Saint Lucia

This sovereign island-country in the Eastern Caribbean is almost in the Atlantic Ocean, but not quite.  It is part of the Lesser Antilles and enjoys a limited union with the islands of Dominica, Grenada and St. Vincent which is just north/northeast of St. Lucia.   St Lucia is north-west of Barbados and south of Martinique.


St Lucia’s weather is hot and humid but has the advantage of cooling trade winds.  The wettest season is from June through to November and the dry weather begins in December and continues until May.  The hurricane season is between June and November.

History of Saint Lucia

It is thought that the island was first inhabited by the Ciboney, a Stone Age hunter-gather people who most probably migrated from the southern parts of North America.  However, later, those who were not killed were absorbed into the tribes of the Arawak Indians when they arrived on the island.  The Arawak originated in the north of South America and were an agrarian people today often referred to as the Taino and the Igneri people.

After the Arawak came the aggressive Carib people who arrived around 800 AD.  This aggressive and warlike people did to the Arawak as the Arawak had done to the Ciboney, killing off the men and intermarrying with the Arawak women. These Carib people were much feared by the Europeans as they often attacked ships that came to their shores setting out in their war canoes and often overrunning the ships before they were able to sail out of harm’s way.

Although it has been claimed that the island of St Lucia was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493 there is evidence to suggest that this is not true, nor is there any evidence that the explorer Juan de la Cosa did either.  However, what is known is that in the late 1550s the island was known to the French pirate Jambe de Bois (François de Clerc) as it was from the Caribbean islands that he attacked Spanish merchant vessels.

The British made several attempts to colonise the island but always met with disaster, either from disease or constant attacks from the Caribs.  The largest number of British colonists were brought to the island in 1664 when, in order to keep the island in British hands, 1000 settlers were brought out to the island, but as with other attempts this too ended in disaster, leaving only 89 survivors within 2 years.

The French of the French West India Company then took control of the island and it became an official French colony in 1666 and in 1722 a further attempt by the British to re-settle the islands, found a very resistant French force that very quickly had them on the run.

The 18th century has a record of the island changing hands on a constant from the French to the British and visa versa until finally, in 1803 the British were successful and although the slaves of the island had been freed by the French Governor in 1794, as a result of the slave revolt on the island, the British re-established the practice as cheap labour was desperately needed on the many sugar plantations.  The British government abolished slave labour in 1807, however, this was of little benefit for those already enslaved on the island as it took until 1834 before the ‘institution of slavery’ ended and only 1838 were all the remaining slaves set free when St. Lucia was incorporated into the Windward Islands administered from Barbados.  In 1885 the administration of the islands was moved to Grenada.

The 20th century saw the island move toward independence.  First came its own representative government in 1924 and in 1951 universal adult suffrage came into being.  Then in 1956 Ministerial government was introduced which led to St Lucia joining the West Indies Federation in 1958.  However, when Jamaica left the Federation in 1962 the Federation fell apart leaving St Lucia on its own.

From 1967 to 1979 St. Lucia was an associated state of the United Kingdom, which meant that it could determine its own internal policies while leaving Britain responsible for its external affairs and its defence.   Finally St Lucia achieved full independence in February 1979 although it has remained a sovereign state with Queen Elizabeth as its head of state.  St Lucia is a member state of the Caribbean common market (CARICOM), and the East Caribbean Common Market (ECCM).

The people and culture of Saint Lucia

The People: The warm and friendly people of St. Lucia speak English which is the official lingua franca of the island, although amongst themselves they speak their own unique French patois.  Although there is an eclectic mix of religions on the island the majority of St, Lucians are catholic and Holy Week, in April is a quiet time on the islands.

The Food: Historically the choice of foods on the island was fairly limited as there were no domestic animals.  The locals relied upon the fruits of the island to which they added fish when they had a successful catch.  However, with the arrival of the first colonisers came the addition of plantains (a type of banana), pineapples, sweet potatoes, maize (corn), cassava, coconuts, beans and many of the spices used in the preparation of many of the island’s speciality dishes.

The French introduced cattle to the island and with beef came French cooking techniques.  As with the French, the British also brought their own favoured spices, fruits and vegetables as well as their own particular ways of cooking.  A left-over from the days of slavery, when slave owners fed their slaves as cheaply as possible, rice, maize, beans and potatoes are very much part of the local diet.

International cuisine is on offer throughout the island with local speciality dishes offering a treat for any palate and to celebrate their love for food and most especially seafood, there is the Dennery Fish Festival which is held on the last Sunday of June each year.

