Oceanic Attractions

Oceanic Attractions

Top Ten Wallis and Futuna Attractions

Top Ten Wallis and Futuna Attractions

       Wallis and Futuna, officially the Territory of the Wallis and Futuna Islands, is a Polynesian French island territory in the South Pacific between Tuvalu to the northwest, Rotuma of Fiji to the west, the main part of Fiji to the southwest, Tonga to the southeast, Samoa to the east, the New Zealand-associated state of Tokelau to the northeast and to a more distant north the Phoenix Islands (Kiribati). (However, Wallis and Futuna is not part of, nor even contiguous with, French Polynesia. Wallis and Futuna is located at the very opposite western end of Polynesia.) Its land area is 264 km2 with a population of about 15,000. Mata-Utu is the capital and biggest city. The territory is made up of three main volcanic tropical islands along with a number of tiny islets, and is split into two island groups that lie about 260 km apart, namely Wallis Islands (Uvea) in the northeast, and Hoorn Islands (Futuna Islands) in the southwest, including Futuna Island proper and the mostly uninhabited Alofi Island. Since 2003 Wallis and Futuna has been a French overseas collectivity (collectivité d’outre-mer, or COM). Between 1961 and 2003, it had the status of a French overseas territory (territoire d’outre-mer, or TOM).

  1. Talietumu Fort

    Talietumu or more correctly Kolo Nui is an archaeological site in Wallis and Futuna in the southwestern part of the Pacific Ocean. Talietumu is situated about 9 km (5.6 mi) southwest of the capital of Mata-Utu and northeast of Halalo in the Mu’a district on Wallis Island (Uvea). The site was a fortified Tongan settlement called Kolo Nui and the whole fortress is surrounded by a strong defensive wall build of basalt with several entrances. Inside the fort there are a few preserved buildings and structures, lawns and the central elevated platform called Talietumu (a Marae or Mala´e, “Sacred Place.” The platform is of circular prolonged shape upon a circular stockade base. Raised walkways paved in stone start from the mala’e and radiate outward from within the fort. The fort was built around 1450 AD during the expansion of the Tu’i Tonga Empire and it was the last holdout of the Tongans on Uvea until they were defeated. French archaeologists Daniel Frimigacci, Jean-Pierre Siorat and Maurice Hardy of the French CNRS (Centre national de la recherche scientifique) spent several years restoring the central platform using original techniques and completed that work around 1997. The platform now measures about 5 meters in height and about 80 m in length (6). Today the ruins of the fortress are a popular tourist attraction.
    Links: Top Ten Forts, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talietumu,
  2. Lake Lalolalo on ʻUvea

    Links: Top Ten Lakes, Top Ten Oceanic Lakes,
  3. Links: Top Ten Islands, Top Ten Oceanic Islands, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wallis_and_Futuna,

Top Ten Vanuatuan Attractions

Top Ten Vanuatuan Attractions

V1Men looking for fish

       Vanuatu is an island nation located in the South Pacific Ocean. The archipelago, which is of volcanic origin, is some 1,750 km (1,090 mi) east of northern Australia, 500 km (310 mi) northeast of New Caledonia, west of Fiji, and southeast of the Solomon Islands, near New Guinea.Vanuatu was first inhabited by Melanesian people. Europeans discovered the islands in 1605 with the arrival of a Spanish expedition led by Fernandes de Queirós in Espiritu Santo. In the 1880’s France and the UK claimed parts of the country, and in 1906 they agreed on a framework for jointly managing the archipelago as the New Hebridesthrough a British-French Condominium. An independence movement arose in the 1970’s, and the Republic of Vanuatu was created in 1980.

