Melanesia, Solomon Islands & Vanuatu
30th Anniversary Signature Voyage
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.
Based on the expeditionary nature of our trips, there may be ongoing enhancements to this itinerary.
Depart USA / Port Moresby, Papua New GuineaSeptember 10 — September 12
Board your independent overnight flight to Papua New Guinea. Lose a day crossing the International Date Line. 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.
Port Moresby / Embark Island SkySeptember 13
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. Board the Island Sky in the afternoon.
Bonarua IslandSeptember 14
Be on deck as the ship traces the coast of Papua New Guinea, to observe the peaks of the dramatic Stanley Owens Range that soar to 13,000 feet. This afternoon visit the island of Bonarua, where a local choir welcomes you ashore. Observe fishing and weaving demonstrations, and stroll through the enchanting village, sampling local delicacies made from sweet potatoes, taro, and yams. Birders venture into the thicket to search for island specialties, and the warm inviting waters of the Coral Sea offer a perfect introduction to the undersea wonders on your first snorkel or dive excursion of many to come.
Dobu & Fergusson, D'entrecasteaux IslandsSeptember 15
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.
Laughlan IslandsSeptember 16
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.
At SeaSeptember 17
Attend lectures recapping your experiences and join naturalists on deck to search for seabirds and marine mammals.
Upei Island, Solomon IslandsSeptember 18
Beautiful Uepi Island is a classic raised barrier reef island, covered in lush rainforest and outlined with sandy beaches. Uepi is also home to the longest saltwater lagoon in the world. Bounded by volcanoes on its southern and western sides, both the raised reef and inner lagoon are dotted with hundreds of small, sandy islets. Snorkelers will find lovely coral gardens in the protected waters of the lagoon, while divers explore the impressive fringing reef.
Tetepare IslandSeptember 19
The largest uninhabited island in the South Pacific, Tetepare is covered with pristine lowland rainforest. Nature walks may reveal some of the island’s 230 recorded bird species, such as Sanford’s sea-eagles, crested cuckoo-doves, Kolombangara monarchs, and beautiful Nicobar pigeons. The surrounding reef is one of the most biodiverse in the world, and crocodiles, dolphins, and dugongs are often found cruising along the coast. The island’s black-sand beaches are also an important nesting site for green, leatherback, and hawksbill turtles.
The residents of Malaita are renowned for their panpipe ensembles and dances that depict traditional activities, like fishing and sailing. Birders will seek the endemic Malaita fantail.
At SeaSeptember 21
Attend lectures from our experts during an educational day at sea.
Utupua, Santa Cruz IslandsSeptember 22
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 along the fringing reef where an abundance of small fish attract predators like gray reef sharks, mangrove jacks, Oriental sweetlips, and schools of trevally.
Tikopia is legendary—a remote tropical paradise where traditional customs remain intact. 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.
Ureparapara, VanuatuSeptember 24
On Ureparapara you are welcomed ashore with a performance of “water music.” Then join locals for a tour of the village.
Today you are welcomed ashore 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.
Port Vila / Disembark / Brisbane, Australia / USASeptember 26 — September 27
Disembark this morning for a tour of Port Vila, ending at the airport for your independent flight to Brisbane. Dinner and overnight at our airport hotel. Arrive in the USA the next day.