Pearl Harbor Memorial: a Brit’s view

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Our day starts with a 50-minute wait for the bus in Honolulu’s main thoroughfare. An hour after that, we find ourselves crawling along in the capital’s multi-lane traffic – not what we imagined when we planned our eight-mile journey in this supposed island paradise.

Kia tosses me a look. “I hope this is worth it,” she says with a tone that sounds sweet to the ears but hides much promise of pain.

“It will be,” I assure her, quietly gulping.

Mauna Kea: summiting the world’s “tallest” mountain

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Why Hawaii’s Mauna Kea takes the crown as the world’s tallest mountain

Okay, so we all know that Mount Everest is Earth’s highest mountain, measuring at a staggering 8,848m (29,029ft) above sea level.

What’s less well known is that if you measure from base to peak, it’s not Everest but Hawaii’s Mauna Kea that takes the crown as the world’s tallest mountain. Mauna Kea lies largely hidden beneath the ocean surface but is a monumental 10,203m (33,476ft) in height from base to peak.

Why I’m actually happiest travelling with my girlfriend

travelling with my girlfriend

Okay, so I have to be very careful here. If I miss the mark on this I risk offending all women and marking myself out as a chauvinist pig. On top of that I’ll offend Kia and, trust me, Kia when angry redefines those famous sayings about women scorned.

So here we go.

16 fragile and failed states

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As we continue our trip around the globe, there are some areas of the world we are forced to avoid. Instability and unrest in these regions often make them unsafe or irresponsible choices for tourists.

When backpackers end up on a luxury cruise

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Talk about being out of our depth. Kia and I depart for Los Angeles today in rather ridiculous fashion considering our financial position: on a Princess luxury cruise!

We’ve been “stranded” in Tahiti for the past month, unable to afford flights eastwards to the Americas. We were planning to fly from Tahiti to Chile, but the cheapest flight we could find in December was in the thousands as opposed to hundreds. With that in mind, we took a modest room in Tahiti and relaxed for Christmas, hoping prices would drop in the new year.

15 unique hotels we love

At Atlas and Boots, we’re always on the lookout for new and exciting places to stay whether it’s a Samoan beach fale or a Tongan eco-lodge. If you’re looking for something a bit different this year, have a look at our favourite unique hotels from across the world.

How well do you know the countries of the EU?

City life: how not to let it crush your soul

Whether you’re British, European or from further afield, the European Union continues to divide opinion. Nearly everyone has a position on the subject, but do you know who’s in and who’s out?

Put yourself to the test and see how you measure up with our quick quiz below. How well do you know the countries of the EU?

Bora Bora lagoon tour: money well spent

If you do one thing, do the Bora Bora lagoon tour – you won’t regret it

When we landed in Bora Bora, we were worried. Really worried.

It was the worst weather we’d seen in the Pacific. And I’m not talking about the tropical storm with torrential downpours and billowing breakers kind of bad weather, which is wretched but at least dramatic.

World’s most divisive destinations: should you go?

most visited countries in the worldAtlas & Boots

We look at some of the world’s most divisive destinations destinations that continue to pull in the crowds

Should we or shouldn’t we go?

There are some travel destinations that no matter how picture perfect their landscapes or how much history steeped in their ancient lands, will always provoke a strong reaction in traveller circles. Whether it’s for political, geographical or social reasons, the world’s most divisive destinations will likely divide opinion for a very long time.

Below we look at some of the most contentious and divisive destinations that rightly or wrongly pull in the tourist crowds year after year.

49 quick tips for your first time in India

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During my first time in India, I was a relatively inexperienced traveller: I was overwhelmed by its beauty and stunned by its poverty, just as any first-time visitor. The second time I went to India, I expected to be more familiar with its various vagrancies. In reality, I was overwhelmed and stunned just as before.

How to take better travel photos

midnight sun iceberg sightseeing ilulissat sailboatAtlas & Boots

I’ve been involved in photography in one way or another for 12 years now. At university, I studied photography and video and went on to work as a camera operator followed by seven years of teaching photography at secondary school level.

More recently, I have sold my landscape and travel photography online and to various publications and now, while travelling, it has become my only source of income which is somewhat terrifying!

