My Bucket List for Fiji

Fiji...can I just say we should all go visit and be done with this post?  😂

Fiji has so many things to offer...every water sport known to man, crystal blue water, pristine beaches, picturesque waterfalls, and so much more.  Read on to find out about several of the activities available on the island.

(Courtesy of Marriott)

Visit the Island of Taveuni

On the island of Taveuni you will find the Bouma National Heritage Park.  This location offers snorkeling in Waitabu Marine Park, hiking through Vidawa Rain Forest (complete with ancient ruins), exploration of Tavoro Waterfall Trail's three sets of waterfall cascades, bird watching, or views of wildlife.  Make sure you don't miss going on the Lavena Coastal Walk; this is a hiking trail that leads tourists along the coast, through the rainforest, and then to a stunningly beautiful hidden waterfall.

Visit the Coral Coast

Enjoy looking at the scenic coastline, which gets its name from the coral offshore, while you enjoy other regional activities.  Make sure you go for a dive in Beqa Lagoon, take in the views at Sigatoka Sand Dunes National Park, explore Namosi Highlands, or wander around Tavuni Hill Fort.  Also available in this region is Kula Eco Park...here you can see wildlife, learn about the flora and fauna, go ziplining, and enjoy a water slide.

Visit Kadavu Island

Here you can admire the Great Astrolabe Reef, one of the largest barrier reefs in the world by taking part in reef diving or snorkeling.  Sailing, fishing, kayaking, and hiking are also popular on this island.  Away from the coasts, you will find tropical rainforests in the middle of Kadavu.

Take day trip(s) to the Lau Islands

Swim, snorkel, or dive in the water; and hike the interiors to see tropical foliage.

Visit Viti Levu

Head to Natadola Beach to find a white sand beach that meets crystal blue waters.  You can sunbathe, kayak, surf, snorkel, or swim (regardless of the tide).  While on Viti Levu, also make sure to hike through Sigatoka Sand Dunes National Park for amazing views of forest and meadows before reaching the dunes.  Sleeping Giant Zipline, which has 10 separate ziplines, or Orchid Falls and Jungle Safari, with four waterfalls and wild birds among tropical foliage, are additional activities available on Viti Levu.

Visit Sabeto Hot Springs and Mud Pool

On the way to Sabeto Hot Springs you will enjoy a scenic drive past several local villages.  Upon arrival you can also enjoy a massage before or after soaking in the Hot Springs.

Visit Sri Siva Subramaniya Temple

This is the largest Hindu temple in the southern hemisphere; it is composed of three sections dedicated to Murugan, Ganesh, Meenakshi, and Shiva.  Admire the wooden statues of the deities, brought over from India, and the ceiling frescoes, created by artisans in India.  Please dress conservatively and remove your shoes before entering the temple

Visit the Church of Saint Francis Xavier.

This church features European architecture, an unusual find here.  The frescoed interior also makes for a stunning attraction.  Take note of the fact that congregants sit or kneel on woven grass mats, as is the custom in Fiji.

Visit the Garden of the Sleeping Giant.

Stroll through orchids, past lily ponds, and bamboo before enjoying a complimentary afternoon tea.

Visit Shark Reef Marine Reserve

Get up close and personal with sharks; or go on wreck dives or reef dives.

Sail to the islands of Mololo Lailai, Tavarua, Nomoto, and the outer reef

Along the way enjoy snorkeling in Musket Cove sand quay, swim, stroll along beaches, and enjoy a barbeque lunch.

Enjoy some time shopping

Handmade items can be found at La Galerie Fiji or at Nadi Handcraft Market.  (If you plan to take wooden objects back home, the wood must have been treated before boarding your return flight.)

Depart from Denarau Port on a cruise

Cruise through the Blue Lagoons and the Mamanuca Islands.  Upon reaching Schooner Island, a private and uninhabited island, you can snorkel, go scuba diving, or enjoy a massage before lunch.  After lunch you will sail back to Denarau Port.

As you can see there are so many fun things to do on the islands of Fiji.  Let me know what all you end up doing if you travel to Fiji.  I, for one, am excited to do all the activities above, plus canoeing and white-water rafting.

