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Must-see destinations in

Must-see destinations in Asia, Oceania and the Indian Ocean The Chesterfield Islands “Without wronging anyone, without oppressing any indigenous people, and unbeknown to anyone, our beautiful country preserves a small, discreet and secret empire whose extreme fringes never cease to amaze.” This is how historian and author Bruno Fuligni described the Chesterfield Islands, a group of miniscule lands lost in the Coral Sea off the north-eastern coast of Australia. Made up of several uninhabited islets and reefs that sit on the surface of the water, this mysterious archipelago was named after the ship of the English captain who discovered it in 1791. It was conquered by the French in 1878. This paradise for nature lovers offers its rare visitors long, immaculate beaches where thousands of seabirds have found refuge. The Kimberley coast in Australia The Kimberley region of Western Australia is a wild land of remote, spectacular scenery spread over huge distances. Larger than 75% of the world's countries, the Kimberley is one of the world’s last great Wilderness areas, and one of Australia’s greatest natural assets. The 13,000km of remote isolated coastline boasts more than 2,600 islands, Australia’s largest inshore reef, the world’s largest population of Humpback whales, extensive undisturbed mangrove forests, wild rivers, and important seabird breeding colonies. It is a national biodiversity hotspot, and listed in the top 3.7% of least impacted marine environments worldwide. The Scattered Islands The Scattered Islands are like minuscule confetti sprinkled around Madagascar and form an archipelago of unrivalled beauty. Their geographical isolation, and their very limited human settlement make them a true geological sanctuary, classed as a nature reserve since 1975. Regularly used as the “zero point” in scientific studies, they offer their rare visitors almost pristine vegetation composed mainly of mangrove, as well as long beaches of shimmering sand stretching out behind turquoise lagoons, and coral reefs that are home to the world’s highest concentration of sea turtles. The Seychelles The Seychelles archipelago is made up of 115 islands emerging from the Indian Ocean. Some seem to be moored under the Equator whilst the most distant gently approach the coast of Madagascar. Do not miss the granite beaches with their shimmering pink highlights, where the erosion-polished rocks are harmoniously gathered along the shore, creating an almost unreal landscape; or fall under the spell of the shady coconut groves, a veritable Garden of Eden with a 1001 hiding places. A paradise of biodiversity, La Digue island is today a refuge for many species of sea birds, but it is the giant turtles that one may encounter as one walks the island paths that have made the island’s reputation. 54 | Summer 2018 / Winter 2018 - 2019 Cruises

The Maluku islands The Malukus is made up by over a thousand tropical islands ranging from rugged, mountainous wildernesses to active volcanoes and idyllic coral atolls. Fine beaches and coral reefs abound, and there are plenty of historical reminders of the region's turbulent past. These are the famous Spice Islands which drew Indian, Chinese, Arab and eventually European traders in search of cloves and nutmeg. Far from the well worn tourist paths, the Malukus receive few outside visitors. The over 100 ethnic groups native to Malukus are among the friendliest and most hospitable in all Indonesia. Today, music and dancing are as much part of life as are fishing and farming. Papua-New-Guinea Described as the most culturally diverse country on earth, Papua New Guinea is home to over 700 different ethnic groups, speaking an equivalent number of languages. There is no such thing as a typical Papua New Guinean, but the majority remain dependent on subsistence farming and live in small isolated villages. Tradition remains strong in a society where wealth is not accumulated for its own sake, but so it can be given away, with elaborate ceremony. You will be amazed at the warmth and sincerity of a proud people willing to showcase their traditional art and culture. The Solomon Islands The Solomon Islands remain today a hidden paradise in the South Pacific. It is a land of contrast and adventure, best known for its crystal waters and spectacular white sand beaches. Comprising over 990 islands, the diversity of landforms and cultures are striking. Village life remains much as it has done for centuries, unhurried, undeveloped and unspoilt. Traditional customs handed down from ancestral spirits, form the basis of cultural values remaining today. The island chain played a significant role during the Second World War and many relics and wrecks remain, providing a window into this tumultuous period. The Vanuatu Archipelago Vanuatu is an archipelago of 83 islands nestled between the warm tropical waters and the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean. It is home to a unique blend of ancient traditional villages, picture perfect beaches, accessible active volcanoes and coral reefs teeming with life. It offers an idyllic setting for anyone seeking adventure or wanting to relax on a tropical beach fringed with palm trees. With no written language, songs and dances are of paramount importance in maintaining traditions. Art, in its many forms, from body decorations and tattoos, to elaborate masks and carvings are a vital part of ritual celebrations and the social life of the many villages spread throughout the archipelago. Asia, Oceania and Indian Ocean Expeditions by | 55