Here you see the beaming face of a person just minutes away from zip lining over a waterfall in the remote Pacific island of Palau. Thrilling, gorgeous, awe-inspiring, yes. What you don’t see is this person falling flat on her butt just inches away from the waterfall! What a bruise, but fortunately the Canon was saved. So, yes, this was my first zip lining experience and there are no pictures of me doing said adventure only because I am a control freak of a photographer, so I wanted to shoot the view as I zipped! Those photos actually were not that interesting — just the tops of trees quite blurry. So, you see the hubs zip lining and looking like he’s hanging on for dear life, which he was (although I don’t know why).
Palau is really a magical place. Once the setting for a season of Survivor, this tiny Micronesian island chain is home to a gazillion kinds of coral, sea life, and breathtaking rock islands. This was my second visit and working vacation. Read my full travel story.
The island of Pohnpei is the largest and tallest in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). An abundance of rain falls on its rugged mountain peaks, streaming into more than 40 rivers that feed the upper rain forest. Its waterfalls range from pleasant to spectacular, some with large swimming ponds. Although mangrove swamps surround most of Pohnpei’s coastline, nearby reef islands boast beautiful sandy beaches.
The ultra modern Dubai Marina and a romantic dinner cruise down the creek…
Dubai shopping centers, like most everything in Dubai, are spectacular and completely over the top. Dubai Mall is the largest in the world with 1,200 shops and restaurants. With the imposing Burj Khalifa (the world’s tallest building) right outside, you could easily spend a week in Dubai Mall taking in all the shops, souks, fountains, ice skating, and of course, people watching.
A day trip with Sam’s Tours (samtours.com) is an alternately thrilling and relaxing water adventure. Rise early to depart on a speedboat, whizzing through the majestic Rock Islands with their plumes of grass sprouting from limestone mushroom heads. Stop to snorkel and you may catch a glimpse of an elusive sea turtle or a family of black-tipped sharks, two- to three-feet long and as curiously cautious as you.
Babeldaob is Palau’s largest island — about three-quarters the size of Guam and Fish ‘n Fins (fishnfins.com) offers the only off-road eco tour of the island. Rise early for a wild ride off-road in a military-usage Polaris, which is a great way to see the island.
Palau is a destination like no other in Micronesia. The chain of islands is small and remote, but developed for comfortable, western style tourism. Palauans are strict guardians of the island’s pristine and delicate terrestrial and aquatic ecology. What has coalesced at 07°20 north of the Equator is nothing short of phenomenal. Locals are quick to boast about the island’s ecological charms, often rhapsodizing about its unique beauty.
Just minutes away from the record-breaking Burj Khalifa and Dubai Mall (largest in the world), is Dubai Creek — a throwback to Dubai’s origins as a port of trade. Wooden vessels still ply the working creek and a bustling spice and gold souk awaits visitors and residents in the mood for something, well, a little more authentic.
The newly built, old-style Souk Madinat Jumeirah was one of my favorite spots in Dubai, even if it screamed “Epcot.” Lusting over turquoise from Afghanistan (expensive), admiring the Burj Al Arab in the distance, and gazing at gondolas gliding up the canal was a perfect way to spend a hot and lazy afternoon. This attraction is just one more example of how Dubai tempers materialistic extravagance with retro-leaning regional motifs. Color me impressed.