Favorite island in the South Pacific? Place to stop in Europe?

Let’s see whether the blog works in reverse…

At the end of July I must give a talk in Sydney, Australia.  The plan is to fly west around the world.  It would be possible to stop somewhere in the South Pacific, perhaps most easily in Fiji.  On the way back I am planning to stop in Western Australia and then St. Petersburg, Russia.

The questions:

1) best place to stop in the South Pacific for a few days?  Is there a great place to sit in a hotel and snorkel from the beach in Fiji?

2) interesting place to stop in mid-August between Perth, Australia and Russia?

Constraints:  (a) I have an Israeli stamp in my U.S. passport from my recent trip to Tel Aviv and therefore would be denied entry to almost any Muslim country; (b) I want to take reasonably direct flights (and therefore Africa seems to be out of the question; you can’t get there except by connecting through Europe or Dubai (which might be a problem with that Israeli passport stamp)).

Please put your suggestions in the comments or email if you prefer.


34 thoughts on “Favorite island in the South Pacific? Place to stop in Europe?

  1. Forgive my naivete, but: a Muslim country would forbid you entering simply because you’d *visited* Israel?!

  2. Wow, how about several of the island micronations, like Kiribati, Vanuatu, Nauru, etc. The University of the South Pacific has campus extensions at most of them, and might perhaps be an “in” for an academic traveler. Someone should be doing a photo documentary of those places before they disappear as a result of global warming.

  3. Air New Zealand owns these routes. You can island-hop your way across. I’ve always wanted to to LAX-PPT-NOU-SYD, the French colonial south pacific.

    Fiji is not as idyllic as one might imagine. They’ve had a string of military coups in the last few years.

  4. Have you been to Indonesia? (It’s majority Muslim, but Islam there isn’t anything like it is in the Middle East; and I’m pretty sure they don’t do the silly Israeli visa thing – but check.)

    Bali is the most common tourist destination, but there’s a lot more than that – Flores and Komodo make an interesting trip, and as an amateur gamelan player I have a bias towards Java. There’s supposed to be excellent diving in quite a few locations.

  5. Woohoo! Coming to Perth! Finally someone is visiting my city (in case you didn’t know Perth is the most isolated capital city in the world!). How long are you going to stay in WA for? There is so much to see but you have to keep in mind the share size of this place…

    I would suggest that you head down south of Perth, it is very beautiful down there. And also head north to see some amazing desert scenery. We are in winter around that time and while it never gets that cold its not exactly beach weather. You could try somewhere like Broome which is always hot and really nice even in the winter months.

    Email me if you want some more info.

  6. I just spent a week in and around Melbourne, Australia, and I’d recommend it for a stop. It’ll be wintry, of course, but take the Great Ocean Road west from there and the gawk at the sea. There are a few charming resort towns along the road, and plenty of shipwreck history. This area would also be a great trip for the photographer.

    Actually, after spending a week in Australia, I got the distinct impression that one could spend much more time on vacation there and have quite a complete trip.

    Have a good trip.

  7. Consider Matava Resort on Kandavu Island (a 45-minute flight south of Nadi). You can snorkel from the beach or dive the Astrolabe Reef.I was there last November, and am heading back to kayak around Ono Island and part of Kandavu Island (contact Tamarillo Kayaking Guides).
    Cheap, simple place, good diving and snorkeling and kayaking.
    Have fun.

  8. Central Asia is fascinating. Kazahstan, Kyrgistan (Sp?), and the other stans…they are sorta Muslim…but just cuz you have an Israeli stamp – doesn’t mean you can’t get in. Yes, some places will give yo ua hassle and maybe even reject you. But not all! A little bit of well placed money (bribe) can do wonders.

    Nepal: Freakin beautiful and a great place to do a trek through the himalayas. It is so well trafficed these days that the Annapurna Circuit (probably the most popualr trek) is like a wide dirt sidewalk that winds through the Himalayas and has tea and guesthouses ever so often to make it a comfortable, but beautiful trek.

    India: Just plain in your face and awesome. Go for a ride on a train in 3rd class and experience something really wild. Big mountains (himalayas in the North) and beautiful beaches all the way around.

    Bali: Gorgeous Hindu Island, people are friendly, luxurious resorts, volcanoes and world class cuisine. Very cheap now with the Slump in Asian Travel (war, SARS etc). One of BootsnAll’s guys moved there in January ’03


    Thailand: Again, beautiful beaches, great local food, cheap.

    Tibet: Wow – difficult to get to – but once you are there…very unique landscape and people.

    So many choices…RTW travel…it rocks. Have a great trip and hope you blog about it a bit so we can follow the trip.


