Fiji: An Island Experience of Bula

The island nation of Fiji is situated in shimmering South Pacific, between Hawaii and Australia. This island country in the South Pacific, is an archipelago of more than 300 islands and two thirds of the island is uninhabited, makes it one of the unspoilt places on the planet. Its famed for rugged landscapes, palm-lined beaches and coral reefs with clear lagoons. Its major islands, Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, contain most of the population. Viti Levu is home to the capital, Suva, a port city with British colonial architecture.

Why Go?

In looking at a photo, it is easy to see that holidays in Fiji will be spent in paradise. An archipelago of more than 300 tropical islands of all shapes and sizes, Fiji is all white sandy beaches, palm trees and turquoise lagoons. Fiji’s stunning natural beauty, luxurious spas and all-inclusive resorts make it an ideal wedding or honeymoon destination. Taking a trip to Fiji is equally loved by families, divers and relaxation-seekers. Fiji, with diverse natural attractions, rich local culture and secluded and extraordinarily scenic archipelago truly offers something for every kind of traveller. This has enticed me to visit this island destination and adventure through some of the untouched islands. My impression of this island was not looking for a family-friendly getaway nor a romantic escape but rather an intrepid adventure. I was sure that Fiji wasn’t going to disappoint. Scuba diving in coral reefs, discovering lush inland landscapes fill with wildlife or simply relaxing on pristine beaches are the country’s natural attractions which are sure to amaze me but its the warm, welcoming locals that set Fiji apart from other tropical destinations. This leaves a lasting impression on any visitors to this island. Many first-time holiday-makers head to the Mamanucas, one of Fijis most popular destinations where they enjoy fantastic water-sports ranging from scuba diving to surfing and see some of the archipelagos renowned beaches. For me, it was my “own-time” leisure vacation in this tropical paradise, visiting Suva, capital of Fiji, Nadi, Lautoka and beach relaxation at Dream Island of Beachcomber.

It is time to discover the gorgeous beaches, wilderness landscapes and distinctive culture that make Fiji an unforgettable destination.

Getting there?

It was about mid-morning when I arrived in Nadi International airport, the gateway to the islands of Fiji. Not having to plan any of my travel arrangements, I found myself drifting about in Nadi before stopping in a motel for a peaceful night, which was few kilometres away from the Nadi airport.

Public Bus Transport

The next day, I intimately associated myself with the life of Fijian style and took a public bus to country’s buzzing capital, Suva, which is located on the island of Viti Levu. I was hoping to learn about Fiji’s fascinating history at the Fiji Museum, featuring an impressive collection of Indo-Fijian artefacts. Also, taking time to browse through busy stalls selling local produce, clothing and handicrafts at Suva Municipal Market.

There are four ways to get from Nadi to Suva. You either go on a public bus, self-drive on a hire car, go on a taxi or by plane. The buses in Fiji are efficient and inexpensive and I choose to take a 4-hour journey from Nadi to Suva on the main island by public bus – Coral Sun Express. Coral Sun, also known as the ‘Tourist Bus’, connects to all resorts and hotels along Queens Road to Suva. This way, it gives me the chance to see what Fiji has to offer on the west coast. Buses also stop at all towns in between and making quite an interesting bus journey and inexpensive.

Suva

Arriving in Suva around mid-afternoon, I made myself comfortable in my hotel located right in the heart of the city before exploring the area. Based right in the heart of the city for the next 7 days was the ideal introduction to the area and Suva life. Having to stay in the city have the advantage of been closer to most places, within walking distance.

The city of Suva is the heart of Fiji, home to half of country’s urban population and claims to be the largest and perhaps the most liveable city in the South Pacific outside New Zealand or Australia. It is a lush green city on a hilly peninsula, that gets more than its fair share of rain and has a vibrant cultural scene. The capital of Fiji is set on 15 square kilometre of peninsula adjacent to one of the finest naturally protected harbours in the South Seas.

Exploring Suva

Suva, the capital city, has colonial architecture, plenty of nightspots and restaurants as well as beautiful temples and mosques. Here in Suva, I found all the activities, I could possibly want and the list is endless – from culture, art, recreation, shopping, museums, galleries, markets to nightlife and continues to evolve with new complexes. Suva is a walker’s town and a great place to walk. Most of the places can be seen within one day. Municipal Market

I began my Suva stay, with a visit to the Municipal Market for a taste of Fijian life. This was a great place to pick up souvenirs and inexpensive food.

At this market, the Polynesian, Chinese, Indian and Fijian vendors hawk fish, meat, vegetables, fruit, coconut oil and nearly everything else that a Fiji household might need. I noticed that some sections (upstairs) virtually sell kava roots. It certainly makes it a fascinating glimpse into the trade of one of the most important commodities in the country.

Fiji Museum

One of Suva’s best attraction is the Fiji Museum. This museum is a “must-visit” place when your visiting Suva. I found the museum fascinating myself as the museum details South Pacific culture and discusses the country’s own history.

It has various displays including Indian art exhibits, HMS Bounty relics and artefacts that showcase traditional Fijian life, such as cannibal forks, shell jewellery and tribal weaponry

Government Building

This massive Government Building site is one of the most prominent in Suva. These impressive, orange-coloured government buildings were modelled after traditional Fijian thatched huts, and the complex is open to visitors or may be of more than passing interest to the visitor.

Some of the places visited includes Albert Park, The Grand Pacific hotel, Thurston park, Victoria Parade, Cumming Street, The Triangle, Old Town Hall, Suva City Library and more to fill your stay in Suva.

Though Suva is located on the coast, there is no pristine and sandy beach in town but it doesn’t amount to much. The best bet for a decent beach is to head down to Pacific Harbour, which is about 20 minutes by car or bus out of town.

