Take Sensible Precautions When Travelling to Pacific Islands

December 14, 2023

Do you have the wanderlust of Captain James Cook, born on November 7, 1728?  If so, have you taken the right precautions to protect your worldwide travels, especially if visiting some of the Pacific Islands he discovered or visited?  If you do your research, you will find that this goes way beyond just ensuring you have the right worldwide travel insurance in place.

James Cook, born in Marton-in-Clevelend, was a prolific explorer and the first European to discover New Zealand, Australia and the Hawaiian Islands.  However, his exploratory nature was such that he is remembered in many other places around the world.  Natural features such as the Cook Strait and Mount Cook National Park (NZ) are named after him, along with several islands the Cook Mountains in Antarctica and the Cook crater on the Moon.   His ship, the Endeavour, also inspired the name of the Space Shuttle.

As he was such an adventurer, we are just going to focus on three of the locations associated with him, to help you get the right risk protection in place.

Staying Safe in Hawaii

Picture of Hawaii courtesy of Braden Jarvis on Unsplash

For a time, Cook was viewed as a God by the indigenous inhabitants of Hawaii, although it is also where he was killed, following a dispute.  If you are following in his footsteps and visiting the Hawaiian Islands, do recall that, following the devastating wildfires this year, you are not allowed to visit West Maui.  The islands do want you to visit elsewhere, however, so as to assist the local economy, if you travel in a respectful manner.

Whilst the wildfires are top of mind, do remember that Hawaii suffers many natural disasters, ranging from volcanic eruptions, to tsunamis, hurricanes, flash floods and tropical storms.  All of these could disrupt or force changes to your travel plans, whether that is cancellation, curtailment or having to move to a different location.  If you have travel insurance in place from the moment you book, you may have your losses covered, as long as the situation was not known before you made your plans.

There are official warning systems in place for such natural and weather occurrences, so make sure you understand those and what you would need to do if sirens went off.   Beyond that, remember that Hawaii can also be a gloriously hot and sunny location, so do not forget to pack and apply the sunscreen, even if there is cloud cover. You should look for SPF 30 or above and always reapply after swimming.

Similarly, there are mosquitoes in Hawaii all year round, with the peak mozzie season being summertime.  Reach for the insect repellent that is DEET-based and try to protect yourself by wearing long-sleeved clothing and trousers, if venturing out early in the morning, or at sunset, in particular.

Avoid city parks, unless there is an official event taking place, and try to stay out of areas not deemed safe.  The local tourist office can advise on this.  Keep an eye on your belongings, if on the beach, try to keep your valuables back in the hotel safe and do not carry large amounts of cash.  If hiring a car, park in well-lit areas and don’t leave valuables in there, or on display.

If taking to Hawaii’s trails, be careful near the edge of drops, where earth may be weaker or where taking a selfie could land you in huge trouble.  Don’t drink from the natural streams either, as they could contain bacteria.  Take bottled water and you should avoid issues.

Remember that Hawaii is a US state, so you will need single trip or annual trip travel insurance protection that is worldwide, covering US and Canada.  This is because the medical costs associated with being treated in the USA can be astronomical and hard to afford unless you can call on worldwide travel insurance.

Staying Safe in Vanuatu

Picture of Vanuatu, courtesy of Seiji-Seiji on Unsplash

Cook reached Vanuatu in 1774.  If you are planning to visit in 2024, make sure you understand the travel risks and then, once you have covered those, you can relax and have a great time.

Crime has been traditionally low in Vanuatu but it is on the up and, if it comes in the form of burglary, some violence might accompany this.  Passports may be targeted, or just disappear in a stolen bag, so take a couple of copies before you leave home.  Give a copy to someone back at base and put the other copy  in a different place from your passport itself.  Keep windows and doors locked.

When out and about, stay in the areas that local tourism experts deem safe.  Venturing off solo, to discover a dream beach perhaps, is not advisable and remember, if hiring a car, that the roads are not in terribly good condition and the safety features you may have on a car at home are not likely to be found in Vanuatu.  Try to keep any motoring to day-time, as lighting can also be an issue.

Take up any boat trips, or snorkelling or scuba diving experiences, at your own risk, as many inter-island boats will not be well maintained and equipment that you are given may not have the level of safety checking you would expect in other parts of the world.  Do not take part in any activities before you have checked that your travel insurance would cover you, if you were injured. Do also remember that Vanuatu’s coast does attract sharks.

The same situation with regard to weather events applies to Vanuatu as to Hawaii.  Tropical storms, earthquakes, tsunamis and cyclones, are always a possibility, so ensure that you have as much protection against the holiday cost implication of these as you can, via purchase of a travel insurance policy.  Storm season has typically been November to April but weather systems are changing, due to climate change.

Malaria and Hepatitis A are both found in Vanuatu.  Before travelling, organise your malaria tablets and vaccinations and make sure you keep taking your malaria medication during and after your travels.  Drink bottled water, wherever possible, be careful with the foods you eat, and pack a first aid kit, to have plasters and antiseptic wipes at hand, if cut or injured.

Whilst Port Vila and Luganville have hospitals and private medical facilities, any serious health situations might well need to be treated in a larger Pacific country, such as Australia or New Zealand.  To get there, you would need to be repatriated by an air ambulance or flight, which would be a huge expense, if coming out of your budget.  Don’t take that risk, when this is one of the main benefits affordably secured by buying worldwide travel insurance from well-trusted Europesure.

Staying Safe in Tahiti

Picture courtesy of Kazuo Ota on Unsplash

Cook was sent to Tahiti in 1768, to observe Venus crossing the Sun, in June 1769.  If you are travelling to Tahiti for more regular leisure reasons, do take the right precautions.

Firstly, various diseases can be found in French Polynesia, such as viral disease, chikungunya, and filariasis, caused by parasitic worms. Dengue virus transmission is fairly common.  The World Health Organisation recommends that those travelling to Tahiti have vaccinations for hepatitis A and B, typhoid, yellow fever, rabies, meningitis, polio, MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), Tdap (tetanus, diptheria and pertussis), chickenpox, shingles, pneumonia and influenza.

The Zika virus is also transmitted by mosquito, so good mosquito prevention tactics should be used.  Zika is particularly dangerous for those who are pregnant.

Cyclone season is technically May to September but climate change is putting all the Pacific Islands in the eye of the seemingly constant storm.  Be prepared for travel disruption and protect your holiday investment by buying travel insurance the minute you book.  That way, your cancellation cover will kick in immediately.

Be aware of the relevant tsunami warning signals and be prepared to move to high ground, should the signals occur.

As with Vanuatu, you may struggle to find the right medical assistance on the island, if you fall seriously ill, and may need to be repatriated to another country, to have the care you require.  The cost of an air ambulance is probably beyond the means of most, but access to one, if you have a travel insurance policy in place, from a trusted provider like Europesure, should not be a financial issue, if you were honest about pre-existing medical conditions and checked that the policy covered yours.

Enjoy Pacific Islands to the max, by having the right risk strategies in place before you travel and by being alert in destination.  To buy the worldwide travel insurance cover that will be a vital part of this, wherever you live in Europe, head to www.europesuretravelinsurance.com

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