Carnival: The warmth and love of celebration is evident during the island’s June Carnival when calypso music sets the feet tapping as costumed dancers parade in the streets of Casteries on Carnival Tuesday.

Antigua and Barbuda

The Leeward Islands of the Lesser Antilles mark the separation of the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.  Antigua and Barbuda as part of the Lesser Antilles lie 650 km southeast of Puerto Rico.  The two islands of Barbuda and Antigua are 48 km apart with the third uninhabited island of Redonda 56km to the southwest of Antigua.  St. John’s on Antigua, is the capital of this island state and Codrington the principal city on Barbuda.  The islands are volcanic in origin with Boggy Peak on Antigua the highest point at 402km.  The islands’ tropical waters are alive with a rich variety of crustaceans and tropical fish.


The warm dry weather of Antigua and Barbuda remains fairly constant throughout the year with temperatures that range from 72°F (22°C) in the cooler months to 104°F (40°C) between October and January.  However, humidity is not a feature of the climate and cooling southeast trade winds ensure that the heat never becomes unbearable.

The highest rainfall is recorded between the months of June and November when daily showers occur.  Because the islands lie within the hurricane zone of the Caribbean they, like all the other islands in the region, are prone to these powerful storms about every 2 to six years.

Brief History of Antigua and Barbuda

The first people to inhabit the islands were, what have been termed “Archaic People”, they were the Siboney who were both a pre-agricultural and pre-ceramic people thought to be descended from Cuban people who arrived around 2900BC.  Thereafter the islands were settled by the Saladoid people from Venezuela followed by the Arawaks around 1200AD.  The Arawaks were an agrarian people and the first to introduce crop growing to the islands.  Crops included corn, sweet potatoes, chillies, guavas, and tobacco.  As with the other islands, these people were either killed and cannibalised or enslaved by the conquering Caribs around 1500 AD.  Although much of the original islands’ indigenous population died off partly as a result of diseases brought during European colonisation and partly also as a result of the deprivations of colonial slavery.  However, the islands are still home to the descendants of the survivors of colonial times.

Colonial History of Antigua and Barbuda

The islands were first discovered by Christopher Columbus who first named the larger island Santa Maria de la Antigua.  Many unsuccessful attempts were made by the British to settle on the islands, but each time they were repelled by the aggressively protective Caribs until finally in 1632 a small settlement succeeded.  The British first cultivated cash crops of indigo, ginger and later sugar-cane.  The first sugarcane plantation was developed on Antigua by Sir Christopher Codrington in 1674.  As a result of the success of this plantation, many plantation owners followed suit by changing their crops from indigo and ginger to sugarcane.

As the harvesting of sugar cane was labour intensive the need for cheap labour was paramount.  Britain first imported Indian and white indentured labour (another term for slavery).  However, this attempt at procuring cheap labour was unsuccessful as these indentured servants were unable to adapt well to the island climate and the hard labour required of them and they succumbed in their thousands.  As a result, the British then enslaved the people of the islands and added to their number through the African slave trade.  The present Creole traditions of the island derive from this mix of nationalities.

Britain, now the superior power in the Caribbean, commissioned, the then, Captain Horatio Nelson to command the British Fleet out of Antigua.  He immediately embarked on improving the dockyard in English Harbour at St John’s (the Nelson Dockyard), but it was his introduction of the Navigation Act in 1787 which led to his departure from the islands.

The Navigation Act permitted only British-registered ships to trade with the island colonies.  This unpopular act excluded trading with the newly independent States of America and so caused much unrest among the colonials of the islands and was ultimately unsuccessful.

In 1860 Britain annexed Barbuda and 12 years later the tiny island of Redonda, thus creating ‘The territory of Antigua’ and Antigua became known as the “Gateway to the Caribbean”.

Antigua in the 20th century

The economy of Antigua suffered greatly as the sugar industry went into decline in the 20th century. The small amount of land offered few opportunities for farm labour and without manufacturing, there were few alternative economic opportunities for the population and as a consequence poor labour practices flourished.

How did Antigua and Barbuda gain Independence?

Shortly after 1939 the Antigua Trades and the Labour Union was formed with its president Vere Cornwall Bird becoming the union president in 1943.  He then set about forming the Antigua Labour Party (ALP), which became the majority party in 1951, and remained in power right up to and past the Island territory’s independence in 1981.

1981 saw the islands become ‘the Nation of Antigua and Barbuda’, a sovereign state under the constitutional monarchy of Britain’s reigning monarch and a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.