  1. The SS President Coolidge

    The SS President Coolidge was a luxury ocean liner that was originally built, along with her sister ship the SS President Hoover, for Dollar Steamship Lines. They were the largest merchant ships the US had built up to that time. In 1938, when the Dollar Steamship Lines collapsed, she was transferred to American President Lines. In 1941 she was converted to carrying troops in the South Pacific. Launched in February 1931, the SS President Coolidge was built by Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Co. in Newport News, Virginia, U.S. Prior to WWII, she was operated by the American President Lines as a luxury liner providing trans-Pacific passage and commercial service. The Coolidge was aimed at holiday makers seeking sun in the Pacific and Far East. During her time as a luxury liner, she broke several speed records on her frequent trips to Japan from San Francisco. Passengers had a luxurious experience on the ship with spacious staterooms and lounges, private telephones, two saltwater swimming pools, a barber shop, beauty salon, gymnasium and soda fountain. During WWII a mine struck and sank the ship off the coast of Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu. Divers see a largely intact luxury cruise liner and a military ship at once. They can swim through numerous holds and decks (earthquakes have collapsed sections). There are guns, cannons, Jeeps, helmets, trucks and personal supplies, a beautiful statue of “The Lady” (a porcelain relief of a lady riding a unicorn) chandeliers and a mosaic tile fountain. Coral grows around, with many creatures such as reef fish, barracuda, lionfish, sea turtles and moray eels. Lying on her side in 21-73m (70 – 240 ft) of water, the Coolidge is perhaps the most accessible shipwreck of this size and type. The wreck is one of the most desirable dives due to relatively shallow site, easy beach access, visibility. The depths involved mean that, with care and decompression stops, recreational divers can explore large parts of the wreck without specialized equipment. The massive expanse of the wreck, combined with the gradual downward slope, means that care must be taken monitoring depth, as the diver’s horizontal frame of reference may be skewed resulting in unaware continual gradual descent. The Times named the President Coolidge as one of the top ten wreck diving sites in the world
    Links: Top Ten Wreck Diving Sites, Top Ten Diving Sites, Top Ten Unique Swimming Destinations, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_President_Coolidge,
  2. Champagne Beach

           Champagne Beach is a popular beach located on the island of Espiritu Santo in Vanuatu. It is famous for its beautiful white sandy beaches, one of the best in the South Pacific. It is visited regularly by tourists and cruise boats from Australia. Its waters are very clear. Champagne Beach is located in adjacent and close proximity to Hog Harbour village on the northeast of Santo. This beach was named “Champagne Beach” because of the small gas bubbles that continuously rise from the volcanic sea floor creating fantastic underwater scenery, which is with combination of crystal clear water and extensive marine life is perfect for snorkeling and diving.
    Links: Top 100 Beaches, Top Ten Oceanic Beaches, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Champagne_Beach,
  3. Chief Roi Mata’s Domain

           Roy Mata was a powerful 13th century Melanesian chief from what is now Vanuatu. His elaborate grave, containing the bodies of over 25 members of his retinue, was discovered by French archaeologist Jose Garranger in 1967 and inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2008. Garranger was able to locate the grave on Retoka island by analyzing local folklore. According to legend, when Roy Mata conquered the land, his first goal was to unite the tribes. His reign is reputed to have been a peaceful one. Sadly, Roy Mata was poisoned to death by his brother, but his body was not buried on his homeland because the locals feared his spirit. To this date, the name Roy Mata is never used. In 2008, three sites associated with Roy Mata, on the islands of Efate, Lelepa and Artok, were made UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chief_Roi_Mata%E2%80%99s_Domain,
  4. Vatthe Conservation Area

    Links: Top Ten Volcanoes,
  5. The Nowon and Votwos of Ureparapara

           Ureparapara (also known as Parapara for short) is the 3rd largest island in the Banks Group in northern Vanuatu, after Gaua and Vanua Lava. It is an old volcanic cone that has been breached by the sea on its east coast, forming Divers Bay. Apart from this indentation, the island is circular in shape, with a diameter of eight kilometers. The land area is 39 km². The population was 437 in 2009.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ureparapara,
  6. Yalo, Apialo and the sacred geography of Northwest Malakula

    Malakula Island, also spelled Malekula, is the 2nd largest island in the nation of Vanuatu, in the Pacific Ocean region of Melanesia. Its name, coined by James Cook, is apparently derived from the French mal au cul (literally, pain in the ass) and was inspired by the presence of cannibals, volcanic activity and other unpleasant features of the island at the time of its discovery.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malakula,
  7. Lake Letas

