Southeast Asia VS South Pacific – You Decide
Rote isn’t exactly a secret for surfers, who make up most of the tourists on the island. Seasoned surfers will have heard of T-land (Besialu Reef), the more popular break on the island with three sections that can range from a smaller wave to over two metres high.
The island is small, but landmass doesn’t affect its gnarly swells – there’s a reason surfing champions have been known to live on the island, afterall. The stunning beaches and friendly local culture adds to the charm. Given its popularity with those looking to shred the swells, there are plenty of places to stay from hostels to resorts. The Malole Surf House is a simple, eco-friendly surf lodge located in popular Nemberala Beach, overlooking T-land.
You’ll be able to access the knowledge of the staff on the island’s best surf spots, and also a fleet of boats that can take you there.
Top notch surfing on a pacific island with few other people to share the waves with. That’s what you’ll be looking at when you pack your bags and head for the Samoan island of Savai’i. It may be one of the largest islands in Samoa, but its shred is still somewhat free of lineups. With a glistening aquamarine ocean and a coastline full of opportune spots to grab a board, you’ll struggle to decide where to start.
Our hot tip, though, is a trip to Aganoa Lodge. Situated within an hours drive of multiple surf spots, Barneys will be able to hang left in the lodge’s exclusive reef-sheltered beach, while more experienced surfers will be guided to the island’s hottest breaks, with a mixture of rights and lefts up to four metres high.
Dive into the depths of this virtually unknown archipelago just off the south coast of Myanmar and discover an underwater world that could give the Little Mermaid a run for her money. Whale sharks, manta rays, turtles, rainbows of coral and the Mergui Archipelago offer an abundance of marine life.
Live aboard boats are a popular way to experience the group of 800 islands, which are covered in dense jungle growth and surrounded by azure waters sparkling above colourful reefs. From the small fish of High Rock, the tunnels of Stewart Island, nurse sharks of Shark Cave, and the famous site of Western Rocky, plus so much more, an eight-day liveaboard with the Smiling Seahorse will offer you the opportunity to discover the undiscovered.
The unsuspecting island of Niue may not be the most well-known island in the South Pacific, but for diving enthusiasts, this is a watery playground not to be missed. Visibility in the water is unrivalled, and you can see almost as far as 100-metres in certain areas around the island - that’s considered some of the best conditions in the entire world!
The top diving spots to check out while you’re visiting Niue are the Limu Pools, the Matapa Chasm and the Dome, a favourite among locals and tourists alike. A sloping wall, two gullies and a large open cave form the popular site, and it’s a great location for first-timers or nervous divers to gain experience. A vibrant array of anemones, moray eels and flatworms reside in these waters, and there are plenty of nooks and crannies to get in and explore, if you’re game.
Naga Fireball Festival
A paranormal, other-worldly phenomenon or nothing more than a clever hoax? See for yourself at the Naga Fireball Festival, held in the Nong Khai province of Thailand, along the Mekong River.
The two-day festival takes place in October at the end of Buddhist Lent, when the intensity of the fireballs is said to be at its peak, and features long-boat racing, a food fair and a light and sound presentation. The glowing fireballs appear at night, and rise from the depths of the Mekong River into the air for hundreds of metres before suddenly disappearing. Many believe the fireballs come from Naga, a fabled serpent that lives in the water and shoots up the fireballs to welcome Buddha back to earth after Lent. Skeptics say it’s nothing more than flammable phosphine gas rising from the river and spontaneously combusting. You be the judge on this one.
PAPUA NEW GUINEA
Kenu and Kundu Festival
Held annually in Alotau, Milne Bay, Papua New Guinea, the national Kenu and Kundu Festival celebrates the society and traditional culture of the locals. The festival binds together the history of these people with their modern existence. One of the main highlights of the festival is the traditional war canoe races. Other events include dances, drum performances, crafts and food.
This three-day cultural celebration shares the rich history of the Papua New Guinean people from this province. Visit and you’ll have the opportunity to engage with locals and immerse yourself in a vibrant and colourful display of history.