  9. Embarrassingly: Ever since 1948 most Muslim countries and all Arab countries have kept up a boycott of Israel. Muslims won’t do business with companies that do business with Israel. The restrictions can get fairly strange, e.g., it is illegal to perform works by Jewish composers (even those who have been dead for 100 years) in Malaysia. And certainly they don’t want anyone visiting their nations who has helped out the Israeli economy by visiting as a tourist or on business. Even countries that look fairly western, e.g., Dubai or Bahrain, won’t let you in if you’ve visited the country that they call “Occupied Palestine”. All Arab countries are in a declared state of war with Israel except for Egypt and Jordan (these are the two exceptions to the “no entry with an Israeli-tainted passport” rule). The idea of Israel as a pariah nation is gaining acceptance in Europe. Today this is manifested with small things such as Israel’s exclusion from the International Red Cross (the same organization that certified Germany’s WWII concentration camp system for Jews). As Europe becomes increasingly Islamicized over the next 50 years I wouldn’t be surprised to see countries such as France, for example, barring visitors who’d violated the Arab Boycott by visiting Israel.

  10. Matt: is the beach snorkeling really good at that resort you link to? I don’t like going out in boats.

    DaveO: do I really want to head south of Perth in early August? During the dead of winter? Won’t it be more pleasant up towards Exmouth and Nigaloo? I’m thinking of spending 10-14 days. Maybe rent a car in Perth and drive up the coast, return it and fly back from Broome?

    Danny: Indonesia sounds good in theory but http://www.indonesianembassy.org.uk/consular_visa_special.html indicates that they bar Israeli citizens from their nation. So the possibility of being detained at the border when they see the Israeli stamp in my passport is worrisome.

  11. Philip,

    I think the access to great diving on the Astrolabe Reef is better than the beach snorkeling is at Matava, so it might not be what you want.Over on Ono Island there is a nice little “resort” called “Jona’s Paradise” that has better beach snorkeling. I snorkeled there for 2 days in November, 2002, and liked it, but it didn’t blow me away. I found MUCH better beach-accessable reefs within a few hour’s kayaking on the west side of Ono Island, and some on small islands off the northeast corner of Kandavu Island. All were only boat-accessable, so it might not work at all for you.

    I just got off the phone with a friend of mine that lives in Fiji for 3-6 months each year, and he suggested the “Coral Coast” if you want to stay on the main island of Fiji (Viti Levu). It is only a few hours drive from Nadi or Suva. He said there are a few resorts that have beach access to good reefs, however, he said it is not as special or brilliant as some of the out-lying islands. In particular, the “Yasawa” group.

    The Yasawas can be reached by floatplane (or boat) and are a bit “higher-end” and remote. Good beach snorkeling can be found at several of the Yasawa resorts.

    Sorry I do not have a reccomendation of a specific resort for you.

    Have a great trip.

  12. Hey, what’s with all this stuff about it being difficult to travel in Europe with an Israeli stamp in your passport?

    This is complete rubbish.

    There is no difficulty that I know of with travelling in Europe with an Israeli stamp in your passport.

    It is incredibly unlikely that you will ever have any difficulty travelling with such a passport in France. Although there is a growing Muslim population there, there is also a substantial enough Jewish population.

    My personal feeling is that I would certainly leave Indonesia, and probably Malaysia out of the equation for an American tourist, passport or no. However, I don’t keep up with the travel advisories.

  13. Of course when I said ‘passport or no’, I meant passport with Israeli stamp or no’. Obviously it would not be advisable to travel to the Far East without a passport.

    One other option is to just get a ‘spare’ passport. The authorities in many countries provide these, if you can make a case to them that you need to be able to travel in Israel and in Muslim countries.

  14. Dubai is very, very open. Haven’t heard of anyone stopped there because of an Israeli entry stamp. Same for Malaysia. If in doubt, ask at their Embassy.

  15. I have always thought it would be interesting to stop in the island nation of Tonga. They do have an airport, but I don’t know what restrictions are involved in landing there. It’s primarily a Christian nation.

    It’s supposedly a really unique and beautiful place that few have ever seen, except for some tourists from New Zealand and Australia.

    If you do go, be sure to write about it. I need info before I make my trip. 🙂

  16. Hello Phil,
    A little depressing that you seem to think no resolution between the Israelis and the Palestinians is likely to occur within the next 50 years. (Well, that’s my reading of your comment on the France of the future.) Have a great trip in any event.

  17. Why only St.Petersburg? Wouldn’t you want to see Moscow as well? It’s only a 1hr flight between the two, and the planes go every 45 min or so during the day.

    St.Petersburg is definitely grand and romantic in its current rather sorry state, but Moscow too has a lot to offer in culture and history. After all, it’s 550 or so years older.

    Also I imagine you could be interested in flying a Russian plane, Yak-52 or Yak-18 or suchlike, or even splash out for a flight in a jet trainer like a Czech L-39. I feel it might be easier to arrange in Moscow, and you’d definitely get a wider choice of planes.

    I would be only too glad to help with anything in Moscow. Please write if you feel like stopping by.