           Lake Letas is the largest lake in Vanuatu, located in the center of the volcanic island of Gaua of the Banks Islands in northern Vanuatu. The lake is U-shaped, surrounding Mount Gharat on all sides except southwest. It is about 9 km long (north to south) and about 6 km wide, with an area of 19 km². It is situated in the center of the 20 km diameter island, and rests about 600 meters above sea level and it is about 360 meters deep. It is a fresh water lake with a temperature of 32° Celsius, where only eels and shrimps can survive. The water in the lake is not very clear, but has a greenish color. Water constantly flows out of the lake at a natural overflow located on the eastern side of the lake. The water flows about 3 km east to Siri Waterfall and then another 3 km through Namang or Mbe Solomul River before it reaches the sea. Local people say there is a canoe at the top of the lake which is used to cross the lake from the eastern side to get to Mount Gharat. The canoe is sometimes located on the eastern edge of the lake (near the water overflow), or sometimes on the north-eastern edge of the lake (nearest Gaua Airport). A rough estimate of the water flow rate out of the lake (during the dry season month of August 2006) was approximately 3 cubic meters per second. In the 1980’s it was suggested that the lake could be used as a resource for power generation to supply industrial developments but later the Tourism Council of the South Pacific has suggested that the lake should be included in Vanuatu’s protected area system.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Letas,
  8. Links: Islands, Top Ten Oceanic Islands, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vanuatu,

Top Ten Solomon Islands Attractions

Top Ten Solomon Islands Attractions

       Solomon Islands is a sovereign state in Oceania, east of Papua New Guinea, consisting of nearly 1,000 islands. It covers a land mass of 28,400 square km (10,965 square mi). The capital,Honiara, is located on the island of Guadalcanal. The nation of the Solomon Islands is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. The Solomon Islands are believed to have been inhabited by Melanesian people for many thousands of years. Spanish navigator Alvaro de Mendaña discovered the islands in 1568 and named them Islas Salomon. The UK established a protectorate over the Solomon Islands in 1893. During WWII there was fierce fighting between the Americans and the Japanese in the Solomon Islands campaign of 1942–45, including the Battle of Guadalcanal. Self-government was achieved in 1976 and independence two years later. The Solomon Islands is a constitutional monarchy with the Queen of the Solomon Islands, at present Elizabeth II, as the head of state.

  1. East Rennell

           East Rennell is the southern portion of Rennell Island in the Solomon Islands is the largest raised coral atoll in the world and the area in East Rennell surrounding Lake Tegano contains many endemic species.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/East_Rennell,
  2. Links: Top Ten Explorers, Top Ten Islands, Top Ten Oceanic Islandshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solomon_islands,

Top Ten Samoan Attractions

Top Ten Samoan Attractions

       Samoa, formerly known as Western Samoa, is a country encompassing the western part of the Samoan Islands in the South Pacific Ocean. It became independent from New Zealand in 1962. The two main islands of Samoa are Upolu and one of the biggest islands in Polynesia, Savai’i. The capital city, Apia, and Faleolo International Airport are situated on the island of Upolu. Samoa was admitted to the United Nations on December 15, 1976. The entire island group, inclusive of American Samoa, was called Navigators Islands by European explorers before the 20th century because of the Samoans’ seafaring skills

  1. Falefa Valley

           Falefa Valley is situated inland on the east side of Upolu Island in Samoa. The area has been excavated and studied by archaeologists, in particular a New Zealand team led by Roger Curtis Green and Janet Davidson. Towards the north of the valley is Falefa village. The valley is situated in the political district of Atua. To the north east is the smaller district of Va’a-o-Fonoti which includes an extensive conservation area. A main island highway runs north to south on the east side of the valley connecting the north coast of the island to the east and south coast settlements including the Aleipata Islands and Lotofaga.
    Links: Top Ten Valleys, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falefa_Valley,
  2. Links: Top Ten Islands, Top Ten Oceanic Islands,

Top Ten Papua New Guinean Attractions

Top Ten Papua New Guinean Attractions

       Papua New Guinea is a country in Oceania, occupying the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and numerous offshore islands (the western portion of the island is a part of the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua). It is located in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, in a region defined since the early 19th century as Melanesia. The capital is Port Moresby. Papua New Guinea is one of the most culturally diverse countries on Earth, with over 850 indigenous languages and at least as many traditional societies, out of a population of just under seven million. It is also one of the most rural, as only 18% of its people live in urban centers. The country is one of the world’s least explored, culturally and geographically, and many undiscovered species of plants and animals are thought to exist in the interior of Papua New Guinea. The majority of the population live in traditional societies and practice subsistence-based agriculture. These societies and clans have some explicit acknowledgement within the nation’s constitutional framework. The PNG Constitution expresses the wish for “traditional villages and communities to remain as viable units of Papua New Guinean society,” and for active steps to be taken in their preservation. After being ruled by three external powers since 1884,Papua New Guinea gained its independence from Australia in 1975. It remains a realm of Her Majesty Elizabeth II, Queen of Papua New Guinea. Many people live in extreme poverty, with about one third of the population living on less than US$1.25 per day.

