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WINTER 2012Isea&iI69lifeafloat

Slung just beneath the equator like a ham-mock, a cluster of islands have charmedtheir way onto the cruising route of yachts-men prepared to travel that bit further forsomethingtruly extraordinary. Such is the beauty of the South Pacific islands that for thosewith the time and inclination to visit, the rewards are many. Theocean in this part of the world is unparalleled for cruising.Your yacht can take flight across miles of deserted water, thenanchor off a carefully selected handful of the many thousandsof islands that dot the ocean. Step ashore on each to a paradiseof serene blue lagoons, tropical inland waterfalls, rainforesttrails, beaches of black and gold sand, ancient fishing villages,exotic pearl farms and friendly and colourful locals. Planning a charter here is something of a balancing act; you'llneed to decide which of the main island groups you want tofocus on, and within each you then have a choice of key islands.It's not always a simple task to narrow down favourites as thereare thousands to explore in this part of the world and many areMarooned amid the vast expanse of ocean between Australia, Hawaii andSouth America, the islands of the South Pacific are some of the most remote- and spectacular - on earthBy Kate RigbyLOST INSENSATIONsouth pacific70Isea&iIWINTER 2012very far apart, so charters need to be carefully and realisticallyplanned. Below are the six main island groups and some of thehighlights of each to give you a taste of what to expect. YourCamper & Nicholsons charter broker can then weave a selecthandful into a bespoke cruise to suit you.FIJI One of the principal island groups, Fiji comprises more than 300islands (mostly created by volcanic activity over millennia) splitbetween nine island regions. Viti Levu is the largest island, withNadi International Airport being the main entry into the coun-try.Spend a few days ashore, dividing your time between hikingup tropical mountains, kayaking and rafting through the NamosiHighlands and visiting the cities, which include Suva, the capital,where colourful markets sit alongside colonial architecture. Whileyou're there, take a tour of the botanical gardens and Fiji Museumfor an insight into the region's culture, history and lifestyle. Othercities on Viti Levu include Nadi and Lautoka. ?