Oct 312011

This week we received a very cool gift.

A 1.75 liter (hand cast) jug of Pusser’s Rum with the original British Navy seal.

BVI fans will immediately understand why I am so (ridiculously) excited about this gift (which was actually given to Mr. Reeftraveler).

Others will have to wait until my next post, where I will explain in greater detail.

Meanwhile, I’ll be in the kitchen whipping up some painkillers and planning my next trip to the BVIs (which is right around the corner).  Stay tuned…

Oct 292011

There are many places on the planet that I long to explore.  My travel list grows faster than I am able to cross off locations.  All of the places on my list excite me, or else they wouldn’t make the list.  But then there are those places that invoke a deeper, more innate yearning.  Places that cause my heart to beat faster at the mere mention of the locale.  For me, one of those places is Easter Island (it’s Polynesian name is Rapa Nui).

Easter Island is one of the most remote inhabited islands in the world.  It lies between Tahiti and Chile, and it’s closest inhabited neighbor is the tiny island of Pitcairn (of Bounty fame).  It’s a volcanic island, that is now a territory of Chile.

So why do I long to visit this small rock in the middle of the ocean?  There are three main reasons.

Reason 1 – The Moai

These mysterious statues, carved from volcanic stone, represent the island’s ancestors.  There are over 800 Moai, many standing proudly as if to guard or watch over the island.  The stone platforms on which they sit are called Ahu.

Ahu Tongariki Moai - Photo by Author Rivi from the Wikipedia Commons

I’ve been drawn to these imposing statues since I first saw them in National Geographic as a kid.  Perhaps the allure lies in the unanswered questions that shroud them in mystery.  How were they carved?  And even more mysteriously, how were they moved across the island and erected in an era without cranes and heavy machinery?  Many scientists, historians and archaeologists have speculated on this, but the mystery lingers. It reminds me of just how much we don’t know about the world and our ancestors.  And that’s OK, because not every “problem” is meant to be solved.

Moai at Rano Raraku - Photo from Wikipedia Commons, Author Aubina

Reason 2 – Island History

Easter Island’s true history is as mysterious as its magnificent Moai.  Where did its first inhabitants come from?  Easter Island is part of the Polynesian triangle, and most people believe that its first inhabitants were Polynesians that miraculously sailed through vast stretches of open ocean to reach the island (most likely from the Marquesas or possibly Mangareva in the Gambier Islands).

The islands’s tumultuous history is rich with stories of disease, deforestation, European and South American contact, massive population decline and resource depletion.

Reason 3 – Crystal Clear Waters with Unbelievable Visibility

Most divers probably don’t think of Easter Island as a dive destination, but due to its lack of pollution, it’s waters boast an impressive visibility of up to 160 feet (50 meters).  In addition to its crystal clear waters, the underwater landscape is legendary.  The island’s volcanic nature has created imposing formations such as caves, cliffs and tunnels.  You can even spot toppled moai underwater.  The island has two dive shops – Orca Diving Center and Mike Rapu Diving Center.

The only airline currently flying to Mataveri International Airport on Easter Island is LAN.  The travel time is 5-6 hours from Santiago, Chile.  LAN also has two flights a week from Pape’ete, Tahiti and two flights per week from Lima, Peru.

Look forward to my report from Easter Island sometime in the future.

What destination do you long to visit?

Oct 272011

The California Academy of Sciences is a museum and research organization located in San Francisco that is dedicated to education and public outreach.  The Academy’s mission is to explore, explain and protect the natural world.

My very cool and intelligent sister-in-law is the Docent Coordinator at the Academy, so I have a bit of first hand knowledge about the wonderful work that the Academy is involved in.

While perusing their website this week, I came across an amazing webcam – The Shark Lagoon Cam.  Shark Lagoon is one of the many aquarium exhibits at the Academy.  Among the species that inhabit Shark Lagoon are Blacktip Reef Sharks, Cownose Rays, Bamboo Sharks and Honeycomb Rays.

There is a fun feature on the Shark Lagoon Cam, which allows you to take a photo that is then uploaded to Flickr.  Below is the photo that I took (the quality is not optimal, but it was fun nevertheless).  You can find the live video stream here.

Shark Lagoon: California Academy of Sciences Captured live at 4:13pm on 10/27/11 by Reeftraveler (US). Check out the real-time stream at www.calacademy.org/webcams/sharks.

Oct 252011

As an avid Tripadvisor user, I’m constantly scanning the forums for useful information. I recently came across a post by a fellow Destination Expert that I found very valuable, and well worth reposting on Reeftraveler (with the author’s permission, of course).

The post was by BeautifulBill, a Destination Expert for St. Thomas. Bill and his wife own a condo at gorgeous Sapphire Beach on St. Thomas (VRBO #358600). Sapphire Beach is known for its excellent snorkeling, and over the years, Bill has admittedly become a self-appointed reef policeman. I applaud Bill for taking the initiative to protect the fragile ecosystem that lures so many avid snorkelers and beachgoers to St. Thomas. Keep up the great work Bill!

Bill’s Beach Rules

1. Do not touch, stand on, remove, walk on, or in any way damage the coral. It may look like a rock, but it is a living organism that tourists regularly kill and damage by walking and standing on it.

2. Do not leave trash, straws, cups, wrappers, bottles, cans, boxes or any other foreign objects on the beach. You are responsible for keeping the beach clean.

3. Cigarette and cigar butts are TRASH (see rule 2). I often see people remove cans and bottles, but leave cigarette buts in the sand for some child to come along with a pail and shovel to play in trash, please remove them.

4. If you must play music without a headset, please keep the volume at a reasonable level. Not everyone shares the same tastes in music, and many enjoy the sound of the waves over some random song.

5. If you decide to dig a big hole in the sand then fill it when you leave so that it is not a trip and fall hazard.

6. It is perfectly fine to enjoy alcohol at the beach, but restrict your consumption so that you are not inebriated and causing a scene.

7. Playing catch on the beach or in the water is fine, but find an area where you aren’t going to hit someone with a ball.

8. Be considerate if you are shaking sand of your towel or blanket. No one enjoys a face full of sand. The same applies to spraying sunscreen.

9. Iguanas, feral cats, and ducks no mater how cute should not be fed. Feeding them is not healthy for them, and makes them aggressive with humans.

10. Do not feed fish dog biscuits or bread, it may kill them. It is best to leave nature alone.

To the readers out there, do you have anything to add to Bill’s Beach Rules?

Oct 232011

I’m an island with the motto “Where America’s Day Begins”.

Image Courtesy of US Fish and Wildlife Service

I’m also a great place for diving with 300 types of coral, 220 species of benthic marine algae and 950 species of reef fish.

Photo Courtesy of US Navy

Who am I?