ArchiveCategory Archives for "Oceania"
Must see locations, events and places to travel and enjoy in Oceania.
Must see locations, events and places to travel and enjoy in Oceania.
Welcome to Lily Beach Resort & Spa. It is the first five-star resort in the Maldives to offer an all-inclusive Platinum Plan that takes away the worries of day-to-day to expenses.
Amidst the pristine beaches and tropical foliage of the Maldives, lies a piece of paradise called the Lily Beach Resort & Spa. In close proximity to diving sites and coral reefs, this resort comes with an all-inclusive, all-embracing Platinum Plan that offers a no-surprise-expenditure vacation for honeymooners and those looking to whisk their families away to an exotic destination. Little wonder then as to why it held the title of Maldives’ Leading AII-Inclusive Resort 2016 at the World Travel Awards 2016 in Zanzibar, Tanzania.
With 69 Beach Villas, 16 Lagoon Villas and 4 Sunset Water Suites spread across Huvahendhoo, the resort has charming accommodation options. We recommend one of the 36 luxurious Deluxe Water Villas that comprises sunken glass floors, direct access to the lagoon, a Jacuzzi plunge pool, a home theatre system and several other amenities.
From reception and assistance on arrival and departure at the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport, free access to the VIP lounge in the seaplane terminal and unlimited dining options to water sports, leisure activities and fun for the kids, the Platinum Plan takes care of everything.
Sun-kissed beaches, cerulean lagoons, vibrant house reefs, languid moments, private pools and spacious luxury suites – these are just some of the many things you can expect when you check into Hideaway Beach Resort & Spa, Maldives.
If you’re looking for a romantic honeymoon or a luxurious family getaway far away from prying eyes, Hideaway Beach Resort & Spa in the Maldives is the perfect destination. To reach it, get on a speedboat from Hanimadhoo International airport. The sight of the resort, as you approach it, makes your busy urban life feel like a long forgotten story.
An exclusive all-suite, multiple-award winning resort, Hideaway has 103 villas, which are among the largest in the Maldives. Wide open spaces are everywhere. The 46 beachfront villas, each with a private beach sequestered by tropical gardens for complete privacy are extremely luxurious. But their 57 over-water lodges, like the Deluxe Water Villa, will take your breathe away.
Raised on stilts in the middle of the ocean, it comprises an infinity pool, sundeck, a spacious bedroom, walk in wardrobes, a Jacuzzi tub and more. While you’re here, Island Host – a one-of-a-kind butler service – will be at your beck and call.While newlyweds can sign up for the honeymoon package, which includes sparkling wines, a cake and exclusive services at the Hideaway Spa, divers, snorkelers and water sport enthusiasts can explore the double house coral reefs that run alongside the resort.
Mahalo could have squashed me like a piece of breadfruit, and yet I couldn’t stop marvelling at him. Arms broad as coconut palms extended from his sleeveless army surplus jacket, and etched into these limbs were black markings symbolising his ancestors, family, job and personality – he literally wore his heart on his sleeve. He then took off his hard hat to reveal a face and bald head almost completely covered in dark ink. I
didn’t know it then, but in many ways Mahalo was a microcosm of how French Polynesia was changing.
Tattoos were banned for over a century in the Marquesas Islands, where my ship was headed. Today, they are a good example of how the archipelago is slowly reclaiming its culture from the whims of misguided foreigners. But more on that later. In the meantime, I simply watched in awe as Mahalo effortlessly worked the crane aboard the four-star Aranui V – our part-cargo ship, part-cruise liner. The newly launched vessel was the only one in the area able to deliver cement, cars, bicycles, sugar and travellers to the archipelago, but to me it was simply my gateway to this remarkable world.
For anyone unfamiliar with Polynesia, the Oceanic subregion forms a neat triangle deep in the Pacific, with Hawaii, Easter Island and New Zealand its three most far-reaching outposts. My destination, the Marquesas, lay more or less in the middle: a dozen volcanic islands within the collective of French Polynesia, only six of which are actually inhabited. These are some of the remotest clusters of islands on Earth; so remote that they even have their own time zone (30 minutes behind Tahiti). No wonder so many people had come here to escape.
