Summary : Snorkel or dive nearly every day—the western corner of Micronesia boasts more than 1,300 species of fish. Witness the amazing Chuuk (Truk) Lagoon, famous for its “ghost fleet” of over 50 coral-encrusted ships that were sunk during World War II. Meet with friendly locals, who will greet you with traditional dances. Search for island endemics and a multitude of seabirds, such as Pohnpei lorikeets, Chuuk monarchs, white terns, black noddies, and white-tailed tropicbirds. Tour Pohnpei’s famed archaeological site, Nan Madol; a National Historic Landmark with 92 megalithic man-made islands, it was once the residence of royalty and priests from the 12th to 15th centuries.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Diving, Hiking, Snorkeling
Groups of 8 or more people save 10% per person off the cost of the expedition.
$12,980 to $20,480
Board your independent flight to Australia. Lose a day crossing the International Date Line.
Arrive in Cairns and transfer to your hotel for lunch and an afternoon at leisure. Gather this evening for a welcome reception and dinner at your hotel.
Transfer to the airport after breakfast for your flight to Rabaul. Six cone-shaped volcanoes, some of which are still active, ring Rabaul’s dramatic flooded-caldera harbor. Visit the bubbling hot springs and take in magnificent views from Observatory Ridge. And, learn about the island’s WWII history—Rabaul was a Japanese stronghold under Admiral Yamamoto. Embark the Caledonian Sky, settle in to your suite, and enjoy dinner on board. Tonight attend an astonishing performance of the Baining tribe’s fire dance. Tribe members in huge, magnificently crafted masks, leap and dance over crackling, red-hot coals in a centuries-old ritual to honor the local deity-spirits.
Completely encircled by an oblong reef, few passenger vessels are able to visit this small group of islands. Land on a sandy beach and meet the 350 inhabitants of charming Tingwon—a picture-perfect village—and enjoy their hospitality, local delicacies, and dances. After your visit, snorkel or dive along the islets’ surrounding reef.
This morning, villagers warmly welcome you to the Tsoi Islands with a cultural performance and dances accompanied by a superb local choir. Sample traditional foods, then take a walk around the island’s perimeter to find orchids, butterflies, skinks, and birds along the way. On Tsoi Lik search for megapodes nesting along the sandy beach.
During a morning at sea, lecturers introduce the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), formerly the Caroline Islands, whose long colonial history includes administration by the US after WWII. Many islands are so remote that the traditional villages are nearly untouched by tourism.
In the afternoon, Zodiacs bring you ashore for a tour of the small community of remote Kapingamarangi, where fishing and cultivating taro are the main industries. In the afternoon, snorkel in the lagoon over stunning coral gardens full of colorful reef fish including lionfish, pipefish, and moray eels. Divers venture via Zodiac to the edges of the reef, keeping an eye out for black-tipped reef sharks and other pelagics.
A chain of tiny islets circling a sparkling, emerald lagoon, Nukuoro is one of the most stunning atolls in Micronesia. Meet with the friendly locals and wander through lush vegetation and gardens of taro, banana, and breadfruit. Swim or snorkel in the crystal-clear waters before returning to the ship for an afternoon at sea.
Pohnpei is a high volcanic island, with dense rainforests filled with towering trees, elegant ferns, tumbling waterfalls, and luxuriant moss. Choose to visit the extensive WWII ruins on Lenger Island with the historian, and time to snorkel along rich reefs or to spot the Pacific golden-plover and Pacific reef heron. Or, hike along an upland nature trail to search for the Pohnpei lory, Micronesian pigeon, and Pohnpei flycatcher. Another option is a full-day tour to Pohnpei’s famed archaeological site, Nan Madol, a National Historic Landmark. Explore the 92 megalithic man-made islands, once the residence of royalty and priests of the Saudeleurs from about the 12th to 15th centuries.
This classic atoll’s ring of coral has only a few islets around its perimeter, and is inhabited by a family of eight who will show you their gardens of hibiscus, banana, and sweet potato. A short forest walk takes you past taro to a copra processing area. Beachcomb along the lovely shoreline, keeping an eye out for hawksbill and Pacific green sea turtle nests, while birders look for ruddy turnstones, black noddies, white-tailed tropicbirds, and Micronesian starlings. Snorkeling and diving are superb, with the chance to spot black-tipped reef sharks and coral trout.
This spectacular and enormous coral-fringed lagoon shelters 15 high islands of volcanic origin. The dramatic scenery ranges from lush rainforests and waterfalls, to deserted beaches and small villages. Chuuk’s lagoon is a world-renowned paradise for wreck divers. In 1944, American bombers sunk 60 Japanese Imperial Navy vessels and aircraft which sheltered here; the armada is visible today in an intriguing and vast museum-like underwater environment of unparalleled mystery. Nature has transformed these wrecks into a wonderland, colonized by a mosaic of corals, sponges, anemones, and sea fans, which are the playground of fish by the thousands and can be explored by both divers and snorkelers. In this lagoon of astonishing variety and extravagant natural beauty, Zodiacs take you to idyllic white-sand shores and dazzling coral reefs teeming with life, while birders search the islets for seabirds.