  1. Kuk Early Agricultural Site

           Kuk Swamp is an archaeological site in New Guinea. Evidence for early agricultural drainage systems was found here, beginning about 9,000 years ago.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kuk_Swamp,
  2. Links: Top Ten Islands, Top Ten Oceanic Islands, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papua_New_Guinea,

Top Ten New Zealand Attractions

Top Ten New Zealand Attractions

New Zealand, Aotearoa in Māori, is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses (the North Island and the South Island) and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some 1,500 km (900 mi) east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly 1,000 km (600 mi) south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji and Tonga. Due to its remoteness, it was one of the last lands to be settled by humans. During its long isolation, New Zealand developed a distinctive fauna dominated by birds, many of which became extinct after the arrival of humans and introduced mammals. With a mild maritime climate, the land was mostly covered in forest. The country’s varied topography and its sharp mountain peaks owe much to the uplift of land and volcanic eruptions caused by the Pacific and Indo-Australian Plates clashing underfoot. Polynesians settled New Zealand in 1250–1300 AD and developed a distinctive Māori culture, with Europeans first making contact in 1642 AD. The introduction of potatoes and muskets triggered upheaval among Māori early during the 19th century, which led to the inter-tribal Musket Wars. In 1840 the British and Māori signed a treaty making New Zealand a colony of the British Empire. Immigrant numbers increased sharply and conflicts escalated into the Land Wars, which resulted in much Māori land being confiscated in the mid North Island. Economic depressions were followed by periods of political reform, with women gaining the vote during the 1890’s and a welfare state being established from the 1930’s. New Zealanders enjoyed one of the highest standards of living in the world in the 1950’s, but the 1970’s saw a deep recession, worsened by oil shocks and the UK’s entry into the European Economic Community. The country underwent major economic changes during the 1980’s, which transformed it from a protectionist to a liberalized free-trade economy. Markets for New Zealand’s agricultural exports have diversified greatly since the 1970’s, with once-dominant exports of wool being overtaken by dairy products, meat and recently wine. The majority of New Zealand’s population is of European descent; the indigenous Māori are the largest minority, followed by Asians and non-Māori Polynesians. English, Māori and New Zealand Sign Language are the official languages, with English predominant. Much of New Zealand’s culture is derived from Māori and early British settlers. Early European art was dominated by landscapes and to a lesser extent portraits of Māori. A recent resurgence of Māori culture has seen their traditional arts of carving, weaving and tattooing become more mainstream. Many artists now combine Māori and Western techniques to create unique art forms. The country’s culture has also been broadened by globalization and increased immigration from the Pacific Islands and Asia. New Zealand’s diverse landscape provides many opportunities for outdoor pursuits and has provided the backdrop for a number of big budget movies. Nationally, executive political power is exercised by the Cabinet, led by the Prime Minister. Queen Elizabeth II is the country’s head of state and is represented by a Governor-General. The Queen’s Realm of New Zealand also includes Tokelau (a dependent territory); the Cook Islands and Niue (self-governing but in free association); and the Ross Dependency, New Zealand’s territorial claim in Antarctica.

  1. Auckland

           The Auckland metropolitan area, in the North Island of New Zealand, is the largest and most populous urban area in the country with 1,354,900 residents, 31% of the country’s population. Auckland also has the largest Polynesian population of any city in the world. In Māori Auckland’s name is Tāmaki Makaurau, or the transliterated version of Auckland, Ākarana. The 2010 Mercer Quality of Living Survey ranked Auckland 4th equal place in the world on its list, while The Economist’s World’s Most Livable Cities index of 2010 ranked Auckland in 10th place. In 2008, Auckland was classified as an Alpha World City in the World Cities Study Group’s inventory by Loughborough University. Auckland lies between the Hauraki Gulf of the Pacific Ocean to the east, the low Hunua Ranges to the south-east, the Manukau Harbour to the south-west, and the Waitakere Ranges and smaller ranges to the west and north-west. The central part of the urban area occupies a narrow isthmus between the Manukau Harbor on the Tasman Sea and the Waitemata Harbor on the Pacific Ocean. It is one of the few cities in the world to have harbors on two separate major bodies of water.
    Links: Cities, Top Ten Oceanic Cities, Top Ten Clock Towers, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auckland,
  2. Te Wahipounamu

