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Fun Travels in the South Pacific

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NEWS

Third Lotte Duty Free Guam Live International Music Festival A Sold Out Event

Family Fly-In Fly-Out Deal for Castaway Island. Getting there with the kids is half the fun with Castaway Island’s five-night family

Outrigger on the Lagoon in Fiji -- A Five-Star Resort

Best Hotel Pools on Guam

What to Wear on Guam

FIJI

Where to Stay

Outrigger on the Lagoon -- A Five-Star Resort

Fiji is one of the most enchanting resorts in the South Pacific.  Occupying 40 acres on a calm beachfront on the Coral Coast of Viti Levu island, this Fiji resort getaway embraces the design and hospitality of a traditional Fijian village.  Modern air-conditioned hotel rooms and bures (bungalows) are furnished with a full complement of guest amenities.  The thatched bures feature vaulted ceilings lined with exquisite hand-painted masi bark cloth.

This Fiji hotel’s signature Talai service -- traditional butler service with a South Pacific twist -- is available to guests in Deluxe Ocean View rooms, suites and bures.  Talai service includes complimentary arrival drinks, and champagne with canapés delivered to your room every afternoon. Talai butlers are available to unpack and press your clothing, recommend tours and activities, and schedule restaurant reservations.

This resort is well suited for a family vacation with an impressive tropical swimming pool, supervised activities for kids and teens, Meimei nanny service, and kids eat free special. Sophisticated travelers who want privacy and will be pleased with the resort's new Vahavu swimming pools, bistro and banquet pavilion that cater exclusively to adult guests.

Fiji is perfect for a destination wedding and honeymoon.  Combine a beautiful hilltop wedding chapel, Bebe Spa, award-winning restaurants, and an array of touring options to create your perfect romantic holiday at one of Fiji's finest hotels.
Corporate retreats are welcomed with conference facilities, catering services, 24-hour room service, on-site entertainment and a host of outdoor adventure activities.

Accolades for Outrigger on the Lagoon • Fiji:
Fiji’s First Official 5-Star Resort
TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Award Top 3 Best for Families – South Pacific
AON Fiji Excellence in Tourism Award - Best Deluxe Resort
AON Fiji Excellence in Tourism Award - Best Fine Dining Restaurant
Frontliner of the Year Award – Executive Chef Shailesh Naidu
ASPA Best Destination Spa Resort
Pevonia International Spa Award
Full-service, AAA Austraila 5-star hotel and bures
No resort fee
Guest rooms and bures are non-smoking
Free guest parking
High-speed wireless Internet access in guest rooms (fee)
Daily Fijian cultural activities including Kava ceremony
Fijian fire walking show (fee)
9 restaurants and bars
24-hour room service
Talai butler service
Supervised children’s activities
Meimei nanny service
Bebe Spa 
Vahavu pool, bistro, pavilion 
Traditional Fijian wedding packages
Meeting rooms, conference facilities, catering services, outdoor function space
Sightseeing and day tours
Outrigger on the Lagoon • Fiji resort deals
View an aerial map of Outrigger on the Lagoon • Fiji (PDF 2.18K)
Deposit/cancellation policy
 
For more information contact Outrigger on the Lagoon • Fiji/ P.O. Box 173/ Sigatoka, or call 679-650-0044/ Fax: 679-652-0074

Outrigger on the Lagoon, Fiji has been rated one of the top five Fiji resorts in the country according to TripAdvisor

In addition to the Outrigger on the Lagoon, Fiji, the top five resorts include Likuliku Lagoon Resort, Tokoriki Island Resort, Tadrai Island Resort and Malolo Island Resort.

The travel site summed up the reviews on the Outrigger with a quote from a guest saying, “My family have come away with memories to last a lifetime! The friendliness and welcoming from staff was superb. My two girls were sad to leave.”
Resort General Manager Peter Hopgood stated it is absolutely thrilling to be acknowledged by their guests as a top five resort for the whole of Fiji.

“This award is a wonderful confirmation of the quality of service and friendly staff at our resort. To know that our guests have rated our product so highly makes us very proud of the friendships that we have forged with them,” Mr. Hopgood said.

“The vuvale (family) and management at Outrigger would also like to congratulate and acknowledge Likuliku (no. 1), Tokoriki (no. 2), Tadrai (no. 3) and Malolo (no. 4) resorts for their great efforts in ensuring quality services for our tourists. As tourism industry partners we work hard together as a team to ensure that we bring more tourists into the country and this accolade is a pat on the back for a job well done!” Mr. Hopgood continued.“To be acknowledged as a top five resort amongst these boutique resorts is an encouraging tribute and we will continue to strive to ensure that our guests have an unforgettable Fijian holiday,” Mr. Hopgood added.

For more information on the Outrigger on the Lagoon, Fiji, visit www.outrigger.com.

What to See & Do

Family Fly-In Fly-Out Deal for Castaway Island. Getting there with the kids is half the fun with Castaway Island’s five-night family

Getting there with the kids is half the fun with Castaway Island's five- night family Fly-In Fly-Out package that combines helicopter and seaplane transfers with a luxury Fijian escape.