The villages of Pulap and Tamatam are known for their skilled navigators, whose expertise also shines in the construction of long canoes made of breadfruit wood. Older canoes are hand-sewn with traditional sennit, and may feature the silhouette of a black frigatebird on the bow. With the chief’s permission, wander at leisure through this traditional village. Snorkel, dive, beachcomb, or sit under a palm tree to enjoy the afternoon on a perfect islet with a shallow aquamarine lagoon to your right and the deep indigo Pacific to your left.
Step ashore as the women of the village—adorned in lava-lava skirts, their skin tinted by turmeric—present welcoming dances. Meet the exuberant young boys of the island, whose skills in tropical waters are so fine-tuned that they seem “half-fish.” The men of Satawal, famed for their mastery of ocean navigation without the use of instruments, still voyage between the islands of Micronesia in outrigger canoes, steering by the sun, stars, and swells.
Keep a lookout for common bottlenose dolphins playing in the ship’s wake as you approach Ifalik. This classic tiny circular atoll, with only three islets, represents the most authentic aspects of Micronesia’s traditional state, Yap. The chiefs are intent upon maintaining cultural integrity—motor-powered boats are banned within the lagoon, as are televisions in the village. Ashore, the islanders present their thatched-roofed houses set under shady trees. After lyrical dances by grass-skirted women, you are free to wander and admire the island handicrafts, including unique fish hooks fashioned from golden-lipped pearl shells. In the afternoon choose to snorkel, dive, sail in one of the handsome outrigger canoes, or go birding with your ornithologist.
This afternoon, watch for green turtles as Zodiacs zigzag through coral reefs and shallow sandbars to land on a white-sand beach. On this tiny uninhabited island, groves of coconut palms adorn the lagoon shore as sooty terns and white-tailed tropicbirds soar overhead. Snorkel over a coral drop-off or enjoy a dive in deeper waters populated by large pelagic fish. Spend the afternoon cruising the Pacific Ocean and enjoying the many amenities the Caledonian Sky has to offer.
Ngulu is a large, stunning atoll, its ring-shaped lagoon bordered by tiny islets with swaying palm trees and beaches that offer a nesting ground to sea turtles. Go ashore to meet with the chief and the small number of villagers living on Ngulu Atoll. Afterwards visit the nearby palm-clad sandy islets for nature walks, birding, snorkeling, and diving.
Disembark this morning. A highlight today is the opportunity to snorkel in Jellyfish Lake; named one of the Seven Biological Wonders of the World, this unique lake system is a prime example of biological isolation. Enjoy an otherworldly experience as you snorkel among hundreds of amazing melon-sized jellyfish that have lost their ability to sting. Check in to the Palau Pacific Resort for dinner and a chance to relax before your late evening flight. Arrive in the USA the next day.
Read this itinerary as a guide only; the exact route and program varies according to weather conditions and the wildlife you encounter. Flexibility is the key to the success of this expedition.
Scuba Diving: Limited to 16 Advance Open Water (AOW) certified scuba divers. You must complete two open water dives within the 12 months prior to the trip’s departure.
Accommodations as outlined in the itinerary, meals onboard and group meals ashore per itinerary, including soft drinks, beer, and wine with lunch and dinner; gear certificate; arrival and departure transfers on group dates; services of the expedition staff, including lectures, briefings, slide/film shows; all group activities and excursions; landing and port fees; gratuities; limited emergency medical and evacuation coverage. Subject to change without notice.
All air transportation; excess baggage charges; airport arrival and departure taxes; transfers for independent arrivals and departures; passport and/or visa fees; travel insurance; items of a personal nature such as laundry, bar charges, alcoholic beverages (other than listed above), email/fax/telephone charges; fuel surcharge may apply.
*Emergency Medical & Evacuation Insurance:
Emergency medical coverage to a maximum benefit per paying passenger of $25,000 is included in the cost of this expedition, as well as evacuation coverage to a maximum benefit per paying passenger of $100,000. Insurance is underwritten by National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, PA. The policy will contain reductions, limitations, exclusions and termination provisions. All coverages may not be available in all states. Please note this coverage does not cover you against trip cancellation or for additional days of travel prior to and/or after the expedition trip dates. ExpeditionTrips strongly advises all clients to purchase travel insurance which includes trip cancellation and interruption coverage for the entire duration of your trip.
Photo Credit: Starfish © Goivanna Fasanelli, Fire Dance © 14MPM