Sunday, December 18, 2011

Three Volcanic Islands - Aogashima, Bora Bora, Santorini 
Japan is a whole whack of islands - volcanic islands.  So, I thought I would talk about volcanic islands - really awesome volcanic islands - for fun. Places with volcanoes tend to have a lot of mystique or exotic-ness about them. I've been to a few and am going to cover Santorini from the Aegean Sea, Aogashima that just looks so cool from the air, and Bora Bora - a paradise in the middle of the tropical Pacific.  Both Aogashima and Santorini are still active volcanoes.

Aogashima - Off the coast from Tokyo

I recently heard about Aogashima and saw the linked photo below at Tofugu and Panoramio. Tofugu called it "Monster Island" from Godzilla fame, and why not with the forbidding cliffs of this island.  It looks wonderfully lush and the Flickr photos indicate it is kind of jungle-like in places.  Doesn't appear to be much to do here as it has a small town and a tiny population. Hiking seems to be the name of the game for outdoor activities here.  If you look at the small cinder cone in the middle of the crater, it looks cultivated and I wonder if they are tea bushes or something. One other neat fact is that the island falls under the jurisdiction of the Tokyo Metropolitan government - not bad considering it must be 500 km away (see the Google map that is attached).  This is probably a great place to go to drop off the map for awhile.

View Larger Map

Bora Bora - French Polynesia, South Pacific
Bora Bora is a name that brings visions of palm trees, white sand, gorgeous blue water, and luxury resorts in huts over the water of the lagoon.  Even though it is isolated in the middle of nowhere in the Pacific, it is very different from undeveloped Aogashima.

Bora Bora is a gorgeous place that I visited almost ten years ago now.  I think some of the smaller islands like Tahaa are more beautiful in some ways for sandy island type get aways, and Moorea has incredible rugged beauty, but from the air, Bora Bora is the undisputed beauty queen as the picture below shows.  The sandy beaches here are the best as they are derived from bits of coral and shell.  The sand is not sand so it also doesn't get as hot on the feet.  Tropical drinks, cabins over the lagoon, coconut trees and white sand beaches are how you could describe this paradise.

More information about Bora Bora and Tahiti

Cool bathroom sign in Bora Bora. Flickr/vgm83

Santorini - in the Greek Aegean With A Gorgeous Caldera
Santorini is a land of myth and gorgeous views.  The food can be pretty darn good too, but the atmosphere of the place is wonderful and inspiring.  I've been here twice as I lived in Greece for awhile and had a great time every time I have visited. Out of all of the three islands, this is the most touristy, with large beaches, great views of the caldera which cruise ships sail into, and towns that seem to perch on top of high cliffs.  There is a great deal of history here too with ruins dating back to the Minoan period from Akrotiri, the likely location of lost Atlantis.
More information about Santorini
More information about Akrotiri - Lost Atlantis?

Looking out over the caldera with cruise ships in it.
Orthodox Church in the town of Oia.

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