The ALP continued its political power winning elections in 1984, 1989 and 1989 and again in 1994.  However, the ALP under Lester Bird was soon suspected of corruption, most particularly when he announced that Antigua’s north-eastern coast was to be opened for Malaysian development.  The ALP consequently lost their majority to the United Progressive Party in 2004, thus ending the decades-long rule of the ALP.

Saint Kitts and Nevis

Where is St Kitts?

The Federation of Saint Christopher (Kitt) and Nevis consist of two islands  in the Eastern Caribbean approximately 1,200 miles (1,931km) from Miami, 218 miles (350 km) east-southeast of Puerto Rica and 50 miles (80km) west of Antigua.   Its distance from London (UK) is approximately 4,000 miles (6437 km).  It is part of the Leeward Island chain of the Lesser Antilles archipelago.  St Kitts is the larger of the two islands separated from the island of Nevis by what is termed “The Narrows”, a shallow ocean channel.  The island of St Kitts covers an area of approximately 69 square miles (111square km) and Nevis approximately 36 square miles (58 square km).  The capital of St. Kitts and Nevis are Basseterre which is located on the island of St. Kitts.

The islands of Saint Eustatius, Saba, Saint Barthélemy, Saint Martin (Maarten) and Anguilla are north-northwest of the islands and to the east and northeast are the islands of Antigua and Barbuda.


The islands enjoy a hot tropical climate with the driest period between January and April.  The wettest months are May through to October, with hurricanes most likely between August and October.

Getting there

Travelling from the US and Canada you fly direct to the Robert Llewellyn Bradshaw International Airport just outside Basseterre on the island of St. Kitts.  Flying in from Europe or other countries means you will fly via Antigua and land at the Nevis airfield at Newcastle on the island of Nevis.

History of St. Kitts and Nevis

The first inhabitants of the islands were Native Americans who first inhabited the islands more than five thousand years ago, followed by the Kalinago (Carib) Indians who arrived around 300 years before the islands were discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493.  The Kalinga people named the island of St. Kitts ‘Liamuiga’ (fertile land).  This name still exists today but only names the Western peak on the island, Mount Liamuiga.

Christopher Columbus first sighted the islands in 1493 and named the island of Nevis, San Martín.  However, its present day name is derived from the Spanish Nuestra Señora de las Nieves. For a short, while the island was known as “Dulcinea” (sweet one), but soon reverted to the original Spanish name which was abbreviated to ‘Nevis’.

During the 17th century the island of St. Kitts was recorded as ‘San Cristóbel’ (Saint Christopher), and it is the English nickname that is used today, Kit (Kitt) being the short form of Christopher.

French Huguenots arrived on St Kitts in 1538 but the Spanish were none too happy with this invasion by the French and they destroyed their settlement and deported the survivors.  The next settlers to arrive were the British in 1623, who were soon followed by French colonialists.  However, in the first few years, both the French and British settlers ran a campaign to discredit the indigenous peoples to justify their systematic genocide of the local population of the islands.  This continued until the Spanish returned and destroyed their settlements and in 1629 deported all the French and English settlers back to their homelands.  However, in 1630 the Spanish allowed both the French and the British to resettle the islands and so the French and British were able to establish a strong foothold in the Caribbean.  The islands became known as “The Mother Colony of the West Indies”.  Constant friction between the two nationalities finally ended when the French ceded the islands to the British in 1713.

At first, the two islands were governed as two separate entities until they were unified by the British together with the island of Anguilla.  In 1967 the islands were granted autonomy over their internal affairs.  However, in 1971 Anguilla separated from this ‘associated state’ leaving the two islands of St. Kitts and Nevis to gain their own independence in 1983.

The island of Nevis has long been dissatisfied with the treatment meted out by the ruling island of St. Kitts and did, in 1998, put the possibility of succession to the vote in a referendum, but the vote was not carried and Nevis remains part of the two islands sovereign state.

The people of St. Kitts and Nevis

The majority of the population of the islands are Afro-Caribbean, descended largely from the slaves imported by the British to work on the sugar plantations.  A very small percentage of the population is of British descent.

The lingua franca of the islands is English but socially locals employ a dialect of English mixed with West African languages known as Kittitian (St Kitts) and Nevisian (Nevis).  The islands are known for their idiosyncratic music, dance and dress and the telling of stories based on myth and legend is very much part of the island culture.

Culinary traditions

Goat meat and sometimes mutton, as well as fresh seafood, are the staples of traditional fare accompanied by either pea and rice or squash.  Fried chicken is also a favourite for special occasions.  The islanders love to spice up their dishes with hot sauces and much of the local food is either carried or cooked creole style.

