A voyage through the Pacific islands is one of such romantic beauty as to have tempted many a sailor to desert his ship and kin, and make a new home in one of the groups of coral-reefed islands. To realize such freedom of life under supposed ideal conditions, it will be remembered, a majority of the crew of an English frigate once mutinied, sent captain and officers adrift in an open boat, and navigated the ship to Tahiti. The story of " The Mutiny of the Bounty" refers to one of the most interesting and romantic episodes in the history of the British navy. Of the twenty-five mutineers, sixteen remained in Tahiti; nine others, six months after their arrival in Tahiti, concluded to find a safer retreat and sailed off in the shipj taking with them their Polynesian wives, to lonely Pitcairn Island; and to this day the island is peopled by the descendants of these mutineers, a quiet, respectable and religious community. The mutiny occurred in April, 1789. On the i4th of the following June, Captain Bligh and his loyal boat's crew (nineteen in all), after a voyage of 3,618 miles without a chart, reached Timor Island, off the coast of Java, — half dead from long exposure and short provisions.
A Winters' Trip from San Francisco
INCLUDING TAHITI, THE MARQUESAS, THE PAUMOTUS, AUCKLAND (NEW ZEALAND), THE FRIENDLY, SAMOAN, FIJIAN AND HAWAIIAN ISLANDS, AND BACK TO SAN FRANCISCO.
The Oceanic Steamship Company's steamer leaves San Francisco every month direct for Tahiti, the chief island of the Society group, the distance being 3,658 miles and the voyage taking about twelve days. The islands belong to France, and are of volcanic origin. The chief town is Papeete, from which many delightful excursions can be made in and around the island. There are many waterfalls, one of which leaps eight hundred feet at a bound.
Robert Louis Stevenson spent several months at Pari, where the scenery is beautiful; and the French author, Pierre Loti, contracted one of his romantic marriages here, and made it a theme of one of his books. The French government steamer leaves Papeete periodically for Nuka-hiva, the chief of the Marquesas Islands, which are also French possessions.
The inhabitants of the Marquesas group are a tall and handsome race, strong and active. Formerly they were great cannibals, but since their ancient customs and amusements have been restricted, they appear to have little or no desire to live, and their numbers are gradually decreasing. A favorite axiom with them is, "The coral waxes, the palm-tree flourishes, but man perishes."
A very different race is that of the Paumotans, the inhabitants of the Low Archipelago, also belonging to France. These appear to have embraced the new order of things, are thrifty and are not decreasing in numbers, although their islands are low atolls, and navigation among them is exceedingly hazardous.
At the present writing, the only way to reach the other Pacific islands from Tahiti is by way of Auckland, New Zealand, to which port there is a monthly steamer. From Auckland there is a local steamer to Sydney, leaving about every month via the Friendly, Samoan and Fijian Islands. From the latter islands the Canadian Pacific steamers leave for Honolulu.
The Tonga or Friendly Islands form an interesting group, composed of Vavao Island, the Haapai group and Tongatabu Island, governed independently, under British protection. The island of Vavao is mountainous and romantically beautiful , and is the theme of one of Byron's poems. The chief town is situated in an orange grove. A delightful excursion is to the Liku, which commands a magnificent view of the hundred islands of Haafalu Hao, and to Matangi, or Cave of the Winds; but the chief show -place is the submarine cave of Hunga, which is the cave of Byron's "Island."
The shores of the Haapai group are flat and coral- reefed, but a chain of volcanoes traverses the Tongan group from north to south, and new islands are being constantly formed. The islands were first discovered by Schonten and Lemaire in 1616, and Captain Cook was lavishly entertained by King Maelinaki in 1777, hence their 'name of Friendly Islands; but a change for the worse took place through intercourse with the warlike Fijians, the Tongans became cannibals and for years the islands were torn with revolution. In 1789 Captain Bligh, marooned from "The Bounty," attempted to land on one of the islands, but was repulsed and his quartermaster killed. The population seems to have stood the brunt of civilization fairly well, and numbers to-day about the same as when visited by Captain Cook.
Pago Pago, or Pango Pango, as it is sometimes called, is situated on the island of Tutuila of the Samoan group , first discovered by Jacob Roggewein, a Dutch navigator, in 1-722, and visited by La Perouse in 1787, when a massacre occurred in which his first officer and twelve of the crew were killed.
