Your Portal to the Pacific
The Pacific is made up of some of the most spectacular islands in the world.June 13, 2018
Pacific Island LivingJune 13, 2018
Adventure In Vanuatu
If you’re looking for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure in the Pacific, live volcano Mount Yasur located on Tanna island in Vanuatu is calling your name.
It’s the most accessible live volcano in the world and will have you quaking in your boots as you stare into the fires of the molten lava below.
Unity Airlines offers a range of tours departing from Port Vila, including day, twilight, and overnight volcano tours.
Your trip begins with a 45-minute to 1-hour trip to Tanna island in a 10-seater multi-engine Unity Airlines Piper Chieftan or Islander aircraft. After taking off from Port Vila, enjoy the astounding views of dozens of volcanic islands passing underneath you.
Arriving in Tanna, the tour continues with a 4×4 safari trip along a bumpy road up to the volcano. The constant rumbles of the earth beneath your feet and the breathtaking colours of the glowing lava against the night sky will be etched into your mind.
Visit www.unity-airlines.com or call (678) 24 475 or (678) 774 4475 for information about packages and to book your tour.
Harbour side dining in Vanuatu
Feel like you are in the South of France on the beautiful waterfront terrace of Le Café du Village located in the heart of Port Vila.
This iconic restaurant and café offers the freshest local seafood and Vanuatu’s famous organic beef steaks. The lobster and crabs cannot be any fresher, coming direct from the holding pens when ordered (subject to seasonal availability).
Whether you are looking for a hearty breakfast, a lazy long lunch, a romantic dinner or fabulous cocktails whilst the sun sets, Le Café du Village offers it all.
Relax after a day of shopping
If you’re wandering around Port Vila, take a break and unwind with a Thai massage adjacent to Le Café du Village.
Thailand Massage has a small and friendly team of professional masseuses, offering a menu of Thai traditional and foot massages.
Round this off with a complimentary cup of hot ginger tea, and you will leave feeling light, relaxed and ready to take on more activities.
This establishment also houses a great little Thai restaurant if you’re looking for a quick and affordable tasty lunch.
Curries, noodle dishes, soups, stir fries and salads are all on the menu, with fresh and local ingredients. We recommend the Tom Yum Kung soup and the Massaman beef curry.
Thailand Massage & Thai Restaurant is located opposite the Grand Hotel in Port Vila and on the main street in Luganville, and is open every day. Call 25 000/35 500 for bookings.
Stay and Play in Santo
The norrthern island of Espiritu Santo is a step back in time, a step off the beaten track and without question, one of the most beautiful islands in the whole Pacific.
We love Santo for Champagne Beach, for its Blue Holes, for its phenomenal diving – Coral Quays Fish and Dive Resort takes house and day guests on the world’s largest, most accessible shipwreck the SS President Coolidge – as well as a huge range of reef dives.
Coral Quays has its own private jetty and beach in the St Michel area of Luganville. The boutique resort offers bungalow-style accommodation in mature, lush gardens.
There is a swimming pool and one of Santo’s best restaurants on site.
With regular curry nights, happy hours and themed buffets, it’s where the locals mix with visitors and the staff are only too happy to organise a tour to any one of Santo’s numerous attractions.
Air Vanuatu flies direct from Brisbnane to Santo once a week, with twice daily connections from Port Vila.
Breakas Beach Resort
Fall asleep to the gentle sounds of the waves breaking at local favourite and culinary sensation, Breakas Beach Resort.
Offering you a charming island experience on one of Vanuatu’s best surf beaches, its thatched bungalows are situated on the sands of the resort’s private beach, featuring a modern design with an island touch, including open-air coral bathrooms and traditional natangura leaf ceilings.
An adults-only resort, Breakas offers the ideal romantic getaway for you and your sweetheart.
