Summary : Embark on a voyage to the islands of Melanesia, home to palm-fringed beaches, azure lagoons, and some of the richest marine habitats in the world. Explore the dazzling wonders of the Great Barrier Reef, and then sail east through the Coral Sea. In New Caledonia, soak up the local French-infused culture, hike through tropical forests, and encounter a kaleidoscopic swirl of marine life at the world’s second-longest barrier reef. Explore Fiji’s stunning islands and coral reefs, and encounter colorful Melanesian traditions.
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Culture, Diving, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography, Snorkeling
Free Chronicle: Receive a free video chronicle of your trip, compliments of ExpeditionTrips!
Free Subscription: Complimentary 1-year subscription to National Geographic Magazine (one per booking).
$999,999,999 to $0
Depart for Australia, crossing the international date line, and embark the National Geographic Orion upon arrival.
The Great Barrier Reef is one the world’s great natural wonders and the first stop on your voyage. Anchor at one of the most vibrant spots, Hardy Reef, and discover a spectacular array of tropical fish and exotic corals. Enjoy exclusive use of a floating pontoon that includes an underwater viewing chamber and offers excellent opportunities for snorkeling, diving, and exploration via a semi-submersible vessel.
Head south to the Northumberland Islands, named by Captain James Cook during his first Pacific voyage in 1770. At Middle Percy, visit an eclectic A-frame hut decorated with memorabilia from sailors and visitors spanning many decades. Explore the island’s coast and estuaries by kayak or on foot, go swimming, and unwind with a beach barbeque.
At a seldom-visited part of the reef, launch zodiacs to snorkel and dive at coral walls teeming with marine life, or find a secluded cay from which to swim. Sail through Hydrographer’s Passage, which leads into the Coral Sea.
The reefs and islands of the Coral Sea are rich in birds and aquatic life. Join naturalists on deck with your binoculars, attend talks by your team of experts, and enjoy the ship’s amenities as you sail east toward New Caledonia.
Arrive in New Caledonia, infused with an inviting mix of French and Melanesian cultures and home to the world’s second-longest barrier reef. Spanning nearly 10,000 square miles, the reef’s lagoons shelter an incredible diversity of marine species, including the endangered dugong, and are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. On the remote northern coast of Grande Terre, go hiking or birdwatching along scenic trails, and learn about the culture of the indigenous Kanak people. Later, don your snorkel and fins.
Spend the next three days exploring New Caledonia’s natural wonders, from waterfalls and striking rock formations to tranquil bays embraced by pearl-white beaches. Off the eastern coast of Grande Terre lie the Loyalty Islands, where dramatic coastal cliffs overlook secluded coves and lagoons shimmer with colorful fish and corals. Go hiking with your naturalists to discover native flora and fauna, and snorkel or dive at the islands’ reefs. Then visit the tropical paradise of Île des Pins, named by Captain Cook for its distinctive pine trees.
In 1789, Captain William Bligh and 18 loyal crew members sailed past the Fiji islands following the infamous mutiny aboard the HMS Bounty. Today, these islands are known for their pristine coral reefs and sun-drenched villages steeped in a tranquil tropical atmosphere. Your travels in the archipelago are exploratory by design, allowing choice of the best landing spots for snorkeling, diving, and kayaking. You may anchor off the volcanic Yasawa chain, home of the famed Blue Lagoon, where the eponymous 1980 movie was filmed. Or explore the remote islands to the south, where intricate coral formations harbor diverse marine life, including angel fish, parrot fish, rays, and turtles. Visits ashore provide opportunities to meet with locals and learn about their customs.
Disembark in Lautoka, and transfer to the airport for your return flight home.
This itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.
The photo team, a National Geographic Photographer and a Photo Specialist, will enhance your voyage by working with you on photo composition and exposure; helping you develop your own unique vision; showing you how professionals edit and store images while on the go; and sharing the stories behind some of their greatest images. Whether expert or interested beginner, you'll find added benefits such as walks ashore and Zodiac cruises dedicated to photography, presentations on the creative and technical aspects of photography, and one-on-one mentoring and coaching in the field.
Accommodations as indicated; all meals and non-alcoholic beverages aboard the ship; all shore excursions and sightseeing; transfers to and from group flights; tips (except to ship's crew), taxes and service charges; services of a ship physician and expedition staff; use of kayaks.
International air transportation; passport and visa expenses; baggage/accident/cancellation insurance; items of a personal nature such as alcoholic beverages, email and laundry; gratuities to ship's crew at your discretion; scuba diving surcharge; fuel surcharge may apply.