South Seas, Pacific Adventure
With my omnivorous desire to travel to the far corners of the world in search of Paradise, I sailed the dark ink waters of the South Pacific, and heard the roar of the surf on the reefs, and the cool breezes in the fronds of the coconut palms, and saw the sugary white sands of the beaches, and crystalline lagoons, and dramatic volcanic mountains; all an impressive welcome to the South Sea Islands.
Oahu International Market Place
Civilization takes a holiday in the South Seas with the remoteness and lofty precipices festooned with silvery music from the waterfalls on the islands dotted by banana trees bowing to the trade winds blowing across hundreds of leagues of lonely Pacific Ocean. There exists an uninhibited freedom from the manic manner of living, and a lack of moral restraints created by others thus attracting artists to bear their souls in this exotic Garden of Eden.
Lt. James Cook, a British explorer and cartographer was a captain in the Royal Navy in 1776, commanding the H.H. Bark Endeavour for his first three Pacific voyages. Cook designed maps of Australia, Newfoundland, New Zealand, and the Hawaiian Islands.
Pago Pago Fruit Market
Pago Pago Green Bus
When he first arrived on the Hawaiian Islands he was treated like a high chief, but in 1779, during his third voyage to the islands when the natives, who had no concept of private property appropriated one of his boats, he in a retaliatory measure kidnapped Kalaniopu’u, a Hawaiian chief, and an altercation ensued ending by the natives killing him.
View from Sadie Thompson Hotel
In 1916, English author W. Somerset Maugham, sailing from Pago Pago to Hawaii on the Sonoma, encountered heavy storms which prevented the boat from leaving for Apia. He along with a group of missionaries and Sadie Thompson, a woman of ill repute, were reluctantly forced to stay at an inn, under the same rainy roof, sparking his creative brain to write a short story: Rain. The story was later made into a film by Hollywood in 1928, and later Rita Hayworth starred in the role, Miss Sadie Thompson in 1964.
Presently, the inn has been converted to a hotel: Sadie’s Hotel, email@example.com telephone: 1-684-633-5900; offering rooms with a harbor view for $136.50, and a local Vailima beer which has a distinct ginger and lime taste.
Robert Louis Stevenson's Desk
Pago Pago with a population of about 10,000, has been a U. S. territory since 1900, and was an important naval base for the U. S. during WWII. Luminaries such as Eleanor Roosevelt, Pope Paul VI, Lyndon B. Johnson and his Lady Bird, all visited this beautiful island. It was also vital for Nasa’s Apollo programs 1961 – 72, for Apollo 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, and 17.
Despite western governmental and tourist influences the Samoans stubbornly hold on to their ancient beliefs. The Samoan language and customs are still used by the elder generation although most citizens speak English.
These islands are separated into American Samoa and the independent Kingdom of Samoa. Attempts by the U.S. government to develop a larger economy are restrained by its remote location, limited transportation and devastating hurricanes. Tuna canning and tourism are their main economic activities.
Robert Louis Stevenson House/Museum
Cruise ships bring in about 31,000 visitors annually. Sadly, trash is strewn all over the streets instead of being buried or burned ruining the natural beauty of the island. Many NFL players are recruited because of their huge size from their high schools to play as linemen in professional football teams. Women proudly display tattoos on their legs as a symbol of beauty.
Under the deep blue waters you can find porpoises and southern humpback and sperm whales. The astounding scenery assaults the senses with dramatic views of volcanic greenery. The climate consists of a tropical rain forest which produces radiant plumeria, hibiscus, blue Ixora, hundreds of coconut palms, and multi-colored birds in unbridled nature.
Apia is the capital of Western Samoa which initially got the name “Navigator’s Islands,” by explorer Louis de Bougainville, who later lent his name to the lovely thorny red plant. The Samoan language has names for over 550 species of plants. Probably the first Polynesians arrived in Western Samoa around 2000 B.C., and they still practice traditional Polynesian culture in a collection of their villages.