The resort boasts a 22-metre infinity pool, which blends into the azure waters of the Pacific Ocean. There’s no better way to enjoy your favourite cocktail than lolling about in the pool as you watch the sun’s last rays disappear over the horizon.
Your island holiday won’t be complete without a visit to the massage faré for a coconut oil massage. Other activities are also available at your fingertips, including snorkelling, kayaking and scuba diving lessons.
The resort’s iconic restaurant also sits on the water’s edge, and showcases the seasonal flavours of the Pacific. Work your way through Chef Mario’s Italian Corner menu, he is renowned for his mouth-watering eats, incorporating locally sourced ingredients.
Find out about Breakas Beach Resort’s current packages at www.breakas.com
Dive into the depths to experience Fa’a Samoa and discover what makes this country the sacred heart of the Pacific. By Kate Webster
F ly just that little bit further than Fiji and you will find the sacred centre of Samoa. It is part of the region of the Pacific known as Polynesia and holds a population of around 185,000. Her islands have narrow coastal plains with volcanic, rocky, rugged mountains in the interior. The two main islands are Upolu and Savaii and the capital, Apia, is where you will fly into the international airport.
An early morning arrival unveils picturesque palm tree-lined shores where the bluest of waters crash onto the green and azure coloured reef, eventually lapping at the white sand beach. When the sun’s light finally filters across the land as dawn breaks, the first thing you notice about the island of Upolu is its drenched in rainforests.
The roads are limited, just enough to get you from one side of the island to the other, and best travelled by local transfer or hire car if you are adventurous. These limited roads offer the perfect chance to get off the beaten track. It is then that the rainforests reveal hidden treasures, an abundance of places to explore, swim and just relax.
Get into The Trench
First stop, Togitogiga Waterfall, cascading into a refreshingly cool swimming hole. While it’s a popular swimming spot, there is also a recreation area ideal for games such as rugby and volleyball for those with their own equipment or a stunning place to have a picnic. Located in the village of Saleilua, it is situated a few miles away from the Le Pupu Pue National Park. The fall is known to be used as a swimming area for the great warriors of Samoa in the past.
With the promise of an even more magical place to swim, I headed off to the next hidden treasure. The pool is situated close to Lotofaga, which is a village on the south coast of Upolu. Affectionately named ‘The Trench’ this swimming hole is probably the most photographed in Samoa. Locally called Tosua, meaning a ‘Gigantic Swimming Hole’, it is believed that lava field blow holes made these tide pools. You need a bit of courage to get down to the water as there is a 30-metre ladder to climb down to get there. The climb is worth it though, as the view from in the water looking up at the enclosed walls of the trench is breathtaking.
After exploring some of the natural treasures of Samoa, it was time to discover a bit about the country’s history, culture and way of life. Fa’a Samoa is an integral part of Samoan life. It is a guideline for every Samoan on how to lead their lives by celebrating and embracing traditional values, their culture and environment. This is never more evident than in the time-honoured traditions of warm hospitality, as well as the cultural practices and customs of the Samoan people.
Someone who fell in love with Fa’a Samoa was the famous Scottish poet and author, Robert Louis Stevenson, who lived in Samoa until he passed away on 3 December 1894. Famous for his many writings including Treasure Island, Kidnapped, and the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Stevenson was known to the Samoans as the man with great ‘manas’. Due to his many positive interactions with the local community he became very popular and also a well-respected figure to the locals that knew him. He died at the age of 44 and his colleagues and people who worked for him buried him on top of Mount Vaea (within Vailima) at a spot overlooking the sea.
Today, the majestic and magnificent Robert Louis Stevenson Museum has been perfectly restored to its glorious past with some of the author’s work and family memorabilia on display. Just five kilometres from Apia and a $15 entry fee including a guided tour, the museum is definitely worth a visit.
