Australia & Oceania: The Bucket LIst

Trips in Australia and the Pacific Islands: travels in Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, French Polynesia, Micronesia, Hawaii, and more.

Pontoon at Norman Reef, Queensland, Australia (With permission: Great Adventure Tours)

Boating from Cairns to the Great Barrier Reef

When we asked friends from Brisbane and Sydney what’s the best time to visit Australia, they said September to November, not March when we had planned to go. Our timing to experience the Great Barrier Reef wasn't the best either. The Lonely Planet Read More

Photo by Tim Rock/Kosrae Nautilus Resort. Diver inspects one of the many coral heads at Hiroshi Point. Kosrae, Micronesia.

Diving Kosrae, A Hidden Treasure

Okay, you won’t be able to do this in many other places, if any: From arrival of your jet in Kosrae, Micronesia, to scuba dive site: 30 minutes. Customs took 20 seconds and a guy from Kosrae Village Ecolodge (KVR) was waiting for me. We grabbed Read More

Sydney Opera House (photo: Anthony Toole)

Being Overwhelmed by a Concert at the Sydney Opera House

Even before we had left England I had booked seats for the concert, even though I had no idea what the performance would be: The Opera House website gave only the title, The Shock of The New, and the information that the programme would only be Read More

Yellow-eyed penguin in nest (Courtesy Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust)

Searching for the Yellow-eyed Penguin in New Zealand

The word “maybe” is out. We might see some, but there is no guarantee. Do we still want to go? We do. A guide points to our transportation--an 8-wheel-drive Argo--a cross between a tractor and a boat. We'll be taking this vehicle to see the penguins Read More

Sacred Hawaian wall at Ritz Carlton, Kapalua, Maui

Finding Your Inner Artist at Ritz Carlton’s Annual Arts Festival in Kapalua, Maui

First, there is the chanting, accompanied by shouts and drumming and the sharp slap of a walking staff against the floor. Then a procession of native Hawaiians, dressed in traditional clothing and garlanded with leis of greenery, enters the marble Read More

Feeding fish underwater with a tube in Moorea's lagoon.

Walking Underwater in Moorea, French Polynesia

I am staring at the eighty-pound helmet that will encapsulate my head: Will it be as weightless underwater as I am told? And the stingrays are on my mind too: One killed the Australian diver and conservationist Steve Irwin. I am only partially Read More

Stand-up Paddleboarding in Kauai

Learning to Stand-Up Paddleboard on Kauai’s Hanalei River

Standing up is not all that easy, just ask any infant. Or a first time stand-up paddle boarder. I can't exactly remember being an infant, but if recent history with balance-related sports is anything to go by, I have to assume I was one of Read More

Horseback Riding in Kauai

Horseback Riding in Kauai: Equestrian Adventures at Princeville Ranch

I am riding a horse in the land of a dragon. One slumbering dragon, by the name of Puff. You know, the guy from the land of Hanalei? Had a friend named Jackie? It's a real place, by the way, on the island of Kaua'i: a funky town with cool Read More

two kangaroos adjusted cropped final

Living among Wildlife in Australia’s Croajingolong National Park

"Take the next turn!" my husband Paul cried. "Why?" I asked, as we barrelled along Australia's Princes Highway between Melbourne and Sydney, hellbent on making it to the town of Eden--our randomly chosen stopping point--by nightfall. I eased off Read More

minke whale

Swimming With Minke Whales on the Great Barrier Reef

We float quietly in the water, holding onto ropes tied to the boat. One by one the whales appear, drifting up from the dark below. We’re swimming with dwarf minke whales on the Great Barrier Reef.  But this is a swim with whales program with a Read More

Sea lions love to play with snorkelers. (photo credit: Katherine Rodeghier, c 2012)

Swimming with Sea Lions and Dolphins in South Australia

As I squeeze into a wetsuit, one thought keeps pushing to the front of my mind: sharks. This is Australia after all, the state of South Australia to be more precise and it’s known for those nasty Great Whites of “Jaws” movie fame. From the Read More

Sunrise on Uluru (Credit: MCArnott)

Greeting the Sunrise at Uluru in Australia Red Centre

I feel as if I am part of an entourage waiting for the awakening of the Sun King. Except that here at Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park (aka Ayers Rock), cameras, tripods, binoculars and phones are contemporary evidence that the real sun is rising. And Read More

Curvy Traditional Wood Tray (Credit: MCArnott)

Learning Aboriginal Survival Skills in the Australian Outback

When my husband demonstrated surprising skills at throwing a spear, I thought that we might have a chance to survive, should we ever get stranded in the Australian Desert. But a guided walk in the bush gave me plenty of food for thought: Survival in Read More

Dot Painting by Aboriginal Artist Margaret Curtis (Credit: MCArnott)

Interpreting the Aboriginal Dot Paintings of Australia

Dots everywhere -- Since I arrived in Sydney they follow me like curious eyeballs. They peek from every shop through vibrant boomerangs, didgeridoos and other crafts and souvenirs. Surely, there must be more to them than polka dots... Back to School Read More

Na Pali Coast, Kauai

Sailing, Snorkeling, and Watching Dolphins on Kauai’s Napali Coast

It's not often that the captain of a tourist catamaran is rendered speechless by what he sees in the course of a daily tour, but I'm here to tell you: A pod of approximately 750 spinner dolphins (his estimate, not mine) will do it. Followed by Read More

Mt. Ngauruhoe on New Zealand's North Island

Tramping Tongariro and Climbing Ngauruhoe in New Zealand

Authors update: Volcanic eruptions occasionally close the trails inthis region. Check the New Zealand Department of Conservation website for current information about the status of trails in and around Tongariro National Park.  It feels like Read More

Green Sea Turtles at Maui's Ocean Center

Up Close with the Pacific at Maui’s Ocean Center

I am walking through the middle of a 750,000 gallon fish tank. Sharks and rays and some 2,000 other fish swarm around me as I make my way through a completely clear acrylic tunnel that offers a 360-degree view of the ocean. Under my feet, a reef Read More

Kauai helicopter tour

Flight-seeing by Helicopter over Kauai’s Jurassic Park Falls

Just how beautiful is the island of Kauai when seen from a helicopter? Short answer: So beautiful that tears ran down my face as I looked out over the NaPali Coast and the long jagged fingers, locally called "palis," that plunged into the Pacific Read More