The other day I accompanied my daughter’s 6th grade class on a field trip to Calaveras County where we wandered among the big trees (giant sequoias) and camped in the forest by a meadow in one of California’s pristine state parks. I expected awe and inspiration, and a lot of kid fun, and I got that. But I also got some things I didn’t expect.
That’s usually the way with travel. You have some notions about what you’ll experience and at some point the path diverges and you end up someplace you hadn’t planned. A side trip in Calaveras County took me to the Fiji islands, the California 6th graders gave way to a Fijian Sunday school, and I was left awed by the redwoods and the sea. Continue reading »
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The effects of climate change are everywhere. I just visited my beloved Coney Island only to find famous Nathan’s (among many other businesses and communities) still not back on their feet post Hurricane Sandy. Monster tornadoes in Oklahoma have swept through entire towns. The twister that hit near Oklahoma City May 31 was the widest ever recorded. Clearly we need to do what we can to make our lives more sustainable.
Solar power is perceived by some as a drop in the bucket, but it can really make a difference, particularly in remote places where sun is plentiful and power is expensive to import.
Turtle Island, set in the Yasawa Islands in the Republic of Fiji, and scene of the 1980 Blue Lagoon movie starring Brooke Shields, is an all-inclusive private island, a high-end resort with a long history of sustainability. This spring, the installation of 968 solar panels rendered the island nearly 100 percent self-sufficient, using the sun’s energy to power not only the resort but the surrounding community. The new solar project will save an estimated 85,000 liters of diesel fuel per year, or an estimated 220 tons of carbon emissions, significantly reducing the island’s carbon footprint and thus becoming one of the world’s most prestigious and socially conscious getaways for the pampered set. Continue reading »
If you’re tired of the March mud or a winter that just won’t quit, maybe a trip to Tahiti is the fix you need. Moon Handbooks has just released the 7th edition of David Stanley’s guidebook to Tahiti, and you can just about feel the sea breezes wafting out of the book.
Triporati’s South Pacific expert, Stanley has spent much of the last 30 years traveling, crossing six continents overland and visiting 212 of the world’s 245 countries and territories. That puts him right up there as one of the world’s most traveled people.
As much as he’s traveled, he returns to the South Pacific again and again and considers it his favorite area, which says a lot about the appeal of the place. His book is full of the practical advice you’d expect from any good guidebook, but Stanley’s decades of experience in the region give this volume a special appeal. He knows the people, he knows the territory, and he knows how to share it with his readers. This make him the ideal guide to get you started on your journey.
Me? I can’t make it to Tahiti this year, but next month I’m going to Fiji. And I’ll be carrying Stanley’s new Moon Fiji Handbook with me when I go. This one is in its ninth edition, and I’m getting started in my pre-trip preparation.
Trekking through the Brazilian Amazon Rain Forest, so much was made clear to me about the importance of these ecosystems: the interconnectedness of plants and animals, the habitat and the horror of the destruction of our planet.
Like many, I have tried to eat less meat, support legitimate ventures that protect the jungle environment and visit various rainforests to enjoy and learn more about them. Whether soaring above the canopy on a zip line, boating down the Amazon or hiking to an idyllic tropical waterfall in Fiji, rainforests are hot travel destinations. I nearly coughed up my granola this morning as I read a front page story in The New York Times entitled: New Jungles Prompt a Debate on Saving the Primeval Rainforests.
The key word is “debate” and controversy there will be about this article, I am sure, but it was a fascinating read. The premise of the article is that as fast as original rainforests are being decimated by farming, logging and industry (about 38 million acres a year), replacement forests are growing at a much faster rate. Continue reading »
When Fletcher Christian and his fellow mutineers were looking for a hideout from the Royal Navy, they decided that Pitcairn was the most isolated island in the South Pacific. Thus on 15 January 1790, HMS Bounty deposited eight Englishmen and 18 Polynesian companions on the island and the ship was promptly burned to avoid detection. Eighteen years were to pass before another vessel called at Pitcairn. By then only one member of Captain Bligh’s original crew, John Adams, was still alive, and he was eventually pardoned by the British Admiralty.
Arguably, Pitcairn is still the most isolated corner of the South Pacific. The nearest inhabited island is Mangareva in French Polynesia, 490 km northwest. Easter Island is 1,900 km east. There’s been talk of building an airstrip on Pitcairn for years, but it’s still just talk. What’s new is that between now and March, 2009, Pacific Expeditions Ltd will operate five cruises from Mangareva to Pitcairn aboard the RV Bounty Bay. It’s the only sure way of getting there as cruise ships sometimes promise Pitcairn but are unable to land passengers due to weather conditions. My Pitcairn Islands Travel Guide has lots more information on Pitcairn, Henderson, Oeno, and Ducie, the four components of Britain’s only remaining South Pacific colony.
The 118 islands and atolls of French Polynesia are sprinkled across an expanse of South Pacific Ocean half the size of the United States. Most visitors use Air Tahiti to get around the territory’s five archipelagoes but it’s also possible to travel by boat. The wharves of Motu Uta in the capital city Papeete bustle with supply ships loading for Bora Bora, Rangiroa, Tubuai, and a host of other outer islands. Deck space is available on most vessels and fares are low thanks to French government subsidies. Service from Tahiti to the Leeward Islands of Huahine, Raiatea, Tahaa, and Bora Bora is three times a week on several different ships. I usually fly to Bora Bora the same day I arrive in French Polynesia and island hop my way back to Papeete by cargo boat.
Of course, there are also frequent tourist cruises from Tahiti to Bora Bora on luxury vessels such as the Paul Gauguin. In my opinion however, the most unforgettable cruise of them all is the 14-day voyage from Tahiti to the six inhabited islands of the Marquesas Islands aboard the passenger-carrying freighter Aranui. Continue reading »