South Pacific Journals

Unknown South Pacific

An April 2006 trip to South Pacific by adf

Atiu islander Photo, Cook Islands, South Pacific More Photos
Quote: These are the islands nobody gets to... the spots on the map that occasion long, languid daydreams.

Unknown South Pacific

Overview

Blue sea Photo,
Quote:
The opportunity to visit islands nobody gets to was impossible to turn down. Here are dots on the map of the South Pacific that remain, for most travelers, only dots. I report on them here because so little information is available on some of them... and on a couple, none at all.

Quick Tips:

Crewing on a private yacht might be the only way to reach some of these locations.

Best Way To Get Around:

There is regular air service from Papeete to Fakarava. In the Cooks, Air Rarotonga services Atiu. From Atiu you might catch an islander boat going over to Manuae. One or two cruise ships a year visit Pitcairn.
Blue sea Photo,
Quote:
In 2006, Lindblad's National Geographic Explorer crossed the South Pacific from west to east and then did a return crossing. The first two parts of the four-part, nearly three-month long journey stopped at some of the most isolated and least-visited islands in the South Pacific... places that at long last I was able to visit, and dive.

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on March 4, 2007

Easter Island

Story/Tip

Author and Moai Photo, Easter Island, Chile
Quote:
Yes, it's a long way from anywhere... and yes, it's worth the journey. From the amazing Moai shifted and raised by the Rapa Nuians, to the quarry at volcano Ranu Raraku, to the single but exceptionally beautiful beach, Easter Island rewards every traveler who manages to make it that far.

No top-flight hotels on the island, but two adequate ones. Lots of cheap souvenirs, and some nice t-shirts. Horseback riding, so-so scuba diving.

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on March 4, 2007

Henderson Island

Attraction

Quote:
Located about 200km northeast of Pitcairn, uninhabited Henderson is a world heritage site. Thousands of seabirds nest here, and there are four endemic species. The only mammal is the Polynesia rat.

Henderson is a Makatea island: raised coralline limestone. The eroded center is nearly impossible to walk, full of sharp, bladed limestone. There is one beach. Hardly ever seeing humans except for once or twice yearly visits from the Pitcairners (who come to collect miro and other woods for carving), the birds are nearly as tame and unafraid as those in the Galapagos.

The surrounding reef is pristine, undamaged, and unspoiled, alive with fish and sharks that rush to check out divers.

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on March 4, 2007

Pitcairn Island

Best Of IgoUgo

Story/Tip

Pitcairners returning to their island home Photo, Pitcairn Islands, South Pacific
Quote:
The land inhabited by the descendants of the Bounty mutineers is an exquisite, high gem of an island. There are virtually no beaches and the tiny harbor at Bounty Bay can only be entered when the swells cooperate. Adamstown is the only community. The islanders (who have an excellent website) sell stamps, honey that they claim is the most disease-free in the world, wood-carvings, and other items to the occasion visitors. There is no airstrip and the island is out of helicopter range. Only the occasional cruise ship and adventurous yachtie fetch up here. The island offers excellent hiking, many sites related to the history of the Bounty, and a fine (recently redone) museum detailing the ...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on March 4, 2007

Ravahere Island

Attraction

Quote:
A large but uninhabited island in the Tuamotus, Ravahere has the usual pristine beaches and swaying coconut palms. The real attraction is underwater, where I had the best night dive of my life. Drifting in the channel between Ravahere and its neighbor island to the north we saw numerous sharks, mantas, and other large pelagics. Every centimeter of the undersea slope was covered in healthy coral.

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on March 4, 2007

Fakarava Island

Story/Tip

Quote:
The second largest atoll in the Tuamotus, Fakarava has regular air service from Papeete. Its famed Garue Pass offers one of the best drift dives in French Polynesia, full of sharks (hammerhead, too) and large pelagic life. The local dive shop is excellent, and there are several places to stay on the main motu (island). Black pearl jewelry is for sale locally.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 4, 2007

Makatea Island

Attraction

Quote:
This is the raised coral island that has given its name to an island type. The center was mined for phosphates and there are still a few folks living on the island, but there are no tourist facilities. Underwater, the fringing reef resembles that at Henderson... full of small fish and other life, and healthy coral.

Visitors can walk Makatea because of the roads that were built through the interior to serve the mine. There's tropical forest, but not much else... on the other hand, you'll be the only visitors.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on March 4, 2007

Palmerston Island

Attraction

Palmerston Island Photo, Cook Islands, South Pacific
Quote:
As close to a paradise island complex as I have ever encountered, Palmerston is home to the descendants of the enterprising trader William Marsters and his three Tahitian wives. Marsters' grave features prominently in the island cemetery. The neat little roads that criss-cross the main island look manicured, as does much of the small community itself.

There is no airstrip, though talk of putting one in surfaces periodically. Ships that call are assured of one of the friendliest greetings in the entire South Pacific, and gifts are appreciated. The diving is unbelievable.

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on March 4, 2007

Atiu Island

Attraction

Atiu islander Photo, Cook Islands, South Pacific
Quote:
With a few hundred residents, this semi-Makatea island boasts its own interesting culture, small places to stay, beautiful pocket beaches, a unique endemic bird (the kopeka) that hunts insects by echo location, and few visitors.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 4, 2007

Manuae Island

Attraction

Quote:
Located north of Atiu, uninhabited Manuae Island is owned by the Atiu islanders, and permission must be sought from them to visit. The forested island is home to an abandoned copra plantation. The diving is, as to be expected, exquisite.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 4, 2007

In a Force 8 gale Photo,
Quote:
Attempting to sail north from Mangareva, in the Gambier Islands, to the Tuamotus, the ship hit absurd out-of-season weather that rose to a Force 8 gale. With waves breaking hard enough over the bow to occasionally smash into the bridge, it was decided to head northwest to get out of the low pressure system. But it was quite a ride while it lasted... although the kitchen staff, kept busy picking up broken glass and plates, employed more descriptive language.