• Adventure Island!

    Vanuatu…today turned into an adventure day! Climbing a waterfall was just the beginning of my action packed day in the South Pacific!

    I told my driver I wanted to go somewhere unique and not so overrun with tourists! He suggested we go to other side of the island of Efate to Turtle Bay and Eton…

    Vanuatu is renowned for it’s natural environment and boasts coral seas abundantly full of marine life! Snorkeling and Scuba Diving are world class and very special here. I am not a scuba diver, but I am game today for some sort of “soft adventure”!

    Turtle Bay is a marine sanctuary that is teaming with incredible sea life in a coral reef that appears like a bright blue spot of heaven from ashore. There is a community here that lives in grass huts along the shore who help care for the sea’s fragile creatures. That includes raising delicate sea turtles.

    One part of the beach has a sheltered coral swimming hole teaming with shark and large turtles! I am encouraged to dive in to swim amongst these small friendly sharks and feed and ride the large turtles! What?!?!

    I am handed some fruit and in I go…these grand turtles race toward me ready to feast! I hold the fruit slices out and the turtles go for it….I hear a scream “watch your fingers!” from one of the natives watching me! I get more comfortable until I can go actually go full on swimming amongst these magnificent creatures…the shark couldn’t be bothered, but the turtle allow me to ride their shells! What a rush!

    Afterward I head out to snorkel with bread in hand to feed the fish! I get out in the water and I am swarmed with a huge school of every imaginable color of fish! I panic, throw the bread into the sea, fish are literally jumping to grab the pieces, and I race back to shore, heart pounding! Oh my god…I practically hyperventilate! A group of locals are laughing in the sand at me…

    Well I tried but I guess I am not too brave…but I will remember this the rest of my life! What a cool experience on this remote island a world away from home!

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  • Water without Falling!

    Mele Cascade Waterfall, Vanuatu…instead of only beaching it today, I thought a trip to the rainforest jungle of Vanuatu would be an interesting change of pace!

    This lush jungle is rich with every kind of leaf and plant…I can hear the sound of falling water, but where is it?

    A 20 minute climb through tree root steps, pools of water, and dense vegetation…yikes! I huff and puff through the natural obstacle course in the thick humid heat…

    I realize my flip flops aren’t gonna work, so I go it as the locals do…barefoot! Up and over algae covered rocks, through water rapids, and up mini falls until I reached an oasis in the middle of the dense jungle!

    The falls are beautiful and people are diving in the deep pools at their base. I am not that daring! I just wanna get out of there without slipping and breaking a bone or being swept downhill in the current!

    What a hike with such a beautiful reward at the end! Going back down wasn’t much easier, but I admired the huge bamboos and the small pools on the way down!

    Another testament to nature’s unbelievable beauty!

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  • Not just another Tourist!

    Hideaway Island, Vanuatu…after arriving at this island home of season 9 of Survivor, I headed to what I was told was a “must”…Hideaway Island!

    A short ferry to this tiny island surrounded by blue waters seemed amazing and from shore it looked absolutely idyllic!

    Home to the world’s only underwater post office, I thought let’s see! Well upon arriving, it was just a series of tourist trap charges…it was all just a cheesy hokey set up to take advantage! I hate manufactured tourist spots that have no soul!

    The beach was entirely tiny pieces of coral and painful! The water definitely was clear, but I wanted a more authentic experience! No underwater letter sending for me….

    So I jumped on the next ferry and onward I went in search of the real Vanuatu!

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  • Living Life to the Max!

    Sailing the South Pacific…another beautiful day as we sailed towards the island of Vanuatu. The color of the sea has taken on an almost neon shade of cobalt blue and the sun is warm and intense!

    It’s hard to believe that this voyage is in its final days! When I boarded this ship over 2 weeks ago, it seemed to me that this 21 day sailing would seem like an eternity…but now with 5 days remaining, it seems like time just flew by!

    I have shared this ship with a varied group of world travelers that are my fellow passengers. Many of whom are retired but yet with such a zest for life! Neither Age nor physical limitations nor even disabilities have limited any single one of these people from seeing the world!

    I am inspired everyday seeing this group’s desire to live every moment…making every second of the gift of life count…

    A retired couple told me emphatically: “don’t plan for tomorrow what you can do now!” They said so many of their friends say “next year” but that date never seems to arrive!

    I also met a marine lecturer on board who told me how her she loves her time on cruises and how it’s has given her new insight into old age…she has seen the vibrancy and incredible living that one’s golden years can be…it’s not the convalescence she once thought it was!

    I know each and every experience I am having is really just a lesson in disguise!

  • Paradise Found!

    Fiji…it’s like a dream arriving at this famous South Pacific paradise! Brooke Shields made this place famous in “Blue Lagoon” and then Tom Hanks did it allover again in “Castaway”…

    The ship docked in the main town of Suva and I was anxious to see some of the Fijian beaches! I arranged a local driver and for $80, I had his services for the day.