DJs, drinks and food surrounded by translucent waters? What more could you ask of an epic island party? Cloud 9 sits atop Ro Ro Reef within the Mamanuca Islands, just a boat ride away from Port Denarau. Don’t be fooled, this is no secluded hideaway, and the popularity of Cloud 9 has grown over the last few years, but it’s too cool not to include. This floating bar hosts regular DJ sets and events, and is even open to private parties. The chilled party vibes of Cloud 9 might be far more appealing to some.
In between downing delicious cocktails and staring out to the turquoise horizon while lounging on a day bed, you can dive into the clear waters for a snorkel, jump on a jet ski, or dig into some delicious Italian wood-fire pizzas.
It's the Ship
It’s one of Asia’s biggest parties. It’s The Ship sets sail on a round trip from Singapore to Phuket and back again for a 4-day 3-night festival at sea. Have access to all the ship’s amenities including its 12 bars, seven eateries, an arcade, theatre, pools and plenty of parties in between. The 2019 cruise departs on 13 November with acts to be announced soon. Past acts have included: Sander van Doon, Big Shaq, Darude, Paul Van Dyk, and Hot Dub Time Machine.
With so much to fit into the four days, you’ll not want to blink (or have a memory blank).
Just because Deer Cave was recently stripped of its ‘world’s largest cave’ title (that honour now goes to Hang Son Doon in Vietnam), it doesn’t mean you should automatically cross it off your must-see list. Located in Gunung Mulu National Park, in Miri, Sarawak, Malaysia, it remains an incredible natural wonder, and at over two-kilometres in length and up to 122-metres in height, the sheer enormity of it is impressive. Not surprisingly, its name, Deer Cave (Gua Rusa in Malaysian), comes from the native deer that would enter the cave for shelter and to lick the salt-bearing rocks.
A trip to the cave requires a three-kilometre ramble along a plank boardwalk that weaves through peat swamp, by limestone outcrops and past a sacred Penan tribe burial cave. Inside, highlights include the Garden of Eden, a lush patch of thick vegetation that thrives thanks to a light-filled hole in the cave roof, and an uncanny side-on profile of Abraham Lincoln that’s carved into one of the cave’s skylights. Bring a torch and you can even stay for the mass bat exodus, when over three million bats leave the cave in search of food.
Along the northwest limestone coast of Vanuatu’s Tanna Island is the brilliant Blue Cave. A short boat ride will take you to the cave’s small, unsuspecting entryway, and once inside you’ll discover the iridescent glow from the sun streaming through the entrance, which makes the water glow a vibrant turquoise.
Like a waterfall of light, sun fills the cavern from above, illuminating the water and rock formations below - it’s pretty special. If you’re a beginner swimmer don’t worry, you will be able to make the journey providing you are able to put your head underwater. If you’re still nervous about having to go under the water, try and visit during low tide to give yourself the best chance of experiencing the cave.
Once you’ve finished exploring the inside, be sure to head to the cliff platforms outside and jump into the crystalline ocean waters to soak up even more of Vanuatu’s natural beauty.
Prepare to be impressed by Tad Yuang, a towering 40-metre waterfall that spills out of the Laos jungle in spectacular fashion. More specifically, it’s located on the Bolaven Plateau, which is slowly becoming more accessible to travellers. Local volunteers have worked tirelessly to create safer viewing platforms, and other amenities and stalls are continuing to pop up nearby.
A rather steep, slippery path winds its way down to the bottom of the falls, but it’s worth carefully manoeuvring so you can cool off in the pool below and bask in the immense power of the surging twin torrents. There’s even a designated picnic area at the top, and quite a few walking tracks that lead deeper into the surrounding rainforest. Our tip? Get there super early or stick around until dusk when the crowds have dispersed, and you’re more likely to have the falls all to yourself.
When in Samoa, do as the great Samoan warriors of the past used to do and bathe in the crystal clear waters of the Togitogiga Waterfall. While the name might be difficult to say, getting there isn’t, and the waterfall is conveniently situated just a few miles away from O Le Pupu-Pue National Park, Samoa’s first national park.
Overgrown tropical gardens, offering sweet, shady relief from sun, encroach on the deep swimming holes, which are fed by multiple cascading falls. The best time to visit is during the wet season, from November to April, when the falls are at their fullest and the pools are primed for cannonballs and giant leaps into the blissfully cool waters below. Thanks to a recreation area, changing rooms and toilets, Togitogiga has been known to get rather busy, but if you can handle a few extra people splashing nearby, there’s really no better place to be on a hot Samoan day.
