Sunday, June 25, 2006

World's Best Snorkeling Adventure: Molokini

by Louise Jones

Without question, Molokini tops the list of the world's best destinations for snorkeling and scuba diving. When you set off in search of a great underwater experience, you're most likely looking for exquisitely colored coral reefs, exotic tropical fish, and an environment that welcomes you with warm temperatures and mild currents. The water clarity in the Molokini crater is incredible; you can often see up to 150 feet, but even on a 'bad' day, you'll see clearly 100 feet in every direction.

Thirty percent of the marine life surrounding the Hawaiian islands is endemic to the area; this underwater landscape is unique. Currently, the Molokini marine habitat is a protected reserve flourishing with sea turtles, sharks, coral and huge numbers of fish.

What's a Caldera?

Three miles off the southwestern shores of Maui, lies a crescent-shaped islet that is actually the southern rim of an extinct volcano. Technically, Molokini is a caldera, a crater-like basin formed by an explosion or collapse of a volcanic cone. Over the years, the crater has eroded and become a unique habitat with a submerged floor creating a shallow inner cove, a coral garden teaming with marine life and color.

The cone-shaped formation of Molokini has created a tall vertical wall along the outside of the crater. There used to be an abundance of black coral in the deeper waters, but unfortunately much of it was harvested before protective laws were put in place.

You won't find sandy beaches on Molokini. The 77 acres extending above the water's surface create an uninhabited preserve. This protected seabird sanctuary is not open for human visitors. To get to the waters in and around Molokini, you need a boat and there are many options for cruises and day trips leaving from Kihei, Lahaina, and Ma'alaea Harbor.

Life Inside the Crater

Be sure to bring your camera if you, like me, love to share the best of life with your friends. You'll see thousands of colorful fish in the sea caves and lava arches. You'll undoubtedly see the awe inspiring manta rays in the inner realm along with monk seals, spotted eagle rays, loads of lemon butterfly fish flittering like autumn leaves, sleeping green sea turtles and even sharks (whale sharks and white tip reef sharks that won't hurt you!)

Did you know that snorkelers are more likely than scuba divers to see dolphin? There's something about the noise of the scuba breathing apparatus that keeps dolphin away. In the waters around Molokini, you're likely to see the Spinner and Pacific Bottlenose dolphin. You may even see Humpback whales if you go between December and May; listen for their haunting songs which can be heard underwater during that time of the year. Whatever the month, it's best to go early in the morning, before the wind kicks up and the water current gathers strength. The wonderful thing about Molokini is the protection you have in the inner cove from strong winds and currents. It's a perfect place for expert, beginner and novice snorkelers.

So there you have it; whether you're just getting started with your dream to snorkel the beaches of the world, or you're already a seasoned snorkeler, put Molokini at the top of your 'visit soon' list. Happy traveling my friend!

About the Author
Louise Jones, a composer and graphic designer, passionately explores the colors, shapes, sound, and movement in the underwater world around our globe.
Come visit and play with a growing community of marine adventurers.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Ten places not to miss when visiting Seychelles

The Seychelles is a nation of islands in the Indian Ocean, about 1,000 miles east of the Kenya coast and northeast of the island of Madagascar.
This paradise consists of 115 islands, of which some 40 are granitic and remainder coralline. The major islands are Mahe, Praslin, and La Digue.

Here are our own picks for the best places to visit in the Seychelles Islands:

1) Morne Seychellois National Park (Mahe). Covering an area of 3,090 ha and boasting the highest peak in the Seychelles at 2,969 feet (905 m), Morne Seychellois, this national park offers good hiking and stunning scenery.

2) Beau Vallon Beach (Mahe). The most popular beach on Mahe about 3 miles northwest of Victoria. It is almost 2 miles long and has a white powdery sand and crystal clear turquoise water to swim in.

3) The Botanical Gardens (Mahe). This spectacular garden in a must for every nature lover. There are about 75 plant species native to the rain forest that are found nowhere else in the world, including the unique 'Coco de Mer' palms.

4) Anse Lazio beach (Praslin). One of the world's most exquisite beaches. It was voted "The best beach in the world" in 2004.

5) Vallee de Mai (Praslin). This nature park and UNESCO World Heritage Site has the vestiges of a natural palm forest preserved in almost its original state. It is most famous for its Coco de Mer palm tree.

6) Anse Source d'Argent beach (La Digue). With its fine white sands, exotic palms and majestic granite boulders this beach is one of the most photographed in the world.

7) Aldabra Atoll. Protected from human influence this is the largest atoll in the world and home to about 152,000 giant tortoises.

8) Bird Island. A privately owned island where millions of birds come to nest each year. The coral island is surrounded by beautiful pristine white beaches and offers good snorkelling possibilities.

9) Cousine Island. The island is a private nature reserve where thousands of seabirds nest throughout the year. Only 20 visitors are allowed on the island at one time.

10) Silhouette Island. Recommended for the nature loving hikers. Also a great place for swimming and snorkelling among the corral reef.

