2 weeks in Tonga, Fiji and Samoa

Moving from one spot of paradise to the next; super friendly people; picture perfect spots that scream “I want to go!”; and having some truly unforgettable adrenaline-throbbing moments by swimming with Humpback Whales and diving with the Tiger Sharks.  For sure Fiji, Tonga and Samoa are in the middle of nowhere, but this is a world class 2 weeks

Below I’ve given the itinerary we took and the links to the individual entries on each of the travel experiences

Rafting the Navua River, near Pacific Harbour

Good fun if nearby.  Paddling down a river, getting to see some of the luscious interior of Fiji, some of the inland villages and families of the organisers, and the guides add a lot to the overall experience through their sheer enthusiasm.  Only problem is doing this in between June and August, when the rainfall is lower – means it’s more a pleasant paddle down the river rather than actual white water rafting (which must be cool here when the rain hits)

We did this from Pacific Harbour, although they’ll pick you up from basically anywhere on the main island.  Be prepared for an early pick up, 1.5 hour drive inland; around 6 hours (with breaks and lunch) on the river; and around a 45min drive back

You’re not going to visit Fiji, or this part of the world, just for the rafting.  If looking for ideas or tips for other experiences to be had in this part of the world, have a look at this 2 weeks in Tonga, Fiji and Samoa itinerary.  We had some truly unforgettable experiences on this trip and, in particular Diving with bull and tiger sharks off Beqa Island nearby really does fit in that “unforgettable” category

The Sua Ocean Trench at the end of the world

Yep – offensively photogenic and screams “I want to go there!” from just about everyone who sees the photo.  In my case, from my girlfriend.  “You know it’s in the middle of the Pacific right?  In the middle of nowhere?” I reply.  The determined eyes staring back at me need no vocal expression – “I want to go” – they clearly say

For those who have the similar determination, you won’t be disappointed – the place really is that beautiful up close and it’s a lot of fun swimming around in the pool soaking it all in.  The site has the added advantage of having some delightfully well maintained gardens on the nearby cliff edges where you can gawp at the gorgeous surroundings, and a series of rock pools that you can laze around in and get pushed and pulled around as the waves come in, which is also super fun

To be fair, I don’t think you’d go this far to the middle of the ocean for just the Sua Ocean Trench, which really, spectacular as it is, you only need half a day for.  Samoa itself has some nice spots to drive around to (I’d recommend hiring a car for convenience), friendly people and some fab food (make sure you have lunch at the Seabreeze resort only 5mins drive away).  But I’d recommend combining your visit as part of a 2 week trip of Samoa, Tonga and Fiji.  Swimming with Humpbacks, diving with Tiger Sharks, white water rafting and kayaking from one picture perfect island to the next sound appealing?  Then see here for more details, ideas and tips in this travel entry for –2 weeks in Tonga, Fiji and Samoa

Diving with bull and tiger sharks off Beqa Island

Maybe don’t watch Jaws before you try this!  Unforgettable, thrilling and scary.  People regularly go diving with sharks – reef sharks, nurse sharks, lemon sharks, maybe some hammerheads – but to do so with Tiger Sharks and Bull Sharks . . . not in a cage . . . is unique and, at times, proper poo in your wet suit stuff.  A truly fantastic, if slightly risky, experience


To do it or not to – firstly, if you are at all a nervous diver, don’t do this.  The sharks can get very close and the potential for you either getting so scared you don’t have a pleasant experience, or having a freak out, don’t make it worth it.  But secondly, in deciding whether or not to do something like this, there is also the moral consideration.  We hadn’t really thought about this before the dive as we didn’t realise quite how much of a close encounter it was going to be (someone really is one day going to be seriously hurt doing this) and also, rather naively, that there was going to be chumming (they added something like 10 tuna heads from a container underwater, which changes the behaviour of the sharks).  For sure there are other benefits to be considered, such as the employment provided (the community on Beqa Island is a environmentally friendly one and is heavily  supported by the diving) and the generation of funds that helps protect the area, but its worth weighing these up in your decision

Swimming with Humpback Whales and relaxing in paradise in Vava’u

The Southern Vava’u islands in Tonga are about as close to paradise as you get – hundreds of small islands with white sand beaches, crystal clear water and, because they’re in the middle of the Pacific, very little light pollution so you can see the stars.  Oh yeah, and you get to have the unforgettable experience of swimming with Humpback Whales.  Do it!