8 things to do with an 8-hour Auckland layover

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We recently had a long Auckland layover between Tonga and our onward flight to Rarotonga. We hate to miss an opportunity to see a bit more of the world and another stamp in our passports made this an opportunity too good to pass up. The friendliest custom officials in the world and easy transport connections meant that we could make the best of our time in Auckland (despite the London-esque weather) and still have time to relax and make our onward flight. Here’s what we recommend on a limited timeframe during an Auckland layover .

Swimming with humpback whales in Tonga

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Swimming with humpback whales in Tonga was a truly humbling experience that very nearly didn’t happen for us! But luck was on our side that day

It was late October, approaching the very end of Tonga’s whale watching season. We had been delayed in Samoa about a week longer than expected and arrived in Tonga just two days before the last day of the season.

Desperate not to miss our opportunity to swim with whales, we hastily flew north to the Vava’u Islands, one of the best places to see the humpbacks. These majestic creatures migrate north from the Antarctic every summer to breed in warmer waters, heading back as soon as their young are strong enough for the journey.

The second-best seats on the best flight in the world

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The best flight in the world is surely over the Tongan archipelagos of Vava’u and Ha’apai, streaking across the bright blue skies with glorious views below

We’ve been on the road for three months now and taken 15 flights and counting. Ever since we first left continental Australia there’s been some breathtaking aerial views from our windows across the Pacific thousands of feet below.

Natural wonders of Samoa: 5 unmissable sights

interesting facts about Samoa lead imageAtlas & Boots

Despite its tiny size, the natural wonders of Samoa are vast

Samoa is made up of two main islands, ‘Upolu and Savai’i. We split our time evenly between the two and were never short of activities to fill our days.

Despite its tiny size, the natural wonders of Samoa are vast. I suggest hiring a 4WD on each of the islands and spending a day driving round and taking in the natural landscapes along the way.

Samoa beach fale: a million-dollar view without the price tag

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Samoa beach fale may be rustic, but you can’t beat the views

Samoa doesn’t have much in the way of luxury accommodation. Apart from a spattering of three-star resorts spread over the two main islands and a motley collection of motels and lodges in Apia, there is only the Samoa beach fale left to choose from.

On first impression, they may seem a bit basic but scratch the surface and you’ll find beauty and tranquillity to match the most luxurious of resorts.

Hiking Mount Yasur volcano on Tanna Island, Vanuatu

Mount Yasur volcano erupts

On Mount Yasur volcano there was not a soul around and not a noise to be heard – other than the deafening eruptions, that is

The first few weeks of our trip had been active enough. We’d hiked, climbed, caved, canyoned, kayaked and more. It would have been perfectly acceptable to spend a few days lounging on a beach on Tanna Island, soaking up the Pacific sun.

However, you don’t go to Tanna without seeing the “Old Man” that is Mount Yasur volcano, and we were no exception.

Diving with turtles in Samoa at Juno Wreck

Diving Juno Wreck with turtles in Samoa was a unique experience. Getting up close and personal to underwater wildlife like this is just incredible

“You’ll either love it or find it extremely depressing,” reads the guidebook description of Satoalepai Turtle Sanctuary.

I’ve never been a huge fan of zoos and captive wild animals, so when I read about the chance to go diving Juno Wreck with turtles in Samoa at the sanctuary I decided to pass. Maybe I’d get a chance to see them in the wild…

10 great travel books to read on the road

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We select 10 great travel books to read on the road, having spent hours, perhaps days, on long journeys with our heads buried in books. Great travel books 1. The Snows of Kilimanjaroby Ernest Hemingway When talking about Ernest Hemingway and great travel books you’ve got plenty to choose from. I’ve gone for The Snows of Kilimanjaro

Pimp my bus ride: Samoan buses are a unique experience

buses in Samoa

Samoan buses are uncomfortable, noisy and won’t run on time. But that’s the fun of it! Even if you have nowhere to go in Samoa, take a bus somewhere. 

We wanted to get out of Apia and head to the south coast. We’d heard the waters were incredible and there were some great natural sights to see. Taxis are expensive and as we are on a budget the bus was the answer. We’ve taken plenty of buses across the Pacific islands now, but this one was a little bit different.