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Oceania

Honeymoon Paradise in Tahiti

Posted by on Sep 26, 2015 | 2 comments

Honeymoon Paradise in Tahiti

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I can’t believe it’s true but after nearly 3 months of globetrotting around the world we have finally reached the last stop on this epic honeymoon adventure. And what a last stop it is, the postcard-perfect South Pacific honeymoon paradise of French Polynesia.

An overseas collectivity of France, these 118 islands and atolls stretch lazily across the South Pacific Ocean covering more than 1,200 miles. French Polynesia is divided into 5 island groups, the most famous of which are the Society Islands which includes Tahiti, Bora Bora and Moorea.

And while Tahiti and Bora Bora are more familiar names to most people, Moorea has always been a particular favorite of mine.  So, of course, I knew it would be the perfect place to end our incredible honeymoon in style.

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Pure New Zealand Beauty: The Bay of Islands

Posted by on Sep 19, 2015 | 0 comments

Pure New Zealand Beauty: The Bay of Islands

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With a blissful week in Fiji behind us, it was time to return to winter in the Southern hemisphere. All but one of my previous trips to New Zealand have been during the sunny summertime months of January and February.

And while the North Island has generally mild winters, we wanted to give ourselves the best chance of the warmest temperatures so we decided to focus on the northernmost part of the North Island – the Bay of Islands – for our New Zealand stop.

Made up of 144 subtropical islands, the Bay of Islands is known for the beauty of its untouched beaches and the historical significance of its many Maori cultural artifacts. Just a 3-hour drive north of Auckland, it’s a popular destination for both Kiwis and international tourists alike.

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Island Life in Tokoriki Fiji

Posted by on Sep 12, 2015 | 0 comments

Island Life in Tokoriki Fiji

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With our amazing couple of days in Sydney complete, it was time to warm up in the South Pacific. We had originally considered spending more time in Australia but ultimately decided to trade winter in Australia for a more tropical locale…like the sandy shores of Fiji.

And honestly, when you’re this close to Fiji, how can you not stop by?

In my previous visits to the islands I’d stayed on the main island of Nadi, either at the Sheraton Fiji or the lovely Westin Denarau Villas. From the resort area of Denarau it was easy to make day trips out to the Yasawa or Mamanuca Islands (the real draw in Fiji), but I’d always wanted to try actually staying on one of those gorgeously remote outer islands.

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48 Hours in Sydney

Posted by on Sep 6, 2015 | 0 comments

48 Hours in Sydney

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I love Australia.

Kangaroos, koalas, beaches, mountains, reefs; and to top it off, friendly locals with adorable accents. Oh right, and more things that can kill you than any other country and/or continent in the world…but who’s counting?

Pythons swallowing crocodiles, dingoes eating sharks (I kid you not, I saw an actual photo of this), yes it’s a virtual predator free-for-all Down Under.

What’s not to love? Everyone likes an adventure.

The magnificent city of Sydney is the shining jewel of the southern hemisphere (and noticeably absent of predators) so I never miss a chance to stop by, even if it’s just for a few days. But since my darling husband had yet to venture to the Land of Oz it was an absolute must-do on our Round-the-World honeymoon journey.

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Photo of the Day – One Foot Island Post Office, Aitutaki

Posted by on May 14, 2014 | 0 comments

Photo of the Day – One Foot Island Post Office, Aitutaki

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With a vast, sparkling lagoon rivaling Bora Bora’s – but with a fraction of the visitors – Aitutaki just might be the world’s most beautifully-remote island. Just a 45-minute flight from the main island of Rarotonga in the Cook Islands, Aitutaki and its surrounding 22 atolls served as the tropical backdrop for “Survivor: Cook Islands.” Encircled by a knee-high lagoon, One Foot Island Aitutaki (or Tapuaetai, “one footprint”) is both dreamily-exotic and nearly deserted. But while it may look totally deserted, this tiny island paradise is home to one top attraction – a small hut containing the One Foot Island Post Office, one of the world’s most remote. Luckily, while in Rarotonga I’d heard about the post office from a fellow traveler so I knew to bring my passport on my day trip to Aitutaki. Otherwise, I might have missed out on the chance to get the footprint-shaped passport stamp that is my favorite stamp and a perfect memento of this tropical paradise. 