Nadi

After 7-days of Suva experience, it was time to head to Lautoka to enjoy sun, sand and sea. From Suva to Lautoka, I did a self-drive on a rental car to explore some of the places of interest along the way. This was a great way to divert off the main road and enjoy the views and sceneries where it was not accessible by big buses. Along the way, I spent few hours in Sigatoka before arriving in Nadi for a short day tour before arriving in Lautoka by noon.

Nadi, located on the western side of the main island of Viti Levu was once a small community of farmers and shopkeepers but today it is the third-largest conurbation in Fiji after Lautoka. Nadi is multiracial with many of its inhabitants Indian or Fijian, along with a large transient population of foreign tourists. Along with sugar cane production, this city has become Fiji’s tourism capital and the mainstay of the local economy. The town of Nadi called by the locals both frenetic hub of sugar growing and tourism, surrounded by rolling, bucolic countryside.

Nadi: Half-Day Tour

In doing a quick half-day tour of Nadi, was to give me a chance to see and experience what this place has to offer. This tour gave me the opportunity to explore the Garden of Sleeping Giant, famous for its collection of orchids and tropical plants. This tranquil garden was founded by Raymond Burr in 1977. From there, we visited the chiefly village of Viseisei, the legendary landing site of the first Fijians. We had time to wander around this seaside village before continuing into Nadi, to the site of the largest Hindu Temple in the South Pacific. Finally, the tour took us in the colourful sights and friendly faces at the Nadi market. What a thrill and experience that was and I highly recommend this tour for any travellers to the area. After the tour, I took an easy self-drive to Lautoka for relaxation

Lautoka

Lautoka, the second-largest city and port in Fiji and an important business centre, is just located about 20 minutes north of Nadi. It is more ‘industrial’ in flavour, with fewer tourist attractions and more of a ‘local’ feel. Not only most of the vessels here sail to foreign ports but to the outer islands and the resort areas. Also, this city is a quintessential sugar town, with reputedly one of the largest sugar mills in the southern hemisphere. I have seen that, although tourism is an important to the region but sugar industry is still king here and the largest single employer in the district.

Beachcomber

After couple of days in Lautoka, it was time to indulge in sun, sand and sea – my island relaxation destination- Beachcomber. This tiny island is situated on a picturesque marine sanctuary in the heart of the Mamanuca Islands. Beachcomber Island Resort is almost 20 kilometres from Nadi International, Fiji’s National airport. This island resort is unique, spectacular and fun, that is for both the young and young at heart.

I came here to have a great time in the sun and enjoy the sand and sea. It is a place to have casual, relaxed atmosphere and this is what I wanted. I thought, I just came to experience the magic of Beachcomber Island just once but feels like, I like to come back year after year. Yes, this island is that easy to get there, yet so hard to leave. Definitely, this dream island and the memories will stay with me forever. It is an experience of a lifetime and ‘must-do’ island to visit.

Where to stay?

There are various types of accommodations in both Nadi and Suva to suit all budget ranging from resorts, backpacker, holiday houses, apartments, B&Bs and camping nearby. Also, these places offers a range of properties throughout the region to fit most holiday styles and budgets.

Many budget travellers and backpackers make their journey to Yasawa Islands. This place is known for its affordable accommodation and great nightlife.

Recommended Activities & Attractions

Fiji is home to many iconic Island Resorts. Driving around in this area is possible if you have the time and want to see more of the area on your visit. To fully enjoy your stay in this area and to make the most of the region’s attractions, I’d recommend staying right in the main centre of the Suva or Nadi. This way, you don’t have to fight the traffic from locals on their daily commute and you get to sample the local areas within walking distances. Unfortunately, this is where the true heart of the area shines.

Fiji is filled with endless list of activities and attractions. Travellers looking to get active can enjoy an exhilarating kayaking or rafting excursion along the Navua River, which runs through the island’s mountainous interior. You can check out the dramatic 60-foot high sand dunes found at Sigatoka Sand Dunes National Park. For hikers and birdwatchers, visit Taveuni, the “Garden Island”, a thrilling destination for hiking and birdwatching. Here, you will find rainforest and towering volcanic peaks.

Exploring the area

Throughout the island of Fiji, it is entirely possible to get around and visit many attractions and places in this area with the help of public transport. However, my recommendation would be to hire a car or do a self-drive tour and explore the area on your own time. Driving in this area is straightforward as long as you keep your wits about you and don’t mind the locals who drive much faster than wary tourists. When visiting new areas, be aware of no-drive zones and one-way streets. Sometimes, you will save yourself a few headaches when it comes to parking or driving around places to locate the area, it is best to go on a tour and get away with less stress.

 

© COPYRIGHT: ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

© akamau.org. (2017). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material (photography and writing) without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to akamau.org with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Lush Tropical Rainforest in the City

Without doubt, Cairns city, is one of the most popular tropical holiday destination in Australia. It has one of the most beautiful, interesting and attractive tropical gardens in Far North Queensland Region. It is simply a tropical paradise right here, in the heart of this beautiful city of Cairns.

Just located within ten minutes of drive from the heart of Cairns city centre is the Cairns Centenary Lakes. A lush tropical rainforest oasis that awaits, welcoming its visitors with a piece of taste of tropical rainforest plants. A place that will leave you with a mixture of tropical plants and wildlife experience. It is a place that will keep you coming back and you will never get bored, every time you visit this idyllic location. It is one of my most favourite place in this city.

This Freshwater Lake created in 1975 in a 3-hectare freshwater swamp already existed on the site is an ideal place for visitors and families to come and enjoy the place. It is a great picnic location with sheltered picnic sites, free BBQs, an outdoor nature-park playground for children and public ammenities.

This place is one of the great outdoor recreational place for families, travellers, garden lovers, birdwatchers, photographers and anyone that simply prefer to escape the hustle and bustle of urban activities and attractions.

Why Go?

