Noumea, New Caledonia…fashion can come in the most unlikely of places! The main square in town, Place des Cocotiers, hosted a celebration and brought out the local elders to display their Polynesian style!
Booths selling local crafts, homemade delicacies, and homegrown produce lined the square. But the women dancing and enjoying the music in their homemade hats stole the show for me!
Each trying to outdo the next in their woven palm hats…they were so excited that I liked them and wanted to take their picture!
Hats off to primitive style! Ladies, you look great!
Noumea, New Caledonia…our last South Pacific stop before heading straight to Sydney, Australia! The French influence is everywhere here from the language to the food.
I head to Anse Vata beach, making my way past the yacht filled marina. The beach is long with a very narrow strip of sand…the temperature is noticeably cooler than yesterday!
Instead of relaxing here, I can see Duck Island in the distance and decide to jump on the water taxi…the water is a similar brilliant shade of aqua blue as Lifou but it’s set against a riviera of high rise hotels and apartments. The feeling is much more Nice, France than Paradise, South Pacific! The water taxi speeds it’s way to little Duck Island off shore as the blue water sprays all around us…
Duck Island is a spot of an island that I am able walk its entire perimeter in less than 10 minutes! But the beach is very French, outfitted with chic loungers and bright umbrellas that can be rented for an exorbitant fee! Again, reminiscent of the French Riviera but here in the South Pacific…
There is no denying Duck Island is lovely! The island is a natural bird sanctuary and has a more rustic look. The coral here is beautiful all along the sand; this coral of all sizes is mixed with sea shells all in stark chic white! I think how beautiful these would look filled in tall glass cylinders in my home…but unfortunately there is no way to get this back for some decorating magic!
It’s a nice place, but honestly the more undiscovered Polynesia is much more stunning and makes you feel a world away!
Lifou, New Caledonia…as we near New Zealand, we arrive at one of the Loyalty Islands that is part of the larger French territories of New Caledonia.
There is no port, no taxis, no hotels, and no organized tours on this remote piece of Paradise! We take the tenders ashore to a rickety wood platform steps from an incredibly bleach white stretch of coral sand beach.
I have never seen water this color of aqua blue! It’s beyond stunning and it just calls out to you to swim in! How can it just get more beautiful as we go from island to island in the magnificent South Pacific?
I take a stroll beyond the lush vegetation of our landing site to Baie du Jinek; an underwater natural aquarium! Crystalline waters revealing a bevy of underwater coral refuges that hold a population of exotic fish! It’s so clear you can view the marine life below from the cave edged shoreline above!
I spent some time snorkeling…seeing fish of every hue and I can’t help but to be awestruck by the striped sea snake slithering between the coral beneath me! So much so that the surprise of seeing this unique animal causes me to begin inhaling the salt water and I have to stop for an above water breather…I am disappointed I don’t have a waterproof camera to capture what looks like an animated children’s film below the surface!
The rest of the day I just enjoyed the seemingly undiscovered beauty of the beach, probably still looking as it did when Captain Cook discovered this perfect little island!
Vanuatu…Polynesian cultures have a rich history of intricate wood carving. The tiki or tam-tam are richly carved and have centuries of meaning. They are deeply regarded in this culture, even appearing on local currency.
Most people associate the tiki with Hawaii, but on this trip I have seen them throughout these remote islands of the South Pacific! The most incredible tiki I have seen were in Vanuatu today. These dark almost black wood talismans lined the gorgeous waterfront at Turtle Beach!
The tiki stand guard ominously along the breakwater in front the brilliantly blue shore. Obviously, each holds an important symbolism to the locals. These carvings stand proudly displaying sexual and virility themes; from phallic symbolism to even depicting an hermaphrodite!
I know many cultures believe the phallus is good luck…but these tiki go beyond that! I keep thinking about the haunting statues with their intense stare. They stuck with me because they seemed to look right through to my soul. I was totally drawn to them!
Art, superstition, craft, black magic, voodoo, and religion are all intertwined in history of Polynesia…I am so glad I got a chance to see these special tiki and witness these local mysteries!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!