Marianne

New Zealand Bucket List

New Zealand is at the top of my list of places to go.  I don't know about you but I just love visiting islands.  If you are like me, you have been dreaming about what to do when you visit New Zealand.  So I compiled a list of what would be my top 10 activities.

(Courtesy of Conde Nast)

  1. Hike a glacier.  You can hike Franz Josef and Fox Glacier on the west coast of the South Island.  You won't be disappointed exploring ice caves and crevasses.  There is also Tasman Glacier, in Aoraki Mt Cook National Park, that is available for hiking; this is New Zealand's longest glacier.  Whichever you choose to hike, you won't be disappointed.
  2. Visit any of the geothermal parks between Rotorua and Taupo.  These geothermal parks, located on the North Island, have multi-colored pools, bubbling mud, and geysers.  They are truly a sight to behold.
  3. Learn about the Maori culture by attending a traditional Hangi dinner.  These are most prevalent in Rotorua.
  4. Go bungee jumping.  This is only fitting, after all bungee jumping was invented in New Zealand.
  5. Go on a hike.  This is the best way to experience New Zealand's breathtaking scenery.
  6. Explore Milford Sound.  Many people describe this as the most beautiful place in New Zealand.  Ways to see Milford Sound include kayaking, taking a cruise, hiking, scuba diving, or taking a scenic flight.
  7. See a Kiwi.  The best chance to see these is in one of the many conservation Kiwi houses around New Zealand; but if you happen to see one of these elusive nocturnal creatures in the wild, count yourself lucky.
  8. Visit The Hobbit site in Matamata.
  9. Gaze at the stars in a dark sky reserve.  Mackenzie Dark Sky Reserve on the South Island is well known for its star-gazing opportunities because the southern hemisphere stars are most vivid.  (And did you know that the South Island is where you can see Aurora Australis--commonly referred to as the Southern Lights.  Aurora Australis is best seen at midnight on a clear night between March and September.)
  10. Enjoy coastal activities.  These include surfing, paddleboarding, snorkeling, scuba diving, and sunbathing on the beach.  Just remember, summer in the northern hemisphere is their winter.

If you see the Aurora Australis, or anything else exciting, while visiting New Zealand--drop a comment and let me know.

Top Ten Things to do in Belize

If you're like me Belize is a place you have dreamed of going to for a while.  The ocean, the beaches, the warm weather...it all sounds so nice.  So what should you do while you are there?  Read on to find out what is on my bucket list.

(Courtesy of Lonely Planet)

  1. Visit any one of the numerous ruins.  There are several to choose from, so you can take your pick.  Caracol is part of the Mayan Ruins with none of the crowds like Tikal, in bordering Guatemala.  You can climb the highest pyramid of Caracol and see far into the distance, even seeing into Guatemala.  Lamanai are other ruins that are more off the beaten path but worth seeing.  You can also explore Altun Ha, Xunantunich, or Cahal Pech.
  2. Enjoy seeing marine life.  You can snorkel or sail with sharks and rays, snorkel with manatees at Swallow Caye Wildlife Sanctuary--just remember no touching, or swim with turtles.
  3. Catch a nice sunset.  This is actually harder than it sounds with the coast on the east side--but if you head to Caye Caulker you will see an amazing sunset.  A prime sunset spot can be found in under 5 minutes here, vs Ambergris Caye.
  4. Speaking of Caye Caulker, spend a day here at the Split.  There is a makeshift beach where the water is deeper and more blue than usual.  The Split is perfect for swimming and diving.
  5. Go caving in Actun Tunichil Muknal, voted #1 by National Geographic multiple times.
  6. Take a helicopter tour over the Blue Hole.  This allows for a better view of this iconic landmark than diving into it from a boat.
  7. If you are scuba certified go scuba diving in any one of the many reefs.  Please use reef-safe sunscreen and I highly recommend a travel insurance plan that covers scuba diving accidents.  World Nomads' Explorer Plan is an excellent addition to a top tier Allianz Plan.
  8. Catch an amazing sunrise at Ambergris Caye.
  9. Spend time at the semi-secluded Ranguana.  Here you can snorkel, kayak, paddleboard, or sunbathe on one of the most pristine beaches in Belize.
  10. Head to Cockscomb Basin to see the wildlife.  Here you can see jaguarundi, ocelot, or if you're lucky a jaguar.