Moving on with the cultural discovery I ended up at the Samoa Cultural Village located on Beach Road in the heart of Apia. Entry is free to discover Samoa’s age-old culture and traditions in a fun and interactive way, Fa’a Samoa, the Samoan Way. Samoa is a traditional Polynesian society with Fa’a Samoa playing a vital role in village and community life and something the locals are very proud of. It is the essence of the Samoan culture and dictates how Samoans are meant to behave and their obligations to their elders, superiors, family, community, church and the environment.
There are over 362 nu’u or villages in Samoa with a total of 1800 matais (chiefs). Churches of various denominations feature in every village while meeting houses and open fales or homes encircle the malae or village green. Fa’a Samoa has a strong focus on welcoming visitors making Samoans friendly and hospitable hosts. However, Samoans expect their guests to observe and respect local customs.
After another day filled with discovery and treasured delights, it was time to end the evening with dinner at local Apia restaurant, Paddles, before retiring back to the hotel for the evening.
Get a room
Visiting Apia in Samoa and not sure where to stay? There is a wide variety of hotels and resorts to suit any travellers taste and budget.
Samoan Outrigger Hotel
A popular budget hotel, the Samoan Outrigger has gained a reliable reputation for offering clean and affordable accommodation. A place where you can enjoy a relaxed atmosphere and have all the facilities needed by today’s discerning traveller. The Samoan Outrigger offers a wide range of accommodation. The standard rooms (single, double or triple) have high ceilings, fans and mosquito screening. Ensuite or shared facilities are available. These rooms are located upstairs in the colonial part of the building.
Situated on the peninsula in Apia Harbour Amanaki is the capital’s newest hotel, where Samoan hospitality extends to giving you the best deal on superior accommodation. With 20 spacious ocean-view rooms, a stunning pool, and a great restaurant this stylish new property is exactly what you need for a relaxing holiday or comfortable business trip. It’s very conveniently located.
Located on the stunning South Coast of Upolu the Sa’Moana is approximately a 35-minute drive from Faleolo International Airport. All the beach bungalows are absolute beachfront with breathtaking views of the beach, reef and Pacific Ocean. There is a fully licensed bar/restaurant and sports bar above the huge outdoor restaurant deck area. The bar/restaurant is open all day, from 7am till late.
Maninoa Surf Camp
Maninoa Surf Camp at Siumu on the South shore of Upolu is situated on a beautiful, private beach with seven world class surf spots within a short boat trip of the camp, including the famous Coconuts straight out the front. Beach fales offer the individual surf traveller open planned and well ventilated traditional style accommodation right on the beach. Drift off to sleep with waves lapping at the shore
With the focus clearly on outdoor living, all villas have ocean, lagoon and reef views. Designed and built by craftsmen and furnished and decorated by the best in interior design specialists, each room has been carefully structured with the tropics in mind to encourage cross flow ventilation from natural sea breezes. For those balmy tropical nights they offer air-conditioning and a fan in every room ensuring comfort and a relaxing night’s sleep. Each villa has tea and coffee making facilities, mini-refrigerator and private bathroom facilities with all the comforts you would expect in a resort of this standard. Once inside, the rooms’ Samoan flair greets you – the texture of lava rock bathrooms, surroundings that relax and stunning views complete the picture.
Sinalei Reef Resort
Just 30 minutes from Apia, and 45 minutes from the Airport, Sinalei Reef Resort and Spa is nestled amongst 33 acres of tropical beachfront gardens located on the south coast of Upolu. Its coastline location is famous for its picture-postcard scenery – clear, turquoise water, with shady coconut palms fringing stretches of white sand. Local buses and taxis service the area and town plus an airport shuttle makes for easy transfers. The rooms range from garden view to absolute beach front, the ethos is luxury, with a sprinkle of loving, traditional Samoan flair. There are 29 stunningly appointed villas nestled into the tropical landscape offering views of the gorgeous turquoise lagoon or the manicured tropical garden. Sinalei’s chic South Pacific design is intentionally laid back, they do everything they can to turn your dreams of a luxurious South Pacific holiday into a reality.
