Three of a kind … kayak expeditions
TIGAK ISLANDS, NEW IRELAND, PNG
This truly unspoilt archipelago in far northeastern Papua New Guinea is surrounded by royal-blue pristine waters and untouched coral reefs, making it a kayaker’s paradise, which you can create an entire week-long holiday out of. Paddle through the clear waters from one island to the next, stopping off at white-sand beaches and visiting villages along the way.
Nago Island is a turtle-nesting site, so pull your kayak up on the sand here for a chance to see the majestic creatures in action.
Tumbling off the side of your kayak with your mask and flippers on, to experience some of the best snorkelling in the world. You’ll pass over war wrecks, technicolour fish, coral and even sharks, as you swim through the shimmering blues and greens that are Tigak’s signature.
WEBSITE LAKE WANAKA, NEW ZEALAND
The waters of Lake Wanaka on New Zealand’s South Island are usually so still they mirror the snow-capped mountains gathered around the lake. They’ll be marred only by the ripples from your kayak as you explore the coastline. You can take either half or full-day guided trips, stopping en route for island walks and alfresco picnics with tea, coffee and snacks, or hire a kayak by the hour if you’d prefer to head out on your own.
If you really want to get wild, overnight kayaking tours are an option, too, where you’ll get to eat dinner by the fire and sleep under the stars.
Stopping off to explore pristine Mou Waho Island, where you’ll likely meet New Zealand’s iconic weka birds and, if you’re up for a short hike, swim in the island’s lake. This island really is a step back in time, having been repopulated only with species that are native to New Zealand, and revegetated with the native trees that were cut down in the 1870s.
WEBSITE RAUTA ISLAND, VANUATU
The kayaking around Ratua Island, a privatelyowned, not-for-profit eco resort that’s a 30-minute boat ride from Espiritu Santo (the largest of Vanuatu’s 83 islands), is spectacular. But it’s the short trip to neighbouring Malo Island, where you’ll paddle through mangroveflanked tunnels to a deep natural spring called a ‘blue hole’, that will really blow your mind. Here, you’ll swim in deep azure waters surrounded by vine-cloaked cliffs, and climb the huge, low-hanging trees so you can bombdive into the water like a big kid.
If you time your kayak around Ratua Island right – towards sunrise and sunset, that is – you might glimpse the resident giant turtles, their bald heads occasionally breaking the surface to inhale a lungful of air. Or, pull a kayak out into the water after dark, to paddle under the light of the moon in waters ablaze with phosphorescence.