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The Song of the South Pacific: Fiji & the Mamanuca Islands

Posted by on Feb 25, 2014 | 0 comments

The Song of the South Pacific: Fiji & the Mamanuca Islands

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Ooohhh, who owns that yacht?” we asked with envy as our high-speed catamaran docked back at Denarau Marina. “My 2nd husband,” joked Ma, as laughter filled the Captain’s Lounge. We’d just returned from a day of sailing through Fiji’s Mamanuca Islands and Makereta (or just “Ma” as she preferred to be called) was our cheerful hostess and Cruise Director for the voyage. It had been a simply spectacular day and the Fijian people like Ma were a big part of the reason why.

People often throw the word “paradise” around with reckless abandon (I myself have likely been guilty of that) but for me, the South Pacific truly defines the word. I’ve been lucky enough to see a lot of this region (Tahiti, Bora Bora, Moorea, New Caledonia, Samoa, Tonga, the Cook Islands, Vanuatu and Easter Island) and for my money, there’s no better overall South Pacific destination than Fiji.

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Two Ways to Whitsunday: Getting Down Under on the Great Barrier Reef

Posted by on Feb 24, 2013 | 0 comments

Two Ways to Whitsunday: Getting Down Under on the Great Barrier Reef

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I started out with a very loose plan for the Great Barrier Reef. In fact, in a rare display of spontaneity, I didn’t firm up a hotel until just a few days before I arrived – unusual for an obsessive planner like myself.

The first thing I learned about the Great Barrier Reef area is that there are a lot of options for where to stay. There’s a reason it’s not called the “small barrier reef” or the “medium-sized barrier reef .”

Stretching more than 1,600 miles along the coast of Queensland, Australia, the Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef system. Composed of more than 2,600 individual reefs and more than 900 islands, the reef is the only world wonder that can be seen from outer space and in 1981 it was designated as a World Heritage Site.

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Sydney & the Blue Mountains, Australia

Posted by on Feb 19, 2013 | 0 comments

Sydney & the Blue Mountains, Australia

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My original plan for Australia was to spend a few days in the Blue Mountains outside Sydney followed by a week in the Great Barrier Reef area. But with my stay coinciding with Valentine’s weekend, I never could quite get the hotels worked out in the Blue Mountains (a popular weekend getaway from Sydney and therefore quite busy over Valentine’s weekend).

So, after meeting such a great group of Aussies from the Sydney area on my Antarctica cruise, I decided to spend my first two nights in Sydney so we could all get together for a BYOP (Bring Your Own Penguin) reunion to rehash our Antarctic adventures and catch up.

Luckily, my new best bud from the cruise, Angela, was able to take the day off from work on Friday and drove down Thursday night from Newcastle (about 2 hours from Sydney) to join me for my two-night stay in the city.

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Save the Date for Round the World #8!

Posted by on Dec 5, 2012 | 7 comments

Save the Date for Round the World #8!

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It’s that time of year again…one month from today I’ll be departing on my 8th annual trip around the world! It’s going to be another whirlwind globetrotting adventure exploring 14 destinations in 10 countries and for the first time on all 7 continents.

Many of you know that Antarctica has been on my list for several years and this year I am finally making it happen. Yes, I’ll be cruising all the way from Argentina to the great white continent with Quark Expeditions and I am impossibly (some would say annoyingly) excited about it! 

This year’s trip will start in Buenos Aires and be the longest yet at a staggering – when you consider the name of the website – 54 days.

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Photo of the Day – The Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort

Posted by on May 1, 2012 | 3 comments

Photo of the Day – The Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort

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It’s one of French Polynesia’s lesser-known islands but, for my money, it’s the best. With all the beauty of Bora Bora minus the crowds and the prices, Moorea is the stuff of South Pacific dreams. I sometimes call it the “Kauai” of French Polynesia. Follow me for a second…Tahiti (like Oahu) is the main island where all the traffic and crowds are; Bora Bora (like Maui) gets all the press and the honeymooners…and Moorea (like Kauai, in my opinion) is the true unspoiled paradise. Where a tranquil, overwater bungalow can often be had for half the price of those on big-sister Bora Bora. Easily reached by 30-minute ferry from nearby Papeete, the Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort & Spa is nestled between two brilliant bays on the heart-shaped garden isle of Moorea. Plush bungalows sit perched atop the resort’s best asset, a crystal-clear lagoon teeming with coral and tropical marine life. You can easily spend an entire day (or more) snorkeling the Hilton Moorea lagoon and never tire of this spectacular underwater world. From inside your bungalow, the show continues through a glass panel in the floor known locally as “Tahitian Television.” The bottom line? If you’ve been saving up those Hilton Honors points, this is the place to spend them!

