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Malagan dancers, New Ireland, PNG Girl studying aboard ship, Solomon Islands

Images of the Western Pacific, especially Fiji and the Solomon Islands

Solomon Islands  The Last Frontier? One of the last frontiers for tourism in the South Pacific lies just three hours from Brisbane.

Two men in a boat bob gently out in the channel and watch the dawn come up like thunder over the forested shores of New Georgia. We've been assured that an inter-island freighter will pass this way sometime… soon. But sure enough, just after sun-up, a white blob does appear on the horizon and the good ship Bikoi hoves into view. We scramble aboard, picking our way over sleeping bodies and sacks of copra. Next stop, Seghe, where an 'eco lodge' awaits on the shores of the majestic Marovo Lagoon, shielded from the Pacific by a double island barrier and believed to be the planet's finest. Our clapboard bungalow at Matikuri Lodge is built out over the pellucid waters, populated by schools of fearless coral fish, giant clams and even a few laid-back sharks, circling unhurriedly. At dinner, lit by kerosene lamps, we savour fresh-cooked crayfish, mud crab and tuna; the twice-weekly flight back to Honiara will touch down all too soon.

No Leprechauns in New Ireland   Saturday morning, and I'm effectively marooned in a shaggy, dusty South Sea islands port town with more shipping containers lining the streets than shops. The vessel that brought me to this obscure corner of the Pacific has already steamed off. It seemed like a great idea - a journey by sea to the tropical islands northeast of the Papua New Guinea mainland, bypassing the hard parts (like the capital, Port Moresby). New Ireland is best amongst cruising yachties, sports fishermen and dedicated surfers. The island may lack leprechauns, but it does have decent roads, which in PNG is no mean thing. Thanks to Baron Boluminski, an autocratic administrator in German New Guinea back before the First World War, the Boluminski Highway running down the east coast links up a succession of palm-fringed coves, coconut and palm oil plantations, and rustic villages. Home stays, simple resorts and surfers' retreats have sprung up along the way.

Roviana Rail, or Holy Grail?  Philip Game discovers that a birdwatching cruise is serious business It bore all the hallmarks of a commando raid. Moving stealthily, the khaki-clad operatives converged on an outhouse near a Third World village. Villagers stood by, bemused, as the pursuers focussed hi-tech scopes onto a patch of long grass. This time, their elusive quarry must reveal itself. And as the Roviana rail, a mottled brown flightless bird the size of a quail, scampered past, motor-driven cameras froze its every move. I had joined a brigade of birdwatchers on an adventure cruise traversing the western Pacific, and here on Kolombangara Island, in an obscure corner of the Solomon Islands, our advance party had notched up another one for the nightly tally session.

Fiji’s Other Side  Reefs as well as rainforests Discover a do-it-yourself Fiji of rainforests as well as reefs, of hospitable villages, fecund river valleys and bustling markets crowded with mounds of taro, cassava, coconuts and freshwater mussels; of eco- and adventure-tourism opportunities which include mountain biking and making friends with a crested iguana.

Turtle Island:  A man and his dream Fiji’s exclusive Turtle Island hideaway, a private retreat in the Yasawa Group came into being through one man’s journey of self-discovery.  At any one time, just 14 couples live and play alongside the island’s villagers. 

Review or order any of the above stories by contacting Philip Game

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