 

 

Centenary Lake is not just a place to sit back, relax and enjoy the tropical beauty and wildlife. This place has always plenty to do and it is a lush beauty and a great place that certainly invites leisurely exploration. It is beautiful, interesting, peaceful and relaxing place that is good for your mind, body and soul. It always give me a feeling of self-satisfaction, everytime I wander around this lake and the gardens.

 

 

 

Here you have the Freshwater and a Saltwater Pond at one end, Boardwalks through tropical rainforest in the middle and Cairns Botanical Gardens at the other end. They are all linked together by footpath and boardwalks that are easy and flat ground walking. The tourists to the city in particular will enjoy the fantastic views of the Lakes, lush tropical plants and wildlife.

 

This lake is one of the a great and unique place to visit. Here, you not only get the opportunity to get close to nature but you get the chance to see the lush exotic tropical rainforest plants and wildlife all in one location. You don’t have to travel far out of the city to experience this tropical rainforest paradise that is just within minutes from Cairns city centre.

 

Getting there?

The Freshwater Lake and Botanical Gardens located approximately distance of 3-5 kilometres from Cairns city centre makes it one of the most easily accessible place to visit by foot, public bus and self-drive. The lake has no gated boundary can be easily accessed from Greenslope street and Collins Avenue along Whitfield area. Since, the entrance to the lake has no gate, anyone can visit the area throughout the day or at night time.

Exploring the area

Once you enter the place, there is lots to see and do in the area. This is one of my favourites places to visit in Cairns. The great thing about this place, it is entirely easily accessible to get around this beautiful gardens without any help. This is one of the places that I am able to come and visit this beautiful and pristine location all year around. Here, I  take my time leisurely strolling around the area exploring and enjoying wildlife and its rich diversity of flora and fauna. There are certain areas in Centenary Lake that offers few kinds of experience that I enjoy most:  the Rainforest Boardwalk, Chinese Garden, Lake, Water-lilies and Wildlife. Regular visitors will know that each has a special feel all its own.

The Lake

One of the unique attraction of this Lake is definitely the water-lilies with their majestic bright colorful flowers, depending on the season. This lake decorated by a patchwork of colourful water-lilies provides shelter for several species of frogs, fish, plants, flowers, ducks, butterflies and turtles. It is an area where you have spectacular time exploring this beautiful city backyard and enjoying nature with all variety of colourful water- lilies – red, pink, white, purple or combination of all.

Wildlife

 

The lakes swampy area is a safe haven for many bird species, depending on the season. This lake can be filled with abundance of birdlife and other species of birds that migrate to this location each year, while other wildlife makes it their permanent home for their hunting and playground.

With plants and lilies blooming with colourful flowers and migration of several bird species to the area creates a spectacular scene to look at for both nature lovers and photographers paradise. Any visitors making their way to this location can expect to see magpie geese, black ducks, black-necked storks, white Egrets, darter and cormorants.

Chinese Garden

On Centenary Lakes southside is the main entrance to the Chinese Garden on Greenslope street, with four bright red coloured pillars surrounded by bamboos which is highly visible from the road. This instantly gives you an impression of Chinese garden atmosphere. Once you enter through the entrance, you see the beautiful pathways, variety of tropical plants, bamboos, and cycad plants leading to the Chinese temple. A great place to sit down and enjoy the 360′ view of the lake.

Rainforest Boardwalk

My favourite part of the Centenary Freshwater Lakes is the Rainforest Boardwalk. From the boardwalk it connects to Cairns Flecker Botanical Gardens in Collins Avenue. As you walk along, you’ll see sweeping branches, flawless outlines and ordered internal structure, incredible birdlife and the lush and exotic tropical plants are revealed.

It was once an unfriendly boardwalk with very narrow wooden pathway but since the boardwalk has been rebuilt and widen, it is easily accessible for prams, wheelchairs and anyone that can stroll along without been rushed. This walk will give you the taste of what it is like to be going on an adventure to experiencing lush thick tropical rainforest, further north of Cairns to Daintree-Cape Tribulation area.

 

This boardwalk not only set its site on enjoying the lush tropical natural plants and the rainforest experience but gives you an in depth information on the flora and fauna along the way and what you might expect to see. It is quite educational to take a time to read what is in the area and expect to see.

 

The rainforest boardwalk connecting Centenary Lakes to the Botanical Gardens in Cairns, far north Queensland allows the visitors to imagine what the coastal areas of Cairns once looked like before settlement.

The western end of the boardwalk is located across Collins Avenue from the Main Gate and the eastern end is adjacent to the Saltwater Creek footbridge that accesses the Saltwater Lake and mangroves.

If you want peace, beauty, tranquility and a bit of light adventure, this boardwalk is the ideal place. As you go along the boardwalk, you will get to see the amazing tropical plant life existing along the walk and the birdlife is in its abundance.

In particular, having vegetation muffle sounds and trees block views to buildings, roads and other obvious constructions helps me take my mind off the hustle and bustle of urban life. I think, most of us relax and feel better in the presence of trees or lush tropical plants. This area is very popular with birdwatchers, joggers, walkers and families as it offers spectacular views of the natural tropical plants and variety of birds to spot.

Visitors to the area should also watch out for the Lovely Fairy Wren (Malurus amabills) which frequents the area. This special environment has been home for years to endangered plant called the Layered Tassel Fern (Huperzia phlegmariodes) which once thrived in this habitat. It is on the Queensland Government Endangered Species list and is becoming as rare as the ecosystem in which it lives. Yes, sadly, this shrinking ecosystem that once dominated the region has all but disappeared, apart from the small patch around the boardwalk and a few other locations.

Whether your focus is on specific plants, wildlife in the area or, just want to tramp the comfortable pathways under the trees and breath in the fresh air, a visit to the Cairns Flecker Botanical Garden will probably do you a world of good.