As can be expected with its sugar plantation heritage, rum is the most popular alcoholic beverage, although beer has become a fierce contender.  A local brewery on St. Kitts provides the local brew which is much cheaper than the island’s rum.

Comoros Islands


The Comoros consists of 2361 km2 of volcanic islands, which lie in the Mozambique Channel, northwest of Madagascar.  The archipelago boasts three important reefs: the Banc Vailheu (Raya), a reef formed by a submerged volcano 20 km west of Grand Comoro; Banc du  Geyser 130 km Northeast of Grand-Terre and Banc du Leven which is a submerged island between Madagascar and Grand-Terre.


The islands enjoy a tropical climate with a wet season from October to April.  The heaviest rains are usually from December through to April.  The average temperature during the rainy-season is usually between 74°F to 78°F and in March can reach as high as the 84 to 86°F.  Southerly winds bring cooler and drier weather between May and September when temperatures average around 66°F.  However, higher regions on the islands are moister than the low lying coastal areas.


History of the Comoros Islands

There is Archaeological evidence that there were some settlements on the islands as early as 1000BC, however the evidence indicates that these would have been temporary settlements.  There is no evidence of permanent settlements until the 8th century AD but this evidence is restricted to the islands of Mohéli and Mayotte.

It is thought that the first inhabitants of the islands were most likely to have been of African origin, after which it is probable that the Austronesian people who colonised Madagascar may have spread to the archipelago.  When Arab traders arrived some time during the 10th century a thriving ivory trade was established.  Some of the Arab traders are known to have intermarried with the local population and also to have introduced the first slaves to the islands.  On the first Arab map of the area the island of Madagascar is named ‘Al-Komr’ (the moon), but the name was later used to refer to the Comoros archipelago.

The first Europeans to arrive were the Portuguese around 1505, but apart from describing Grand Comore in 1529 they had no great influence on the islands.  The most prominent influence on the islands was during the 15th and 16th centuries when Arab traders and Shirazi (Iranians) brought Islam to the population.  It was at this time that the first mosques were built and sultanate rule was established.

The Comoros Islands were a strategically important stop-over for traders from Europe and in the 17th century British and Dutch ships found safe harbour at Anjouan.  The French purchased the island of Mayotte in 1841 and French colonisation followed.  This colonisation led to France declaring the archipelago a protectorate of France in 1886, and the islands became a single French colony in 1908.  In 1912 the French protectorates of Grand Comore, Anjouan and Mohéli were annexed to the Island of Madagascar.

In 1946 the islands of Comoros broke away from the administration of Madagascar and became a separate administrative entity.  Madagascar gained its independence in 1960 leaving the Comoros Islands still under French rule until 1975 when they declared unilateral independence from France.  However, as a result of a referendum all three islands remained as French territory, although from the end of 1942 to 1946 they were occupied by the British.

Excluding Mayotte the islands formed the Federal Islamic Republic of the Comoro Islands until 1997 when the islands of Anjouan and Mohéli declared their independence thus breaking up the Islamic Republic.

The Comoros Islands have a turbulent 20th century history, with coups, mercenary actions and deposed Islamic presidents occurring with dramatic regularity until in 2006 when a Sunni cleric, Ahmed Abdallah Sambi became the president of the Union of the Comoros.  He is a moderate Islamist and has not permitted his people to follow an extremist route, so Comoran women are not forced to wear a niqab or hijab (veil).

Modern Culture and the People of the Comoros

The history of the islands is reflected in the culture, a mix of African-Swahili, Arab, French and Portuguese.

The language:  The majority of Comorians speak a dialect of Swahili called Shikomoro while others speak Arabic and French.

Traditional Dress:  Most women on the island wear the traditional Shiromeni: long skirts or dresses in bright poster-colours.  Comoran women are often seen with their faces covered in an orange coloured substance made by crushing coral into a paste and adding sandalwood.  This is considered to be a beauty mask.  Men also wear long skirts over which hangs a long white shirt while on their heads they wear the much valued Koffia or skull cap.

Traditional Crafts:  The Comoran people are known for their handicrafts and most particularly for their pearl and shell jewellery, wood carvings, pottery, basket weaving and embroidery.

Traditional Cuisine:  Comoran cuisine is a healthy blend of local seafood and locally grown fresh produce as well as rice.  Traditional dishes are a delicious blend of Arab and French cuisine with fish as a staple at every meal.  Food is spiced with vanilla, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, cloves and nutmeg.  Lobster cooked with vanilla (Langouste a la vanilla) is a traditional favourite as well as the deliciously flavourful meat kebabs.  Cassava porridge garnished with fresh fruit provides a healthy start to each day.  Jackfruit, one of the many fruits grown on the island, is a large, long, green fruit with a flavour reminiscent of lychee is a firm favourite among the locals.

