Robin's Adventures

Tales of the South Pacific
A Tropical Island Adventure

The Ubiquitous Frangipani Flower

Frangipani flowers popped up everywhere throughout the south Pacific islands. The flowers are beautiful and very fragrant.

It is interesting to note, however, that the flowers are most fragrant at night so they can lure the nocturnal sphinx moth in order to pick up and carry pollen from one flower to the next. Ironically, the Frangipani yields no nectar, so the unfortunate moth is tricked into pollinating the flowers without actually being rewarded for its efforts.

More Garden of the Sleeping Giant

The Garden of the Sleeping Giant had long winding paths and boardwalks that brought us through lush rain forest areas and past beautiful lily ponds and fountains. We enjoyed the tree hugging "people" that were randomly placed at the edge of the forest. The gardens provided a delightful environment for our afternoon trek.

Viseisei Village

Viseisei Village, which currently is a typical coastal community, is said to have begun as the oldest settlement in Fiji when Melanesians arrived there by canoe in the early 1500s.

In addition, the village was the childhood home of former Fijian president Josefa IIoilo. IIoilo, who retired from the presidency in 2009 at age 88, has the distinction of being the world's oldest head of state.

While visiting the village, we were invited into a typical home. Then, while enjoying the beach view, we noticed a beautiful reef heron hunting for tasty morsels in the surf.

All Aboard

Following our stay in Fiji, we boarded the MS Paul Gauguin which was to be our home base for the next sixteen days as we explored the islands of the South Pacific. The ship was 504 feet long, 72 feet wide, weighed 19,200 tons, and had a maximum speed of 18 knots.

The MS Paul Gauguin

Our stateroom was comfortable and it had a delightful balcony so we could sit outside and watch the scenery and the beautiful sunrises and sunsets over the Pacific Ocean.

Espiritu Santo

Espiritu Santo is the largest of the 83 islands that make up the country of Vanuatu. As a tourist destination, the island is noted for its beautiful beaches.

Million Dollar Point

During World War II, the Americans, along with the French and the British, had military bases on Espiritu Santo to aid in their war efforts against the Japanese. When the time came for the Americans to leave, the high cost of transporting tons of goods and machinery back to the states necessitated that everything, including jeeps, bulldozers, six-wheeler trucks, corrugated iron sheets, furniture, crates of clothing, and crates of Coca-Cola be left behind.

The French and British refused to buy the equipment for 6 cents on the dollar because they figured they could just take it anyway after the Americans left. The Americans, who were greatly offended by this, loaded up all of their equipment and drove it off the end of a pier into the ocean.

Now the dump site, which is known as "million dollar point" has become a tourist attraction and a popular destination for snorkelers and scuba divers. Although we did not snorkel, we did walk along the beach and get a firsthand look at the rusted remains of some of the former military equipment.

Remains from World War II

When Americans arrived on Espiritu Santo during World War II, there was little infrastructure on the island. Although we dumped our equipment into the ocean, we did leave behind some important items that are still in use today, such as roads, quite a few Quonset huts, and a golf course. Also remaining from the war is an old Japanese gaol which held the surviving crew from two Japanese patrol boats that sank in 1942.

The island, which is still covered with palm trees and orchids, has managed to maintain some of its pre-war charm.


Guadalcanal, which is one of the Solomon Islands, is mostly covered by thick tropical rain forest with a mountainous interior. During World War II, the island was the site of bitter fighting between Japanese and American troops.

A welcoming committee awaited us, as we disembarked from the ship, in order to provide some music and dance, and, of course, to offer souvenirs for the tourists to purchase.

Henderson Airfield

Henderson Airfield, which was originally built by the Japanese during World War II, was seized by the American forces in a fierce battle in August of 1942. The field was renamed in honor of Marine Corps Major Lofton Henderson, a squadron commander who was killed during the Battle of Midway.

At the end of the war, the field was abandoned. In 1969, after modernizing and rebuilding, the airstrip reopened as the main airport for the Solomon Islands.

The old World War II control tower, although not in use, still remains at the edge of the field. In addition, a war memorial and garden are located on the grounds of the airport.