Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands & Vanuatu

Secrets of Melanesia

17 days from £9,250pp

Includes full board plus, flight Cairns to Port Moresby, cruise transfers, all on board ship accommodation with meals & most drinks, all shore excursions & activities, naturalist lectures.

Overview & Highlights

Sail into a world few will ever experience where unique time-honoured traditions and elaborately costumed dancers welcome us into their world as we as we explore the rich history, iconic WWII sites, cultures and wildlife of Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu on this 17- day authentic expedition cruise.

Delve into the culturally rich Trobriand Islands, sometimes called the ‘Islands of Love’ where indigenous culture continues unchanged for countless generations.

Explore the coral-fringed islands of the Louisiade Archipelago and the volcanic wonders of the D’Entrecasteaux Islands, named after the French Explorer Antoine d’Entrecasteaux who discovered them while looking for La Perouse, where sheer mistcovered peaks, wild untamed rivers and rainforest join bubbling mud pools and spouting geysers.

Experience the biological wonderland and rare endemic species on remote Woodlark Island and spend a fascinating day exploring Bougainville Island.

Enjoy incredible cultural encounters on Loh Island, join Malaita’s Kwaio people in a sacred dance and observe the ancient Rom Dance on Ambrym Island.

Discover one of the conservation jewels of the South Pacific on Tetepare Island and snorkel Marovo Lagoon – the largest saltwater lagoon in the world. Visit villages on culturally-rich Malaita Island traditional Malaitan shell-money is still made, used as a dowry and worn as a status symbol.

Experience a kaleidoscope of cultures as we explore Vanuatu, where more than 100 indigenous languages are spoken. With over 80 habitable islands, islanders have closely guarded their own cultures and languages. Our expedition embraces some of these cultures and languages, as we explore one of the happiest places on the planet.

  • Sail into a world few will ever experience on an expedition ship
  • Experience time honoured cultural traditions and costumed dancers
  • Spectacular coral reefs and marine diversity
  • Superb and endemic birdlife – optional specialised birding programme
  • Optional sea kayaking excursion
  • Explore tropical remote islands
Jules Croucher

This unique holiday to Papua New Guinea and remote and unspoiled archipelagos is like no other journey on the planet … sail into a world of lands untouched by time and western influence and with a unique geology and abundance of wildlife that must be seen to be believed!

Throughout Melanesia there are spectacular reefs, which are home to masses of fish and coral gardens of every colour. These waters offer some of the greatest marine diversity and snorkelling in the world and everybody will have the opportunity to appreciate the beauty beneath the waves. Whether you are snorkelling or swimming, this ocean aquarium is waiting to be explored and discovered.

For birders, this itinerary offers once-in-a-lifetime species on remote islands where few have been before, and endemic birdlife such as the Solomon Sea Eagle, or the Vanikoro White-eye, may be seen. The birding potential is exceptional and to allow birders to maximise the opportunities on the expedition there is an optional specialised birding programme with customised excursions.

This expedition includes the option to join a sea kayaking excursion with an expert guide. Kayakers are rewarded with tranquil, tropical settings and are a source of fascination to the locals who often paddle their canoes out to join them, and invite them back to their villages.