Flecker Botanical Garden

Apart from the boardwalk and the wildlife and tropical plants, Cairns Botanical Gardens is just located metres away from the Centenary Lakes. The Botanical Gardens is also home to a number of exotic and rare tropical plants only found in this part of the world. It has a orchid and fern greenhouse as well as a range of endemic plants.It offers another unique attractions to the area and is a very popular spot for locals and visitors. I recommend to take moment to explore this area.

There is a cafe located right in the heart of the garden. As you enjoy your breakfast or lunch surrounded by lush tropical plants, gives you a taste of what it is like living in this tropical paradise.

There are other gardens and plant attractions to see in the area, including Fitzalan and Gondwana Heritage Garden. Click here for the PDF map

Fitzalan Garden

This garden named after Mr Eugene Fitzalan, the first caretake of the Botanic Gardens from 1886-1897 is a “must see” when visiting the area. The area comprises three separate gardens connected by paths and footbridges, and houses a small water lily pond, giant mature palms and trees.

Gondwana Heritage Garden

This garden located between Flecker Garden and the Visitor Centre is an Evolution Garden tracing the evolution of plants from the first photosynthetic bacteria to the modern flowering platns. Emphasis is placed on the Gondwana component of the plant kingdom and in particular the development of the distintive Australian Wet Tropics flora. This garden is certainly worth visiting and takes you back in time.

Centenary Lakes, with such beautiful setting all around with some cool walking tracks, seatings overlooking the lakes where many active ducks and birds around, great botanical garden and surrounded with lush tropical plants, makes it a peaceful walk through nature, a place for chill-out time and tranquility right in the city. This place is truly one of the most beautiful place to visit and every visitor to this beautiful city must go and see.

So if you ever in Cairns, visit the Centenary Lakes and Cairns Flecker Botanical Gardens. Entry to both places are free.

© COPYRIGHT: ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

© akamau.org. (2017). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material (photography and writing) without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to akamau.org with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Experience Cairns Major Attractions

Cairns, located on the door-step to one of worlds’ iconic natural wonders of the world is considered the gateway to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. It is a city in tropical Far North Queensland filled with endless list of natural attractions, including the World Heritage Listed rainforest – Daintree Rainforest. Its Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park tells the stories of indigenous Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with music and dance. Cairns Esplanade, lined with bars and restaurants, has a swimming lagoon. Northwest of the city, Daintree National Park spans mountainous rainforest, gorges and beaches.

With endless lists of attractions, amazing world class restaurants, laid back cafes, pubs and bars, great shopping, amazing views of the Great Barrier Reef and gorgeous backdrop of lush tropical mountains and rainforest makes Cairns city a perfect location and a spectacular place to visit.

WHY GO?

This city of Cairns, surrounded by natural backdrop of lush tropical mountains and rainforest that meets the sparkling Coral Sea, is a city of extremes and a magical place.

This city is a spectacular place to visit with lots of wonderful things to do. Cairns has a culture of luxury and leisure – endless opportunity for outdoor where you can enjoy a cool drink and some great shopping to hiking trails in the rainforest and outback or swimming in the sparking Great Barrier Reef.

Living in this tropical paradise city, it is a dream and many times I still try to come to grips with it. With the Daintree Rainforest to the north, the Great Barrier Reef to the east and the Atherton Tablelands to the west, Cairns location is spectacular. From lush bush lands to spectacular sparkling sea, this small port city is the gateway to tropical north Queensland. With its breathtaking scenery of where the rainforest meets the reef and the outback gives a vibrant flavour makes Cairns a regional city that never sleeps.

The city known for photographers paradise and its magnetic attraction, push and pulls millions of tourists to the city all-year round. With its friendly and helpful locals, makes visitors keep coming back to the region again and again. Cairns is a vibrant city with vibrant celebrations and Australia’s most popular destination. There is always something new to see and do in this tropical paradise city. Cairns, is one of the only place on the planet where you can swim in one of the seven wonders of the natural world – Great Barrier Reef. You can swim the Great Barrier Reef in the morning and hit the outback and World Heritage Listed Rainforest the next in the afternoon – all in a day.

WHAT TO DO?

With Cairns city been accessible by road, train and air makes it one of the most visited place in Far North Queensland. This picturesque Cairns region offers a wide variety of things to see and do. There are endless activities and places to visit that suits your interests. Whatever you want to do, you will find it – from beaches and reefs to rainforest and outback. There is something for everyone no matter what age you are. The only best option is to drive around in the area if you have the time and see more of the area during your visit. To fully enjoy your stay in this area and to make the most of the region’s attractions, I’d recommend staying right in the main centre of the city. It is the ideal introduction to the city area and Cairns life.

Cairns Lagoon

One of the most popular spot for tourists and locals no matter what age you are is the waterfront of Cairns, known as the Cairns Esplanade Foreshore and Lagoon.

The gorgeous lagoon is the place where you can swim all year round. It is the place to be with something for everyone, especially locals, visitors, backpackers and International students who are seen there either swimming, sunbathing or having barbaques. It has fun and fantastic picnic areas and a boardwalk to walk on at sunset or run on at sunrise. The promenade also host to weekly live entertainment so you can sit back on the grass and enjoy live music, fire twirling, animal shows and famed Cairns buskers. All this gives you a taste of what is to come in this tropical paradise.

Cairns Centenary Lakes – Botanical Garden

Just within 5 minutes drive from the Cairns city centre is the Cairns Botanical Gardens and Lakes. Here you get to take an easy stroll along with sights and adventure with gorgeous boardwalks to wander around surrounded by lush tropical rainforest gardens, flora and fauna, lake and parklands.

It is a rainforest within the city that you will get to experience. You will be able to have time to stop and smell many exotic and rare plants along the way that are only found in this part of Australia and probably the world. This parkland have some beautiful birds and other species that are frequently found in the area, which makes it a perfect place for bird watchers paradise. It is little known to many visitors but very popular among locals, joggers, walkers, families and photograhers.

