Natural: 1. Waimea Canyon, Kauai* 2. Hawaiian Waterfalls (Waimea Falls, Rainbow Falls, Kapena Falls, Hanawi Falls) 3. Mauna Kea* 4. Haleakala Crater, Maui* 5. Mount Waialeale, Kauai 6. Lava Tubes, Hawaii* 7. Mount Kilauea, Hawaii*
8. Humpback Migration, Coast of Maui. Humpbacks are baleen whales with a distinctive body shape, long pectoral fins and knobby head. Adults are 12-16m long and weigh 35 tonnes. Humpbacks migrate up to 25,000km/year from cool, polar seas laden with krill as their summer feeding grounds to winter birthing grounds in tropical equatorial waters such as around Hawaii. Whales from Vancouver Island south mainly go to Mexico and whales from north of there go to Hawaii. From Nov-May, 10,000 humpback whales crowd the shallow waters along the western coast of Maui for breeding, calving and nursing. There are also no predators here like there in colder waters. Killer whales are a particular threat to baby humpbacks. Hopefully they can grow large enough in tropical waters to be able to survive as an infant. It consumes up to 500l of milk per day, even though the mother has had nothing to eat for possibly months. With the calf doubled in size, they leave for the poles while she still has energy to mirgrate.
1. Kalalau Trail, Kauai,
Length: 22 miles, 3 to 5 days. Ke’e Beach to Kalalau Valley
The trip: The finest coastal hike in the world, this rugged route through Kauai’s impressive Nā Pali Coast will challenge you physically with tropical heat and steep trails, and scare you with exposure on muddy slopes. But after a day of slogging 11 miles through the fluted cliffs above crashing surf ending at the serene mile-long arc of golden Kalalau Beach along the shimmering Pacific. The Kalalau Valley itself has waterfalls and lush tropical jungle, well worthy of exploration, but the highlight is camping right on the beach, with the Western Pacific before you, reflecting the setting sun. Don’t even think about cooling off with a swim at Hanakapi’ai Beach on the way in. All those small, makeshift memorials are erected in the memory of hikers who thought they might enjoy wading in and were immediately swept out to sea by the violent rips.
When to Go: May to September for drier weather; April or October for more solitude
2. Climb Mona Loa, Big Island
Length: 17 miles one way.
The Trip: One almost immediately leaves behind any vegetation following a trail marked by cairns. Take two days to go up sleeping in the hut half way and the one on top. Wind and sun scalloped snow and ice on top. Come back down in one day.
3. Descend Haleakala, Maui
Get a ride up for sunrise and walk down via the Kaupo Gap to the ocean. A knee crushing 10,000 foot descent especially steep on the jeep trail after the gap. Beautiful in the crater often walking in mist and cloud. There are two huts that one can stay in if desired but must be booked.
1. Climb all three major volcanos.
A trail exists on the SW volcano – come down following cliff all the way to town. There is also a trail up the NE volcano and come down the minimal jeep track off the east side through stands of eucalyptus. Eventually hit a road and hitchhike back to town. The eastern volcano has no trail. Descend to the north and hike around the entire peninsula for a walk that nobody does. From here I went overland and entered the quarry from the back, showing my ticket on the way out!
2. Hike NW Corner
The Trip: This 8 hour hike starts in town and follows the cliffs along the trail-less corner of the island over moai platforms, through volcanic rubble and long grass. Many wild horses. Ends at the beautiful and only real beach on the island for a great swim. Hitchhike back to town.
Natural: 1. Mariana Trench 2. Palau (343 islands in 6 groups SE of Philippines, saltlakes, one of best underworlds in world)
PAPUA NEW GUINEA
Natural: 1. New Guinea (world’s second largest island composed of Papua New Guinea and the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Irian Jaya, biodiversity) 2. Rabaul, PNG (active volcano, wasteland of ash covering town) 3. Fly River, PNG (800km long river, mangroves) 4. Highlands, PNG 5. Owen Stanley Range, PNG 6. Sepik River, PNG 7. Bougainville, PNG (rugged volcanic island) 8. Trobriand Islands, PNG (endemic species)
Unesco: 1. Lagoons of New Caledonia: Reef Diversity and Associated Ecosystems
Natural: 1. New Caledonia (not volcanic but sliver of ancient Gondwanaland with spectacular biodiversity, barrier reef 1,600 km long, mountains, rain forests) 2. Cascades de Fachoda, Tahiti, French Polynesia (1000′ high) 3. Savai’i Island, Samoa (lava fields, tubes, blowholes, waterfall, gigantic pyramid 4. Bora Bora, French Polynesia (barrier reef, lagoon, cyclones, the most beautiful island in the world) 5. Aitutaki Atoll, Cook Islands (beach, lagoon, papaya brought by Bligh) 6. Palolo Spawning, Samoa (last quarter of moon in October or November, eaten by wildlife and humans)
Pacific Volcanoes are the base of complex and unique marine ecosystems. As they sprang up in the middle of nowhere, they have very little natural wildlife other than birds and marine life. All mammals were introduced by settlers. Currents ransport nutrients from deeper water to the summits of drodwned volcanic peaks. Life is abundant. At 500m, organic detritus of dead and dying animals and plants (marine snow) is one food source. At 1km down, the water is 20C colder. Divers and snorkelers can access sea summits. Some sea summits are islands: 9x4km Bora Bora rises to Mt Hue (619m) and Mt Ltemanu (727m) – white sand beaches and hedonistic, all-inclusive resorts, snorkelling, parasailing, and hiking.
Tahiti has two circular parts: Tahiti Nui (Big Tahiti, to NW, larger and more populated, narrow coastal fringe sweeps rapidly to a jumble of soaring, green-clad mountain peaks collectively one huge crater with highest peak of Mt Orohena at 2241m) and Tahiti Iti (Little Tahiti to the southeast and the highest point at Mt Ronui at 1332m). A fringing reef encloses a narrow lagoon around much of the island with 33 passes, the most important is the Pape’ete Pass in Pape’ete harbour. Tahiti has 170,000 people, 60% of population. Capital is Pape’ete where international flights arrive.
Other volcanic islands: Hawaiian Islands with 8 major islands, Cook Islands have 15 major islands spread over 2.2m sq km, sunken volcanoes topped by coral growth; Aleutian Islands has 300 volcanoes.