The average temperature of 79 degrees F, is the ideal place for a spiritual retreat, and lured famed novelist Robert Louis Stevenson, the author of Treasure Island. After scouting other islands, he chose Apia for health reasons, and its breathtaking beauty of lush green hills, swaying coconut palms, imperious dormant volcanoes, musical waterfalls, verdant forests, white sandy beaches, turquoise lagoons, jewel-toned flowers, natural springs flowing out of caves into the sea, and warm breezes. Truly a paradise on earth where he could write in peace. He is buried on Mount Vaea, near his home overlooking the ocean he loved.
Apia has remained clean, tidy, has beautiful women and gorgeous birds. (I will be writing more about this famous author in a later Desert Tale entitled: Homes/Museums I Visited of Famous Writers.)
Bora Bora is a picture perfect paradise about 160 miles northwest of Tahiti and about 2600 miles south of Hawaii, a natural wonder of the world consisting of a single island surrounded by a stunning coral reef, and a beautiful azure lagoon and white snowy sand. It features an extinct volcano at its center which shaped its destiny about three million years ago, and is considered one of the most beautiful places on earth with its romantic bungalows, rich Tahitian culture, scenic landscapes and enchanting views.
The U.S. used Bora Bora Island as a base for military supply as an oil depot during WWII, but no combat was held. There still is a WWII naval artillery on top of a hill. Polynesian voyagers use double hulled outrigger canoes called “tipairua.” This type of canoe is still used today for races and festivals.
My thanks to Vivienne from the James Norman Hall House and Museum for permission to photograph his memorabilia
Bloody Mary’s Restaurant, lists celebrities who have visited Bloody Mary’s Restaurant where the floor is just sand and you sit on a coconut stump at the bar. Writer, James Michener, the author of Hawaii, has described Bora Bora as “the most beautiful lagoon in the world.”
This laid back, unspoiled fantasy island surrounded by coral formations and tropical fish is perfect for water sports such as scuba diving, snorkeling, or just floating about admiring the magical views.
Explorer James Cook was mesmerized by its tropical beauty, and in 1842 it became a French colony under the rule of Admiral Abel A. Dupetit Thouars.
PAPEETE, in the Society Islands, is French Polynesia’s capital settled by missionary William Cook in 1818.
In 1769, Captain James Cook, landed in Matavai Bay on his Endeavour vessel, but France gained control of the islands in 1842.
French Polynesia, a French protectorate since 18719, consists of five island groups: the Society Islands, the Marquesas Islands, the Tuamotu Archipelago, the Austral Islands and the Gambier Islands. Out of the 118 dispersed islands and atolls only 67 are inhabited. The first islands to be settled were the Marquesas in about 200 B.C. Later, traders and whaling ships visited these islands. In 1818 Catholic missionaries arrived to teach the natives Christianity.
During WWII, the Japanese planned on making French Polynesia a Japanese possession and many Polynesians served in the war, however, an invasion was never launched.
The tiare or Tahitian gardenia is their national flower which is worn behind the ear or woven into leis. Many men and women still wear the colorful pareos or lava-lava cloths. Breadfruit trees grow abundantly here. The Tahitian waters are home to over 55 species of fish.
Tahiti is world famous for its large black pearls which command a very high price. But if buying them make sure you go to a proper store which will give you a certificate of authenticity, and visit the Pearl Museum to see the lovely luster of these black pearls.
In this peaceful setting, authors James Norman Hall and Charles Bernard Nordhoff, co-wrote Mutiny on the Bounty which was later made into a film with Marlon Brando and Tarita.
Moorea is a mystical island that was featured as the mysterious Bali Hai, in the film South Pacific, and is magnificently beautiful with volcanic mountains jutting up to the clouds. This volcanic island is younger than the Hawaiian Islands. In 1830 the missionaries arrived in Tahiti and converted many hedonistic natives to Christianity who could not tolerate the human sacrifices.
The velvet lushness of this tropical splendor is full of vanilla farms, pandanus trees, coconut palms, breadfruit trees, banana plantations, and red, pink, yellow and white hibiscus flowers adorning the roads.
The Pacific South Sea Islands are definitely a dreamy setting at the edge of the world for any literary figure who can divest his or her concept of reality and transcend into a plethora of romantic fantasy fueling unrestrained imagination onto paper, which some of us call “work.”
Photography: Alinka Zyrmont
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