Two adults and two children or four adults can now fly direct from Nadi Airport to Castaway Island, arriving in style by private helicopter and enjoying spectacular aerial views along the way. As well as five nights accommodation, the package includes a banana boat ride, escorted snorkeling safari, dolphin safari excursion and sunset cruise for four.

The return journey continues the holiday experience with guests flying from Castaway Island to Nadi by seaplane. Cost is F$9,480 (AUD$5,600 approx., US$5,211 approx.) for four adults or two adults and two children. The package is also available for two adults for F$7,440 (AUD$4,400 approx., US$4,090 approx.) which as well as helicopter and sea plane transfers and five nights accommodation, includes two half-hour traditional Fiji relaxation massages, a bottle of sparkling wine, a dolphin safari speedboat excursion for two and His and Hers Castaway Island sarongs.

The package is valid to March 31, 2015 and terms and conditions apply.
Castaway Island is a pristine, four-star private island resort located in the heart of Fiji’s Mamanuca Island group. The 70-hectare island is covered in tropical rainforest and fringed by white sand beaches and vibrant coral reefs.

To book, visit castawayfiji.com/book or visit www.castawayfiji.com, or www.bebespafiji.com for further information.

GUAM 

What to See & Do

Tired of filling your downtime doing the same old same old? A little taste of adventure is sure to spice things up. With everything from amusement parks to Zorbing, there's no shortage of activities for adventure lovers.

Third Lotte Duty Free Guam Live International Music Festival A Sold Out Event

The Guam Visitors Bureau (GVB) has announced that the third Lotte Duty Free Guam Live International Music Festival on Sunday, May 29, 2016 made history with more than 7,000 people in attendance. The Governor Flores Memorial (Ypao Beach) Park in Tumon was filled with visitors and local attendees, along with about 3,000 delegates from the Festival of Pacific Arts (FestPac).

The Sunday festival kicked off with Guam’s up and rising progressive rock reggae band The John Dank Show, followed by The Mana’o Company, Micah G, Kolohe Kai, Fiji, Common Kings, Jay Park, Pia Mia and Collie Buddz. Local rappers Tyler “Trips” Tanaka, Kev the Kid and DJ Pogi also made a special appearance on stage. 

Headliner Pia Mia returned to Guam Live with her new set and hit the stage with billboard hits such as “Do It Again” featuring Chris Brown and Tyga, and “Boys and Girls.” Accompanied by Chamorro cultural dancers, she also serenaded the crowd to the popular Chamorro song, “Hagu,” by Flora Baza Quan and dedicated the performance to her grandmother who recently passed away. The night ended with Collie Buddz, Common Kings and Fiji collaborating on stage and a surprise fireworks display courtesy of the Guam Visitors Bureau.

“The tremendous turnout in our third year of Guam Live is a testament to the support of our sponsors, visitors and island residents for this GVB signature event,” said GVB President and CEO Nathan Denight. “This is just one of the many ways tourism works for the community in bringing not only visitors to our shores, but phenomenal artists who can inspire our people to continue to dream big. We thank everyone, including our FestPac delegates, for coming out on Sunday to enjoy the music and performances from our amazing talent. Stay tuned for the announcement of the date for the 2017 Guam Live International Music Festival in the coming months.”

The 2016 Lotte Duty Free Guam Live International Music Festival is presented by United Airlines, Dusit Thani Guam Resort, Docomo Pacific, 76 Circle K, Guam AutoSpot, Pacific Islands Club, The Stations of KUAM, and Heineken. The GVB signature event is also brought to you by Pacific Star Resort & Spa, Hilton Resort & Spa, Monster Energy, Lotte Hotel Guam, KwikSpace, Pepsi, and Sixt Car rental. Additionally, special thanks is given to Jamaican Grill, Skyy Vodka, Patron Tequila, Jack Daniel’s, Fence Masters, and Uno Magazine.

For More Information contact Josh Tyquiengco, Public Information Officer at Guam Vistors Bureau; 671-646-5278 or via e-mail at josh.tyquiengco@visitguam.org  | web site www.visitguam.com

Horseback Riding at Sleepy Meadows Ranch

Located in Yigo, Sleepy Meadows Ranch hosts one of the most unique ways to explore Guam: On Horseback! You do not need to be a professional to take part in this activity. Sleepy Meadows' trail tours are an hour and a half long, giving you enough time to take in the views and experiences! There is a Morning Ride at 7:30 a.m., and a Sunset Ride at 4:45 p.m.

Learn to Wind Surf at PIC Marine Center

Up for a little windsurfing? Head to the PIC Marine Center where you can learn how to Windsurf! Lessons take place throughout the day and are an hour long with a 30 minute intro course that takes place in the windsurfing pool. The remaining time will be spent out in the water, if the tides permit.

