forest. Photo: Ross Giblin.The Chatham Islands - for its Moriori history particularly the carvings done on living trees, Pitt Island with its rare birds and you can even get into a cage to dive with great white sharks - fun!
  7. Vanuatu - an independent republic with an intriguing language, a mix of french, english and pidgin. On Tanna you can see an active volcano spewing lava at night, and it's the birthplace of bungy jumping (but with vines strapped around your ankles) and the happiest people on earth. I've heard the food at the market is to die for!
  8. New Caledonia - to visit Xapita where you can still find Lapita pottery scattered on the beach and for the French influence (especially on its food) and modern capital. It's also on the front line of the ongoing decolonisation of the Pacific with a referendum due on independence coming up in the next few years and a strong movement pushing for it.
  9. American Samoa - it's cheap enough to take the 5-8 hour ferry over from Independent Samoa and so I'll probably go not next time I'm in Sa this November, but the time after that. It's got some stunning scenery but I'd like to see for myself just how American it is.
  10. Ooooh toss up for final spot. I'd like to head back to Samoa and somehow arrange to go to Apolima Island. But, the lines of the Pacific are arbitrary so I'd like to redraw them and include East Timor. I would love love love to go here. Yes, the diving is good but there seems a lot else to see as well and to get a feel for a country so touched by conflict.
So that's my top 10. For next year I am leaning heavily toward Vanuatu. This kind of accommodation is my kind of style, similar to the fales in Samoa.
And there are dugongs to be seen and wrecks to be dived. It just looks stunning, the culture(s) are intriguing and it doesn't cost an arm and a leg to get there either.


  1. Those places sound lovely! It is still pretty cold here today and a warmer place would definitely be a nice change!

  2. Hey Jess

    I've come to your blog via Lea :)Am loving the sound of your travel plans...I have many ideas on my bucket list and hope to make a start on them once I've finally finished my study, just a few more the meantime I aim to explore a little more of NZ :) What are you studying?

  3. Hi Sarah. It's nice to "meet" you. I didn't have the will power to finish my study before travelling and finding it very hard to stick at it now when my feet are itching to hit the road again :-) I'm just doing a BA. How about yourself?