Tutuila is a lovely island, with lofty mountains and deep valleys. The harbor of Pango Pango is a fine one, landlocked except at its entrance. Eighty miles' sail from Tutuila is the island of Upolu, the pearl of the group, with a chain of mountains running its whole length. The chief port is Apia, which was the scene of a terrible cyclone on March 16, 1889, when six American and German warships were wrecked, besides a number of merchantmen and small craft. The British warship " Calliope" was saved by putting to sea in the face of the storm, a wonderful feat of expert navigation which undoubtedly saved the ship and its crew.
The Fijian Archipelago consists of some two hundred islands, with a total area of about 5,000 square miles. The largest island is Viti Levu, which is mountainous, eighty miles long by about sixty miles its greatest breadth. On this island is situated the chief town of Suva, where the Canadian Pacific steamers call. The old capital of Levuka is situated on the small island of Ovalan, about' half a dozen miles from Viti Levu.
The next largest island is Vanua Levu, but owing to the absence of roads, traveling on the islands themselves is next to impossible, the popular routes being the beach roads. The most practicable trip is a walk around the island of Ovalan, which can be done in a couple of days. The scenery is charming, and a sail among the islands most tempting, but there are many contingencies to be considered, such as poor facilities as to boats and crew, and the deadly coral reefs. The Fijians are a fine race physically, and are ex-cannibals of the worst kind, the remains of hemispherical ovens, found all over the islands, telling of horrible feasts. New Englanders will feel at home on seeing a Mount Washington (2,600 feet) on the island of Kandavu.
The Hawaiian Islands, annexed by the United States in 1898, are possibly the most enjoyable of all the Pacific islands, on account of their superior facilities for transportation and the tourist's accommodation, to say nothing of the delicious climate. f They were known to the Spanish navigators of the sixteenth century , and Captain Cook thoroughly explored them in 1778.
The island of Oahu, on which is located the city of Honolulu, the port touched at by all Pacific liners from Fiji, Samoa, Yokohama, San Francisco and Vancouver, has an area of 530 miles, and a population of about 60,000. Honolulu is a delightful city, and is within easy distance of some of the finest scenery on the island. Within the city limits are the craters of two extinct volcanoes, the Punch Bowl and Diamond Head, while the magnificent cliffs of Nuuano Pali, the scene of the defeat of the Oahu army by Emperor Kamehameha I, are only six miles distant, and are approached by a fine driveway. Another delightful excursion is by railroad along the shores of Pearl Harbor, or by electrics through Kapiolani Park to Waikiki Beach, where surf bathing a la Hawaii can be enjoyed.
The island of Molokai is the first sighted by steamers from San Francisco, and its port of Kaunakakai is fifty-two miles from Honolulu. Some of the grandest scenery of the entire group is to be found on this island. The leper hospital is situated on the peninsula of Kalau- papa, practically inaccessible from the rest of the island.
Kahului, on the island of Maui, is eighty-seven miles from Honolulu. From it railroad communication can be made into the interior. There are two mountains on the island, Mount Ecke at the western end being nearly 6,000 feet high, while Haleakala at the eastern end is 10,300 feet high, and has on its summit the largest extinct crater known, being twenty miles in circumference with an area of nineteen square miles. The scenery of the lao Valley back of Wailuku, reached by railroad, is very fine.
Hawaii, the largest island, with an area of 4,210 square miles, from a tourist point of view is the gem of the group. The town of Hilo is 229 miles from Honolulu, and about a week from San Francisco by direct steamer. It is beautifully situated on the bay. Within a mile of the town are the Rainbow Falls, and two miles farther on is the great Cave of Kaumana. An auto ride can be taken to Onomea, where a natural archway of rock protrudes into the sea. The three mountains on the island are Mauna Kea (13,805 feet), Mauna Loa (13,675 feet) and Hualalai (8,275 feet). On the slope of Mauna Loa is the volcano of Kilauea, which is reached by railroad to Olaa, where stage connection is made to the Volcano Hotel. The intrepid navigator, Captain Cook, was killed at Kealakakua Bay in 1778, and a monument marks the spot. The other islands of the group are Kauai, Niihau, Lanai and Kahoolawe, all of which can be reached by steamer from Honolulu.