Dive beneath the waves without getting into any diving gear with Atlantis Submarines! Taking off from Apra Harbor, you'll travel 15 minutes by boat to where you'll be boarding the submersible. From there you'll dive down 45 meters into the depths off Gab Gab and witness wondrous sea creatures all around you, and perhaps a diver or two! Whether you're just visiting or you live here, it's something you do not want to miss out on!

12 Best Dives on Guam by Peyton Roberts

Tokai Maru and SMS Cormoran

Perhaps the most well known dive sites on Guam, this combination of wrecks from two different world wars is the only such dive site in the world. Both wrecks are unique dives on their own, but a chance to touch both at the same time is a memorable achievement for any diver’s bucket list.

The Blue Hole
Considered to be Guam’s signature natural feature dive, the Blue Hole is a crevice that opens into the ocean floor off Orote Peninsula. The dive begins at 50’ and lets out at 135.’ The visibility in this area can be an incredible 100’+. Look out for large tuna, unicorn fish, and reef sharks on this beautiful blue ocean dive.

11-Mile Reef
More experienced divers should check out this deepwater ocean site. Eleven miles off the coast of Guam, the ocean floor rises to around 100 feet creating an oasis of sea life. You’re likely to spot reef sharks in these exceptionally clear waters.

Cocos Island
Often done as a drift dive, ride the currents as you pass over fish-filled coral beds off the east and west coasts of Cocos Island. Keep an eye out for turtles, spotted eagle rays, and white tip reef sharks. Like many of the dives further off the coast, the visibility here is much clearer than at reefs closer to Guam, so bring your camera.

American Tanker
Most shipwrecks lie in fairly deep waters. But resting on the south side of the Apra Harbor jetty, this water barge turned artificial reef starts at 50’, making it a great beginner wreck dive. Stop to take your picture with the American flag, a stunning site under water.

Gun Beach
Often referred to as “the best shore dive on Guam,” Gun Beach is a great place to spot turtles, rays, and octopus. Follow the pipes out from the shore through the breakwater for a safe entry and exit past the reef line.

Coral Gardens
This underwater fantasyland of coral formations is located just south of the marina in Agat. If you’re a strong swimmer, Coral Gardens could be doable as a shore dive. In addition to the massive coral structures, you’re likely to spot lion fish, eels, and Christmas tree worms in this peaceful and relatively shallow (45’) underwater garden.

Gab Gab
Located at the beach on Naval Base Guam, this massive wall of coral seems to go on forever and is jam packed with fish and other reef life. A night dive here is a great place to spot colorful crabs and different varieties of shrimp. Keep your eyes out for turtles as this wildlife preserve is one of their favorite hangouts.

Gab Gab II
For big fish and possible nurse shark sightings, check out this reef in Apra Harbor where the Atlantis Submarine circles. Interact with the curious and well-fed giant trevally. Look for the bright red anemone and keep an eye out for giant eels.

Anae Island
A short boatride from Agat marina lies this interesting rock island, complete with a shallow cave to pass through. Go at night and keep your eyes open for lobster. This is also a great snorkel spot, accessible by kayak.

Pete’s Reef
Plenty to see at this lively reef, accessible by boat from Agat Marina. This underwater city of colorful life especially comes alive at night when you can spot sleeping parrot fish and hunting eels.

Fish Eye
Located off Rt. 1 south of Asan Beach, Fish Eye is a great shore dive for beginners. Among the schools of butterfly fish and sergeant majors, keep an eye out for barracuda. Wave to tourists through the windows of the underwater lookout situated in one of Piti’s “bomb holes.”

Guam National Wildlife Refuge, Ritidian Unit--

The interactive display is designed to promote the importance of conservation while showcasing Guam's indigenous flora and fauna in an appealing atmosphere that will engage visitors of all ages. 

When you enter the Nature Center, the first thing you notice is the sound of birds chirping. The bird song comes from the many representations of Guam's native birds that are located throughout center. In the center of the room is an ifit, or ironwood, one of Guam's protected and indigenous trees. There are more birds in the tree along with a Mariana fruit bat, or fanihi, which is the local Chamorro word for the flying creature. While fruit bats exist in many parts of the world, there are only a few fanihi left living in the wild on Guam.

In fact, many species of bird represented at the new Nature Center are extinct, including the Mariana Fruit Dove, the Rufuos Fantail, and the Micronesian Honey eater or Totot, Chichirika, and Egigi as they are respectively called in Guam’s native language. Preserving Guam’s remaining birdlife is one of the Wildlife Refuge’s main purposes and hopefully the Nature Center will aid in teaching the importance of protecting indigenous species of both animal and plant life on Guam.

The Nature Center also features four 16-foot murals depicting the different types of geography found at the Wildlife Refuge and describe other features found at the Ritidian Unit location.

In addition to the Nature Center, the Guam National Wildlife Refuge is home to one of Guam’s most beautiful seashores, Ritidian Beach. The Park Rangers also give regular tours through the federally protected jungle at the Refuge and the tour includes visits to two caves where the ancient Chamorros lived and have left pictographs for everyone to see and learn from.