Elephant Dung Coffee
It’s no secret that coffee is one of the world’s most widely-consumed beverages. And considering it seems that every second person nowadays is trying to whip up an iconic and delicious brew (blue algae coffee, anyone?!), it’s no surprise some strange concoctions have popped up.
In Thailand, the current craze is elephant dung coffee. A herd of 20 elephants in northern Thailand are responsible for this taste sensation, and they consume large quantities of coffee beans along with their normal diet of fruits, veggies and plants. The beans then marinate in the stomachs of these huge creatures before being excreted the next day. The downside, other than knowing your coffee has passed through the bowels of an elephant, is that it’s actually one of the most expensive cups of Joe in the whole world.
If you’re wanting to try some of the local cuisine in Tahiti, then look no further. Fafaru is a dish ingrained in Polynesian culture, and is simply fish or shrimp that is marinated in fermented seawater. Sounds tasty, right?
The fermented water is made by placing a fresh fish in clean seawater, and then leaving it to decompose. Once that is done the fish is strained and the water is ready for marinating. The longer you marinate the fish in the fermented water, the stronger the flavour ends up being. If you can somehow manage to move past the smell, the fish is said to be deliciously tender. It’s usually served with another Polynesian delicacy known as miti hue, or fermented coconut pulp, creating a well-balanced meal that’s both sweet and salty.
Those with weak stomachs should probably steer well clear.
Away from the chaos of the Philippines’ main dive spots in Oslob are the protected reefs of Tubbataha. With over 97 hectares of stunning underwater sanctuary to explore, dive beneath the ocean’s surface and experience the majestic world that lies below.
Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992, the diversity of the marine life will astound you. Perhaps one of the most incredible creatures you’ll come across are the whale sharks. These gentle giants are one of the largest fish species in the ocean. Given their exclusive diet of plankton, these spotted behemoths pose no risk to humans and are more than happy to share their watery home with us. Swimming side-by-side with these docile beings is a once in a lifetime opportunity you won’t forget anytime soon.
Hanging out in the depths of the warm Tahitian waters are one of the most magnificent sea creatures, the mighty humpback whale. These calm beasts can reach up to 16 metres in length and weigh almost 30 metric tons – they are definitely not considered one of the smaller whale species.
Not unlike the whale sharks of the Philippines, the humpbacks survive on a diet of krill and other small fish and are unlikely to harm humans. Their inherently curious nature means it’s not unusual for them to come close to investigate any loitering whale watching boats. Peak season for whale watching is anywhere from June through to October. When out on the water you will be guided by professionally trained divers and swimmers who will ensure that both you and the whales are safe during your trip.
Climb aboard this magnificent ship and sail off into Raja Ampat’s sunset. The newly constructed 26-metre eco-friendly yacht, named Sequoia after the ancient tree, is a contemporary take on traditional wooden yacht. Custom-made amenities and features invite guests into this state-of-the-art vessel, which includes three spacious bedrooms, each with a private bathroom, a sky deck for movies under the stars as well as a gourmet kitchen.
But life isn’t all about what’s on deck. On this private charter, you’ll be able to snorkel, paddleboard, tube, kayak, water ski and more. This luxury trip is all inclusive, including transportation, laundry, all food and drink, and activities.
Solomon Islands Discovery Cruise
With eight days and seven nights aboard the MV Taka, you’ll see more of the Solomon Islands than you ever thought possible. Depart from Honiara on the first day and you’ll spend the next week surrounded by more culture and history than you could ever imagine. With cultural immersion a key part of your journey, you’ll interact with locals of all ages and backgrounds during village and school visits.
While onboard you’ll have the opportunity to take a step back in time to the pacific front of World War II, and explore shipwrecks and other significant sites. It’s not all about education though, there will plenty of time for relaxation, snorkelling and paddleboarding among other activities. What’s more, when not on cruise with Solomon Island Discovery Cruises, the ship is available for private hire. Count us in.
