Summary : Join an expedition to the Solomon Islands, an exotic wonderland of varied landscapes, rich in cultural and biological diversity. Discover this land lost in time with a combination of cultural, land and marine adventures, offering a unique array of activities. Experience and photograph a wide range of cultural forms, including dance, music, painting, carving, tattooing, filmmaking, architecture, healing arts, ceremonial arts, navigation and canoeing, culinary arts and more at the Pacific Arts Festival being hosted in Honiara. The most diverse and exciting diving and snorkeling in the world are off Uepi Island, Gizo and the premier Bilikiki dive yacht where clear waters are full of WWII wrecks and spectacular coral formations.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Diving, Hiking, Photography, Snorkeling
$999,999,999 to $0
Travel from United States or respective countries. Lose a day crossing the date line if traveling from the United States.
On your arrival at the international airport in Honiara, you will be greeted and transferred by your representative to the Heritage Park Hotel. Honiara is the capital of the Solomon Islands and is located on the northern coast of the island of Guadalcanal. Honiara will be the cultural center of the Pacific as it hosts the Pacific Arts Festival.
After lunch, step out into the festivities of the Pacific Arts Festival in the hope to photograph and experience a little of what this incredible celebration of culture has on offer. Join your expedition leader for welcome cocktails and dinner. After dinner, venture back out on the streets to witness the cultures, colors and wonderful performances of the many people participating in this special event.
Overnight at Heritage Park Hotel (D)
This morning will be spent with your local guide visiting some of the highlights of the Honiara city: scenic views, cultural and historical interest points. Experience the colorful Honiara Central Market. Be sure to buy and taste some local fruit as they are all organically grown and delicious. Visit the Parliament House, a building showing the local architectural designs of the islands. Spend time at the National Museum, which accommodates the diverse cultural artifacts of the Solomon Islands and stroll through the Botanical Garden, displaying a collection of the island's local flora and fauna.
After lunch, head out and enjoy the events on offer at the Pacific Arts Festival. See and learn all about weaving, tattooing, celestial navigation techniques, traditional dance performances and immerse yourself in the island cultures of the participating Pacific nations.
Overnight at Heritage Park hotel (B,L,D)
Guadalcanal was the turning point of World War II in the Pacific. Many relics can be found on land and underwater around Guadalcanal and all around the Solomon Islands. This tour will take you to monuments, relics and museums which are of great significance to the Japanese and American Allied Forces. Visit the Battlefields, pay respect to fallen heroes at the U.S. Peace Memorial, the Vouza monument and the Heroes wall, and drive along Henderson airfield and the famous Poha River. Enjoy the excellent view of Iron Bottom Sound and the surrounding mountainous regions.
After freshening up back at the resort and a sumptuous lunch, head to the airport for a domestic flight to Seghe in the Western Province. A 45-minute flight and a one-hour boat ride across the magnificent Marovo Lagoon will get you to the very remote island paradise of Uepi, your home for the next four nights. Enjoy a cocktail while watching the sun disappear over the ocean.
Overnight at Uepi Island Resort (B,L,D)
Imagine yourself on a small tropical island perched on the edge of the longest lagoon in the world. Spend three-and-a-half days exploring the underwater wonders of this island paradise, meet the locals on a village visit, hike to a waterfall, or simply relax and unwind. Enjoy wonderful meals, based around fresh, local seafood and organically-grown fruits and vegetables, prepared by talented local chefs.
Uepi Island offers the unique opportunity to dive first-class sites that are only minutes away from the island. Rarely will you view such diverse concentrations of marine-life in such a varied environment, ranging from lagoon coral gardens to vertical drop-offs. Dive with the ancient nautilus, see manta rays feeding in the channels, watch reef sharks patrol the reef walls or find many of the marine invertebrates, like the 55 species of nudibranch that have been recorded here. The wonderful thing about snorkeling at Uepi is that you can simply fall off the edge of the island and have access to some of the most fascinating underwater ecosystems to be found anywhere in the world.
Overnight at Uepi Island Resort (B,L,D)
The Sunday service at Vakabo village is a joyous occasion for the local people. Join them in their beautifully-appointed church with the harmonizing and uplifting energy of their singing, a great introduction to the way of life in the Marovo Lagoon.
After lunch, bid farewell to the island paradise and transfer back across the Marovo lagoon to the airstrip. Get a bird's eye view of the coral reefs and islands dotted around Marovo Lagoon on your flight to Gizo. Transfer to the Gizo Hotel, settle in and sip on a cool beverage as you watch the sun dip below the horizon before dinner.