The Guam National Wildlife Refuge, Ritidian Unit and the Nature Center are open seven days a week from 8:30 am to 4 pm and admission is free. If you're interested in taking a tour of the forest and the caves, arrangements must be made in advance by calling 1 (671) 355-5096.

Best Hotel Pools on Guam

Pacific Islands Club Guam

B
est for Kids
With a handful of pools and lots of slides and activities, PIC wins for family fun. From kayaking to snorkeling with real fish, there’s something for kids (and adults) of all ages.

Sheraton Laguna Resort & Spa

Best for Escape
Off the beaten tourist path, Sheraton’s infinity pool overlooks tranquil Agana Bay where you might catch a glimpse of surfers or fishermen. The long and lean pool is surrounded by winding paths and beautifully landscaped grounds. You might almost think you’re in Europe!

Hyatt Regency Guam Hotel

Most Natural
The Hyatt’s lazy river winds through tunnels and past lush greenery for the most au naturel experience in a man-made pool.

Hilton Guam Resort & Spa

Best View
Of the three pools at Hilton, our favorite is the elevated pool overlooking Tumon Bay. Watching the pounding waves roll in with Two Lovers Point in the distance is the ultimate relaxation.

Outrigger Guam Resort

Best Waterfalls
With winding pools and this awesome waterfall, Outrigger’s pool is best enjoyed at sunset, in an inner tube, or while sipping a piña colada.

Guam Reef Hotel

Best Infinity Pool
At the center of Pleasure Island, the Guam Reef Hotel pool offers unparalleled views of the Philippine Sea from an awesome height. This infinity pool was designed to blend seamlessly with the Sea, making it both relaxing and exhilarating to swim in.

The Westin Resort

Best Beach Access
With the white sand of Tumon Bay just a few steps away, this pool is for the swimmer/snorkeler who wants the best of both worlds.

What to Wear on Guam

It’s no secret that Guam is humid. That being said, the right wardrobe makes all the difference in whether you love or loathe the weather. Dress appropriately (and still stylishly) and the heat won’t bother you so much. Plus, the breezy evenings are absolutely perfect for strolling down San Vitores or relaxing in a beach bar and watching the sun go down.

Here are some tips for taking the perfect wardrobe:

Lounging

Breathable fabrics like linen are your friend, while nautical stripes are timeless and chic in bold colors or dreamy pastels.

Sightseeing

Choose a flirty, washable mini or maxi dress and lighten your suitcase.

Cocktails

Something sparkly for dancing the night away in Pleasure Island.

The Beach

Look great and keep it together in a practical yet chic one-piece swimsuit. You will not run out of water activities to try, so pack two suits and you’ll always be ready for fun in the sun. A sheer, flowing coverup is perfect for lounging at the hotel bar.

Accessories

Avoid hobbling down San Vitores Road with painful blisters by wearing comfortable, yet chic sandals. The wind is your friend on hot summer days, but control flyaway hair with a stylish scarf or headband. Plus, a generous sized scarf can double as a cover-up on the beach or a shawl in a cold movie theatre.

Rain-proof

Stay dry with style with a chic umbrella, rubber boots, and a lightweight trench coat, especially if you’re visiting during Guam’s rainy season — September through December.

Where to Stay

Pacific Bay Hotel.

The Pacific Bay Hotel continues to provide a home to some of Guam’s favorite restaurants, shops, and an after-hours hot spot, including the VIP Restaurant, Prime Color floral boutique, and Mac n’ Marty’s, a very popular cigar bar that is host to live local entertainment on the weekends and in addition to offering a wide selection of fine cigars, is well known for their specialty shots.

For more information about the Pacific Bay Hotel, which is conveniently located in Tumon Bay, the heart of Guam’s busy tourism industry, please contact the hotel at (671) 649-8001.

SOUTH AMERICA

ECUADOR

Major Expansion of Ecuador Reserve Will Better Protect Over 360 Species of Birds, Other Wildlife

A joint effort among Fundación Jocotoco, Rainforest Trust, American Bird Conservancy (ABC), World Land Trust (WLT), and March Conservation Fund has added 1,187 acres to the Río Canandé Reserve, bringing protection to more than 6,100 acres of forest in the highly threatened Chocó region of northwestern Ecuador.

The expansion resulted from the purchase of six properties adjacent to the existing Río Canandé Reserve in a region that is ranked as the fourth most significant biodiversity hotspot in the world. The reserve is located in a coastal tropical rainforest that extends from southern Colombia to northern Ecuador.
Unfortunately, less than the 10 percent of the original Ecuadorian Chocó forest cover remains intact, due largely to timber extraction and the rapid spread of palm oil plantations located west and south of the reserve. Further contributing to forest degradation are a boom in biofuels development, agricultural activities including creation of pastures, and expansion of settlements. Due to these threats and the diversity of wildlife found nowhere else, the expansion of the Río Canandé Reserve has been a high priority for Ecuador’s Fundación Jocotoco and its partners.