  • Day 1: Cairns, Australia Arrive independently to the urban tropical paradise of Cairns and transfer to your hotel for your included overnight stay. In the evening you will be invited to meet your fellow travellers and expedition guides for an included dinner in the hotel.
  • Day 2: Fly to Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. After breakfast this morning you will transfer to the airport for your flight to Port Moresby, the bustling gateway and capital city of Papua New Guinea.
  • Days 3-4: Louisiade Archipelago, Deboyne & Tagula Islands Following a morning at sea, your first adventure will take you to the Louisiade Archipelago in the early afternoon. This remarkable archipelago spans approximately 400 kilometers along the northern boundary of the Coral Sea and stands as one of the prominent island formations in the South Pacific.
  • Day 5: D’Entrecasteaux Islands This morning you will awake amidst the volcanic archipelago known as the D’Entrecasteaux Islands. Among the anticipated highlights today is the exploration of the island’s geothermal region, characterised by hot springs and bubbling mud pools enveloped by lush vegetation.
  • Day 6: Trobriand Islands Nestled within the tranquil Solomon Sea and famously referred to as the ‘Islands of Love,’ the Trobriands unveil a pristine slice of traditional culture untouched by external influences. As we explore this idyllic paradise, we’ll relish the sight of pristine white sandy shores, vibrant villages brimming with color, crystal-clear aquamarine waters, and captivating marine ecosystems.
  • Day 7: Woodlark Island Embraced by its natural bounties, Woodlark Island, an isolated gem in Papua New Guinea’s expanse, boasts an intricate tapestry of life that spans millennia. With its biological and mineral riches, this remote haven grapples with the enduring tug-of-war between conservation and mining. The resilient local community stands as a rare exemple of self-sufficiency, drawing sustenance from time-honoured traditions.
  • Day 8: Bougainville Island Lying to the east of the Papua New Guinea mainland and north of the Solomon Islands, our next adventure brings us to the fascinating and remarkably isolated Bougainville Island, an area that is high on many travellers’ wish lists thanks to its rugged, jungled terrain with amazing coral reefs that harbour some of the greatest biodiversity in the region both above and below the water. 
  • Day 9: New Georgia Islands, Solomon Islands Discover the unique allure of the volcanic New Georgia Islands, nestled within the Western Province of the Solomon Islands. These islands boast a captivating landscape featuring extensive reefs and lagoons, rugged terrain, and a profusion of winding rivers. For nature enthusiasts, Kolombangara Island promises an unforgettable adventure. 
  • Day 10: Nissan Island Uninhabited for 150 years, this untamed island shrouded in lush rainforests and bordered by vibrant coral reefs is home to the Tetepare Descendants’ Association, a prominent community-led conservation initiative in the Solomon Islands. Garnering international acclaim for its commitment to conservation and its archaeological importance, this island serves as a nesting ground for three turtle species, including the critically endangered leatherback, on its pristine shores.
  • Days 11 – 12: Malaita & Makira On day 11 we will arrive at mountainous Malaita, home to pristine rivers and intact tropical forests, and one-third of the Solomon’s total population. We spend time with the world-renowned Kwaio People, led by Chief Esau, to learn all about their traditional way of life which the community have fiercely guarded alongside their ancestral lands. The following day will see you arrive in Makira, the most easterly of the main islands in the Solomon’s archipelago, where we will anchor in the calm waters of Star Harbour and take a Zodiac cruise amongst the mangrove forests that line the shores.
  • Day 13: NENDÖ, TEMOTU PROVINCE Lying to the south-east of the Solomon Islands we fill find the Santa Cruz Islands and Nendö, the largest island in this archipelago, and our last point of exploration in the Solomon Islands. We will go ashore here to join the locals in traditional dances and learn all about the manufacturing of red feather money which is sourced from the Scarlet Honeyeater that is found here.
  • Day 14: Torres Islands, Vanuatu Today we reach Vanuatu, the 4th and final country on your unforgettable Melanesia voyage. Our first stop here will take us to the Torres Islands, a rarely-visited pacific paradise and culturally rich area consisting of four main islets fringed with white sand beaches, clear azure waters, volcanic rock and cliffs topped with lush jungles.
  • Days 15 – 16: Espiritu Santo & Ambrym On day 15 we will continue our exploration of Vanuatu as we reach Santo, the archipelago’s largest island and famously the setting for James Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific. This morning you can enjoy a walk along the famous powdery white sand of Champagne Beach and take a dip in the surrounding crystalline waters, before setting out on a Zodiac cruise to the iconic blue holes of Santo. The following day will be the last full day of your voyage and it will be a memorable one as we visit Ambrym, renowned throughout Vanuatu as being the island of volcanoes and magic. At Ranon on the northern coast, we plan to step ashore to take a walk through the forest which will bring us to the ‘arena’ where masked dancers emerge from the forest in a memorable spectacle. 
  • Day 17: Port Vila, Vanuatu Your voyage concludes in Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu, where after breakfast this morning you will disembark and join your included transfer to the airport or a central location. (Should you wish to extend your stay here, please let us know and we will be happy to help you arrange this).

This is just one example of a journey to Papua New Guinea & the South Pacific.  Another exciting trip in the region is INDONESIAN EXPLORER: BALI TO RAJA AMPAT & PAPUA NEW GUINEA 19 DAYS Also aboard the Heritage Adventurer, Join multi-award-winning BBC and National Geographic wildlife filmmakers Karen Bass and Neil Nightingale (former head of the BBC Natural History Unit) on this breathtaking expedition cruise through Indonesia’s remote and little-known tropical islands. Discover an authentic paradise in the company of naturalist experts as you swim with Whale Sharks in Triton Bay, discover Jacques Cousteau’s “underwater nirvana” Wakatobi National Park, explore the turquoise waters and rainbow corals of Raja Ampat, visit Komodo National Park to see the famed Komodo Dragons, and much more.

Prices from £10,380 per person October 2024

Pink flamingo flying

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Caroline M

Let us begin the journey that will create memories to last a lifetime.