Cerevisia Craft Brewhouse
Built from the ground up by its owners, Cerevisia Craft Brewhouse is a testament to hard work and a love of tasty beer. The desire to spread the delicious beverage to local Cambodians spawned the idea that would result in this brewery. The aromatic beers are finished with enticing flavours that make locals and travellers alike say “maybe just one more”.
From the success of the brewery spawned two tap rooms and over 20 restaurants that feature Cerevisia beer on their drinks menu.
One of the two taprooms, Botanico Wine and Beer Garden, has cemented its place in the community offering live music, exceptional food and trivia nights and the chance to have a couple of irresistible brews.
Rarotonga Brewery in the Cook Islands is locally owned and adored. The goal of this brewery is to create a consistently delicious beer that can be appreciated by locals and visitors alike. There’s nothing quite as refreshing on balmy, tropical nights as a crisp, cold lager. The drink can be found in several restaurants and establishments across the Cook Islands so while you’re visiting it shouldn’t be too hard to get your hands on one.
Like many other breweries, Rarotonga Brewery aim to be as environmentally minded as possible, using kegs and flagons to avoid products ending up in landfill. If you find yourself on Rarotonga be sure to stop by the brewery and have a look for yourself.
Tun Mustapha Park
It’s the largest marine protected area in Malaysia and below the glistening turquoise surface, Tun Mustapha Park plays home to coral reefs, mangroves, dugongs, sea turtles, sharks and more than 360 species of fish. It took almost 13 years to protect this colourful undersea world, but now, using a mixed approach to satisfy marine conservation, local communities and fishing industries, it’s intended to boost biodiversity over the next decade.
Covering more than one million hectares, it’s the largest Marine Park in Malaysia, encompassing more than 50 islands across the Kudat, Pita and Kota Marudu districts, from where travelers can swim, snorkel and dive to get up-close-and personal with the habitants of the deep.
Natural Park of the Coral Sea
Established to protect and ensure the future of New Caledonia’s exceptional aquatic ecosystem, the Natural Park of the Coral Sea is the world’s largest marine park. Covering an astounding 1.3 million square kilometres, the park also encompasses the world’s largest lagoon and second longest barrier reef, and acts as a sanctuary for turtles, whales, sharks, giant clams, sea birds, an array of fish species and the world’s third largest herd of dugongs. The highest level of protection for the world’s last unspoiled reefs – Chesterfield, Bellona, Entrecasteaux, Pétrie and Astrolabe – safeguards 28,000 square kilometres of pristine reef.
Some small eco-tourist groups will be able to gain permits to access these reefs. This watery wonderland is best explored at sea level, so to truly get an idea of the park’s rich diversity, make sure you get wet.
Bintang isn’t the only beer in town when it comes to Southeast Asia’s amber goodness. Beerlao is a popular choice for visitors to the region. The Laos based brewery was founded in 1973 and has become a popular thirst quencher.
This beer is created using locally-sourced ingredients like jasmine rice, with imported malt, hops and yeast from France, Belgium and Germany. Crafted by Lao Brewery, the company prides itself on being culturally and environmentally minded with sustainability and social responsibility at the top of their priority list. So when you knock back a cold one of these, you can do so virtually guilt free. Well, that’s what we’re telling ourselves anyway.
Solbrew is one of the very few beers to come out of the Solomon Islands, and the most popular. Established in 1993, and based in the capital city of Honiara, this brew is a much loved brand. The labels covering the silver and gold cans, and green bottles pay homage to the island nation’s history and spirit.
Made by Solomon Breweries, a synonymous name with locals, this beer comes with a bite that’s refreshing in the Solomon heat and never looks misplaced in the hands of anyone across the South Pacific. Bottoms up.
Rosewood Luang Prabang Hilltop Tents
Embedded into the lush jungle hillside of Luang Prabang, Laos, Rosewood
Hotel’s Hilltop Tents offer modest luxury. Designed to incorporate both the
Laos local culture and the strong French colonial influence via the architecture
and use of textures, colours and fabrics, the six 75-square-metre tents bring
indulgence and culture together in a stunning display.
