Honeymoon Ideas & Answers
South Pacific 101
Continued (page 3 of 5)
Both my fiancé and I are novice-to-intermediate divers and want the best spot for our skills. What can you tell us about diving in Australia, Fiji, and Tahiti?
Jad: You're in for a treat no matter where you go. Visibility can be up to 200 feet and water temperatures are usually in the 80s. Beginners will enjoy Tahiti, particularly Bora Bora, where the sheltered lagoon is perfect for a shallow starter dive and is loaded with fish. Anau, in the heart of the lagoon, is one of only three places where divers regularly see the impressive (and totally harmless) giant manta ray. Fiji, soft-coral capital of the world, is great for both beginners and intermediates. Practically every island resort has its own shallow-dive site just minutes from shore. Farther out, Namena, a small protected islet just an hour from the Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Islands Resort on Vanua Levu, has incredibly dense sea fans and healthy sponges that sparkle with basslets and brightly hued butterfly fish. Serious intermediate divers will love the GBR—scuba-speak for the Great Barrier Reef, a 1,400-mile series of coral canyons along Australia's Queensland coast. Because the reef isn't close to shore (it can be a two-hour boat ride from some spots), I stay at a reef resort like Lizard Island or Heron Island. Lizard is close to Cod Hole, where a dozen 300-pound potato codfish nuzzle you like puppies hoping for a treat. Keep an ear tuned in the summer off Heron, and you'll hear humpback-whale songs while you dive.
We're total foodies and can't decide between honeymooning in New Zealand and Australia. Which food-and-wine regions are hot right now?
Joe: If you're talking pure, unadulterated epicurean delights, it's hard to beat Sydney, which has some of the best eateries on the planet: Bennelong, inside the Opera House; Aqua, beneath the Harbour Bridge; and Otto's at Woolloomooloo Wharf. And then there's the ethnic-food scene, a smorgasbord of Greek, Italian, Thai, Vietnamese, Indian, and Middle Eastern offerings. Those who crave something a bit more rustic should visit Tasmania and South Australia. Tassie has recently earned a well-deserved reputation as a haven for good wine, great cheese, and delectable seafood. The island's 12 mini wine regions produce a wide variety of tipple, including Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay. South Australia has two very distinct, award-winning wine regions: the Yarra Valley near Adelaide and the Barossa Valley in the center of the state. New Zealand is another winning spot on the world culinary map. In fact, the gourmet food-and-wine scene has grown into one of the country's main attractions. The fertile Marlborough region at the very top of the South Island produces what many wine experts consider the world's finest Sauvignon Blanc, and the area's 70 wineries are also turning out some pretty mean Chardonnay and Riesling. The Hawke's Bay wine region, located on the eastern shore of the North Island, provides more of an all-around experience: remarkable food and wine combined with outdoor adventure (bird-watching, trout fishing) and the attractive, appealing Art Deco city of Napier.