“These additions are a remarkable conservation achievement in Ecuador,” said Rocio Merino, Executive Director of Fundación Jocotoco. “The expansion represents not only the protection of the habitat of the endangered Great Green Macaw, but also the possibility to connect the Río Canandé Reserve with other protected areas that will permit movement for big mammals, birds, primates, and other animals freely and away from hunters or other threats."

The Río Canandé Reserve lies at the heart of an important conservation block in the remaining Chocó forest in Ecuador. The reserve is surrounded by significant tracts of forested land, including the Chachi indigenous territory; a state forestry area that maintains large amounts of intact forest; the buffer zone of the Cotacachi-Cayapas Ecological Reserve; and the nearby El Pambilar Wildlife Refuge, which is a protected area of about 7,413 acres recently created by the Government of Ecuador in a former timber extraction site.

“This is an extremely important area for birds, with more than 360 species observed in the reserve,” said Benjamin Skolnik, Ecuador Program Director for ABC. “A host of those are threatened or near-threatened species, and several are large species that require expanses of intact forest habitat such as those provided though this expansion.”

The reserve and neighboring properties are situated in the Chocó Endemic Bird Area, which has one of the highest numbers of restricted-range species (62) in the world. These forests also have one of the highest concentrations of endemic species—approximately 25 percent of the total species are found nowhere else.
Further, the area contains no fewer than 16 globally threatened and near-threatened species, of which at least 13 occur on the reserve, including Plumbeous Forest-falcon, Great Curassow, Baudó Guan, Great Green Macaw, Banded Ground-cuckoo, Orange-fronted Barbet, Chocó Woodpecker, Guayaquil Woodpecker, Rufous-crowned Antpitta, Long-wattled Umbrellabird, Yellow-green Bush-tanager, Blue-whiskered Tanager,and Scarlet-breasted Dacnis.

“This successful international fundraising effort reflects a common commitment to conservation at the landscape level and is an important milestone in an ongoing process to reconnect the few remaining fragments of Chocó forest in Ecuador,” said David Wright, Head of Conservation Programmes at WLT.

More than 100 mammal species have also been recorded at the reserve, including Jaguar, Brown-headed Spider Monkey, Mantled-howler Monkey, and White-fronted Capuchin. There are also 61 species of amphibians and reptiles, many of which are highly threatened and found only in the Chocó ecosystem.
Rio Canandé is part of the Alliance for Zero Extinction site for the Mache Glass Frog, meaning it is the only place left on earth where this species can be found. The tree diversity in the area is also very high and includes one of the rarest endemic species in Ecuador, Ecuadodendrum acosta-solisianum, which is only known from two locations in the country.

The acquisition of these properties is timely given the imminent construction of a bridge over the Canandé River, which will further facilitate habitat destruction. Up to now, it had been necessary to cross the river using a small ferry, slowing the entry of new settlers to the area. The construction of the bridge in the next months will speed up extraction of wood and likely the development of more oil palm plantations. Increased access to intact forested areas typically has collateral effects of increased wildlife trafficking and hunting, which could greatly diminish populations of several of the large bird species, such as Great Green Macaw and Great Curassow. Fortunately, thanks to the support of WLT and ABC, Jocotoco will be able to hire a new forest guard and undertake management activities to help deter these activities.

For more information check web site www.abcbirds.org -- the American Bird Conservancy is the Western Hemisphere’s bird conservation specialist—the only organization with a single and steadfast commitment to achieving conservation results for native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With a focus on efficiency and working in partnership, we take on the toughest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on sound science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation.

Fundación Jocotoco was established in 1998 to protect the habitat of globally threatened species of birds in the Andes of Ecuador, together with all associated biodiversity. It also carries out habitat restoration of deforested areas for this purpose, and to date has planted well over 800,000 native trees and shrubs.

www.rainforesttrust.org/Rainforest Trust is a nonprofit conservation organization focused on saving rainforest and endangered species in partnership with local conservation leaders and indigenous communities. Since its founding in 1988, Rainforest Trust has saved nearly 8 million acres of rainforest and other tropical habitats and has 85 projects across 22 countries.

www.worldlandtrust.org -- World Land Trust (WLT) is an international conservation charity, which protects the world’s most biologically important and threatened habitats acre by acre. Since its foundation in 1989, WLT has funded partner organizations around the world to create reserves, and give permanent protection to habitats and wildlife.

March Conservation Fund envisions a world of healthy, resilient ecosystems that will sustain wildlife populations in the face of climate change. The Fund expands protected areas, support ecological research, and empower the public to become stewards and advocates for the natural world.

TAHITI

What to See & Do

Tahitian Sacred Oil --- Monoi

Tahitian Monoi, meaning "sacred oil," is a result of enfluerage, the art of extracting active or aromatic ingredients by gently steeping fresh Tiare flowers in refined coconut oil. Tiare flowers, the country's national flower and recognizable symbol, and the coconut used in this process are exclusive to the islands of Tahiti. This 2,000 year old technique has been perfected and used through the ages for cosmetic and pharmacological purposes.

The Monoi Institute, an entity created to establish standards and specifications for Monoi made with Tahiti’s tiare flower, enforces rigorous standards that must be incorporated. This strict quality control is necessary to produce this unique oil which offers a range of holistic skin and hair benefits.