A list of the Marquesas’ famous post residents reveals a who’s who of cultural outsiders. Notorious French artist Paul Gauguin lived, romanced and drank himself into a stupor on Hiva Oa.
Explorer Thor Heyerdahl – famous for his Kon-Tiki expedition – treated his new bride to an 18-month honeymoon on Fatu Hiva, while Belgian troubadour Jacques Brel sought to avoid fame and advanced-stage lung cancer in the islands’ sculpted mountains and bays. Even Moby Dick author Herman Melville had once jumped ship here.
For many, the Marquesas offered a retreat from reality – well, all except Treasure Island author Robert Louis Stevenson, who is said to have declared that they looked “just like the Scottish Highlands” when he visited in 1888. Travel writer Paul Theroux best sums up their appeal in his book The Happy Isles of Oceania, which he researched while touring the islands after the break-up of his marriage. “They are the tableau on which travellers can paint their fantasies,” he wrote. It was this line that had provided the inspiration for my own visit. And fantasised I had – of mouthwash-blue lagoons and reefs alive with rainbow-hued fish. But, like all dreams, it wasn’t long before reality came knocking.
“The Humbolt current makes it too cold,” he added, pouring yet more cold water on my dreams. But I wasn’t the first visitor to the islands to arrive with misconceptions. I followed in a grand historical tradition.
New Zealand is best known for stunning untouched natural landscapes – so get out there and embrace them. You’ll find that our mountains, forests and coastlines are all surprisingly accessible.
Underground volcanic and tectonic activity have been shaping our land for thousands of years. As a result, our natural hot pools – particularly around Rotorua – are popular with locals and visitors alike; a soak in the waters of Kerosene Creek or Waiotapu Stream is uniquely relaxing. Hell’s Gate has the only geothermal mud baths in New Zealand, while Polynesia Spa is world-famous for its lakefront mineral springs. In the Coromandel, head to Hot Water Beach at low tide to dig your own natural warm spa in the sand. Thermal pool complexes are also found at the likes of Waiwera in the north and Hanmer Springs in the south.
New Zealand’s zoos and wildlife parks offer both native and exotic animal encounters. A visit to one is your best chance of spotting the elusive kiwi! New Zealand boasts some of the most unique birdlife in the world – a quarter of our birds are found nowhere else on the planet. We have three species of penguin, all found in the South Island. You may encounter them in their natural habitats, or in zoos or wildlife parks and sanctuaries. This is also a fantastic country for whale and dolphin spotting – the rare Hector’s dolphin is a South Island exclusive. There are sightseeing cruises available wherever these astonishing creatures are found; you can even swim alongside them in the right conditions.
There are lots of family friendly activities that still have the thrill factor! Jetboating is suitable for youngsters; even bungy jumping is open to those 10 and over. The minimum age for zorbing – hurtling around in a giant transparent ball – is 6. For something a little more gentle, try the aerial adventure that is ziplining or the part go-kart, part toboggan fun of luging.
Whether they’re fascinatingly informative or thrilling and scary, New Zealand’s theme and leisure parks offer conveniently concentrated fun. Farm parks, wildlife sanctuaries and underwater centres bring the natural wonders of New Zealand so close you can touch them. Feed, ride, watch and learn all about our farm animals and native wildlife. Roller coasters, castles, water worlds and hair-raising rides offer hours of adrenalin-filled entertainment for the young and the young-at-heart. Adventure seekers will enjoy our downhill luges, car and motorbike races, jet boat sprints, and realistic simulator rides. Many of these experiences are found in Rotorua and are in close proximity to each other.
New Zealand offers a wide selection of activities for families ranging from animal and wildlife experiences to nature-based activities and thrill-seeking adventures. Few must try experience one should try when in New Zealand:
Whale Watching or Wildlife experience – You can spot whales throughout New Zealand, including Auckland’s beautiful Hauraki Gulf and the wonderful Kaikoura. Kaikoura, on the east coast of the South Island, is one of the only places in the world where you can easily see sperm whales.