Music and dancing:  There is a strong Malagasy influence in the music of the islands which is mainly derived from the taarab music of Zanzibar.  The similar style of music on the islands is termed twarab and the islands boasts many twarab bands in which the gabusi (lute), úd, violin and ndzenze are played. The influence of Mauritius and Reunion can be heard in the islands’ Sega music

Sao Tome and Principe

If you like quietude, plan a vacation to São Tomé & Príncipe – the second-smallest African country. Both of these are tiny volcanic bumps and are anchored off Gabonese coast. They win the tripper’s hearts due to their Portuguese-Creole flavours and relaxed vibes. You’d enjoy more if you have the ‘take in easy’ mood and these islands are apt for leisure and pleasure!

The laid-back tempo is added with wealthy natural sights-to-see, for example, it has miles of palm-fringed beaches, large swathes of emerald rainforests, high volcanic peaks and amicable fishing villages. You’d get to see the excellent birdlife and endemic plants. In the seasons of turtles and whales, they are attractive to spot out.

Both the island nations have cultural gems, with numerous heritage buildings which date back to the colonial era. They also have impressive plantation estates called roças. The tourism industry is still low-key, but is developing in an ecological perspective and will be carefully controlled. There are a number of locally run resorts, reasonably charged hotels and nature-oriented lodges.

The islands of São Tomé e Príncipe are literally isolated from the busy nations. This also gives you a reason to come somewhere you’ve never been, and see things you have never seen! The islands are aligned by volcanoes, rugged landscapes and dense forests. The forests tame some exotic birds to watch through.

There are two rainy seasons here – short rains during October and November, long rains during February and May. June to September, are the dry months when the skies stay clear with lot sunshine. The best to visit would depend on what you prefer – clear skies or short rains. On the other hand, December and January bring in numerous birds. Trekking is popular during the dry months, whereas mid-November to early February bring in turtles at the beaches. The whales and dolphins are mostly spotted from August to October.

The picturesque village of São Tomé lies on the equator. It is smattered with colonial Portuguese architecture and national parks. The history of these islands was once dominated by the slave trade and slaved-served plantations. The locals enthusiastically take care of the natural wonders, and that proves their cultural significance. The inhabitants are from Luso-African of Creole and are not very well to do.

The cuisine you’d get here is based on tropical crops, bananas and plantains. They get fishes from the waters and add various veggies to prepare the dishes. You’d see red palm oil being used in most fried recipes. Fruits bats and monkey meat are used in their traditional food culture.


Niue, pronounced at ‘New-ay’ translates to mean ‘behold the coconut’. It is probably the world’s smallest independent nation. It is referred to ‘Rock of Polynesia’, which is packed with plenty of surprises for bold travellers. The island sits in the middle of the trio islands of Samoa, Tonga and Cook. They have rugged terrains which encourage adventurous people, to put on their hiking boots and start exploring.

You need to walk, climb and swim through the best attractions which hug the outrageously scenic perimeter of Niue. You can also hire a rented car or bike to explore some of the numerous caves and other inland attractions.

Some more South Pacific island groups, for example, Vava’u group at Tonga, can be spotted with humpback whales from June to September, just as you get at Niue. The warm waters make them swim in but stay on the deeper sides of the waters. Tourists, who can dive deep, can be lucky to go past them. Apart from these, kayaking, caving, fishing and guided hiking tours are also activities to try here. Apart from the coastlines, beaches and watersports, people like to go bird watching. They are catered with parakeets, white-tailed turns and more of exotic birds and butterflies. You might also spot some hibiscus and orchids.

The capital of Alofi is scarcely populated and stretches out several kilometres along the west coast. They have a reasonable budget for booking guesthouses, motels, plus cottages and resorts. Niue was the first free Wi-Fi nation which was offered in 2003. It’ll let all the tourists have their captures and uploads done quick! The island nation is an idyllic retreat from bustling modern cities and can be a great getaway.

Even though Niue is in a remote location, they are hardly short of tourists. There are regular flights from Auckland and are well connected to the trio of island nations around. There is an abundance of hotels to choose from, which leave all of them less crowded even with a lot of visitors. Even if you don’t get here during the time the whales migrate, you would still get to see some cetaceans and dolphins. The island is also at the tip of an undersea mountain, so heading offshore and taking a plunge will let you explore it. You can also catch some skipjack tuna, marlin and wahoo within sailing miles from the coast.