Overnight at Gizo Hotel (B,L,D)
Gizo, in the Western Province should be a "must" on everyone's calendar as it offers some of the most exciting snorkeling and diving you will ever experience. Scattered in its lagoon you can find numerous WWII wrecks, planes and ships. The clear water opens up an amazing display of sea whips, giant gorgonian fans and an immense display of hard and soft corals. Enjoy a full day of watersports on a leisurely boat trip through the beautiful Vona Vona Lagoon, packed with wonders and tranquility.
After a dive or snorkel at Nusa Aghana's stunning coral garden in search of mobula rays, walk along a stunning beach and snorkel on top of a WWII hellcat fighter in shallow water. Heading further east, the boat cruise takes you through the peaceful waters of the spectacular, island studded Vona Vona lagoon, where you will feel as if you've traveled back in time to the headhunting era of the Solomon's when you reach Skull Island. Skull Island is a sacred island where numerous warrior skulls are placed with shell money, in a stone tomb. Your guide will recall the tales behind the skulls and the graves that can be found there. After the Skull Island tour, make a stop for lunch and unwind on the beach at a small nearby resort on Lola Island. Enjoy dinner at the lively PT109 restaurant in Gizo.
Overnight at Gizo Hotel (B,L,D)
After breakfast, head into the countryside to experience the Solomon Islands' village life. Spend the morning learning about Solomon customs and culture.
After lunch, transfer to the airport for a return flight to Honiara. Board the Bilikiki, which will be your home for the next seven nights. In 1989, the Bilikiki sailed as the first full-service, luxury live-aboard dive vessel in the Solomon Islands. Enjoy a drink while getting acquainted with your new home. There will be a safety briefing by crew followed by dinner.
Overnight aboard Bilikiki (B,L,D)
The Solomon Islands consists of hundreds of islands. You will be diving and snorkeling around two main island groups, the Florida Islands and the Russell Islands. Each of these island groups consists of dozens of islands and a vast array of wonderful dive sites. The Solomon Sea is nutrient rich and therefore supports the entire food chain from microscopic creatures to major predators. During your week onboard, you'll have a very good chance to see a variety of sharks, manta rays, dolphins, turtles and barracuda in uncountable numbers.
The underwater terrain varies from walls to reefs, to coral gardens, to passages and "bommies." Visit caverns with shafts of sunlight illuminating the interior and surface under a jungle canopy, while listening to the parrots and cockatoos above. Wreck dives are offered on every cruise. Also, you'll have a chance to meet the Islanders. Visit a school and village during your time onboard. When anchored off a village, the Islanders will come out in their canoes to market produce and carvings, or just watch what's going on. If you like fishing, the crew will gladly take you out for some early morning or evening hand-lining for tuna and other pelagics. When not diving, snorkeling or visiting a village, relax onboard, read a book on the sundeck, learn about the fish and corals you have seen and enjoy the wonderful food and snacks provided onboard.
Overnight aboard Bilikiki (B,L,D)
Disembark the Bilikiki after breakfast. Enjoy a relaxing morning at a nearby hotel or do some last-minute shopping in town before embarking on your homeward journey.
All accommodations in twin/double share rooms as outlined in the itinerary; all group meals; exclusive dive boats while at resorts; exclusive buses on all tours; 1/2 Yacht charter (Bilikikil); welcome and farewell cocktail receptions and dinners; soft drinks, drinking water, tea and coffee during lunch/dinner at all hotels and onboard; bottled or potable water in rooms and on tour; all group transfers and baggage handling; all tours, cultural performances and excursions as outlined in the itinerary; exclusive services of English-speaking professional guides and naturalists; services of Expedition Leaders; photographic workshops; all gratuities to porters, guides, drivers, dive crew, resort and wait staff; government, service and room taxes; all permits, entrance and marine park fees; complimentary slideshow DVD; donations; dive tanks (air) and dive weights.
All international and domestic airfares; any airport arrival and departure taxes; passport and visa fees; immunization costs; individual airport transfers, meals and baggage handling outside the group travel itinerary; travel insurance (*required); excess baggage charges; personal items, such as laundry, any alcoholic beverages or bar charges (unless specified above), email, telephone, fax calls; tips for non-group service; rental of scuba diving or snorkeling equipment and/or other equipment where needed; nitrox air fills ($20 per dive day).
*Mandatory Travel Insurance:
An active travel insurance policy is required. It is a pre-requisite that arrangements are made for comprehensive travel insurance that covers medical, accident (including SCUBA diving for divers) and medical evacuation.