Faces of Melanesia

November 17, 2016 - December 3, 2016

Based on the expeditionary nature of our trips, there may be ongoing enhancements to this itinerary.

Below please find the day-by-day itinerary for this expedition. Unless otherwise noted, daily excursion options are included in the cost of the trip. We do our best to adhere to the scheduled itinerary, but in the spirit of our expeditionary style of travel we may deviate slightly to take full advantage of encounters with the destination and its people, culture, and wildlife.

Nov 17 - Nov 18 Depart USA

Board your independent overnight flight to Port Moresby. Lose a day crossing the International Date Line. 

November 19 Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

Upon arrival in Port Moresby transfer to the Airways Hotel for an afternoon at leisure. Gather this evening for a welcome dinner and overnight at our hotel.

November 20 Port Moresby / Embark Caeldonian Sky

Visit the National Museum and Art Gallery with its exceptional collections of primitive art, including Sepik River carvings, Malagan masks,and Trobriand Island fishing vessels. We board the Caledonian Sky in the afternoon.

November 21 Expedition Stop

Numerous small islands dot the southern coast of Papua New Guinea and we make an expedition stop this afternoon for an introductory snorkel or dive over colorful reefs.

November 22 Dobu & Fergusson, D'Entrecasteaux Islands

Today explore these distinctive, jewel-like islands capped by active volcanoes and snorkel or dive in the surrounding marine-rich waters. You will also visit a tranquil seaside fishing village and hike to a series of hot springs and bubbling mud pools surrounded by lush vegetation.

November 23 Kuyawa & Nakwaba, Trobriand Islands

This morning we visit with the traditional Trobriand islanders of Kuyawa and view energetic, time-honored dances that celebrate fishing and the seasonal yam harvest. Learn about the history of the Kula Ring, a circular pattern of ceremonial trade relationships that binds the islands of Milne Bay and eastern Papua New Guinea together in a long-established network of friendship. These islanders are also renowned for the exquisite quality of their ebony wood carvings, often decorated with mother-of-pearl shell inlays. Enjoy a walk among the villages of Kuyawa before returning to the ship for lunch.

In the afternoon we anchor at nearby Nakwaba Island. Snorkel or dive amid kaleidoscopic coral reefs populated by parrotfish, neon damsels, and other brilliantly-hued species. Join naturalists on a walk around the island in search of flying foxes (fruit bats), sulphur-crested cockatoos, and helmeted friarbirds.

November 24 Laughlan Islands

Traditional canoe building is a specialty of the Laughlan islanders. In this very remote corner of eastern Papua New Guinea, find hand-crafted seagoing canoes in various stages of construction, with finely tuned hulls of traditional planking lashed with natural sennit fiber cord and caulked with sap. The residents here welcome you with a stroll through the village of palm-thatched houses. Enjoy an afternoon snorkel off a pristine sand-bar or an adventurous dive off the outer reef.

Nov 25 - Nov 27 Solomon Islands

Over the next three days, explore some of the numerous small islands of the Solomons. We’ll snorkel and dive over pristine reefs of hard and soft corals, from delicate seafans to staghorn formations, where colorful sponges, flower-like anemones, and giant tridacna clams edged with iridescent blue mantles flourish. We plan to step ashore on traditional islands to visit with locals and learn about life in this tropical paradise, while nature enthusiasts search the lush vegetation for birds and other wildlife.

November 28 Utupua, Santa Cruz Islands

A lagoon and barrier reef surround the rarely visited island of Utupua where Zodiacs take you down a fjordlike channel. Among the marshy mangrove trees, learn about an ecosystem that is a beehive of biological activity. Enjoy free time to stroll through Nembo to see the villagers’ prolific gardens, or join a snorkel or dive excursion.

November 29 Tikopia

Tikopia is legendary—a remote tropical paradise where traditional customs remain intact. This Polynesian-settled island lies in Melanesia, yet its people are descendants of Tongan and Wallis Island settlers. School children clad in tapa cloth harmonize songs of welcome, followed by enthusiastic dances by the young men of the village. A hike to the crater lake at Tikopia’s center may reveal fairy terns, cardinal honeyeaters, and yellow-bibbed lories. In the afternoon choose to stroll the lovely beach or snorkel or dive along the fringing reef where you may spot up to 60 species of fish.

November 30 Espiritu Santo Island, Vanuatu

This morning we have three options—visit Nekat Village and participate in a traditional kava ceremony; divers may set out on an unforgettable dive over the USS President Coolidge, which sank in 1942, and is encrusted by a tapestry of corals, offering a haven for fishes; or accompany our naturalists on an excursion inland to search for some 50 species of birds, including the very rare mountain starling and thicket warbler, found only at high elevations, the chestnut-bellied kingfisher, and the yellow white-eye.This afternoon, conditions permitting, we snorkel at Million Dollar Point, where the Allies jettisoned large quantities of surplus war material into the sea. 

December 1 Ambrym

Today we are welcomed by palm-leaf-clad dancers with elegantly carved headdresses before exploring traditional Linbul Village. Ambrym is known for its slit-gong drums, some carved from enormous breadfruit tree trunks. 

December 2 Port Vila / Disembark / Brisbane, Australia

Disembark this morning for a tour of Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu, ending at the airport for your independent flight to Brisbane. Dinner and overnight at our airport hotel. 

December 3 Brisbane / USA

Transfer to the airport this morning for your independent flight to the USA.