Obviously Seychelles has many more places that you shouldn't miss. There is always something interesting to see or do, no matter what the season!
We are waiting for you there!

About the Author
Visit Exotic Seychelles for more information and tips about this exotic destination. Be sure to stop by the site before visiting Seychelles.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Honolulu: Fit For A King

by Frank Johnson

Honolulu, the metropolitan and commercial heart of Hawaii, also encompasses the awe-inspiring natural beauty famous of the majestic island-chain. It is no wonder why, then, in 1809 King Kamehameha I moved his royal seat from the island of Hawaii to Oahu's Honolulu, making the seaside port today's state capital and a world class city in the middle of the Pacific to boot.

Temples, Tides, and Tankers: Travel to Honolulu Honolulu is laden with layers of conflicting histories. Palaces and temples of a traditional Hawaiian past make it easy to forget that these islands are not their own sovereign nation; but, turn a corner and more modern relics tell a recent story of United States history. Of course, all around there is the never ending tale of biological and geographic wonders that outlives any human history.

Chinatown is tremendously influential to the cultural heritage of Honolulu. The Maunakea Marketplace and Chinese Cultural Center are filled with a sampling of immigrant life, featuring eastern herbalists, Shinto and Buddhist temples, island inspired pan-Asian cuisine and a handful of remarkable jewelers. Foster Botanical Garden is also a tranquil stroll away from Chinatown's center. Just west of downtown's skyscrapers and the airport, Pearl Harbor hosts visiting centers for the memorials of the Japanese attacks of World War II. A ferry can be taken to the USS Arizona Memorial, which was built over the hull of the sunken battleship. The public can also visit the Battleship Missouri Memorial, the historic site where the Japanese surrendered and ended the Pacific Theater fighting of WWII.

Waikiki, Why Not? Waikiki may just be the most widely known beach in the world. This is the leisure, dining, shopping swimming and all around vacationing center of Honolulu. Aside from the ordinary, Waikiki offers a spectacular university-run aquarium located on the shore alongside a living coral reef where visitors can get a crystal clear view of sharks feeding and tropical fish swimming among anemone in the wild. Just to the south is Diamond Head Point where the rim of Leahi Diamond Head Crater looks out above the adjacent beach. A tough but rewarding hike to the summit will reveal an unbeatable panoramic view of Oahu's south coast and the remains of a temple that was once used for human sacrifices. Stay for the golden sunset then make sure to stick around Waikiki for dinner, drinks and dancing.

Although travel to Honolulu may not initially seem like a getaway experience, the bustling capital city is surrounded by some of the best outdoor excursions the Hawaiian Islands have to offer. The Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve lies just to the east of Waikiki and promises an unforgettable opportunity to scuba dive and snorkel the coral reef inside the crater of an extinct volcano! From the city, take a half-day hike up the Makiki Manoa Cliffs Trail and lose yourself among the soothing sounds of tropical rainforest and a number of rare bird species. You can be back for dinner, or choose to make a backpacking weekend out of it. These local and easily accessible adventures make a trip to Honolulu an all-in-one experience!

About the Author
For more information on international travel and discount airfare to Honolulu, visit, your source for cheap airfare on the web

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Experience Tibet

by Robert Danko

A land that conjures up images of mountains and temples. A place whos mystique is unmatched by any other around the world. A people who can bring a smile to any visitor`s face.

These all can be found in the farthest corner of China, atop the roof of the world-Tibet. Yes, Tibet is one of kind. No other place brings to mind such majestic scenary or spiritual splendor. This is a land that will expel any doubt to whether or not there is a supreme power. One can`t help but sense that there is something greater that exists, that could only be responsible for creating such a magnificent place.

Tibet is a land of incredible points of interest. Besides home to the world`s tallest mountain, it boasts the world`s deepest canyon, the highest elevated river, as well as the highest elevated roads and airports. Yes, the highest elevated railroad can also be found in Tibet.

Tibet is a vast land, subsequently allowing visitors to usually only view a small piece of what it has to offer during one visit. Among the many attractions, the famous Potala Palace, Jokhang Monastery, Barkhor Street, Nam Co and Basum Co are just several must see spots.

There are, however, many other gems the savy tourist should not go without seeing as well. Some of these include the Guge Kingdom Ruins and the Tombs of Tibetan Kings. Yet, if one did not spend any time seeing Tibet`s many historic attractions, one can gain enough satisfaction soley enjoying the splendid natural landscapes.

While you stay in Tibet, make sure you try the local foods-quite different than typical Chinese cuisine-but just as delicious. Also, get to know the local people. Many are friendly, and will fill your heart with warmth.

A trip to Tibet will be like no other place you have visited. Be rest assured you will experience things you thought you could have only dreamed of, and be ready for a change in how you perceive life afterwards. Tibet is that incredible. But, don`t take my word for it-come travel to Tibet and experience it for yourself.

About the Author
Robert Danko is an avid enthusiast of Asian culture. He has been living in China for several years and operates in his spare time. Copyright 2006-2009 All Rights Reserved