           Te Wāhipounamu, Māori for “the place of greenstone” is a World Heritage site in the south west corner of the South Island of New Zealand, which incorporates several National Parks, including; Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, Westland/Tai Poutini National Park, Mount Aspiring National Park and Fiordland National Park. It is believed to contain some of the best modern representations of the original flora and fauna present in Gondwanaland
    Links: National Parks, Top Ten Oceanic National Parkshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Te_Wahipounamu, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aoraki/Mount_Cook_National_Park, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiordland_National_Park, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Aspiring_National_Park, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westland_National_Park,
  3. Wellington
    CroppedImage1136665-Wellington-City-Dawn-homepagelanding-Dillon-AndersonFile:Pou Whenua in Mount Victoria, Wellington, New Zealand.jpgFile:Wellington-27-05-08.jpgWellington Cable CarFile:Parlamento da Nova Zelândia.jpg
           Wellington is the capital city and second most populous urban area of New Zealand after Auckland. It is at the southwestern tip of the North Island, between Cook Strait and the Rimutaka Range. It is home to 393,400 residents. The Wellington urban area is the major population center of the southern North Island, and is the seat of the Wellington Region, which in addition to the urban area covers the Kapiti Coast and Wairarapa. The urban area includes four cities: Wellington, on the peninsula between Cook Strait and Wellington Harbor  contains the central business district and about half of Wellington’s population; Porirua on Porirua Harbor to the north is notable for its large Māori and Pacific Island communities; Lower Hutt and Upper Hutt are largely suburban areas to the northeast, together known as the Hutt Valley. Wellington also holds the distinction of being the world’s southernmost capital city. In 2008, Wellington was classified as a Gamma World City in the World Cities Study Group’s inventory by Loughborough University. The 2010 Mercer Quality of Living Survey ranked Wellington 12th in the world. In 2011 Lonely Planet Best in Travel 2011 named Wellington as fourth in its Top 10 Cities to Visit in 2011, referring to the New Zealand capital as the “coolest little capital in the world.”
    Links: Cities, Top Ten Oceanic Cities, Top Ten Museums, Top Ten Oceanic Museumshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wellington,
  4. Tokelau

          Tokelau is a territory of New Zealand in the South Pacific Ocean that consists of three tropical coral atolls with a combined land area of 10 square km and a population of approximately 1,400. The atolls lie north of the Samoan Islands, east of Tuvalu, south of the Phoenix Islands, southwest of the more distant Line Islands (both island groups belonging to Kiribati) and northwest of the Cook Islands. The United Nations General Assembly designated Tokelau a Non-Self-Governing Territory. Until 1976 the official name was Tokelau Islands. Tokelau is sometimes referred to by the older, colonial name of The Union Islands.
    Links: Islands, Top Ten Oceanic Islands,
  5. Tongariro National Park

           Tongariro National Park is the oldest national park in New Zealand, located in the central North Island. It has been acknowledged by UNESCO as one of the 28 mixed cultural and natural World Heritage Sites. Tongariro National Park was the 4th national park established in the world. The active volcanic mountains Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro are located in the centre of the park. There are a number of Māori religious sites within the park and the summits of Tongariro, including Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu, are tapu (sacred). The park includes many towns around its boundary including Ohakune, Waiouru, Horopito, Pokaka, Erua, National Park Village, Whakapapa skifield and Turangi.
    Links: National Parks, Top Ten Oceanic National Parks, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tongariro_National_Park,
  6. New Zealand Sub-Antarctic Islands

    The five southernmost groups of the New Zealand Outlying Islands form the New Zealand Sub-Antarctic islands.  Most of the islands are located near the southeast edge of the largely submerged continent centered on New Zealand called Zealandia, which rifted away from Australia 60-85 million years ago and from Antarctica between 130 and 85 million years ago. Until 1995, scientific research staff were stationed permanently at a meteorological station on Campbell Island. Since then, the islands are uninhabited. The islands are: Antipodes Islands: main island, plus Bollons Island, the Windward Islands, Orde Lees Island, Leeward Island, and South Islet, plus minor rocks; Auckland Islands: Auckland Island, Adams Island, Disappointment Island, Enderby Island, Ewing Island and Rose Island, plus minor rocks; Bounty Islands: two small groups of islets, the Western Group and the Eastern Group, plus minor rocks; Campbell Island group: Campbell Island, the main island, plus several minor rocks and small islets surrounding Campbell Island, including New Zealand’s southernmost point, Jacquemart Island; and The Snares: Northeast Island, High Island, Broughton Island, Alert Stack, Tahi, Rua, Toru, Wha, and Rima, plus minor rocks. New Zealand also has territorial claims, held in abeyance under the Antarctic Treaty System, over several islands close to the Antarctic mainland, including: Ross Island and the rest of the Ross Archipelago; Balleny Islands: Young Island, Buckle Island and Sturge Island, plus several smaller islets; Roosevelt Island, Scott Island and Haggits Pillar. Of these, Ross Island is inhabited by the scientific staff of several research stations, notably at McMurdo Sound and Scott Base.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Zealand_sub-antarctic_islands,
  7. Niue

