islanders from munda

Four Days in Munda

Solomon Islands

After four weeks of island hopping in the South Pacific, I met my friends, Julie and Dustin, in the Solomon Islands.  Because I had planned so much of my first four weeks in American Samoa, Samoa, Tonga, and Vanuatu, I relied heavily on Julie and Dustin for planning in the Solomons.  As a result, I knew very little about the country which gained its independence from the United Kingdom in 1978.

The sovereign state includes six major islands and over 900 smaller ones.  During our visit to the Solomon Islands, we began in its capital, Honiara, and traveled west through the Central Province to the Western Province with the Taka dive boat.  Ultimately, we ended our journey in Munda.

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at Tenaru Falls in the Guadalcanal

Top Things to Do in Honiara

Getting to the Solomons

After four weeks of island hopping, I joined my friends in the Solomons after an unusual connecting flight through Fiji.  The gentleman in my row asked me to carry his alcohol through immigration.  I’m sure it was just due to a limit, but entering a foreign country, I politely replied, “No, thank you.”  Upon a second attempt, to which I said no again, he told me I wasn’t being very nice!

A few folks behind us overheard, and at the end of the flight, they wanted to know more.  In the end, I learned, one lady sails her boat around the world.  Envious, I said, I wish I met you while in Vanuatu, I always find myself wanting to be on islands that are only accessible to boats.  She told me for the future, I could just go to a website call Crew Seekers.  Hello!  That’s how I’ll be doing some of my future trips.

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Three Days in Tanna

About Vanuatu

After two weeks of no cell service and one week of no WiFi while in the Solomon Islands, I’m back online to post about my previous adventures in Vanuatu. What a wonderful place! The archipelago, which gained independence from France in 1980, comprises 82 islands, of which 65 are inhabited.

Vanuatu is a very poor South Pacific Nation whose mainstays are agriculture, tourism, offshore financial services, and cattle raising. Citizenship may be purchased for $150,000, and many Chinese have been moving onto the islands.

The National language is Bislama, similar to Pidgin English, and the official languages are French, English and Bislama. It’s amazing these islanders that have so little are at least tri-lingual and maybe more as many have a tribal dialect too. I’d just like to be bilingual which I’m working on with my next trip to Panama in a Spanish submersion school.

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Three Day Itinerary for American Samoa

History of American Samoa

Before I visited American Samoa the only thing I knew about the Polynesian island chain, was that it is owned by the USA. I learned Polynesians first arrived on the islands some 2,500 years ago.

The USA didn’t get involved with Samoa until 1872 when it signed a friendship treaty with the Samoan government in order to establish a coaling station for the US Navy fleet as the islands are located midway between Hawaii and New Zealand.

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Things To Do Between Volcano Village and Hilo

My first day staying in Volcano Village, I spent exploring west of town on the Ka’u Coast and then ate lots of macadamia nuts at the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Visitor Center before spending a peaceful hour in Liliʻuokalani Park and Gardens in the late afternoon. I spent the entire second day in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park.

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Hikes in Little Cottonwood Canyon

Little Cottonwood Canyon

Little Cottonwood Canyon is located in the Wasatch-Cache National Forest approximately 15 miles east of Salt Lake City.  It was created by a glacier many years ago.  Its quartz and granite, mined by the Latter Day Saint pioneers, was used to construct the Salt Lake Temple. There are several excellent trails in Little Cottonwood Canyon, though my favorites are quite long.

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Lake Blanche near Salt Lake City

Hikes in Big Cottonwood Canyon

Big Cottonwood Canyon

Big Cottonwood Canyon is conveniently located just east of Salt Lake City along Big Cottonwood Canyon Scenic Byway, State Route 190, which also travels over Guardsman Pass to Park City.  The 15-mile long canyon provides access to many outdoor activities including hiking, biking, camping, and fishing in the summer and snowboarding and skiing in the winter at its two ski resorts, Brighton and Solitude.

During my three-week stay in Salt Lake City, I explored several trails in the area including Brighton Lakes, Desolation Lake, Twin Lakes and Lake Blanche.  What do all of these trails have in common?  At least one lake.  All of the trails were lovely, but if I had to pick one, it would be Lake Blanche.

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Hikes in American Fork Canyon

American Fork Canyon

The American Fork Canyon is part of the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest and is located southeast of Salt Lake City off State Route 92, a popular scenic byway that attracts over 1 million visitors a year.  As a result, entry requires a $6 three-day pass, a $12 weekly pass, a $45 yearly pass, or a National Parks pass.

I spent three weeks in Salt Lake City, and of the five areas to hike within 60 miles east of the city, Emigration Canyon, Mill Creek Canyon, Big Cottonwood Canyon, Little Cottonwood Canyon, and American Fork Canyon, I favored the latter.  The hillsides dotted in aspen and lakes tucked beneath glacier carved peaks are simply spectacular.

The American Fork Canyon offers visitors several hiking options from easy to hard.  Some of my favorites include: Stewart Falls, Timpanogos Cave National Monument, Silver Glance Lake and Emerald Lake.

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red oak leaf

Hikes in Mill Creek Canyon

Mill Creek Canyon

Mill Creek Canyon, located just east of Salt Lake City in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, is an extremely popular hiking destination.  Not only is it popular for its proximity to the city, it is also attractive to dog owners as it is the only dog friendly canyon in the area.  Much of the Wasatch Mountains is restricted to dogs because over 60% of Salt Lake City’s drinking water comes from the watershed, and therefore must remain clean.

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