Each tent has its own king-sized bed, bathtub and plush daybed, plus a private wrap-around deck where you can sit back, relax and listen to the sounds of the surrounding jungle. The interiors merge Lao tradition and French colonial style, making use of indigenous materials and locally inspired artworks. Take your relaxation one step further with a visit to the hotel’s spa and enjoy one of the traditional Lao therapies or take a dip in the lavish pool while watching the natural waterfall cascade right next to you.
Ikurangi Eco Retreat
A passion to create a luxurious, yet environmentally sustainable option for
travellers has resulted in Ikurangi Eco Retreat – the first purpose-built eco
accommodation in the Cook Islands. Overlooking the dramatic mountain
centre of Rarotonga, four safari tents combine luxe finishes with sustainably sourced materials to create one idyllic and eco-friendly package.
Composting toilets, biodegradable toiletries, and free bicycles are all park of the Ikurangi way. Creature comforts aren’t sacrificed though, presented in a stylish, but not ostentatious way. Each tent includes a private outdoor shower, large king-sized bed, fully-screened windows, natural soap and lotion and electricity points for charging all your gadgets. From here, you can explore the serene natural beauty of Rarotonga, and enjoy the island’s adrenaline adventures, nature, food, culture and pampering. You’ll be diving into your natural surrounds in no time.
On the eastern outskirts of the Gulf of Thailand, Koh Kood is a so-far unspoilt nirvana waiting to be explored. The island has it all for visitors wanting a fully immersive experience; beaches, jungles, waterfalls and luxury resorts. As the fourth largest island in Thailand, with a population of just over 2000, you’ll find yourself fully immersed in the culture and lifestyle from the moment you step foot on the beach.
The best way to explore the sandy shores is via boat, as the entire western border of the island is an expanse of pristine beaches. The eastern side of the island is largely undeveloped, and in some areas an inaccessible mass of jungle. On land, a scooter is the best way to get around the island. Here, you can spend your days hiking, swimming, relaxing and basking in the absolute peace and tranquillity on this almost undiscovered paradise.
Located halfway between Australia and Hawaii, Tuvalu is a tiny tropical speck in the Pacific. Comprised of just nine islands (six of these are actually deemed coral atolls), and with a population of just 11,000 people, it’s one of the world’s smallest countries. Devoid of tour guides, cruise ships and organised activities, it’s definitely no tourist mecca like its neighbours Fiji and Vanuatu – but that’s where its charm lies.
You’ll have palm tree-fringed beaches to yourself and reefs bursting with colour and sea life to explore at your leisure. The friendly locals of this island nation are more than willing to share their knowledge and cultural traditions in the form of dance, basket weaving and woodcarving. But don’t delay your trip to Tuvalu, with rising sea levels threatening to completely engulf the low-lying nation, there’s no telling when climate change will wipe this isolated South Pacific paradise off the map.
PAPUA NEW GUINEA
Step aboard the Sepik Spirit for a voyage into the depths of Papua New Guinea’s waterways. This purpose-built craft, which has been designed to glide through PNG’s rivers and tributaries with ease, follows a route that includes the Karawari River, Sepik River and Krosmeri River.
The villages that line these riverbanks are rarely visited by foreigners, and when the Sepik Spirit docks at the Karawari, Krosmeri and Blackwater settlements, tourists are showered with warm welcomes by the locals, and invitations to visit spirit houses, learn about their rituals or purchase tribal art. Photo opportunities abound around every bend, so have your camera at the ready to capture the dense forests lining the Karawari River or the sun setting over the wide expanse of the Blackwater Lakes. A standard cruise runs for three nights, and access to the boat is only via charter flights in and out of the Karawari airstrip.
Journey down the famed Mekong River on a vessel unlike any other. The Gypsy is a lavishly appointed 41-metre, two-cabin rig that will transport you down the most remote rivers and past charming villages in total comfort. Travel from Luang Prabang through to Thailand’s Golden Triangle on a three day, four night trip, or do the reverse and spend three days and two nights travelling from Thailand to Laos.
This ultra-exclusive private cruise is tailored to accommodate just four passengers, which means your every wish and desire is catered for. Wooden and thatched features do give the boat a traditional feel, but modern amenities and an on-board chef whipping up first-class fare means there’s no chance of mistaking this boat for just another typical river cruiser.
If there was a better way to explore the Mekong, we’d like to hear about it.