Cairns Esplanade

For those who prefer a lay-back atmosphere, take a 3.5km walk along the Cairns waterfront and marina area. For gallery and art lovers, take a stroll around the city area and you will be surprised to explore some of the unique sculptures, galleries, arts and craft that reflect on the reef all within walking distance.

To be more adventurous, go on some of the most popular attractions found in the region that every visitor should include on their “What to see and do” itinerary. These attractions are “must see” and cannot be missed while visiting the area:

Kuranda Scenic Railway

For those who want to just relax with a breath of fresh air, Kuranda Scenic Train is just for you. This is one of the most popular tourist train ride in Far North Queensland region that takes you through the heart of the rainforest.

It is one of the most unique train journey in the world. As you begin your train journey, so as the history of this railway. It is so fascinating to learn about the historical past and takes you back in time while enjoying the comfort of this train ride. You will be amazed with the stunning views of the landscape of the area as you slowly journey up the range.

 

You just have to sit-back and relax while enjoying the incredible views of the Barron Gorge, Cairns city and the Great Barrier Reef out from you window while the train winds up the McAlister Range through rainforest, waterfalls, tunnels along Barron Gorge and jaw-dropping cliff sides to the remote village of Kuranda located up in the mountains.

Sky-Rail

For those who want to see the rainforest and spectacular views from above, take a skyrail, which gives you a unique experience that takes you on an unforgettable journey through one of Australia’s World Heritage Listed Tropical Rainforest. It is the longest cableway in the world, spanning 7.5 kilometres and one of the most popular attractions in Cairns.

This cableway ride takes you over and above Barron Gorge and pristine rainforest, gliding just metres above the rainforest canopy is close as you can get. The skyrail journey will immerse you in an intimate rainforest experience and guarantees a rush of adrenaline and an unforgettable journey. The views from above are incredibly breathtaking as you look out towards the Great Barrier Reef, coastline, sugarcane fields and suburb of Smithfield.

Great Barrier Reef

Take a boat trip to the reef on shimmering clear blue ocean, swim with underwater sea creatures – fishes and marvelled at underwater sculptures – coral reefs. The iconic Great Barrier Reef is one of the most visited reef in the world and many visitors come to tick it off their bucketlist. It is one of the seven wonders of the natural world. However, if this is not your taste, there are endless hiking trails from easy to over-night trails.

Great Barrier Reef, one of the natural wonders of world is one of those places that you must visit in your lifetime. Whether you love the water or just want to see of the Great Wonders of the world, take a relaxing trip out to the reef.

It is home to diverse marine life and a great opportunity to experience marine life. From seeing some of the colourful corals, reef fishes to relaxing and swimming surrounded by unforgettable nature. Many visitors come to this region to stay and experience one of the many coastal getaways. It is an experience of a life time.

Daintree Rainforest – Cape Tribulation

For those adventure explorers, take a day trip up to Daintree and Cape Tribulation area to see one of the oldest rainforest in the world. Taking this road trip will take you along scenic coastal drive, sugar cane fields and rainforest passing through small townships and village – Port Douglas, Mossman and Daintree village. Here you get to experience nature at its best.

Daintree Rainforest – Cape Tribulation is a natural botanical wonderland that many visitors come to enjoy. The place is richly blessed with nature, culture and history.

Take a journey into this dense rainforest and see the vast array of flora and fauna. Immerse yourself into one of the most spectacular, unforgettable and thrilling experience you’ll ever have as you drive through the rainforest.  A place to come to this region to enjoy, relax, admire and appreciate this natural wonderland.

Tjapukai Dance Theatre

For those who prefer to experience indigenous culture, visit Cairns most popular Aboriginal cultural experience park – Tjapukai. Here you not only get to see the native people of Australia but to explore the rich history of the world’s oldest living culture at Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park. This is the ultimate place to experience the rich, ancient and authentic Aboriginal culture lifestyle, dance, food and art unique to Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Here you have the chance to talk to local indigenous people who call the surrounding rainforest their homeland and understand from their perspective.

RECOMMENDED ACTIVITIES AND ATTRACTIONS

Cairns is home to many iconic natural attractions. Driving around in this area is possible if you have the time and want to see more of the area on your visit. To fully enjoy your stay in this area and to make the most of the region’s attractions, I’d recommend staying right in the heart of Cairns city. This way, you don’t have to fight the traffic from locals on their daily commute and you get to sample the local areas within walking distances.

Cairns region is filled with endless list of activities and attractions. Travellers looking to get active can enjoy an exhilarating kayaking or rafting excursion along the Tully River. You can check out the dramatic . For hikers and birdwatchers, visit Atherton Tablelands and scenic drive, a thrilling destination for hiking and birdwatching.

WHERE TO STAY?

Cairns is very attractive for those who are on a budget, especially for those who have families and backpackers. It is a very popular spot for both domestic and international all year round, this city provides various types of accommodations in the area to suit all budget. The accommodation range from resorts, backpacker, holiday houses, apartments, B&Bs, caravan parks and campings nearby. Also, the area offers a range of properties throughout the region to fit most holiday styles and budgets.

EXPLORING THE AREA

Cairns region, with its famous and world renowned natural and man-made attractions and attributes, makes this city a popular destination to explore. It is the gateway north to the top of Australia. Many come to indulge themselves in this tropical paradise lifestyle of sun, sea and sand.

It is entirely possible to get around and visit many attractions and places in this area with the help of public transport. However, my recommendation would be to hire a car and do a self-drive tour and explore the area on your own time. Driving in this area is straightforward as long as you keep your wits about you and don’t mind the locals who drive much faster than vary tourists. When visiting new areas, be aware of no-drive zones and one-way streets. Sometimes, you will save yourself a few headaches when it comes to parking or driving around places to locate the area. It is best to go on a tour and get away with less stress.

