Exploring ashore

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Hiking up to a beautiful waterfall in Nuku HivaMany images may come to mind when one thinks of our tropical cruise. Perhaps among them are thoughts of beautiful, palm-covered islands. Or maybe one envisions lush, green, verdant jungle, home of beautiful plants and wild animals. Some people might think of the high mountains of South America, others of the unearthly lava landscapes of the newer Galapagos islands.

We love to see new places, it is one of the joys of traveling. We try to get ashore and explore any new region we enter, especially if it is a large island with a lot to see. In the case of the Tuamotus, most of the coral atolls were essentially the same. However, in the Society Islands, we rented cars or bikes and explored ashore on nearly every island. Some islands, such as Dominica in the Caribbean, were so lovely that we took several exploratory trips inland.

There are four ways we have explored ashore. While cars are undoubtedly the most practical way to explore a large island, they can be expensive and are not necessarily the most fun way to get around. Walking is usually free and can be fun, but distances are very limited. My two favorite (and least common) ways of exploring are bicycling and horseback riding.

One of the great things about riding is looking around and not needing to watch your feet!We have done very little biking since moving to Ocelot, but I used to bike often, school day or weekend. To me, bicycling is both a pleasurable way to get exercise and a practical way to get somewhere. We don't have any bikes on the boat, so the only times I get to ride now are when we rent bikes to explore an area (such as in inland Ecuador.) I wish we did this more often; I greatly enjoy bicycling.

Riding is a very rare treat, but I think it is one of the best ways to explore. One can go longer distances than walking without being shut up in a car, and it takes very little effort. Since the animals usually know the way, it is possible to simply look around without needing to watch the path much. This is especially nice in somewhere like the trip to Los Nevados in the Andes (Venezuela) since the path would normally take somebody's full attention but the views are stunning. Being mounted also gives a higher viewpoint, allowing better views. Last but certainly not least, riding is just a really great experience!

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