“Tahitian Monoi created in French Polynesia is also called ‘scented oil’ because we use the coconut oil with different types of flowers and trees,” says Eric Vaxelaire, director / vice president to the Institut de Monoi. The Tiare flower, from the gardenia tahitensis family, is in bloom all year round. Its even, snow-white petals contrast with the dark green of the glossy smooth edged leaves. The Tiare’s unique sweet perfume is reminiscent of gardenia and tuberose flowers, with some characteristics of apple tree flowers. This national symbol is also believed to have elements that relieve headaches and earaches, heal wounds, and even cure certain types of eczema.

The other crucial ingredient of the Tahitian Monoi is coconut oil. However, the coconut oil used in the creation process is from a type of coconut that grows exclusively on the coral soil in Tahiti. It is a naturally dried coconut of the Cocos Nuficeras variety that provides the raw oil which would then be refined. The refining process, without adding chemicals, enhances it into a light, high quality oil with a distinctive silky feel.

"In Tahitian culture, Monoi oil is considered to be more than a product. It is something that becomes integrated into your mind and your way of life," said Vaxelaire. "To Polynesians, Monoi is not a product that is in competition with aloe vera or other lotions. Because of Tahiti's remote location in the South Pacific, and our use of only natural products from our country, monoi has its own qualities and characteristics that set it apart from other lotions and oils."

For more information on the Monoi Institute, please visit web site www.monoi-institute.org

Commune of Fakarava

In October, 2006, UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, officially recognized a group of atolls in French Polynesia known as the Commune of Fakarava, as one of 25 newly designated UNESCO Reserve sites. As part of the organization's Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme, the Commune of Fakarava Biosphere Reserve joins an elite chapter of newly designated ecologically sound territories, including: Shatskyi Biosphere Reserve, Ukraine; Lake Chilwa Biosphere Reserve, Malawi; and Kien Giang, Vietnam.

Encompassing the atolls of Aratika, Fakarava, Kauehi, Niau, Raraka, Taiaro and Toau, the Commune de Fakarava is located in French Polynesia's remote Tuamotu archipelago. Sitting northeast of the Society Islands archipelago (which includes Tahiti, Moorea, Huahine, Raiatea, Taha’a, Bora Bora and Maupiti), the Tuamotu archipelago is a group of low lying atolls stretching for hundreds of miles towards the Gambiers Archipelago.

UNESCO established the MAB Programme in 1970 to preserve, protect, and enhance different ecosystem types around the world. The program's goal is to reduce biodiversity loss, improve livelihoods, and enhance social, economic and cultural conditions for environmental sustainability.

Fakarava, the largest, and most populated of the Commune of Fakarava atolls, and the second largest atoll in the islands of Tahiti (after Rangiroa), is home to unexplored "motu" (islets) and rare crustaceans, including squills and sea cicadas. Fakarava is one of the newest territories in French Polynesia to begin developing a tourism infrastructure. Home to 400 residents, Fakarava is considered the first populated center of the entire destination and the ancient capital of the region.

As part of the ongoing UNESCO Reserve designation, the Commune of Fakarava will be actively involved in the protection and socio-economic development that the MAB Program is set to initiate in the region. The designation requires that development plans comply with the traditions, rules, and laws of the region, with a long-term goal of sustaining the ecosystem, preserving the native culture, and enhancing the economy of the region.

Huahine -- A Walk Through History in The Garden of Eden

Huahine, known as Tahiti's "Garden of Eden," has a rich spiritual history and cultural significance for all of Polynesia. The island itself is comprised of two isthmuses – Huahine Nui (“big”) and Huahine Iti (“small”), which are actually connected by a small bridge. The historical and religious significance of the island, and many of its rich traditions, have been documented in a book by author Rick Carroll titled Huahine – Island of the Lost Canoe. The book is based on research by acclaimed Bishop Museum archeologist and one of Polynesia’s most renowned historians, Dr. Yosihiko Sinoto.

Many of Huahine’s historical sites and marae (ancient stone temples) can be seen via spectacular hikes through the island's lush interior. The most popular hike on Huahine is a 2.5 mile winding trek that loops around Mata’ire’a Hill on Huahine Nui. On this particular path, hikers can see many ancient marae, the historical Te Ana complex, and a temple at the top of the hill which offers a spectacular panorama encompassing breathtaking vistas from Huahine’s reef runway, to Lake Fauna Nui, the town of Maeva, and of the Pacific Ocean.

The trailhead starts just beyond Fare Pote'e, (which translates as “the oval house”), an ancient meeting house that has been restored as a museum and interpretive center. Fare Pote'e sits on the ocean side of the road to Maeva. The start of the hike leads into a lush jungle area past vanilla pines and breadfruit trees, which were once used to carve canoe hulls. Just before climbing Mata'ire'a Hill, a small wall made of marae stones built in 1846 to defend the island from the French can be seen as well as stone structures dating from 1600 to 1800 A.D. .