 

© COPYRIGHT: ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

© akamau.org. (2017). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material (photography and writing) without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to akamau.org with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Experience Cape Tribulation’s Tropical Wonderland

Daintree-Cape Tribulation is where the Rainforest meets the Reef. A place that you come to reconnect with nature and see the rainforest in its splendour. Just 140 kilometres further north of Cairns, away from the major cities and famous resorts, you will find very laid-back area of Cape Tribulation located in the Daintree region. It is the place where time is seemingly stands still. Untouched by mass developments, this place is where you can still see and feel the real rainforest. It is the place where the centuries-old palm trees have survived invasions. The area has a diverse mixture of nature, culture and history. You’re surely to find some of the most beautiful rainforest coastlines you have ever laid eyes on. Yes, Cape Tribulation is an area of breathtaking beauty with mountain ranges, narrow coastal strips and dense rainforest reaching to the edge of the beaches.

Why Go?

Cape Tribulation area is undeniably one of the most exciting, diverse and magical region to visit in Australia and the Great Barrier Reef sits at the very heart of it. It is richly blessed with nature, culture and history – A place where rainforest meets the reef. It is one of the popular iconic places in Australia to visit. The drive stretches along the edges of Great Barrier Reef to Cooktown along the coastal drive.

This road is known for its vast stretches of stunning coastline, with its breathtaking waterfalls, scenic vistas at every turn, impressive rivers, lush rainforest, rugged terrains and rivers and creeks infested with crocodiles. Given its remoteness and raw, natural beauty, it was the perfect place to visit where I could be safe and also find a ton of outdoor activities to fill up my weekend. The visit to this area promises to be one of the great contrast, beauty and exploration. It gives me an opportunity to enter the tropical wonderland – the Daintree National Forest.

Getting there?

With bitumen road from Cairns to Cape Tribulation and easily accessible by conventional vehicle made this road trip much easier and comfortable without having to load extra accessories. Leaving Cairns early Saturday morning, I headed north of Cairns. Knowing that it was going to be a wonderful getaway of rest, rejuvenation and spending priceless time alone and doing things I haven’t done in a long time made it even more exciting for me.

I began our scenic drive from Cairns to Mossman known as the ‘Greenway’ was a smooth drive without many traffic along the way, except the cool breeze coming off the ocean as I witness the sunrise appearing beyond the horizon. I drove along the windy coast road and through canfields to Mossman town where I stopped for breakfast and coffee break at a local cafe located on the main street of Mossman township.

From the tiny town of Mossman, I continued my drive through cane fields, with the back-drop of tropical ranges on one end and the ocean on the other, until reaching Daintree River Crossing. Daintree River Crossing is the gateway to Cape Tribulation and the Daintree Rainforest Wonderland. Arriving early at the Daintree Ferry crossing meant that I didn’t have to wait longer than 30 minute and the cost of Ferry crossing is $31 return. 

Daintree River Ferry Crossing

Crossing a ferry is an another experience, as you sit in your car while enjoying the views of the crocodile infested Daintree River.  However, my adventure began from the moment, I drove off the Daintree Ferry. The drive along this road takes you through natural rainforest wonderland.

 

 

Here, I left the scenery of cane-fields behind and onto pristine thick rainforest filled with stunning views of Daintree Rainforest, beautiful beaches and coastlines.

The drive along this road to Cape Tribulation is one of the most spectacular and thrilling experience you will ever have. It took me through lush tropical rainforest, narrow and windy road lined with natural and unique ferns, vines, trees and plants that are unique and only found in this part of the world. The whole area provides a vast array of flora and fauna, rough and dense terrains. It is one of the natural botanic kingdoms in the world. This is the place to come and enjoy, admire and appreciate nature amidst the oldest rainforest in the world.

What to see and do?

The Daintree Rainforest and the entirety of Cape Tribulation boast many stupendous boardwalks through the trees, walking trails and impressive lookouts with stunning views.

Alexandra Lookout

Just within 5 kilometre drive from the Daintree River Ferry crossing is the Alexandra Lookout. The drive along this road gives you an impression of what Daintree Rainforest has to offer. It is widely known as the oldest rainforest in the world and boast plenty of native and exotic plant and animal species along the way. The surrounding landscape is home to some breathtaking natural wonders, many of which can be soaked up from the excellent vantage point of Alexandra Lookout.

As I enjoyed the view from this stunning lookout, it shows how Daintree and its surrounding regions have a rich Indigenous history that spans back thousands of years and the Alexandra Lookout is no exception. The Lookout has signs that I was able to learn more about this fascinating slice of Australian history and discover the importance of Alexandra Lookout in the region’s Indigenous history.

MARRDJA BOARDWALK

Leaving, the stunning views of Alexandra Lookout, I continued my windy scenic drive through the rainforest and every corner I turned, I was surprisigngly faced with impressive rainforest ferns, palm trees and many exotic plants. Within few kilometres, I reached one of the popular boardwalks on the way to Cape Tribulation. This boardwalk known as Marrdja boardwalk is undoubtedly the best in the area. This incredible rainforest boardwalk is a paradise for nature lovers as the rich vegetation and thriving wildlife allow you to get lost in the beauty of this natural park.

As am meandering down the Marrdja boardwalk, it took me into another world where the lush vegetation changing and evolving the richness of the earth and the rainforest echoes with life. Here, I not only got the chance to see the tangle of fig trees embracing each other but the gentle music of the bright streams spilling over rocks and the mangrove forests entwining with the dewy fresh rainforest made for an incredible sojourn. The constantly changing scenery and vegetation within 1.2km along this boardwalk are captivating and it just kept me me enthralled as I stroll along this stunning and impressive boardwalk.