    Niue is an island country in the South Pacific Ocean. It is commonly known as the “Rock of Polynesia,” and inhabitants of the island call it “the Rock” for short. Niue is 2,400 km (1,500 mi) northeast of New Zealand in a triangle between Tonga to the southwest, the Samoas to the northwest and the Cook Islands to the southeast. The land area is 260 square km (100 square mi) with about 1,400 people who are predominantly Polynesian. Though self-governing, Niue is in free association with New Zealand, and lacks full sovereignty. All Niueans are New Zealand citizens and Queen Elizabeth II is Niue’s head of state in her capacity as Queen of New Zealand. Most diplomatic relations are conducted by New Zealand on Niue’s behalf. 90-95% of Niuean people live in New Zealand, along with about 70% of the speakers of the Niuean language. In 2003, Niue became the world’s first “WiFi nation,” in which free wireless Internet access is provided throughout the country by The Internet Users Society-Niue.
    Links: Top Ten Islands, Top Ten Oceanic Islands,
  8. Links: Top Ten New Zealand Hotels, Top Ten New Zealand Restaurants, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_zealand,

Recommendations for Trekking in New Zealand

Top Ten New Caledonian Attractions

Top Ten New Caledonian Attractions

       New Caledonia is a special collectivity of France located in the southwest Pacific Ocean, 1,500 km (930 mi) east of Australia and about 20,000 km (12,000 mi) from Metropolitan France. The archipelago, part of the Melanesia sub-region  includes the main island of Grande Terre, the Loyalty Islands, the Belep archipelago, the Isle of Pines and a few remote islets. The Chesterfield Islands in the Coral Sea are also part of New Caledonia. Locals refer to Grand Terre as “Le Caillou,” the rock. New Caledonia has a land area of 18,576 square km (7,172 square mi). The population in 2011 is 256,275. The capital and the only sizable city of the territory is Nouméa.

  1. New Caledonia Reef

    The New Caledonia Barrier Reef is located in New Caledonia in the South Pacific, and is the second-longest double-barrier coral reef in the world, after Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. The New Caledonia Barrier reef surrounds Grande Terre, New Caledonia’s largest island, as well as the Ile des Pins and several smaller islands, reaching a length of 1,500 km (930 mi). The reef encloses a lagoon of 24,000 square km (9,300 sq mi), which has an average depth of 25 m (82 ft). The reefs lie up to 30 km (19 mi) from the shore, but extend almost 200 km (120 mi) to the Entrecasteaux reefs in the northwest. This northwestern extension encloses the Belep Islands and other sand cays. Several natural passages open out to the ocean. The Boulari passage, which leads to Noumea, the capital and chief port of New Caledonia, is marked by the Amédée lighthouse. The reef has great species diversity with a high level of endemism, and is home to endangered dugongs (Dugong dugon), and is an important nesting site for green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas). Most of the reefs are generally thought to be in good health. Some of the eastern reefs have been damaged by effluent from nickel mining on Grand Terre. Sedimentation from mining, agriculture, and grazing has affected reefs near river mouths, which has been worsened by the destruction of mangrove forests, which help to retain sediment. Some reefs have been buried under several meters of silt. In the lagoons of New Caledonia there are many water species ranging from plankton to larger fish and even sharks. In January 2002, the French government proposed listing New Caledonia’s reefs as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. UNESCO listed New Caledonia Barrier Reef on the World Heritage List under the name The Lagoons of New Caledonia: Reef Diversity and Associated Ecosystems on 7 July 2008.
    Links: Top Ten Reefs, Top 100 Fishhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Caledonia_Barrier_Reef,
  2. Nouméa