Next on the hike is the ancient Te Ana Complex site, where 35 marae and hundreds of ancient residential and agricultural structures once stood. After passing a grove with pale green vanilla vines and breadfruit trees, a 43-foot long coral and basalt rectangle marae site, the Marae Tefano, sprawls under the shadow of a giant banyan tree with extensive roots.

Just past the Marae Tefano is Marae Mata'ire'arahi, a religious site dedicated to the powerful god, Tane, once reverently worshipped on Huahine. This site was the most important temple in the Society Islands prior to the building of Taputapuatea on the island of Raiatea. According to oral tradition, when Taputapuatea was about to be built, stones from Mata'ire'arahi were transported to the Taputapuatea building site to ensure that the new temple would retain the old temple’s power.

The next point of interest on the hike is Marae Paepae Ofata, a site offering a panoramic view of Huahine Nui, Lake Fauna Nui, the Pacific Ocean and island reef, and Huahine Iti. From there, a dirt road descends to join the main road near Marae Te Ava, which leads to the lagoon where Marae Fare Miro, a beautiful example of Polynesian stonework, sits. Near the village in the lagoon, V-shaped stone fish traps are visible, still used today by the islands local residents.

From there, crossing the lagoon bridge in the town of Maeva, a large rectangle building dedicated to the god Tane, known as Marae Manunu, is visible. An expansive coastal marae sits on the south shore of Huahine Iti. Known as Marais Anini, this is a place where, historically sacrifices (including human) to the god of war, Oro, took place.

Saying “I Do” Again in Tahiti

Getting married in paradise may be a dream for many North Americans, but it's still not a reality yet for travelers to Tahiti. As a French territory, Tahitian wedding ceremonies for North American citizens aren't legally binding in the U.S. However, that hasn't stopped those such as golfing legend Phil Mickelson and actor Dustin Hoffman from participating with their spouse in a traditional Tahitian Wedding Ceremony. On a break in his hectic playing schedule recently, Mickelson vacationed in Bora Bora, where he and his wife reinforced their commitment to one another via a traditional Tahitian wedding vow renewal ceremony.

Since the ceremonies are not legally binding (and as a result, not officially “recorded”), an accurate number of how many each year are performed is elusive. However, many of Tahiti’s resorts, who traditionally offer and arrange the ceremonies, are reporting a steady increase.

Although there are many different types of ceremonies, they traditionally begin with the bride being treated to a soothing massage by her Tahitian “bridesmaid” using soothing monoi oil, while being sung to and adorned with fragrant flowers like a Tahitian princess. Meanwhile, the groom is taken to a motu (small islet) via outrigger canoe, painted with tattoos and given a crown of tropical leaves. The bride wears a traditional Tahitian wedding pareu and a flowered headpiece.

The wedding vow renewal ceremony is conducted in Tahitian by a priest and each couple is given a Tahitian name and a name for their first born child. A Tahitian marriage certificate made of tapa cloth parchment, is presented while village women sing hymns. The ceremony is often followed by a romantic sunset cruise where the bride and groom continue to be serenaded by soft Tahitian music.

The traditional Tahitian wedding ceremonies can easily be arranged through many of Tahiti’s tour operators, hotels, and cruise lines throughout the destination. Although not legally binding, these ceremonies are popular for people on their honeymoons and those celebrating their anniversaries.

A Taste of Tahiti

Need to unwind, but just can't find the time to get away? How about a “Tahitian Midnight Rendezvous”? It's just one of many tasty and colorful cocktails highlighted in Cocktails in Tahiti, a newly released book by author Richard Bondurant. Equal parts Tahiti travel guide, party planner, and coffee-table keepsake, Cocktails in Tahiti features stunning photos - of both the destination and its drinks - as well as information about islands like Bora Bora, Moorea, and Tahiti and cocktail recipes from some of the islands' signature resorts.

From the familiar “Maitai,” to the playful "Tahiti Bikini" (Tahitian rum and pineapple juice), to the tempting "Toe To Toe," Cocktails in Tahiti quenches readers' thirst for Tahiti travel information, while offering a taste of Tahiti that can be enjoyed at home. Featuring over 50 delicious drinks as well as a number of resort profiles, Cocktails in Tahiti may just be the next best thing to visiting the Tahitian islands on holiday. The book is available now at Amazon.com, Target.com, and other leading book retailers. For more information, visit www.CocktailsInTahiti.com.

For more information, check web site www.tourisme.com

The History of Polynesia

Theories documenting the development of French Polynesia are numerous, and often debated. However, some theories are more credible, based on existing evidence and research. This account is one of those considered more credible.

Around 4000 B.C., a great migration began from Southeast Asia across open ocean to settle the Pacific Islands. Many researchers conclude that Tonga and Samoa were settled around 1300 B.C. and from here, colonization voyages were launched to the Marquesas islands in about 200 B.C. over the next centuries, great migrations to colonize all the Tahitian Islands and virtually the entire South Pacific took place. This area is now called the "Polynesian Triangle" and includes Hawaii to the north, Easter Island to the southeast, and New Zealand to the southwest. As a result of these migrations, native Hawaiians and the Maoris of New Zealand all originate from common ancestors and speak a similar language collectively known as Maohi.