I found this boardwalk to be among the most accessible and interesting of all these trails and it is well worth stopping to see some of the abundant flora and fauna of the Daintree Forest. This boardwalk is a looped walk that begins and ends at Oliver’s Creek, a glistering stream that emerges from beneath the thick rainforest canopy. The boardwalk is only 1.2km in length and is entrely wheelchair accessible. It is really, an instructive and nice boardwalk and there is so much to see. I get to see different types of mangroves, basket ferns, palms, strangler fig trees, birds, green butterflies, exotic mushrooms and the list just goes on. The informative signs along the boardwalk teaches of this land from prehistoric times and I walk, I found signs explaining that this rainforest is one of the places on earth to still be preserving many ancient trees. It is truly an amazing place to be.

CAPE TRIBULATION

The popular Cape Tribulation lies on the coast of the rainforest, where it meets the reef and has a long-stretched secluded beach with the back-drop of lush tropical rainforest and the reef. It is approximately 30km from the Daintree River Ferry crossing. Cape Tribulation is nestled in the heart of the Daintree Rainforest and offers some stunning natural scenes from remote headland that just out towards the Great Barrier Reef. It is reowned for its adventure trails through the rainforest, pristine and untouched lush rainforest, remote beaches, quiet and secluded tourist accommodations and the world heritage rainforest of Daintree National Park.

From the lookout as I looked back at the beach, it has the most stunning view of the coastline and headland. Cape tribulation is also home to 2 interpretive walks – Dubuji Boardwalk that takes you through the rainforest and mangroves. The Madja Botanical Boardwalk and pathway takes you through the high value Daintree coastal rainforest. I took an easy walk on Dubuji boardwalk to the Kulki lookout. It is just a short walk through the rainforest to the headland where a lookout point provides excellent view across the Cape Tribulation beach and pristine coastline. The views from here are stunning and unrivalled anywhere else before taking strolling along the beach.

What a great location to spending time here exploring this tropical world heritage listed rainforest but for those who want to experience a more adventurous road trip, travellers can drive beyond Cape Tribulation coastline. The road along the rough coast way to Cooktown and surrounding villages along the way, only accessible to 4-wheel vehicles. Some of the rugged part of this terrains are rough, dusty and rivers to cross.

 

 

© COPYRIGHT: ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

© akamau.org. (2017). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material (photography and writing) without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to akamau.org with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Port Moresby: The Capital of the Land of Unexpected

Papua New Guinea, the country known as the Land of Unexpected, is located in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. Port Moresby also known as Pom City is the capital and the largest city of Papua New Guinea. The city is situated on the eastern shore of Port Moresby off the Gulf of Papua, on the south-west coast of the Papuan Peninsula of the island of New Guinea. It is located about 100 miles on the northern tip of Australia. Port Moresby, has been growing rapidly since gaining independence in 1975 and it is the fastest growing city in the Pacific. With over 800 different languages, it makes this country one of the most unique, yet diverse place on earth to visit. Though English is commonly spoken throughout the country, the two main languages – tok Pidgin and Motu is widely spoken daily among the people.

Port Moresby’s charm lies in the diversity of its cultures and the distinct features of the people. From the highlands up in the mountains to islands of pristine beaches to coastal areas of the country, brings diversity and uniqueness.

WHY GO?

I returned to Port Moresby, the city where I grew up to visit families and some of the familiar places around Port Moresby after spending many years away from the country. Flying into Port Moresby’s Jacksons international airport from Australia, I was both anxious and nervous. I was excited and looking forward to seeing all my immediate and extended families. However, on the other end, I was nervous and petrified about visiting the place. The social media highlight the negative news about the country and potrayed as how dangerous the place is. Yes, if I rely purely on social media, it was easier for me to form a wrong impression about Port Moresby and the country as a while. In reality, I wanted to return to see what life is like in the land of the unexpected

Port Moresby

Arriving in Port Moresby, as soon as I stepped out of the Jackson’s International terminal, I went straight onto my waiting vehicle, surrounded and greeted by family members which was very welcoming. From there, I took an opportunity to ventured through some of the city’s main roads and suburban streets. Driving along the city’s main road and streets, every street corners were packed with street vendors. Whether it was in front of their residence, public bus-stops, front of the major shopping centres or along the busy main streets, they were visibly seeing everywhere and virtually selling anything to make a living. It was a common scene in every street corners and it can be over-whelming if your visiting for the first time in the area.

Street Vendors

Betel nut, one of the major thing that is virtually sold everywhere by street vendors is a nut which many locals chew. It is a drug and can become very addictive. Being aware of the risks, chewing betel nut was not on my bucket-list. I was warned by families that visiting public betel nut markets alone was highly unsafe and tourists or expatriate are most vulnerable. I was recommended to go with family members as public markets, especially in Port Moresby were quite dangerous. The local betel nut chewers tends to be careless when spitting betel nut juice.
Despite Parliament passing the amended Summary Offences Acts which prohibits selling, buying and chewing of betel nut, it has not solved the underlying problem. As I ventured further into the streets of Port Moresby, the streets and footpaths are stained by the blood red spittle that chewing produces and discarded husks clog the gutters. It was quite an eye sore and a very unpleasant introduction to the city.

City’s Image

The city of Port Moresby is one of the most populous places in the country and in the Pacific Islands. Within few hours of exploring the area, I began to find that the city has an image problem, with a firmly entrenched reputation as a violent and dangerous place. I found the streets to be unsafe to walk on and venturing out alone was basically taking my life in my hands. It is full of contradiction and pain. It is a place of wonder, fear, sorrow and neglect, considering hope. The country’s capital bursts with humanity on every street or corner I passed. I could virtually see it all there – poverty, wealth, good, bad, happy, sad, beauty and tragedies.

