One of the questions i get asked the most, and probably the hardest one to answer, is ‘where’s the best place that you’ve been to?’
There’s no one answer for that; i end up listing every place i’ve been to! There are some places that I loved more than others, but i’ve enjoyed every single beach, island, town, all for different reasons, and there’s no one ‘best’ place.
It’s no secret that I absolutely love the warm, tropical islands – i’m a coconut, turquoise blue water, palm tree loving girl through and through. So naturally one would assume the islands would be the best place. But which one? All of them. The islands in Papua New Guinea are so different to the ones in Vanuatu. New Zealand is cold, so one would think I wouldn’t like it there. Nope, I loved it. I just won’t be moving there anytime soon!
Where have I been? Granted, I’ve only been to a few various locations in different countries close to home: Australia, New Zealand, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea. I haven’t been all over the world (yet!) but i’m working on it! Caribbean and Tahiti, hold tight, i’m coming for you one day.
So to answer the question, the best place i’ve been to is:
- Rabaul, Alotau (PNG): The people here were so nice! The volcano’s in Rabaul left me in awe (i’ve never seen one before) and i’m still kicking myself I didn’t do the walk up one! And i was definitely in my element with the hot, humid and muggy climate.
- Doini Island, Kitava Island, Kiriwina Island (PNG): The tropical islands of PNG. It’s a given that i’ll love anywhere that has palm trees and blue water so naturally I was happy to wander around the few market stalls that the locals had set up for us, then sit under a tree and enjoy the peace and quiet. Te only down side is that they didn’t have coconuts here. They did however have native tribe dancing and traditional canoes that they were happy to take us for rides on and fill our heads with some history!
- Honiara (Solomon Islands): A built up town that is VERY hot and humid! It was the kind of town that you learned as you were walking back to the ship by yourself, that you probably shouldn’t be by yourself. Especially when I reached the ship to find it guarded by armed guards. Oops. It was intimidating and an eye opener to the fact that we sometimes take for granted/forget how ‘safe’ Australia is compared to other places. There’s a lot of history to the country and I would like to go back to explore more outside of the city center one day.
- Lifou (New Caledonia): This place has THE BEST snorkeling i’ve done! It’s a cute little island where pretty much everything is in walking distance from the ship. Coconuts, market stalls and music. There are a few little places you can visit if you hire a car or catch the shuttle bus, like caves and grottos. You can take a walk up to an old church which has amazing views overlooking the ship anchored off shore and both sides of the island (it’s a hefty walk uphill though!). Snorkeling at Jinek Bay on the opposite side of the island is worth the $15 to do it. They charge for it so that there’s only a limited number of people swimming at one time to protect the marine life, and thank god they do. You don’t want to see something as beautiful as Jinek bays natural aquarium ruined!
- Port Vila (Vanuatu): A lot of people who have been here think of Port Vila as dirty and boring. I see it as an incredibly friendly city who are just trying to get tourism back after being hit hard by Cyclone Pam in 2015. The crowds of taxi drivers wanting business as you walk off the cruise ship can be intimidating for first timers, but they’re harmless. They’re so many beautiful places if you venture out of the city itself. The blue lagoon, waterfalls, horse riding, turtle bay…i could go on and on. And you cant forget the duty free there – The Big Yellow shop in the city itself…don’t leave without visiting it!
- Champagne Bay,Mystery Island (Vanuatu): The tropical islands of Vanuatu, and probably would be my first pick to go back to if I had to choose. Mystery Island lives up to its name. I’ve actually been there 3 times, but up until that third visit last year, I’d never been off the ship due to weather and it being cancelled. Apparently it’s a common occurrence so if you can get off there, you’re lucky! But it’s stunning. A small island with an ‘airport’ (airstrip and a rundown house saying ‘mystery island airport) in the middle. White sand, palm trees, some good snorkelling and various water sports. Champagne Bay has the bluest water i’ve ever seen, regardless of whether it’s sunny or overcast. There’s some coral reefs not far off shore that you can snorkel, canoes for hire, the usual market stalls from the locals and of course, my fresh coconuts. They also have locals cooking fresh local food like lobster and crab which i’m yet to true, but is apparently delicious!
- Fiordlands (New Zealand): Probably the most stunning scenery i’ve ever seen! Absolutely freezing, but you’ll never picture a cruise ship as tiny until you sail through here. The mountain peaks towering closely on both sides of the ship, with waterfalls cascading down them and snow lining the tops, it’s spectacular.
- Dunedin, Akaroa, Bay of Isles (New Zealand): Each little town was so different in their own way, but all so similar. Dunedin and Akaroa on the south island are a lot colder and wetter. Old but pretty towns with a lot of history behind them and beautiful landscapes. Bay of Isles (Paihia) on the north island is a lot more modern (and sunnier and warmer!) and a bit more of a tourist town that has a lot to do with fishing. Plenty of opportunities to go out on boats and fish and do water sports, and is a very tropical little town for NZ!
- Auckland (New Zealand): I dont like big cities, but I really found a soft spot for Auckland. It’s not quite as big as other capital cities in Australia, and not as busy. It’s right on the waters edge so you can stroll down off the main streets and it’s not long before you feel like you’re not in a city anymore. The people are super friendly, there’s so much good food, and many places to buy authentic NZ souvenirs.
So there you have it. That’s my answer to ‘the best place i’ve been’! I’ve probably also forgotten a few places too.
My ‘favourite’ place would be one that I would go back to over and over again, regardless of how many times i’ve already been, and would probably have to be Champagne Bay/Mystery Island/Vanuatu. As much as I love exploring new places, I’ll always be a tropical climate kind of girl!