  18. Oh, looks like the board would not show the email address… Mine’s alexeik at rocketmail dot com.

  19. Possible solution: Ummm, get a new passport issued? C’mon Philip, I think you can afford it…

  20. A lot of us here in Europe oppose Israel for the same reasons we opposed South Africa. It’s another case of Europeans colonizing land that isn’t there own, and then subjecting the indigenous population to inhuman living conditions. Two of our Jewish MPs here in England recently visited Gaza and compared it to the Warsaw Ghetto. It’s incorrect to suggest that this is simply a case of irrational religious hatred (though there are some elements of that on all sides).

  21. Simon, who said anything about irrational religious hatred?

    When you say that you oppose Israel, do you mean that you oppose Israeli policies, such as the occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, or that you oppose the existence of Israel, period? (If so, where do you think Jewish refugees in the 1930s and 1940s ought to have gone? Where do you think Israeli Jews ought to go today? I hope you have a better answer than, “It’s not my problem, they should just give up the land and go somewhere else.”)

  22. Russil,
    One of the comments said the rising Muslim population in Europe could lead to some countries joining the Arab boycott. My point is, even without the Muslims, Europeans like myself have good reason to boycott.

    Where should the refugees have gone? They are like any other refugees; they should take refuge in whichever country will take them until things return to normal. (Many went to America, for example.) The horrible things that happened to them do not justify or necessitate them doing horrible things (a slow ethnic cleansing) to the indigenous population as they did and are doing. Your answer doesn’t take into account the torment and suffering forced upon the Palestinians.

    As for a just solution– German territory could and should have been used to create a state for the Jews. The Palestinians are paying for Europe’s guilty conscience.

    As for a realistic solution– a democratic state, with Palestinians given their rights and treated as equals, and minority human rights protected by law. Just as for any other half-decent country. In the meantime, UN peacekeepers should be sent there immediately, to prevent violence on both sides. (Note that Israel is opposed to peacekeepers, as they would interfere with the oppression and further illegal settlement of the occupied territories.)

  23. “Where should the refugees have gone? They are like any other refugees; they should take refuge in whichever country will take them until things return to normal.”

    Er, you do remember that in the 1930s and 1940s, Jews were regarded as undesirable, unassimilable aliens, right? In the US, the 1924 Reed-Johnson Act restricted immigration based on the national origin of the existing population. Similarly, Canada’s policy towards Jewish immigration during the 1930s and 1940s is described by the title of the book None Is Too Many. Philip Greenspun discusses this in detail in his article on Israel. As far as I know, Jews have been barred, persecuted, or expelled from every country in the world where they have lived. That’s why they believe that they need the protection of a Jewish state.

    “Your answer doesn’t take into account the torment and suffering forced upon the Palestinians.”

    I certainly don’t want to minimize the plight of the Palestinians, who are suffering the worst in the current conflict. But when you say that a democratic majority-Arab state with protection for minority rights is a realistic solution, I have to say that you’re dreaming in Technicolor. The memory of the Holocaust is seared into the Israeli Jews (not to mention the effect of the five Arab-Israeli wars, the suicide bombings, and the ongoing anti-Israeli propaganda). They’re not going to accept minority status in a majority Arab state.

    I think a two-state solution is the only possible compromise. It’s going to be bitter for both sides: the Israelis are going to have to dismantle the settlements, the Palestinians are going to have to give up the land inside Israel’s pre-1967 borders. But neither side has the power to force the other to give in.


  24. PHIL: The following links represent, in order, these heartily recommended Fijian retreats:

    Castaway Island Resort – Set on a rocky point, this luxurious property is ideally situated for a water-sports holiday.

    Toberua Island – A tiny island paradise w/ only 14 or so private thatched bures. You can go day-tripping to uninhabited nearby islands.

    The Wakaya Club – Each hand-woven bamboo “hut” overlooks a white-hot beachfront. Great area for scuba diving.

    Yasawa Lodge – Consists of over 12,000 acres of rain forest & coconut palm. Apparently, it’s the only resort on the island….

    Best Regards,
    Lawrence(in Nova Scotia)





  25. My favorite island in the South Pacific is the South Island of New Zealand. Unfortunately I can’t recommend it in July. Personally I’d be interested in seeing a write-up of Vanuatu. I hear that most land is managed by the government and not sold, only leased to outsiders – I think this idea for preserving public assetts may have a lot of potential if done right.

  26. i have a co-worker from micronesia who told me fantastic fishing story.

    he said that he has seen people from his country swim out into the “blue sea” (no land in sight) and lie limp on the surface of the ocean, using themselves as bait until a shark comes by. then they grab the shark by the tail and pull it backwards until it drowns. then they swim back to shore and have a feast.

    certainly makes micronesia sound like an intriguing place to visit. plus he said they use US currency and play a mean ukelele.

  27. Ford is kicking off a 10-city Hybrid Patrol tour in Cleveland today, the aim of which is to educate police departments on fuel conservation habits. Police departments use an enormous amount of fuel annually due to the stop-and-go nature of patrol duty. In 2004 Cleveland’s finest guzzled 585,000 gallons of gasoline and the department could save nearly $155,025 a year if focused a wee bit more on fuel economy. But BMW 1 series is better!

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