My biggest tip is to take 3+ days to stay on one of the smaller islands so as to really experience the tropical paradise feel, be able to see and hear the whales off the beach, and have the flexibility to be able to head out whenever the right whale opportunity arises (we stayed at the Treasure Island Eco-Resort on ‘Eua’iki Island, and couldn’t recommend it more)

4WDing around Fraser Island

Fraser Island is the world’s largest sand island and, with practically no development, it is a truly fantastic experience when you head off for 2-3 days in a 4 wheel-drive to explore the pristine creeks, freshwater lakes and lush rainforest.  Plus, it is all interlinked by the magnificent eastern stretch of beach that runs the near full 120km / 75mile length of the island and acts as the “highway”.  Lake McKenzie, with its clean mesmerising colours, perfect white sand and backdrop of the rainforest, is worth the trip alone.  The highlight experience of Queensland, if not all of Australia, and a must for an East Coast visit


I’ve written a few tips below, but my biggest tips are to give yourself at least 2 days, ideally 3, and to rent a 4×4 rather than taking a tour.  The day tours can be good (I’ve done one before and we still had a great time), but there is something wonderfully adventurous about renting a 4×4 and heading off across the island at your own pace to go exploring.  Its a very accessible chunk of paradise, so very easy to do

10 day roadtrip around Tasmania

Tasmania is one of the jewels of Australia for its rugged remoteness, world-class natural landscapes, unique history and fewer tourist numbers compared to some of the other famous sites.  It also has the added benefit of being far smaller than some of the other parts of Australia, which makes it ideal for a week-10day road trip.  The itinerary below gives you the highlights of this wonderful little island


3 high level tips:

  1. Could do in a week?  You could do this itinerary in a week by shaving off Port Arthur and the Tamar Valley, but it will feel a little rushed.  10 days far better . . . and don’t make the error most people make which is dropping the west coast – it is the highlight of Tasmania
  2. UNESCO rate Tasmania – the high scores give an idea for just how impressive Tasmania is, and in particular the West Coast.  But don’t only take my word for it.   UNESCO have 10 potential criteria for a site to be designated World Heritage, with only one of the criteria needed to be met.  The Tasmanian Wilderness Area in the south west part of Tasmania meets 7 of the 10 criteria which, alongside Tai Shan in China, places it at the top of all sites in the world.  Really is quite a remarkable place to visit
  3. Tasmania or South Island New Zealand?  The two are often compared as they’re relatively close and similar sizes which, considering the world-class natural landscapers of the South Island, gives you an idea of the quality on offer in Tasmania.  Broadly, I’d say that the South Island just nudges it from a natural sites point of view based on its snow capped mountains, glaciers and fjords, but Tasmania clearly wins from a cultural significance point of view and might just shade it based on its more compact size for a roadtrip and its lower fellow tourist numbers

Trip to Port Arthur

Port Arthur is the most infamous of British penal colonies as it was the destination for the most hardened criminals, re-offenders after having been transported to Australia, and for the physiological techniques used to try and discipline prisoners.  For these reasons, it was acknowledged as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2010 and many of the original buildings from the mid 1800s remain in good condition.  In addition to its infamous reputation, Port Arthur is also synonymous with the 1996 Massacre when one man shot and killed 35 people in what is still Australia’s worst mass shooting


Although it’s quite far down the list of experiences in Tasmania, in particular the amazing natural wilderness options, it is a staple place to visit on a trip to Tasmania, is easily accessed with a 1.5hour drive from Hobart and has some lovely gardens

Wineglass Bay in Freycinet National Park

Regularly voted one of the world’s best beaches, Wineglass Bay within Freycinet National Park is about as perfect a setting for a beach as you can get and the highlight beach for Tasmania.  Its a bit difficult to access, which makes sure that tourist numbers aren’t hectic on the beach itself, but you can easily walk the 30mins or so from the main road and car park up to the Wineglass bay lookout that will give you the famous view.  Biggest tip though – continue on to the beach.  We turned back at the lookout because it looked quite a way further to get to the beach and had run out of time that day, but its only another 30-45mins walk to the beach and, looking back, it needs to be done

Tasmazia and the Village of Lower Crackpot

A bit cheesy, but really good fun.  Tasmazia features 8 mazes, one of which is The Great Maze which used to be the world’s largest; a cute model village in the centre called Lower Crackpot; and all within the quite stunning backdrop of Cradle Mountain and the Tasmanian Lake District.  Surprisingly good fun getting lost in amongst it all, and make sure to fill yourself up on the giant pancakes in the cafe