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Archive for the ‘South Pacific’ Category

Aitutaki II

Monday, August 18th, 2008

Here’re some additional photos from Aitutaki and its lagoon.

Maina Island.

Black oysters in Aitutaki Lagoon demonstrating a black pearl farm.

Honeymoon Island’s pristine sandbar.

Monica, Lewis, and Teking’s buffet (served up in giant clam shells).

The food served by Aitutaki Adventures, including their delicious yellowfin tuna.

Rapota Island.  In the background are the islands of Tekopua, Tapuaetai (One Foot Island), and Motukitiu (all used in Survivor: Cook Islands).

A sunset from Paradise Cove.

Aitutaki I

Thursday, August 14th, 2008

When I booked my flight to Aitutaki in June, I knew that I was saving the best for last, but I had no idea just how good it would be.

As the last major stop on my South Pacific trip, I spent a total of 9 days on the small island of Aitutaki based at Paradise Cove, and although the island is plenty beautiful and tropical in and of itself, the real attraction here is the Aitutaki Lagoon. The lagoon is filled with 15 small, uninhabited islands that are the spitting image of the perfect desert islands. The only real way to see the lagoon is to take day trips on small boats, and since the lagoon is regarded as one of the most beautiful in the South Pacific, I took three of these trips – two with Aitutaki Adventures (the Yellow Boat) and one with Teking. In addition to stops on the islands, the lagoon tours also included snorkeling and all-you-can-eat buffets featuring yellowfin tuna, wahoo, fruits, and salads. The yellowfin tuna prepared by Aitutaki Adventures was quite literally the best fish I’ve ever had, and I’m already planning a return trip just to taste that fish again someday.

Below are some pictures from a lagoon cruise with Aitutaki Adventures and around Aitutaki itself.

My first view of Aitutaki Lagoon.

The view from the dinner table at Pacific Resort.

Fredrick on the Yellow Boat.

I’ve never seen whiter or brighter sand!

The beach at Paradise Cove.

Honeymoon and Maina Islands seen from the highest point on Aitutaki: Maungapu.

Thanks to Ron at Paradise Cove, I learned how to husk, open, scrape, and eat coconuts.  I love coconuts.


Monday, July 28th, 2008

My next hops after Samoa brought me to Auckland for a night, then to Rarotonga, which is the capital island of the Cook Islands. While on Rarotonga, I spent about a week scuba diving, hiking, driving my hired scooter around, and enjoying the relatively cooler “winter” sun on the island’s beaches.

Rarotonga silhouetting the dive boat.

Edna’s anchor.

Louise on the Cross-Island Track.

My wheels.

A moto (small uninhabited island) in Muri Lagoon.

‘Upolu Redux

Friday, July 25th, 2008

Following Ofu and American Samoa, I spent a night CouchSurfing in Apia with Paul. Paul was a fantastic host, and our Friday night program included the Zodiac Bar (where I quite coincidentally bumped into an Australian friend) and Paddles Night Club. On Saturday we toured the island in Paul’s 4WD with Dave (another CouchSurfer) and Henrik. Indeed, it was another extremely positive CouchSurfing experience!

It really is a small world…  Meeting Kelda at Zodiac Bar.

On the way to lunch.

Henrik on Lalomanu Beach.

Paul presenting Dave a cake for his 26th birthday.


Sunday, July 13th, 2008

Following Lalomanu, I hopped from the island of ‘Upolu to Tutuila where I made a pit stop in Pago Pago, American Samoa. However, I didn’t stay long, since the primary reason for my visit to American Samoa was to see the island of Ofu and its pristine two and a half mile white sand beach.

Ofu Beach is part of the National Park of American Samoa, and it’s meant to be one of the most beautiful and secluded beaches in all of the South Pacific. It is both, and often the only tracks in the sand apart from mine would be those of the numerous hermit crabs.

The National Park also protects the reef just off the beach, and according to the park guide, it’s one of the best preserved reefs in the area. With nearly 900 species of fish, 200 species of coral, and warm water that’s as clear as bottled water, it was some of the best snorkeling I’ve ever done.

In total, I stayed seven nights on Ofu at the friendly Va’oto Lodge. For its remoteness, I was immensely impressed with the facilities (hot water showers, cold refrigerators) and the quality of the meals (lasagna with pesto, salted corned beef brisket). Owing to the fact that I was the sole visitor to the lodge during the majority of my stay, Ofu (and all of American Samoa for that matter) is definitely an underrated tourist destination.

A huge school of manini on the reef.

Ofu Beach, with Sunu’itao Peak in the background.

Sunu’itao Peak.

Ofu Beach.

The Le’olo Ridge on Ofu.

A USGS marker on Ofu Beach overlooking the reef.