    A 45 mile drive through local villages and we reached the start of the famous Coral Coast! Pacific Harbour is the start of these long sand beaches with amazing snorkeling along the coral laden shores! I wasn’t going to make it to Blue Lagoon this time as it was on the other side of the island near Nadi.

    I spent another near perfect day lazying on the sand at a Polynesian resort beachside! The Uprising Resort hosts visitors to a dreamy palm lined stretch of golden sand!

    The huge palm trees swayed in the ocean breeze and the trade-winds kept the temperature pleasant. Windsurfers also took advantage of the terrific conditions.

    All I can do is marvel at the raw beauty of paradise found! “Bula” or hello from Fiji!

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  • Skirting the Issue!

    Suva, Fiji…it’s Sunday and that means it’s church day for Fijians allover the island! Most of the town is shuttered and the locals spend the day traveling to and attending services.

    That means it’s Sunday’s best dress…men everywhere are wearing their skirts or “sulus” with their best shirts, jackets, and ties!

    Old & young all don this easy wrap and I think they look great and it makes sense for this hot tropical climate! I also love how men take the kids off mommy’s hand for the day! The site of men carrying their tiny child is so heartwarming…even lined up to watch a soccer game, the men are cradling their infant children!

    Police have their own version of a sulu! It may resemble a court jester, but it’s a major statement!

    So interesting to see this style statement in the South Pacific! I love unique style and I am loving this male fashion statement!20121014-150324.jpg

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  • Stargazing!

    At Sea in the South Pacific…tonight’s viewing wasn’t a Hollywood movie nor some big Broadway like musical…rather the galaxies above providing us with the most magical show!

    The captain allowed us the best viewing conditions for stargazing by turning off all the exterior lights of the ship as we sailed late in the night! The ship’s resident authority on astronomy then hosted us on the pitch black top deck to acquaint us with the stars and planets above. She explained how our vantage point in the South Pacific was ideal.

    The constellations were there laid out in front of us…she pointed out Aquarius, Scorpio, Sagittarius, and many others twinkling down on us! A few shooting stars fell and had everyone gasping with childlike excitement!

    It was as if we were in some high tech Planetarium…the dark sky appeared like a dome around us illuminated by a confetti of tiny lights! As I stood there looking up at this magnificent sight, I could feel a collective awe at the show we all were craning our necks to watch! I wish I could photograph this spectacular display…

    Once again, nature provides the best special effects that any show can dazzle us with! This is another one of those special moments that this trip will have me cherishing!

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  • Island Explorer!

    Pago Pago, American Samoa…we arrived this morning to the lush green island of Tutuila in the remote archipelago of the Samoan Islands! It’s great to be on land again, but this island that is seemingly off the map makes me feel like Giligan after being shipwrecked during that famous “three hour tour”…

    Not too many ships stop here, so the entire town seemed to show up for our arrival!

    I headed to Tisa’s Beach for a day on the sand. Nothing prepared me for the surreal beauty of this location; a barefoot bar hut built on a crescent of unspoiled beach! I truly feel like an explorer who just discovered a place all my own! Samoa means “sacred Earth” and this beach delivers that in spades..

    The water is bathtub warm filled with glorious fish and coral and the sands have wreaths of fauna that have washed ashore! I took some time for arts and crafts on the beach, spelling out the name of this sacred place in leaves, fauna, nuts, and flowers that I found on the sand…

    Back on Tisa’s, lunch is served! The Samoan people are so kind and extremely welcoming and they were anxious to share their Samoan delicacies prepared beneath coconut leaves and hot rocks. Tarot, coconut, and bananas cooked with turkey, lamb, and pork for hours until all is falling apart tender!

    Even though I may feel like a rare explorer, my days at sea have brought me to this island that many hearty travelers before me have visited and gone on to tell tales of for years…like James Michener who came here to write his 1946 classic “Tales of the South Pacific”.

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  • Rock the Boat!

    Somewhere in the South Pacific…today is the fifth consecutive sea day in our journey, as the m/s Volendam makes it way towards Samoa. It’s been beautiful for days, if not a bit too hot…but today was a different story!

    I woke up a few times throughout the night feeling the roll of the ship, but in a way that rocking just adds to the amazing amounts of deep sleep I have I had so far on board! When I finally awoke, I peered outside to gray skies above and rain drenching the open decks.

    This entire day has been spent lazily do nothing as the ship pitched and rolled. I had found my sea legs but at times standing upright and walking in a straight line seemed totally elusive! The captain has slowed down a bit to lessen the impact of the rough sea. Yet this is just a minor wave compared to what has been experienced by some of the more seasoned sailors that I have spoken to on board…the decks remain open and besides not being able to use the outdoor pool all is the same as usual besides a bit of unsteady passengers!
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