After all water activities, it is good to move to the centre to see the city streets, browse through ancient burial places, stroll by the trails amidst tropical rainforest and relax at sandy coves. You also get to play sand golf as it features a nine-holed golfed beach.


The archipelago of Palau has over 500 islands, and they sprout out like mushrooms at the crystalline waters of Pacific. It is an untamed paradise for every snorkeler or diver.

The most famous island to visit is Koror, and also happens to be the usual entry point for tourists. This island has the maximum of Palau’s inhabitants, contributing to their culture and heritage. Tourists, who decide to tour this island, get a glimpse of Micronesian life at the restaurants and bars. The natives are charismatic and excel in convincing the foreigners to have local delicacies, especially the fruit bat soup.

Palau homes some of the healthiest and impressive UNESCO-listed reefs. The iridescent swirls of the corals, added by the marine populations, are an attractive aspect of the beaches here. Palau’s Blue Corner is one of the top places to dive in the world!

Apart from the tropical seas with unique creatures, Palau is known to have one ecologically sensitive and exotic evolutionary phenomenon – the Jellyfish Lake. This lake had cut off from the sea, millions of years ago. The predator-free inhabitants in the lake eventually evolved to lose the poisonous sting. Snorkelling among the jellyfishes would take you to another world.

Apart from the beauty of the seas, Palau reveals the scars from ferocious battles which took place during WWII. There are plenty of wrecked planes and ships buried under dark lagoons. The long-forgotten bunkers with the rusted machine guns are salted across the islands! These are testaments to Palau’s deafening modern history, which withstood dependence from Germany to Japan, and then to the United States, before finally achieving independence by 1994.

Palau is remote and untamed, which attributes to make it one of the best-unspoilt beauties in the world. The archipelago retains the marvel of nature, standing proud with the Micronesian culture, and offers an evocative memorial to battles, which were fought by the serene turquoise waters.

The Republic of Palau offers scenic beauty, even though it is a tiny area of land, packed with sights to see and activities to do. It is difficult to not get overwhelmed by the array of natural wonders. The archipelago has 200 pristine limestone islands and large volcanic islands. They are blanketed by emerald forests and surrounded by shimmering turquoise lagoons. Divers have expressed Palau to be an exciting seascape, which offered them to go through fascinating wrecks and diverse marine life – these truly live up to the name ‘underwater Serengeti’.

Apart from the underwater activities, it is good to try out kayaking and off-road driving. There are a handful of architectural monuments and museums to explore through too.


Americans residing on the eastern coast, flee to Aruba during the winters, making it one of most favoured tourist’s spot in the southern Caribbean. This isn’t surprising with the miles of beaches, numerous package resorts and the compact main town of Oranjestad. A lot of day-tripping cruise-ship passengers frequently travel in here, and their initial activity is to stroll by the waters for an hour! Going towards the interiors, lets you explore more of what the island has to offer. They have extreme rugged ends, windswept vistas and lowly crowded beaches.

The South Americans easily get here as it is located 15 miles north of Venezuela. The island is a 2 hour flight away from Miami and Florida, which flocks in visitors from United States and Canada. The island is frequent with Europeans travelers as well, and they all love to enjoy the hurricane-free skies along with cool trade winds.

Since the island is located 12 degrees 30′ north of Equator, the weather stays tropical but not extreme. The average temperature is 28 degrees Celsius. Due to the trade winds, basking under strong sunrays get tolerable, although you shouldn’t forget to apply the SPF creams! The tropical climate calls in to wear comfortable summer attire, along with light evening clothes for dining at a restaurant or visiting nightclubs.

Deciding the perfect time to travel will be depended on what you look for. People flying from cold climates make this place crowded and expensive. If you look for lesser crowd and lower prices, coming here any time from April to December will be good. Septembers bring reduced trade winds which slightly increases the temperature. Most of rainfalls are experienced from the months of October to January.

There are several places to sightsee – enough to pack you with a minimum of a 3 week vacation. The best attractions are surely the big beaches, featuring all the amenities you expect. They are long, relaxing and active. There are several attractive sites, natural attractions, historical sites and museums, to explore the rich culture and heritage of the island.

One more reason to plan your vacation in Aruba is the events that take place. The island is full of several musical events, but the best event to be a part of, is the Carnival at Aruba. It takes place between January and March, and brings in weeks of festivities, contests and parades. These are inclusive of music, dancing and eating local cuisine.