Deep in the Anambas archipelago is Bawah Reserve. A series of six secluded private islands, this resort is one for the ages. With 35 luxury suites equipped with lavish amenities, you’ll have a panoramic view of the ocean wherever you cast your gaze.
Accommodation options range from overwater bungalows to garden and deluxe beach suites, so you’ll be spoilt for choice. And if you think you’re likely to get bored spending your days lying on the beach, think again. You’ll have access to the Aura Spa and Wellness Centre, or you can go hiking, snorkelling, stand-up paddle boarding, stargazing, enjoy the beach cinema and swimming pools, or sail off on an island sunset cruise, to name just a few. The reserve prides itself in preserving the environment and the majority of resources are sustainable bamboo or recycled wood materials.
The French Polynesian island of Tetiaroa, also known as Brando Island, was once described by its namesake as, “beautiful beyond my capacity to describe”, and, well, who are we to argue with Marlon Brando?
The Brando is next-level luxury, think access via private plane, 35 exclusive villas, award-winning cuisine and white-sand beaches frequented by sea turtles, manta rays and exotic birds. While it may seem tempting to while the lazy days away by the pool, moving only when required to reach for a cocktail or to apply another layer of sunscreen, activities at The Brando are endless, and include snorkelling, kayaking, scuba diving or biking. But with a mission to foster enriching travel experiences, support Polynesian culture and traditions, and protect and sustain the island’s precious natural environment, you can relax in peace knowing The Brando is doing its bit to best preserve this fragile piece of the South Pacific.
Your fitness will be tested on this canyoning expedition in Cebu as you wander along the side of a cliff and hike down into expansive caverns for an adrenaline pumping experience. Starting in Kanlaob River you’ll walk, jump, swim, climb and abseil your way toward Kawasan Falls, passing ravines, rocky chasms and tropical jungles. While the stunning surrounding scenery may appear peaceful this experience is anything but, although it’ll all be worth it once you arrive at the stunning blue waters of Kawasan Falls.
So strap on the life vest and helmet and try not to overthink things as you jump right into this adventure that will push you to the limit.
This challenging trek will push you to test yourself both physically and mentally. Explore Vanuatu’s largest cave on this day-long adventure trip to Millennium Cave. The hike to the cave weaves through jungle paths where you’ll then have the opportunity to clamber over rocks and cliffs before canyoning over the side into waters at the base of the cave.
It may be exhausting and psychically demanding but the feeling of accomplishment and adrenaline will far outweigh any muscle ache. Thankfully though, between the rushing waterfalls, the flowing river and the monstrous size of the cave, the awesome scenery will have you completely forgetting just how tough you might be finding the trip.
Freshwater fishing in Thailand has been a way of life for centuries, and if you journey to Phang Nga, you can try your hand at catching some monster fish for yourself. With an exotic range of creatures lurking in these waters, you can never be sure just what you’ll catch. Several of the species you may come across weigh over 50 kilograms so be sure you’ve got your muscles ready.
Exotic Fishing Thailand offer full and half day fishing packages so you can tailor the activity to your needs and wants. Be sure you bring a camera with you because you’ll want evidence of these beasts to show people back home because Exotic Fishing Thailand is a catch and release fishery only.
Still an essential part of life for many New Caledonian families, traditional fishing practices are alive and well in the small French Territory. Fishing is not just seen as a means of feeding the family, it’s also considered a social event that can bring the whole community together.
Traditional fishing tours are available in Noumea, depending on tides and weather conditions. On-foot fishing is a great option for the kids, and might even nab you some tasty clams, and if the wind isn’t too strong, you may even get to try your hand at parachute net fishing - a true New Caledonian artform. You’ll also learn how to spot or attract fish, and who knows, you may even master throwing the net so it lands in a perfect circle in the water. Guess that’s dinner sorted then!
The Gibbon Experience
If you’ve always dreamed of swinging through the trees, spending the night high up in the forest canopy and making friends with monkeys, then this is your chance to turn those Tarzan fantasies into a reality.
