Pacific Islands. Where to go? What to see? What to do? Alan Boreham, Peter Jinks, and Bob Rossiter, the authors of a sailing adventure book called ‘Beer in the Bilges’, give their recommendations
Visit Huahine, French Polynesia
Huahine is an island located just northwest of the island of Tahiti in eastern Polynesia. Going there now is like stepping back in time. It is relatively undeveloped, so a traveler has to be prepared to stay in guest houses rather than five-star hotels and to shop in the local market rather than a big box store or hotel convenience store, but that’s how we like it. There are a few foreigners there, like surfers who came from the USA to seek out its perfect waves and never left, and French public servants, some of whom have retired and stayed on. The beaches, scuba diving, and fishing are all excellent; the people are friendly; and the pace is relaxed. In short, it has all of the beauty of Bora Bora without the cost. What more can one ask for.
Visit Western Samoa
Western Samoa was on the route of some of the famous writers of the 19th century, including Samuel Clemens, writing as Mark Twain, Joseph Conrad, Somerset Maugham, and Robert Louis Stevenson. Stevenson lived here with his family, and was much loved by the Samoan people, who called him ‘Tusitala’, meaning ‘teller of stories’. He found his resting place here, on a hill overlooking the South Pacific Ocean. For us, relaxing at Aggie Grey’s hotel in Apia, amid the authentic decorations and artifacts, evokes the romance of that era. While there are more modern hotels on the island, this is still our favorite place to stay, where you can truly drink in the history and savor the culture of the islands.
Visit The Vava’u Group, Tonga
The Vava’u Group of islands, at the north end of the Tongan Island chain, has to be on our list. Not only do the people of the ‘Friendly Islands’ live up to their name, but these idyllic, closely-grouped islands also hold some amazing historical sights. Mariner’s Cave is among the most fascinating places we’ve visited. It is named after a shipwrecked English sailor, William Mariner, who was taken in by a Tongan family, and with whom he lived for four years before being picked up by another ship and sailing back to England. Not for the weak of heart, entering the cave requires you to dive down and swim about fifteen meters through a dark tunnel until you reach a spectacular limestone cave. What is equally amazing is what happens when the water surges into the enclosed space. The water in the air immediately condenses like a fog, only to instantly disappear when the surge subsides and the pressure returns to normal. Depending on the sea condition, this can happen several times a minute. There is also a legend that goes along with this spectacle, which makes it even more special. In the legend, this is where a young Tongan man hides a young woman whose family is destined to be killed by a tyrannical ruler. He visits her daily to bring food and water, until the young man can sail away with her to safety.