           Nouméa is the capital city of the French territory of New Caledonia. It is situated on a peninsula in the south of New Caledonia’s main island, Grande Terre, and is home to the majority of the island’s European, Polynesian (Wallisians, Futunians, Tahitians), Indonesian and Vietnamese populations, as well as many Melanesians, Ni-Vanuatu and Kanaks that work in one of the South Pacific’s most industrialized cities. The city lies on a protected deep water harbor which serves as the chief port for New Caledonia. The population of the city was 97,579 (2009), up from 76,293 in 1996. 66.7% of the population of New Caledonia live in Greater Nouméa, which covers the communes of Nouméa, Le Mont-Dore, Dumbéa and Païta.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noum%C3%A9a,
  3. Grande Terre

  4. Links: Islands, Top Ten Oceanic Islands, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Caledonia,

Top Ten Kiribati Attractions

Top Ten Kiribati Attractions

        Kiribati is an island nation located in the central tropical Pacific Ocean. The permanent population exceeds just over 100,000 (2011), and is composed of 32 atolls and one raised coral island, dispersed over 3.5 million square km (1,351,000 square miles) straddling the equator, and bordering the International Date Line at its easternmost point. The name Kiribati is the local pronunciation of “Gilberts,” derived from the main island chain, the Gilbert Islands. The capital of South Tarawa consists of a number of islets connected through a series of causeways, located in the Tarawa archipelago. Kiribati became independent from the UK in 1979.

  1. Phoenix Islands Protected Area

    The Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA) is located in the Republic of Kiribati, an ocean nation in the central Pacific approximately midway between Australia and Hawaii. PIPA constitutes 11.34% of Kiribati’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and with a size of 408,250 square km (157,626 square miles) it is the largest marine protected area (MPA) in the Pacific Ocean. PIPA was the world’s first large, truly deep water, mid-ocean MPA. The greater part of PIPA by area is ocean floor with a water column averaging more than 4,000 meters (2.5 miles) deep. An important feature of PIPA is the abundance of large, extinct, underwater volcanoes. These underwater mountains contribute a huge diversity of marine habitat types; atoll, low reef island, submerged reef, seamount, and deep seabed as well as open ocean habitats. PIPA includes all eight atoll and low reef islands of the Kiribati section of the Phoenix Islands: Rawaki, Enderbury, Nikumaroro, McKean, Manra, Birnie, Kanton and Orona. The only island that is currently inhabited is Kanton with a non-permanent population of less than 40 people made up of government employees and their families engaged in the protection and management of Kiribati interests in the region. PIPA also includes two submerged reefs, Carondelet Reef and Winslow Reef, with Carondelet Reef being as little as 3 to 4 meters (approximately 10 to 13 feet) underwater at low tide.
    Links: Top Ten Reefs, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phoenix_Islands_Protected_Area,
  2. Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kiribati,

Top Ten French Polynesian Attractions

Top Ten French Polynesian Attractions

       French Polynesia is an overseas country of the French Republic. It is made up of several groups of Polynesian islands, the most famous island being Tahiti in the Society Islands group, which is also the most populous island and the seat of the capital of the territory (Papeetē). Although not an integral part of its territory, Clipperton Island was administered from French Polynesia until 2007.

  1. Bora Bora

           Bora Bora is an island in the Leeward group of the Society Islands of French Polynesia, an overseas collectivity of France in the Pacific Ocean. The original name of the island in the Tahitian language might be better rendered as Pora Pora, meaning “First Born”; an early transcription found in 18th and 19th century accounts, is Bolabolla or Bollabolla. The island, located about 230 kilometers (140 mi) northwest of Papeete, is surrounded by a lagoon and a barrier reef. In the center of the island are the remnants of an extinct volcano rising to two peaks, Mount Pahia and Mount Otemanu, the highest point at 727 m (2,385 ft.). Bora Bora is a major international tourist destination, famous for its aqua-centric luxury resorts. The island is served by Bora Bora Airport on Motu Mete in the north, with Air Tahiti providing daily flights to and from Papeete on Tahiti. The major settlement, Vaitape is on the western side of the main island, opposite the main channel into the lagoon. Produce of the island is mostly limited to what can be obtained from the sea and the plentiful coconut trees, which were historically of economic importance for copra. According to a census performed in 2008, the permanent population of Bora Bora is 8,880.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bora_Bora,
  2. Tahiti