The Gibbon Experience in Nam Kan National Park connects some of the world’s highest treehouse via a maze of ziplines, and once settled in your treetop retreat, you might even get the chance to meet with the local gibbon families. It’s a pretty basic setup in the treehouse, but when you’re over 30-metres in the sky and waking up to the roaring sounds of the jungle, you’ll forget about that and find that luxury is redefined. Besides, it wouldn’t be the complete Tarzan experience if you had a butler on call, now would it?
The tourism-based conservation project offers three tour options, which include guided hikes through the national park, all meals and snacks and up to 15-kilometres of ziplines to traverse.
La Maison du Banian
Just 10 kilometers out of Vanuatu’s capital of Port Vila is La Maison du Banian. This simple thatched roof treehouse blends beautifully into its surrounds and has been constructed in the branches of a banyan tree, so you will feel connected with the natural world around you.
Just because the treehouse is environmentally-friendly, does not mean you have to go without the creature comforts. Solar power and kerosene lamps keep the lights on, and an open bamboo bathroom is located nearby. A fireplace provides warmth on the nights that are a bit more chilly, and a vegetable, fruit and poultry garden means you won’t go hungry. This accommodation will see you immersing yourself in nature, recharging and experiencing simplicity at its finest.
Finding unspoiled beaches is becoming harder and harder as more tourists flock to all corners of the globe. That’s not to say uncrowded stretches of coast are impossible to find, take Kapas Island, for example. This tiny beach island, just two kilometres in length, can be found off the east coast of Malaysia, just 15 minutes from Marang. The cerulean waters are just begging for a day of paddling in a hired kayak, or there’s more than enough shady spots to hang your hammock and settle in with a good book. What makes Kapas Island even better though, is its diversity.
Sure, we love a solid relaxation sesh, but we also love the option to dive and snorkel through reefs or trek through jungles even more, and that’s all possible here. There are no five-star resorts, bustling restaurants, internet connection or even ATMs, but that’s why we love it. We’re all about minimalism when the right location calls for it, and this is one island we’d happily get shipwrecked on.
To classify as one of the best hidden beaches in the South Pacific, there’s a few things most visitors would expect to see. White-sand beaches, with barely a footprint to be seen? Absolutely. Azure waters, clear enough to see right to the bottom? That’s a given. Maybe a rustic beach shack (walking distance to the beach, of course) serving seafood fresh from the ocean? Sure, you gotta eat after all! That just about sums about Port Olry, a secret oasis on the island of Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu.
It has somehow managed to stay hidden from the hordes of tourists and cruise-shippers that frequent Vanuatu in search of their own slice of tropical paradise, and has instead adopted an infectious laidback charm that is irresistible to all who visit. The pristine natural landscape, complete with a thriving sea turtle population, doesn’t hurt either. Hurry, because the wonders of Port Olry won’t stay confidential for long.
Via Ferrata, for the uninitiated, means ‘iron road’ in Italian, and is used to describe a mountain route equipped with rungs, rails, fixed ladders and cables. At 3776 metres above sea level, Low’s Peak Circuit and Walk the Torq trails on Mt Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysia, are Asia’s highest and first Via Ferrata respectively.
No prior climbing experience is needed to tackle the mountain with Mountain Torq as the routes are well-equipped and maintained to ensure the safety of all climbers, plus there’s a skilled guide leading the way. The climb does take over four hours to complete however, so a relatively decent level of fitness is required, but there’s plenty of opportunities along the way to stop for a rest. When you’re traversing swinging planks and balancing on tightrope walks and the adrenaline kicks in, we doubt you’ll even notice what muscles are burning or how long the climb is taking.
It may be a relative newcomer on the climbing scene, but Tonga is slowly and steadily, garnering interest and attention from curious climbers right across the world. The majority of the climbing takes place on the untouched limestone cliffs of the King’s estate at Fangatave Beach, which is on the north-eastern side of the island of ‘Eua.
You’ll need to register beforehand to gain access to the estate and climbing areas, and bring all your own gear, but once that’s sorted 25 pitches await, ranging from grade 17 to 24. To protect the pristine landscape and guarantee the future of climbing tourism, voluntary Kaka Maka Group is working with Tongan locals to ensure the burgeoning outdoor venture is developed responsibly and sustainable. With 50 more routes in development, our advice is to get in before the crowds start assembling, and book those flights to Tonga, asap.
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