Inside the Fascinating Kingdom of Tonga

The blowholes of Tonga

Imagine the most impressive blowhole you’ve ever seen. Now multiple that single blowhole by a factor of several hundred and stretch the lot of them across five long kilometers of coastline. To add to the experience, have them erupt continuously like a series of massive chain explosions constantly moving up and down the coast.

Now throw in an ancient Stonehenge lookalike and some pyramids and you’d probably be convinced I dreamt up the place. But this fantastical place does exist, and I was fortunate enough to have a short visit there in June, 2013. It is officially known as the Kingdom of Tonga, the last of the Pacific Ocean’s monarchies and one of the most impressive tourist destinations I’ve seen in a while.

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Fiji–Kava Shots and Holi Wars

Sri Siva Subramaniya temple near Nadi, Fiji - the largest Hindu temple in the Southern Hemisphere

My visit to Fiji in March of 2011 was significant in several ways.  First, it was my 100th country visited overall, but secondly and more importantly, it was one of my most interesting travel experiences yet.  By the end of the trip, I was covered from head to toe in pink dye and I had a belly full of kava root. But first, let me make one thing clear…this wasn’t the typical Fiji visit.  I was traveling with fellow world traveler and close friend Joel Oleson, and secondly, we weren’t really interested in the typical Fiji experience of lying on the beach, drinking from a coconut, etc.  Not to say that isn’t a nice thing to do overall, but on this trip we were really looking to connect with the Fijian people and get a feel for life on this beautiful island.

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