Jew­els of the South Pacific

Better Homes and Gardens (Australia) - - April Contents -

Choose your ocean par­adise for a hol­i­day of sun and fun

there are plenty of di­a­monds to be found across the vast Pacific Ocean. Here are five to give you the hol­i­day of a life­time.

AD­VEN­TURE SEEK­ERS VAN­U­ATU

Pen­te­cost Is­land has be­come fa­mous through­out the world for the land div­ing rit­ual (Nagol or N’gol), which oc­curs every Satur­day be­tween April and June. The rit­ual, which in­flu­enced the in­ven­tion of bungee jump­ing by Kiwi AJ Hack­ett, sees lo­cal men and boys jump from a tower that’s 20-30m high, with only a vine at­tached to their legs.

The vines are care­fully se­lected by jumpers who know that just 10cm may be the dif­fer­ence be­tween life and death. Trav­el­ling to view this mag­nif­i­cent cer­e­mony is a once-in-a-life­time ex­pe­ri­ence, full of the ex­cite­ment of sit­ting be­neath the tower wait­ing with un­ease for the diver to jump safely to ground.

Ad­di­tion­ally, Van­u­atu’s azure wa­ters in­vite you to ex­plore what lies be­neath their sur­face. Van­u­atu div­ing hol­i­days are hugely pop­u­lar, mak­ing it the per­fect des­ti­na­tion for scuba div­ing and snorkellin­g.

On Espir­itu Santo, the wrecks of SS Pres­i­dent Coolidge and

USS Tucker give divers of all skill lev­els an un­for­get­table ex­pe­ri­ence. Lo­cated only a few kilo­me­tres from Lu­ganville, the outer parts of the ships can be safely seen by novice divers. Con­sid­ered by many divers to be the best wreck dive in the world, the SS Pres­i­dent Coolidge is still very much in­tact, with re­minders of her glo­ri­ous days as a cruise liner and the rem­nants of her days as a troop ship.

In her in­te­rior are guns, can­nons, jeeps, hel­mets, trucks and per­sonal sup­plies left by some of the sol­diers, as well as the beau­ti­ful porce­lain statue of The Lady, chan­de­liers and a mo­saic tile foun­tain. The wreck is cov­ered in coral and is home to a plethora of sea life in­clud­ing bar­racuda, li­on­fish and a host of reef fish. Amaz­ing!

As Van­u­atu lies on top of the Pacific Ring of Fire it has nine ac­tive vol­ca­noes, seven on land and two be­neath the sea. Mount Ya­sur vol­cano is the most pop­u­lar and most eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble. Lo­cated on Tanna Is­land, it draws thou­sands of tourists each year. One not to be missed. van­u­atu.travel/au

THE CUL­TURE VUL­TURES PA­PUA NEW GUINEA

In Pa­pua New Guinea, Aus­tralia’s near­est neigh­bour, you’ll come face-to-face with some of the old­est con­tin­u­ing cul­tures on the planet.

From its re­mote vil­lages to its ur­ban cen­tres, you’ll find

PNG’S cus­toms are pas­sion­ately main­tained in elab­o­rate rit­u­als that ac­com­pany deaths, feasts, mar­riages, com­pen­sa­tion cer­e­monies and ini­ti­a­tion rites.

PNG’S main cul­tural fes­ti­vals take place an­nu­ally from July to Novem­ber through­out the coun­try, with an ex­trav­a­ganza of cul­tural danc­ing, rit­ual per­for­mance, sto­ry­telling and ex­change, and arts and crafts on show.

Check online for the vast ar­ray of fes­ti­vals, from cel­e­brat­ing the croc­o­dile and its cul­tural sig­nif­i­cance along the Sepik River, in­clud­ing men’s skin-cut­ting rit­u­als as a rite of pas­sage; to the Enga Prov­ince, the world’s last fron­tier, where tra­di­tional life­styles and prac­tices are still very much in­tact; through to the Morobe Show, with agri­cul­tural, in­dus­trial and com­mer­cial features of the prov­ince. It’s a feast of fes­tiv­i­ties.

papuanewgu­inea.travel THE HONEYMOONE­RS TAHITI

Pic­ture a South Pacific par­adise and it’s prob­a­bly an im­age of French Poly­ne­sia, Tahiti’s of­fi­cial name. Strewn across four mil­lion square kilo­me­tres of the South Pacific, Tahiti is a col­lec­tion of

118 is­lands of five ar­chi­pel­a­gos: the So­ci­ety Is­lands, the Tuamotu Is­lands, the Gam­bier Is­lands, the Mar­que­sas Is­lands and the Aus­tral Is­lands, all a de­light­ful blend of Poly­ne­sian and French cul­tures, a con­sis­tently trop­i­cal cli­mate, tow­er­ing moun­tains, lush forests and stag­ger­ingly beau­ti­ful wa­ter­falls.