           Tahiti is the largest island in the Windward group of French Polynesia, located in the archipelago of the Society Islands in the southern Pacific Ocean. It is the economic, cultural and political center of French Polynesia. The island was formed from volcanic activity and is high and mountainous with surrounding coral reefs. The population is 178,133 (2007), making it the most populous island of French Polynesia and accounting for 68.6% of the group’s total population. Tahiti was formerly known as Otaheite. The capital, Papeete, is located on the northwest coast with the only international airport in the region, Faa’a International Airport, situated 5 km (3.1 mi) from the town center. Tahiti was originally settled by Polynesians between 300 and 800 AD. The island was proclaimed a colony of France in 1880 although it was not until 1946 that the indigenous Tahitians were legally authorized to be French citizens. French is the only official language although the Tahitian language (Reo Tahiti) is widely spoken. It was part of the Kingdom of Tahiti until its annexation by France in 1880.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tahiti,
  3. Taha’a

           Taha’a is an island located among the Society Islands, in French Polynesia, an overseas territory of France in the Pacific Ocean. The islands of Tahaa and neighboring Raiatea are enclosed by the same coral reef, and may once have been a single island.
    Links: Top Ten Reefs, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tahaa,
  4. Mo’orea

    Moʻorea is a high island in French Polynesia, part of the Society Islands, 17 km (roughly 9 mi) northwest of Tahiti. Moʻorea means “yellow lizard” in Tahitian. An older name for the island is ʻAimeho, sometimes spelled ‘Aimeo or ʻEimeo. Early Western colonists and voyagers also referred to Moʻorea as York Island.
    Links: Top Ten Lizards, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moorea,
  5. Hiva Oa

           Hiva Oa is the 2nd largest island in the Marquesas Islands, in French Polynesia, an overseas territory of France in the Pacific Ocean. According to local religion, the gods created the islands as their home. Therefore all islands have names that are related with the building of a house. Hiva Oa means long ridgepole. Atuona, on the south side of Hiva Oa island, is the administrative center of the commune. Atuona was formerly the seat of government for all of the Marquesas Islands, but it has been replaced by Taiohae on Nuku Hiva island. The island was the final home of French painter Paul Gauguin and Belgian singer Jacques Brel, both of whom are buried in Calvary Cemetery, overlooking Atuona. In late pre-European times, the island was nearly evenly divided into two provinces, Nuku in the west and Pepane in the east.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hiva_Oa,
  6. Gambier Islands

           The Gambier Islands or Mangareva Islands are a small group of islands in French Polynesia, located at the southeast terminus of the Tuamotu archipelago. They are generally considered a separate island group from Tuamotu both because their culture and language (Mangarevan) are much more closely related to those of the Marquesas Islands, and because, while the Tuamotus comprise several chains of coral atolls, the Gambiers are of volcanic origin. Because of their proximity, the Acteon Group, and the nearby atoll of Temoe are sometimes included among the Gambiers.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gambier_Islands,
  7. Ra’iātea

           Raiatea (or Ra’iatea), is the 2nd largest of the Society Islands, after Tahiti, in French Polynesia. The island is widely regarded as the ‘center’ of the eastern islands in ancient Polynesia and it is likely that the organized migrations to Hawaii, Aotearoa (New Zealand) and other parts of East Polynesia started at Ra’iatea. A traditional name for the island is believed to be Hava’i. Situated on the south east coast is the historical Taputapuatea marae which was established by 1000 AD. The main township on Raiatea is Uturoa, the administrative center for the Leeward Islands (French Îles Sous-le-vent). There are also colleges which serve as the main educational location for secondary schools for students from the regional islands of Bora Bora, Tahaa, Huahine and Maupiti.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raiatea,
  8. Mangareva

           Mangareva is the central and most important island of the Gambier Islands in French Polynesia. It is surrounded by smaller islands: Taravai in the southwest, Aukena and Akamaru in the southeast, and islands in the north. Mangareva has a permanent population of 1,641 (2007) and the largest village on the island, Rikitea, is the chief town of the Gambier Islands. The island is approximately 8 km (5.0 mi) long and, at 18 km² (7 mi²), it comprises about 56% of the land area of the whole Gambier group. Mangareva has a high central ridge which runs the length of the island. The highest point in the Gambiers is Mt. Duff, on Mangareva, rising to 441 m along the island’s south coast. The island has a large lagoon 15 miles in diameter containing reefs whose fish and shellfish helped ancient islanders survive much more successfully than on nearby islands with no reefs.
    Links: Top Ten Volcanoes, Top Ten Mountains, Top Ten Oceanic Mountains, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mangareva,
  9. Links: Top Ten Islands, Top Ten Oceanic Islands, Top Ten Resorts, Top Ten Oceanic Resorts, Top 100 Beaches, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_Polynesia,

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