The era of European exploration began in the 1500s when ships without outriggers began to arrive. In 1521, Magellan spotted the atoll of Pukapuka in what is now the Tuamotu Atolls and, in 1595, the Spanish explorer Mendana visited the island of Fatu Hiva in the Marquesas Archipelago. More than 170 years later, Captain Samuel Wallis aboard the HMS Dolphin was the first to visit the island of Tahiti during his journey to discover terra austrilis incognita, a mythical land mass below the equator thought to balance the Northern Hemisphere. Wallis named Tahiti "King George III Island" and claimed it for England. Soon after, and unaware of Wallis' arrival, French navigator Louis-Antoine de Bougainville landed on the opposite side of Tahiti and claimed it for the King of France. European fascination with the islands grew as news spread of both the mutiny of Captain William Bligh's crew aboard the HMS Bounty and tales of the beauty and nature of the Tahitian people. Knowledge of Tahiti in the South Pacific continue to grow as Captain James Cook brought back illustrations of Tahitian flora and fauna in the first map of the islands of the Pacific. In the 1800s, the arrival of whalers, British missionaries, and French military expeditions forever changed the way of life on Tahiti and created a French-British rivalry for control of the islands.

The Pomare Dynasty ruled Tahiti until 1847 when Queen Pomare accepted French protection of the islands of Tahiti and Moorea. Following the Queen's death, King Pomare V was persuaded to cede Tahiti and most of its dependencies to France. By 1957, all the islands of Tahiti were reconstituted as the overseas French territory called French Polynesia. French Polynesia is now a French Overseas Country with self-governing powers and a mission to provide for her people through commerce and investment.

Tahiti - Moorea International Marathon

Imagine running along a breathtaking coastal road that parts the lush green mountains from the sky blue lagoon and deep blue ocean. Those who have competed in the marathon along the coast of Moorea from Temae beach and across the bays of Cook and Opunohu can guarantee that imagination cannot compete with reality.

Annually, since 1988, athletes from Tahiti and around the world are offered the chance to participate in this unmatchable experience: The Tahiti-Moorea International Marathon.

The distant ancestor of this widely participated event, created in 1971, took place on the island of Tahiti. This marathon, the first official marathon of the country, was organized as a result of the 4th “South Pacific Games.” Although the marathon was originally only for those from the region, the organizers finally opened it up to international contestants after ten years.

The marathon was transformed into the celebrated event we know of today. This marathon comprises of four types of races: the 42km, 21km, 5km, and the Family Run. All four runs start at Temae Beach and trace the beautiful bays of Cook and Opunohu. The Moorea Youth and Sports Agency, the primary organizer of this event, expects at least 2,000 athletes this year, including 200 foreigners. The agency is actively striving to increase this international number. To push the marathon to an even higher international level, Te Moorea Club, a supporting association of the marathon, recently initiated a heavy promotional campaign in cities such as Paris, Monaco, London, and Las Vegas.

However, those who are not as into running mustn’t worry. The Tahiti-Moorea International Marathon is more than what the name suggests; it also consists of concerts, fireworks and many fun-filled local Tahitian activities. Besides widening the international awareness of Tahiti as a sporting destination, the marathon also showcases the island of Moorea and the culture within the islands of Tahiti.

For more information, visit www.MooreaEvents.org

Thalassotherapy – Drawing on the Benefits of Deep Ocean Seawater

Thalassotherapy, from a combination of the Greek words thalassos, or "sea," and therapeia, or “therapy,” relates to the medical use of seawater and marine elements in physical treatment processes. The properties of seawater are believed to have beneficial effects upon the pores of the skin as well as preventative and curative properties for the body.

Developed in seaside towns in France during the 19th century, Thalassotherapy incorporates deep seawater which naturally contains trace elements of magnesium, potassium, calcium sulphates and sodium. Slowly enriched by submarine life, the mineral composition of deep water is close to that of blood plasma.

In Thalassotherapy spa treatments, the water is carefully heated to a temperature approaching that of the body. The high bio-similarity with that of the human body allows the active marine ingredients contained in the deep seawater to be effectively absorbed for perfect mineralization.

The therapy can be applied in various forms, such as showers of warmed seawater, applications of marine mud or of algae paste, or the inhalation of sea fog. Thalassotherapy is believed to lessen the effects of hypertension, arteriosclerosis, asthma, bronchitis, muscle atrophy, scabies, and arthritis.

Algotherm, a French-based pioneer of marine cosmetics and Thalassotherapy treatments, has established the first Thalassotherapy spa in Tahiti. Located at the InterContinental hotel in Bora Bora, the company’s Deep Ocean Spa opened in the summer of 2006, and incorporates pure seawater drawn from the depths of the Pacific Ocean at more than 3,000 feet.

For more information, please contact media@tahiti-tourisme.com
                                           

 

 

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