The locals in Aruba have a diverse background. They are well read, friendly and known for their hospitality. The Arubans are generally a mix of Caquetio Indian ancestry, along with African and European roots. Their gastronomic delights have been contributed and influenced from Holland, South America and other Caribbean islands. Some dishes are prepared only during special occasions, but can be sampled at authentic local restaurants.


This island archipelago in the South Pacific is made up of 333 tropical islands some of which remain uninhabited to this day.  The islands make up 9 separate groups of which the Conway Reef islands and the Skerries are the smallest and the Vanua Levu Group the largest.

The island groupings which make up this island paradise are Conway Reef, Kadavu Group, Lau Islands, Lomaviti Islands, Mamanuca Islands, Rotuma Group, Vanua Levu Group, Viti Levu Group and the Yasawa Islands.

It is thought that the forebears of ethnic Fijians arrived on the islands as far back as the 2nd millennium BC, but the islands were not discovered again until the Dutch and British arrived in the 17th and 18th centuries.  The Fijian chiefs eventually offered to cede control of the islands to the British in 1874 and the islands of Fiji became a British dependency.

The British then set about developing the islands as a sugar-cane growing colony and as the plantations prospered more and more cheap labour was needed.  40 years from the start of the plantations the islands’ population was insufficient to meet this demand,  so the British imported indentured labour from its colonies in India.  Indentured labour, which is, of course, just slavery in disguise, was finally stopped in 1920.  This left the Indian population vying for employment and space on the islands and racial tension between ethnic Fijians and Fijian-Indians began.

Fiji’s Independence was won in 1970 and Indian Fijian’s dominated the government and the already existing racial tensions heightened resulting finally in a coup in 1987.  At this point, many Indian Fijian’s found it difficult to remain on the islands and many fled.  It was clear something had to be done and a new constitution was drafted for the islands which took effect in 1998.  The island is now governed by a multiracial government and the islands have become known as

Today visitors can choose from the most luxurious holidays on Luxury private islands, mid-range all-inclusive resorts, or budget packages.  The islands offer much for those who love golden sands and clear calm seas.  Scuba diving and water sports are the most popular activities but there is a growing interest in eco-tourism  and adventure tourism as the islands become better known and part of the tourism industries mainstream.

The many choices afforded to the visitor in Fiji means that often visitors face a dilemma when it comes to choosing the right island destination for their particular needs, so a little more background information is often sought.

Fiji’s island groupings

Vitu Levu

The capital city of Suva and Fiji’s international airport are on Vitu Levu which is Fiji’s largest island.  Arriving by plane the visitor lands in the town of Nadi, which is treated as more of a night stop by most as they move on to more idyllic settings. However, Nadi also offers holiday adventure activities outside the town.


Suva the Capital of Fiji is also where most of the industry of the island is to be found.  So although not an ideal holiday destination it is worth a short visit to visit the mahogany rainforest or savour some of the modern day multi-cultural cuisines that is offered in the many restaurants and cafés that offer authentic curries, and mouth-watering seafood.

Denarau Island

Denarau Island: is not far from Nadi and is much favoured as on this island most of Fiji’s best hotels are to be found.  The coast offers great opportunities for water sports, snorkelling and scuba diving.  There is also a Marina where the luxurious yachts of the well-heeled are berthed.  The inter-island ferry also docks in the Marina offering a regular service to Manamucas and Yasawas both of which are paradise for those who love to snorkel in crystal clear waters.  On the Yasawas accommodation ranges from backpacker-basic to upmarket luxury.

Pacific Harbour

Pacific Harbour:  Whether you are looking for backpacker type accommodation or top of the range you will find resorts here that cater to every budget.  The best beaches of the island are here as are boutique shops, and Arts village and everything you could wish for in the way of water sports and adventure activities.  There is really great surfing at Frigate’s Passage and scuba diving at Beqa Lagoon.

The Coral Coast:

The Coral Coast: If you are looking for a great scuba diving spot then this is where to come.  The many resorts on this stretch of coastline offer many varied activities and tours as well as boat rides to the best diving areas.

The Sunshine Coast

The Sunshine Coast: If you are looking for somewhere to experience unspoilt Fiji, the dry Sunshine Coast has many traditional villages to explore where mosques and temples are also to be found.  Some holiday homes here are offered as holiday rentals and there are a few boutique resorts.  From here there is easy access to the Bligh Waters region where the diving is superb.

The Highlands:  The eco-tourist in you will be delighted with the lush green of the highlands where you can hike from village to village and get to see authentic Fiji.

