Fiji & South Pacific
Day 1 - Melbourne Victoria may be Australia's smallest continental state, but Melbourne, its capital, is big on everything. With a population of 2.7 million people living in 59 separately named communities within 715 square miles, Melbourne is a sprawling city offering culture, art, fashion and friendly, sports-minded Australians. It is also an easy city to explore. At the heart of the city is the Golden Mile, the city's governmental and commercial center, home to hotels, shops, restaurants and theaters. Originally part of New South Wales, Victoria became a colony in its own right in 1851. The discovery of gold propelled Melbourne's growth to prominence and prosperity.
Day 2 - At Sea
Day 3 - At Sea
Day 4 - At Sea
Day 5 - Isle of Pines With radiant turquoise waters hiding a wealth of colorful corals and fish below, Isle of Pines is a wonderful place to dive and explore. Although this breathtaking island has been nicknamed "the closest island to Paradise," it once served as a penal colony to thousands of French deportees. Pottery found on the island dates back to 1500 B.C., although the discovery of the island is most often attributed to Captain James Cook, who sailed by during a voyage to New Zealand in the 18th century. Cook named the island after its towering native pines, but he never set foot on land, presumably threatened by the sight of smoke rising above the trees. The great explorer missed out on some of the most fascinating treasures ashore. From the tiniest endemic creatures to the far-reaching views offered by its highest peak, Isle of Pines is a unique island destination with plenty to discover.
Day 6 - At Sea
Day 7 - Lautoka The second-largest city of Fiji, Lautoka is located in the west, on the island of Viti Levu. It is nicknamed The Sugar City due to its expansive sugarcane plantations producing the island's most important crop. Its soft-sand beaches are fringed with swaying palm and coconut trees reflected in the crystalline turquoise waters. A drive through the city center allows glimpses of tree-lined streets, colonial houses, colorful markets and a vibrant local culture.
Day 8 - Suva The Fiji archipelago is at the cross roads of the South Pacific. In the days of sailing ships, it was known as "The Cannibal Isles," where mariners carefully avoided its fierce warriors and perfidious waters. Thankfully, Fiji's pagan days live only in the tales recalled by tour guides - in rituals such as firewalking, Kava Ceremonies and in renditions of tribal drumming, dance and song. Fiji is an exotic destination, with 333 islands that provide an exciting adventure or peaceful repose. The northwest region, where the sun shines almost every day and a tropical shower ends as quickly as it began, is home to the majority of the resorts. Suva, the political, administrative, educational and commercial center, has a backdrop of lush rainforest maintained by the inevitable "tropical downpour." The people of Fiji are the most multiracial and multicultural of all South Pacific island countries - this being reflected in churches of all denominations, mosques, temples and shrines. Built around a reef-protected natural harbor, Suva, with its colonial buildings nestled alongside modern commercial venues, shops and local markets, parks and residential sprawl, is home to nearly half of Fiji's urban population.
Day 9 - Dravuni Island Less than two miles in length from north to south, Dravuni Island lies in the Kadavu Island group of Fiji. Its volcanic peaks give way to a remote village of just 200 or so friendly villagers who live amongst the island's shady palms. These welcoming locals and their children often sing to arriving visitors. Well-worn trails scattered with coconuts snake around the unspoiled beaches, the soft sands beckoning underwater adventurers towards the crystal-clear waters. Many visitors come to snorkel in the Great Astrolabe Reef, or to hike Dravuni Island's highest peak for magnificent once-in-a-lifetime views of the surrounding islands.
Day 10 - At Sea
Day 11 - Noumea The capital of New Caledonia, Noumea is a little piece of France in the middle of the Coral Sea. Before World War II, New Caledonia was a little known and seldom-visited French possession known for its penal colony and its natural resources. (Nickel smelting still plays a major role in the island economy.) Today, travelers are drawn to New Caledonia for its scenic beauty. The island is famed for its white-sand beaches while its west coast is the site of the world's second longest barrier reef. The offshore waters also offer superb diving and snorkeling. In 1774, James Cook thought the island's rugged hills resembled those of his native Scotland. Hence he christened the island New Caledonia. The island and its outlying groups became a French colony in 1854 and an overseas department of France in 1956.
Day 12 - At Sea
Day 13 - At Sea
Day 14 - At Sea
Day 15 - Melbourne Victoria may be Australia's smallest continental state, but Melbourne, its capital, is big on everything. With a population of 2.7 million people living in 59 separately named communities within 715 square miles, Melbourne is a sprawling city offering culture, art, fashion and friendly, sports-minded Australians. It is also an easy city to explore. At the heart of the city is the Golden Mile, the city's governmental and commercial center, home to hotels, shops, restaurants and theaters. Originally part of New South Wales, Victoria became a colony in its own right in 1851. The discovery of gold propelled Melbourne's growth to prominence and prosperity.
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