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Photo of the Day – Erakor Island Vanuatu

Posted by on Mar 27, 2012 | 0 comments

Photo of the Day – Erakor Island Vanuatu

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It was once named the “Happiest Country in the World” and it won’t take you long after arriving in the South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu to see why. After all, what’s not to be happy about when you live in paradise? From the charming main town of Port Vila, make your way by jetty out to the fabulously-remote private island of Erakor and the tranquility of the Erakor Island Resort. Once you’ve settled into your beachfront villa, head straight for the water. The first thing you’ll notice as you venture into the clear turquoise sea is a starfish-to-guest ratio of about 50 to 1. So, watch your step in the shallow waters and spend some time getting to know your colorful, shapely neighbors. If you’re lucky, they might even pose for a photo. My three days on Erakor Island Vanuatu on Round the World #7 were the epitome of tropical relaxation. And the sunsets? Some of the best I’ve seen in all of the South Pacific.

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Photo of the Day – Queenstown New Zealand

Posted by on Mar 26, 2012 | 2 comments

Photo of the Day – Queenstown New Zealand

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Just the inspiring views of Queenstown New Zealand from the air before touchdown had me instantly wondering why I’d never taken the short flight from Auckland before. If New Zealand is the adrenaline capital of the world, then Queenstown is certainly the adrenaline capital of New Zealand. From the hometown inventions of bungee jumping and jet-boating to the rush of paragliding through mountain peaks and any number of other death-defying activities, Queenstown has an electric vibe like no other alpine town. Fuel your adventures with a visit to Fergburger for a truly original Queenstown culinary experience. After 7 previous trips to New Zealand, my week in Queenstown made me realize that if you haven’t been to Queenstown, you haven’t really been to New Zealand.

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Queenstown: Kiwi King of Alpine Adventure

Posted by on Feb 22, 2012 | 1 comment

Queenstown: Kiwi King of Alpine Adventure

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Still basking in the happy glow of Vanuatu, I landed in one of my favorite cities in the world – Auckland, New Zealand. But on this trip Auckland is merely an idyllic stopover on the way to my true destination, Queenstown New Zealand.

I have one night in Auckland on each end of my Queenstown stop to enjoy my favorite restaurants and the summer energy of this great city. With only a one night stopover, my usual apartment rental was not an option and unfortunately the Westin I’ve stayed at before is no longer a Westin, so I had to resort to the hotel I stayed at on my first visit to New Zealand, the Hilton Auckland.

Located right at the end of Princes Wharf with marvelous harbor views, the Hilton Auckland is beautiful, but usually pretty expensive, so I’ve avoided it on my last few trips. But thanks to Hilton’s new cash and points redemption option (borrowed liberally from one of my favorite features of the Starwood program) I was able to get a decent deal on a room.

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Vibrant, Vivacious…Vanuatu: The Happiest Country in the World

Posted by on Feb 21, 2012 | 0 comments

Vibrant, Vivacious…Vanuatu: The Happiest Country in the World

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By the time my 3-hour flight from Sydney touched down on the island of Vanuatu it was approaching midnight. Despite the late hour and the almost total darkness outside my airplane window, the 30 or so people on our flight were greeted at the tiny airport by live island music played by a smiling group of locals.

I just love landing on tiny islands where you get a reception like that. No matter how tired you may be after the flight, it always gets you right into that island spirit.

Like in Tasmania, I’d procrastinated about booking a hotel in Vanuatu and only in the past few days had confirmed where I would be staying. My top choices were the Erakor Island Resort and the Hideaway Island Resort, both on their own separate islands reachable by jetty.

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A Devil of a Time in Tasmania

Posted by on Feb 20, 2012 | 0 comments

A Devil of a Time in Tasmania

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After a quick one-hour flight from Melbourne, I touched down on the beautiful island of Tasmania. Just under 200 miles south of the Australian mainland, the country’s only island state – nicknamed “Tassie” – has a unique and compelling history.

For more than 25,000 years, Aboriginal tribes lived here in isolation. The establishment of a British penal colony in 1803 shattered that peaceful isolation. 

In the years that followed, more than 700,000 men, women and children were forced to migrate to Tasmania. In addition to the convicts, hundreds of penal administrators, civil and military officers and their families arrived and made a lasting impact on the island. Tasmania’s settlements prospered from the forced labor of the convicts who suffered brutal conditions at Port Arthur.

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