Coconuts Beach Club Resort and Spa
Coconuts truly embodies all that is unique and wonderful about culturally-rich Samoa. The resort offers Samoan-inspired accommodation and is ideally situated on Upolu’s southern coast, boasting amazing sunrise and sunset views. Perfectly located to explore all of the island’s sites and experiences, Coconuts offers the facilities and services you would expect from a much larger resort, with the heart and soul of a small, intimate retreat. With a warm and friendly staff, and surrounded by a traditional village, Coconuts provides a true taste of Samoa.
Saletoga Sands Resort
This absolute beachfront resort boasts an outdoor pool, swim-up bar and day spa. It combines luxury and comfort effortlessly, with a variety of accommodation options on the south coast of Upolu, Samoa.
Recently refurbished and upgraded, Saletoga Sands Resort is a delightful fusion of Samoan and modern Western style architecture. The resort epitomises a perfect Pacific Island setting for a holiday, a wedding or a honeymoon with its golden sandy beach, tranquil blue ocean, lush green gardens and exotic tropical flowers. There’s a variety of accommodation styles to suit all budgets from a hotel room, a traditional style bungalow, spacious family bungalows with a separate bedroom for children or a beautiful beachfront villa.
Relax in the resort and enjoy Saletoga’s on site amenities including the lagoon pool, two restaurants, four bars, waterpark, gym and spa where you can relax and unwind with a massage and other therapeutic treatments. Try scuba diving, kayaking, game fishing, paddle boarding or surfing on your doorstep, or explore beyond the resort by rental car or a daily tour to take in the local sights.
Sample fresh produce and Pacific flavours in the resort’s award-winning restaurant. Or try casual dining or the resort’s themed buffet nights and a spectacular fire dance on a Wednesday.
Taumeasina Island Resort
Since it’s opening, Taumeasina Island Resort has been a leader in not only five-star accommodation in Samoa, but in developing the food and beverage scene in the country.
Taumeasina welcomes day guests for breakfast, lunch and dinner and for their famed happy hours. Cocktails are the house specailty and guests can choose to relax by one of the resort pools, or mix with the locals and expats in the bar area after work.
An impressive bar and snack menu is on offer, or stay for dinner.
The options are endless but our picks are the traditional Samoan dishes with a slight twist.
Taumeasina’s rooms range from spacious, luxurious suites and studios to three bedroom apartments. What you find here is style and friendly Samoan hospitality.
Destination American Samoa
The ‘other’ Samoa
I took a 35-minute flight from Apia, Samoa that landed me in another country a day earlier than I left.
Confused? So was I, but boy was it worth it!
Flying in to Pago Pago the housing and churches are in the same style as Samoa, however once you arrive and are greeted by American-cloned customs agents, you realise there will be quite a few differences.
American Samoa is little America in the Pacific. The accents are American, the cars are American, the government offices, retail brands and even emergency service vehicles are straight out of the U.S of A.
At first I thought it was a mini Honolulu but after a while, I realised American Samoa was really just a beautiful little outpost of the mother country, but perhaps from the 1950s.
But of course America is not the mother country, American Samoa is, proudly a Samoan country, albeit officially a USA-protectorate. For visitors, Pago Pago is a bustling town with exceptionally good roads and services, American diners and even the US National Parks office to keep the country in its pristine condition.
There are marine parks and nature reserves, fabulous hikes and walks, stunning beaches and, surprising to me, fantastic shopping!
American brands for sale in American Samoa are dirt cheap, with friendly tax concessions it is absolutely worth a day trip with Samoa Airways from Apia to fly to Pago Pago just for the shopping.
However for those who can stay, you will enjoy a quieter pace. There is less tourism but the same friendly Samoan hospitality as their near neighbours. And it the other side of the international dateline. Call in to the American Samoa Visitors Bureau for tours and information. – TC.
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