If a se­cluded ro­man­tic getaway is what you’re af­ter, Bora Bora is all gor­geous beaches and breath­tak­ing la­goons. With a bevy of lux­u­ri­ous over-wa­ter bun­ga­lows, it’s a won­der­ful place to do noth­ing or don your face mask for a swim in its mag­nif­i­cent la­goon. A huge ar­ray of sea life awaits you, in­clud­ing manta rays, sharks and gen­tle Napoleon wrasses, through scuba div­ing, hel­met div­ing or view­ing from a glass-bot­tom boat.

Or, choose ro­man­tic horse rides across empty beaches; go deep-sea fish­ing in wa­ters teem­ing with game fish; take a pri­vate boat char­ter or hop on a scooter or bi­cy­cle and ride into tra­di­tional Poly­ne­sian vil­lages or across the quiet roads that cir­cle the is­lands. The spa treat­ments are also world class, as are the sump­tu­ous seafood feasts. Tahiti – it’s a dream hol­i­day.

tahi­ti­tourisme.com.au THE FOOD­IES NEW CALE­DO­NIA

Just a three-hour flight from Syd­ney, New Cale­do­nia con­sists of a main is­land, Grande Terre – with spec­tac­u­lar nat­u­ral scenery it’s a true ad­ven­ture play­ground – and jaw-drop­ping is­lands re­veal­ing the per­fect com­bi­na­tion of amaz­ing landscapes and su­perb hos­pi­tal­ity.

The South Pacific is a long white sandy haven of beaches for every ac­tiv­ity you could ask for

Renowned for its cos­mopoli­tan cook­ing, be­tween tra­di­tion and moder­nity, it has many tal­ented chefs and restau­rants and is ideal for gour­mands seek­ing sur­pris­ing and in­tense flavours.

Bougna is the em­blem­atic Kanak dish. Made from tu­ber­cles, co­conut milk and tra­di­tion­ally fish, you can en­joy it in a restau­rant or at a meal with a tribe, and that’s a spe­cialty! All up the cui­sine is largely based on lo­cal prod­ucts, with chefs play­ing off Cale­do­nian flavours for new ver­sions of French clas­sics or dishes ac­cord­ing to the lo­cal tra­di­tions. Ta­bles d’hotes (Wel­come to the Farm) net­works have been mul­ti­ply­ing in Noumea, as well as across Grande Terre and the is­lands. Of­ten as­so­ci­ated with home­s­tay ac­com­mo­da­tions, you can live like a Cale­do­nian on your visit.

The Wel­come to the Farm net­work’s farm­ers of­fer a visit com­bin­ing the dis­cov­ery of farm life, ac­com­mo­da­tions and culi­nary de­lights. New Cale­do­nia is a de­light, what­ever you chose. new­cale­do­nia.travel/au

FAM­ILY TIME FIJI

For an un­for­get­table fam­ily hol­i­day with sunshine, wonder and ad­ven­ture, Fiji is the ul­ti­mate des­ti­na­tion. No mat­ter where you are, there’s so much to see and do. With in­cred­i­ble wildlife, stun­ning beaches and a huge range of ad­ven­ture ac­tiv­i­ties,

Fiji is one big play­ground.

Dis­cover marine life by snorkellin­g or scuba div­ing.

Jet ski­ing and kayak­ing are a great way to ex­pe­ri­ence aquatic ad­ven­tures. And long, sandy white beaches are great for kids to run, swim and build sand­cas­tles to their hearts’ con­tent. Then there’s bril­liant bird life through to breath-tak­ing wa­ter­falls and lush forests, and end­less op­por­tu­ni­ties to im­merse your fam­ily in one of the world’s most beau­ti­ful nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ments.

As a bonus, Fiji’s rel­a­tively small size means get­ting around is easy, so you can squeeze more into each day. And, of course, there’s the fa­mous af­fec­tion lo­cal Fi­jians have for chil­dren, en­ter­tain­ing them wher­ever you stay. Don’t be sur­prised if you find the kids be­ing taken to lo­cal mar­kets, thrown into a kayak to go out and pat dol­phins or sim­ply be­ing en­ter­tained in a pool from sun up to sun down. Fiji re­ally is the ul­ti­mate fam­ily hol­i­day des­ti­na­tion.

fiji.travel/au

Visit Van­u­atu and you can see Mount Ya­sur vol­cano erupt. Wow! The beau­ti­ful white sands of Bora Bora make Tahiti a beach lover’s dream.

from the Waghi Tribal per­form­ers of High­lands, at one Prov­ince, West­ern cul­tural fes­ti­vals. PNG’S many ex­cit­ing

Feast your way through New Cale­do­nia – it’s foodie heaven! Drink in the sun­set view from your over-wa­ter bun­ga­low in Bora Bora, cock­tail in hand. For a fun fam­ily hol­i­day in the sun Fiji can’t be beaten.

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