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72Isea&iIWINTER 2012Vanua Levu is the second largest island in the group and isstunningly beautiful, as is Taveuni, which has earneditself the nickname 'garden island of Fiji' thanks to its lush veg-etation, tropical floraand mountains.Also in the region are the Kadavu islands, where youcan wander through verdant rainforests and tick off sightingsof rare and colourful bird species, and the Yasawa group ofislands, which are famous for their blue lagoons, white-sandbeaches and rugged volcanic backdrop. The Mamanucas arealso blessed with spectacular scenery, reef-fringed beaches andintriguing birdlife. If you fancy a spot of luxury amid the remote desert islands,steer a course to Vatulele Island, which has a resort of the samename that opened in 1990 and has since gained accoladesworldwide. A beautiful boutique property set on a lagoon, itoccupies a stunning site and merits a night ashore. Start withcocktails at sunset, followed by dinner at tables lit by starlight,candlelight and lanterns. Many of the ingredients are pickedfresh from the resort's garden or plucked straight from theocean. An impressive wine cellar ensures all gourmet treats arewell accompanied. The Qamea Resort and Spa is also worth a visit for eveningdrinks, or perhaps a spa treatment - the combination ofdelicious Guinot products and spectacular tropical jungle set-tingmake for a memorable afternoon during any charter.BESTFOR. beach life, romance, family fun, scuba diving andcultural interestDON'TMISS. hiking on Waya Island; taking a float plane fromNadi to Turtle Island to visit the Blue Lagoon; ridingdownstream on traditional bamboo boats to explore thesacred Naihehe cavesTONGAThe kingdom of Tonga comprises an archipelago of around 170coral and volcanic islands. The main island of Tongatapu is agood place to start as it is home to some of Tonga's most ancienthistory, and its royal family. Here you'll discover the Royal Palaceand nearby Royal Tombs, as well as fascinating archaeological

WINTER 2012I sea&iI73sites including the old capital at Mu'a, complete with moats andancient tombs, and the Ha'amonga'a Maui Trilithon (theStonehenge of the Pacific built by the Lapita people around1200AD). You can also visit the landing place of mariners AbelTasman and Captain Cook, picnic on secluded beaches and havea traditional Tongan dinner served up with the islanders' ancientcultural performance. The morning markets are a fun way tomingle with the local community, and you might pick up a fewlocal mementoes along the lines of woven baskets and handi-crafts. You could also take a kart safari trip to explore the heartof the islands. This is a region that invites you to make the most of the ocean,with whale-watching, snorkelling, diving, swimming and kayak-ing vying for your time - the latter two being great ways toexplore the off-lying islands. 'Eua Island has its own NationalPark, making it a serene retreat and the best place in Tonga totrek, with forests, cliffs, caves and shorelines to explore. Forgame fishing, swimming with humpbacks and fantastic caveand shipwreck dives, head to the Vava'u group.BESTFOR. beach life, romance, friendly locals DON'TMISS. whale watching; snorkelling off Vava'u; the King'sPalace on Nukualofa; the coral islands off Tongatapu; the wildhorses on 'Eua IslandCOOK ISLANDSThere are 15 islands in the Cook group, which is locatedbetween Tahiti and Tonga. The main island is Rarotonga, wherethere is an international airport, and this is a great place foractivity and adventure. This is the youngest island in the groupand it is a tropical haven of banana, coconut and pineappletrees. It's also a very musical island, so your visit is likely tobe accompanied by a backing chorus of church hymns, coconut-shell ukuleles and island drums. Surrounded by a lagoon, wateris a way of life here so you can snorkel, swim, fish, scuba diveand sail to your heart's content. Nearby Aitutaki is worth a daytrip as this small island has a gorgeous lagoon and greatbeaches on which to spend a lazy afternoon. It is known as theHoneymoon Island as it is so beautiful and has an intrigu-?Above left: the pristinewhite sands of FijifurtherafieldODYSSEY41.1m (134'8'), 11 guests from US$125,000 per week (winter and summer)CALLIOPE42.28m (138'8), 10 guests from US$160,000 per week (summer)