If you make it on a helicopter tour over the Blue Hotel leave a comment and let me know!

British Virgin Islands vs US Virgin Islands

(Courtesy of Lonely Planet)

You want to visit the Virgin Islands but you aren't sure where to go between BVI and USVI.  How do you decide.  Read about the differences to help you decide/

First, if you are an American citizen, visiting USVI is easier; likely the same goes for British citizens traveling to BVI.  And the two differ in characteristics in relation to travelers.

USVI islands, except for St. John, offer more commercial benefits.  But with that comes more hustle-and-bustle.  BVI islands are relatively more calm. There are far fewer deluxe hotels on BVI islands, most of those being on Virgin Gorda.  For USVI islands, only St. John matches the tranquility of BVI where it protected by the US Forest Service.  You could always travel between the islands to experience all their vibes.

If you are wanting to travel between islands, just know that there are only frequent ferry connections between St. Thomas and St. John.  To visit other islands a private boat or an airplane flight are often required for now.  So if you plan on traveling between islands, don't plan on a ferry.

Top Seven Things to do in Morocco

I can't wait to travel to Morocco.  And if you are like me, you are wondering what to do when you get there.  Well look no further.

(Courtesy of Forbes Middle East)

  • Explore the Marrakech.  Wander around the markets and souks.  While here walk around Bahia Palace.
  • See Chefchaouen.  Blue buildings make up this iconic village and create a beautiful sight.  While here visit the medina.
  • Walk around Merzouga.  Nestled in the sand dunes, you might see a few flamingoes in this area of the Sahara Desert.
  • Visit Rabat.  Rabat is the capital city of Morocco and sits on the Atlantic Ocean.  Don't miss walking around the Royal Palace when you visit Rabat.
  • Hike the Gorges of Dades.  The views here are so amazing.
  • Take in the sights at Ouzoud Waterfall.  You can see the Atlas Mountains here.  If you swim in the falls do so at your own risk; the falls aren't patrolled and have dangerous currents.
  • See the arches of Legzira Beach.  Only some of the arches remain, so make sure you admire the breathtaking red cliffs and arches.  Sunset is the best time to visit.  After you watch the sunset, enjoy dinner.

Top Five Things to do on Christmas Island

Christmas Island is a beautiful island.  This single island is an Australian territory, located in the Indian Ocean.  Nearly 2/3 of the island is a national park.  The island is made up of diverse mix of cultures.  Malaysian Chinese, Mainland European Australians, and Malay Australians make up most of the residents of the island.  So the island is often referred to as the Galapagos of the Indian Ocean.  Wet season, for the island's tropical equatorial climate, is between December and April; the island is in the path of northwest monsoons.  The island has a unique population of wildlife due to the island's isolation and climate.  The official language of the island is English but you will often hear other languages.

  • Watch the annual red crab migration.  The migration occurs between October and December.  Adult red crabs migrate from the forest to the coast to breed.  The eggs are released at the turn of the high tide and hatch as soon as they hit the water.  After a month in the sea, the young crabs make the dangerous trek back to the forest to spend the first three years of their lives.

(Courtesy of Christmas Island Tourism)

  • Enjoy the amazing scuba diving.  Christmas Island has some of the world's largest drop-offs.  The island is surrounded by narrow tropical reef that is home to beautiful types of hard and soft coral.  Butterfly fish, eels, and so many other types of fish can be seen.  The northern coast has the best unspoiled corals in the world, as well as docile whale sharks that visit between November and April.
  • The island is a year round nesting ground for green and hawksbill turtles, especially Dolly and Greta beaches.
  • Christmas Island is known for bird watching.  80,000 sea birds, of 23 different species, visit annually.  The birds are very unique and very approachable.  Bird 'n' Nature Week is also a great time to attend workshops and take part in seminars that discuss current research.
  • Celebrate any of the numerous holidays that are celebrated on the island.  Australia Day, Chinese New Year, Hari Raya Haji, and Month of the Hungry Ghost are just some of the holidays celebrated on the island.  During some of these holidays authentic Thai, Chinese, Malay, or modern Australian food is enjoyed.