Hobbiton – Experience the real Middle-earth with a visit to the Hobbiton Movie Set, featured in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films.
1. You can eat lobster every day for a week
Who ordered the lobster? For those who adore these colourful crustaceans but can’t afford price tag usually attached to a lobster dinner, welcome to your nirvana. In the Solomon Islands you can order lobster every day, in every way, without breaking the bank. Start at the Heritage Park Hotel in Honiara where you can feast on this beast bathed in garlic. At Fatboy Resort, near Gizo, the lobster practically jumps out of the ocean on to your jetty restaurant plate, with fishermen making daily deliveries. At Tavanipupu Island Resort at Marau Sound, dine lobster mornay cooked by one of the country’s finest chef. Or head to Sarbis Resort near Gizo, where you can enjoy a lobster pizza cooked in what must be the Southern Hemisphere’s only over-water pizza oven. Fancy lobster for breakfast? Order the omelette at the Agnes Gateway Hotel.
2. It’s one of the last digital-detox spots on the planet
If your idea of a relaxing holiday is truly escaping, then you’re in luck. While phone and internet connectivity is available at most Honiara hotels and in some outer resort receptions, Wi-Fi can be patchy. Even if you buy a local SIM card from Solomon Telekom, you may not always be connected. Our advice: simply switch off. At Fatboys Resort they’ll even offer to boat you out to a remote sandbank where you can enjoy the setting sun and not have to tell another soul about it.
3. There’s no place like a homestay
There’s a wide variety of lovely accommodation options in the Solomon Islands, but for a truly authentic experience consider staying in a local village or homestay. Saeragi on Gizo Island claims to be the Solomons “most beautiful beach” and here you’ll find two comfortable huts perched right on her sandy shores. During your stay you’ll be invited to interact with the local villagers, where you’ll learn anything from palm-frond weaving and coconut husking to fishing, cooking and traditional dancing. And at Oravae Cottage, a 20-minute boat ride from Gizo, you’ll find an open-plan wooden bungalow plus a penthouse and treehouse.
4. The drinks are cool
Forget the coconut water craze that’s currently sweeping Australian cities. Here, it’s the real deal: fresh coconuts plucked straight from the tree and sold at the markets and on restaurant menus. For a really cool cafe, head to Honiara’s Lime Lounge Café. You’ll find coconut and fresh juices and great coffee among the extensive food menu. For those who prefer a cold beer on a hot day, the Solomons’ own SolBrew is sold almost everywhere and is a tasty, inexpensive ale. Forget a drive-through: for a really cool experience, ask your boat driver to pull in at the Gizo bottle shop and float right up to buy takeaway wine and spirits at reasonable prices.
The 19th-century Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson loved Samoa, and the Samoans – themselves great orators and storytellers – loved him, calling him Tusitala, “the teller of tales.”
Samoa has barely acknowledged the arrival of modern times, so when visiting Stevenson’s Western-style mansion on the lush slopes of Mount Vaea, it’s easy to imagine him still here. As he saw it, Upolu was “beautiful beyond dreams,” a place that caused him to undergo a spiritual change during his five final years, and write that here, “My bones are sweeter to me.”
The obligatory pilgrimage up the winding trail to Stevenson’s grave on a secluded knoll is a challenging but rewarding half-hour climb, leading to a view that overlooks his home and the mountains and sea he had come to love. It’s one of the loveliest vistas in the South Pacific.
Stevenson wrote his own poignant epitaph, even though his death from a cerebral hemorrhage (and not the tuberculosis that plagued him all his life and caused him to leave Scotland) was sudden:
This be the verse you grave for me:
“Here he lies where he longed to be;
Home is the sailor, home from the sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.”
Travelers looking for the fa’a Samoa – the Samoan way of life – will find it at the Safua, where they’re likely to wind up lending a hand with the hotel’s daily shopping at the local market, helping the village kids with their homework, or attending rafter-ringing Sunday services with the host’s family.