Ovalau and the Lomaiviti Group

Not far from Viti Levu is the Island of Ovalau.  The once capital of Fiji, Levuka is situated on the island and is full of colonial buildings to explore.  Outside the city, you can hike through the mountains and visit the many traditional villages.

The small chain of islands that includes Leleuvia, Naigani and Koro host some mid-range resorts and Wakaya Island is host to the famed exclusive and luxury Wakaya Club.

Kadavu Group

South of Vitu Levu lies the Kadavu group of islands with Kadavu Island the fourth largest island of Fiji.  It is the least developed of the tourist islands and there are not many roads, although more modern roads are planned.  However, tourists come here to enjoy the fabulous snorkelling and diving to be had at the surrounding

Vanau Levu Group

This archipelago in the north of Fiji is not a bustling tourist oriented group of islands and the largest island of the same name is the 2nd largest in Fiji.  It is a destination that offers much to the more adventurous traveller.  It is possible to arrange a homestay in the town of Savusavu and there are some excellent back-packer resorts.  In its protected bay many yachts find safe harbour and along the coast are some high-end luxury resorts that boast glorious beaches and some of the region’s most spectacular dive spots.

Apart from sun, sand and water, there is a rainforest and the Wasali Nature reserve with its many hiking trails that lead to lookout spots with the most breathtakingly beautiful views.  If you really want to explore and find something really different then near Labasa you can wander the Hibiscus highway or seek out the Snake Temple.

Conway Reef

This is a coral reef, inhabited only by birds, is part of the Western Division of Fiji.  It is virtually inaccessible except by a shallow tender and then only at high tide.  There is a small sandy 2-hectare cay on the reef with only a little scrub vegetation.  The only people who go out as far as the reef are extremely experienced divers who apart from exploring the reef, enjoy a dive around the two sunken wrecks in the pristine waters.

The Rotuma Group

Home to its indigenous people with their own unique language is not particularly keen on developing a tourist infrastructure, so there are no hotels or resorts on this group of islands to the north of Fiji.  However, it is possible to pay a short visit to explore and experience life on the islands where the influence of the outside world is minimal.  The number of visitors to the islands is strictly regulated and as far as can be established are not permitted to number more than 100 each year.


Vanuatu is a chain of islands shaped like a ‘Y’, extending about 1176km in a north-south direction and placed between equator and tropic of Capricorn. It is closest to the Solomon Islands in the north and is also neighbored by New Caledonia towards south-west and Fiji to the east. The capital of Vila is about 1900km from north-east of Brisbane, Australia. The main Vanuatu airport is located here, making it accessible to the other nations. Vanuatu has more than 80 islands with a population of around 200,000 people.
Vanuatu weather is very warm, and you get to see lush tropical bushes everywhere. The summer rains make it greener, and they are followed by beaches, coloured in black or white sands. There are interesting coral reefs which make the waters pleasant to swim and snorkel. These islands are known for their nut growth, and you’d get numerous types here. From coconuts to peanut and navel nuts you have a lot to choose from, as the fertile sole and weather, adds to eat vegetation.
Vanuatu facts, through archaeological researchers, indicate that human beings have lived here for over 3000 years now. New Guinea happened to be the first to colonise Vanuatu. Crossing over from one island nation to another was long and dangerous, and the canoes included animals and plants as well. Migration was frequent until people started settling down. By the end of the 1800s, French and British had settled in the islands and signed agreements to make it a condominium. The nation got independence at 1980, but by then, the blend of cultures had made it quite cosmopolitan. The islands are known to have over 20 major languages, out of which Bislama, English and French are most commonly known. There are more than 115 mother tongues, which the locals commonly use among themselves.
The traditional cultures have been kept intact by the Melanesian people. It is not only about rituals, ceremonies and traditions, but the entire way of living, which is reflected on to how they interpret a situation, when occurred. The customs and traditions date back to centuries, and they ensure on showing respect with other communities. Their customs are reflected during the regular celebrations and events they go through, for example, marriage ceremonies, death rituals, etc. They have law and order which they strictly maintain for these. People generally resolve disputes peacefully by sorting out matters, and by exchanging gifts like foods, mats and pigs!
Vanuatu tourism will take you through the lovely islands, coral reefs, two colours of sands, volcanic landscapes, quiet beaches, friendly locals, fresh seafood, tranquil waters, economic stays, luxurious Vanuatu resorts and all the amenities that you’d need for vacationing at an island. Let us read through the top things to do and places to visit ay Vanuatu, so that you can make the most of your tour.