The Great Barrier Reef

This was a pretty spectacular excursion from our very first stop in Australia – Cairns.  We took a high speed boat trip about 90 minutes to a large diving platform at the reef.  They put us in wetsuits and off we went.  The water was deeper than we are used to so we saw bigger fish than we are used to seeing.  Brian even got bit on the arm by one, a titan triggerfish.  It was about 2 feet long and got him bad enough to draw blood.  At least he has a story to tell…  We met a very famous maori wrass named Wally.  He is routinely fed by local marine biologists and is therefore very friendly.  He spent most of our visit hanging around with us.

Brian

Wally

Wally checking out one of the local divers

 

 

 

 

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A Walking Food Tour In Auckland

Because that’s how you spend a day in a new city!  We had a fabulous time with friends taking a tour with a guide from The Big Foodie.  We started our day in a coffee roaster and ended it sampling hokey pokey ice cream (highly highly recommend that).  We sampled artisan chocolates, smoked duck, local cheeses, vegan pastries and lots of special delicacies along the way.  We enjoyed New Zealand and thought our two stops there wasn’t enough.  We wouldn’t mind another visit some day.

Conflict Island

This was one of our favorite places we visited.  It’s an atoll in Papua New Guinea and had the best snorkeling of our trip.  The fish were colorful and plentiful and the coral was gorgeous.  We snorkeled along a deep drop-off, which allowed us to see both small and large fish.  It’s the only place we came across a sea turtle.

Ureparapara

This was another first time stop for our cruise line.  Ureparapara is an island in Vanuatu which is basically a volcanic caldera that has collapsed on one side.  Imagine cruising into the cone of a volcano surrounded on three sides by 300 meter cliffs.  There are just a few hundred residents who rarely get visitors, mainly yacht cruisers and a few small cruise ships.  They were very welcoming!  There was no dock for our tenders so we went in by Zodiac.

 

 

 

Tavanipupu

This tiny spot in the Solomon Islands was a maiden visit for our cruise line.  It’s where William and Kate stopped to spend the night during their recent Asia-Pacific tour.  We had the entire island to ourselves and the locals threw a big BBQ for us.  Afterwards our ship hosted a special event where they serve caviar and champagne from a surf board in the ocean, a first for us.

Raiatea

This island is truly a jewel in French Polynesia.  We took a fabulous excursion that was both a visit to a vanilla plantation as well as a picnic on a small private motu.

After seeing this place on TV a few times, I was super excited to visit and bring home some (too many) vanilla beans.

This is how vanilla grows, on vines that crawl up trees. It’s an orchid species that has to be hand pollinated.

The smell was absolutely intoxicating.

Our picnic spot had some interesting issues.

Can you believe this water?

Well hello there.

South Pacific

It’s officially become my favorite place ever.  We have visited twice now and I’d go back tomorrow.   We snorkeled our way through the islands, giving our underwater camera a workout.

The children of Fanning Island greeted us with music and dance. It’s one of the most remote places on earth with no electricity or running water.

Well hello there.

 We snorkeled with sharks and rays in Bora Bora. Quite the experience! I could do this every day.

 So pretty.

Sargent majors in Fiji, one of our favorite places for snorkeling.

 Photo bomb!

 Underwater selfie.

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