The unspoiled volcanic island of Savai’i is one of the most “old Polynesia” islands of any in the Pacific, and the small, charming Safua Hotel is owned and operated by its most informative, knowledgeable, and charismatic character, Vaasili Moelagi Jackson.
Enveloping guests in Polynesian warmth, Moelagi, a female talking chief in her community’s otherwise male council, is a leading force in the island’s movement to preserve its indigenous culture and environment, which makes her an ideal guide to local customs.
At her hotel, every day is a chance to laze about, join an organized jaunt to gorgeous waterfalls or a nearby village ceremony, or even pick up a Samoan tattoo. A high point of the week is Safua’s legendary umu feast; beginning at dawn a suckling pig is steamed in a pit oven and the lavish results are enjoyed by Moelagi and her guests after church services.
The Pacific’s best kayaking destination is Tonga’s enchanting Vava’u group, some fifty reef-encircled, bush-clad islands separated by narrow waterways and protected within an emerald lagoon measuring about 13 by 15 miles.
Vava’u’s unsullied beauty is a prime destination for water sports and yachting, but the best way to visit the hidden marine caves, secluded coves, and turquoise waters lapping sugar-white sand beaches is by guided kayak trip. Guides will introduce you to both the local Polynesian environment and culture, visiting small outer-island villages and the traditional umu feast, where suckling pig is steamed in a covered underground pit to the accompaniment of Tongan song and dance.
Vava’u’s protected channels and coral reefs afford glorious opportunities for snorkeling and spotting dolphins and whales, which head from Antarctica to these shallow, warm waters June through November to bear their young. You won’t be the first to abandon your kayak to slip into the water and swim with them.
Uninhabited islands are the ideal spot for beachside barbecues or pitching camp under waving palms and the Southern Cross.
With his Thirty-three Nobles of the Realm, King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV rules the last pure Polynesian chiefdom in the Pacific, and you are invited to his birthday celebration, the Heilala Festival, held every July 4 since his elaborate coronation in 1967.
Unlike other South Pacific nations, the Kingdom of Tonga was never claimed, nor even invaded, by a Western power, and the octogenarian King Taufa’ahau can trace his lineage back more than 1,000 years. The affection the Tongan people feel for him and their pride in the cultural heritage of this tiny island kingdom is everywhere evident during the weeklong festivities, which include dance and beauty contests, military parades, float contests, concerts, yacht regattas, sporting events, and parties. The entire country turns out for the fun, and Tongans living overseas often come home to attend.
Everyone seems to be caught up in some competition – whether in nabbing the scale-tipping dogtooth tuna or in vying for the Bartender of the Year award—or at least using friendly rivalry as an excuse to hoist another Royal (the local Tongan beer) to another year of health and happiness for Polynesia’s last surviving monarch.
This modest luxury lodge would surprise a discerning traveler anywhere; in Papua New Guinea, it astounds. Nestled at an altitude of 7,000 feet in the Southern Highlands, it offers a bird’s-eye view of the lush rain forest of the Tari Valley, a secluded Ireland-green region that has only recently opened to the outside world.
Built with natural materials, decorated with local Sepik carvings, and sporting large picture windows everywhere to take in the sweeping view, the Ambua is the ultimate luxury wilderness accommodation, offering fine dining, excellent Australian wines, and, to take off the highlands chill, open fireplaces in the lounge and electric mattress pads and fluffy down comforters in each of the thatched, round bungalow units. Just a few minutes down the road from all this civilization live the Huli people, only a few years removed from the Stone Age and known as the Wigmen for their flamboyant headdresses.
There is a good chance of encountering a sing-sing – a show of hopping, vocalizing, and drumming that reenacts the courtship of the male bird of paradise so revered in these parts.
Thirteen species of the bird inhabit these lush green jungles, together with hundreds of species of high-altitude orchids and miniature tree kangaroos. The Ambua’s network of nature trails will lead you to all these and more.