The more I began to explore, I noticed that behind the beautiful, lavish parts of Port Moresby lies the most abject poverty imaginable. Nothing could prepare me for the stark reality of desperation, misery and despair of walking through a real live slum in the heart of country’s capital. Sometimes the most severe poverty was hidden behind the walls and within the confines of a slum. Other times, it was just starring right back at me like a hard slap across my face. I tried to look away, and ignore the creeping, uncomfortable nagging guilt. But I couldn’t.

These scenes may be a tourist delight but taking time to explore and talking with the locals on the street, I have found that it was expensive, dangerous ( or so many expats will tell you) and not easily walkable. It was easy for me to see why many visitors are tempted to spend as little time here as possible, unless they have a friend or family connection in the city. I found the local people in Port Moresby probably through out the whole country tend to sit on the ground and watch the world go by when they have nothing to do. It was quite intimidating for me as I was already semi-paranoid about rascals pounding on me any minute.

Charming Locals

Beneath this heart-breaking struggle and despair, local people are charming and kind-hearted people once you leave the suburban/urban lifestyle. They are happy and photogenic with beautiful smiles whenever they see someone with a camera. I found that, once you get to know them, they immediately consider you like a brother or sister and are always willing to help out whenever you need assistance. However, like most areas, precaution, self-awareness and slef-alert were my first priority in every location I visited for my own safety. This charming lifestyle brought back past way of life that I once knew and I felt safe in every street corners I wandered around.

LIFESTYLE?

Port Moresby, like most part of the country is home to tight-knit communities, where everyone knows everyone. One of the thing, visitors need to know about life in PNG, is the people are friendly, relaxed and have a strong sense of community.

I originally coming from the country background, I have learnt to accept and become aware of how people in Port Moresby enjoying a slower pace where lifestyle is prioritised. Many really embrace the challenge of saving cash as families and extended families live in same household. I have noticed that this really make an impact on their lives. Every circumstance is different in every household but understanding life in this country is keeping an open mind and seeing and eveluating things from different perspective.

WHERE TO STAY?

There are various types of accommodations in the area ranging from resorts, hotels and private accommodations. However, it is highly expensive to stay in all accommodations. Safety is a major issue but staying in resorts or hotels are safe as they are guarded by securities constantly.

WHAT TO SEE AND DO?

With the unattractive side to the city, there is Port Moresby’s charms that reveal themselves. There is no shortage of social activities in Port Moresby. Many locals enaged in many sporting activities but for many expatriates, they tend to spend their weekends on sailing or fishing, playing tennis or squash game or even running groups.

It is commong for locals, which they prefer to wander around the area with smiling places but for travellers, it it worth visiting the local markets and museums with locals as your guides.

However, other places worth visiting includes:

* Parliament Haus (National Parliament): It is modelled in the style of a Sepik spirit house – “haus tambaran”. It is set in some beautiful and very carefully landscaped gardens.

* A superb National Museum and Art Gallery: This superb museum, beautifully remodelled for the country’s 40th anniversary of independence is the best introduction you can get to Papua New Guinea’s rich indigenous culture.

* Port Moresby’s Nature Park: This is an island of calm. Located not far from the University of Papua New Guinea is this 2km of walkways thread under and through the jungle canopy, with well-maintained gardens displaying both local and exotic plants species, including native and hybrid orchids and many more birds, including the iconic bird of paradise of the country.

* The Adventure Park: This park is located outside the city within few minutes of driving. It is one of the major attractions of the city which includes water slides and ferries wheels, paddle-boats and wildlife encounters

* Colourful Markets: Here you get to wander around and check out some of the locally made crafts, such as the hand-made string bags called bilums.

Many other attractions includes – Bomana War Cemetery, Variarata National Park, Hanubada and Koki villages built over the sea on stilts, National Orchid Gardens, McDonald’s Corner and many more.

All these are well worth a visit and they offer a pleasant way to get away for few hours when visiting the area but it is highly recommended to go with local guides in a convoy.

Exploring the area and Transportation

The city of Port Moresby is not a destination that families and travellers expect to come to enjoy or have a good time. It is a city with minimal attraction and tourism is non-existence in the city. The only main beach in the city, called Ela beach is deserted with no activities, except street vendors and locals prowling the promenade with minimal entertainment. With the rapid growth, there is a dark side. The gritty Port Moresby is not most travellers idea of an enchanting capital. The city has a spread-out collection of neighbourhoods – from modern office buildings in downtown and Waigani and a glitty marina full of yachts, to squatter shantytowns with no electricity or running water that cling to the hillsides. The scruffy market places are where barefoot settlers and villagers from surrounding areas come to sell their goods. The city illustrates the stark divide between expats, rich locals and the struggling locals. According to “Lonely Planet” travel guide, it rates Port Moresby has one of the worst places and most unsafe cities in the world to live.

However, it is entirely possible to get around and visit many attractions and places in this area with the help of public transport but public buses are not reliable, unsafe and dirty. However, my recommendation would be to hire a car and guides and travel in a convoy. To do a self-drive tour and exploring the area in your own time is very dangerous. Driving in the area is straightforward but the locals drive much faster and careless and not wary of others.

Yes, Port Moresby can be dangerous but my experience overall is that it is far from being the hell-hole that the tabloid media love to paint it. With common sense, it will keep you safe and sound. You need to be vigilant and conscous of your personal security. Visiting Port Moresby was not the near-death experience it might appear to be but my visit to the city that I grew up was such an amazing trip. I had the chance to visit some of the places that I was familiar with and other unique places. The experience was a completely different culture and lifestyle that I am familiar with back home.

When you have families or friends living in Port Moresby will definitely give you an unforgettable experience. In sharing my memories in this country, it can give others a different outlook in visiting the country.

 

© COPYRIGHT: ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

© akamau.org. (2017). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material (photography and writing) without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to akamau.org with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.