Summary : Join an award-winning National Geographic Traveler “50 Tours of A Lifetime” expedition that reveals the extraordinary diversity of Melanesia and its people. Receive warm welcomes from friendly locals and witness time-honored ceremonies that include hypnotic drumming, melodic bamboo panpipes, and elaborately-costumed dancers. Snorkel or dive over pristine coral reefs populated by a variety of tropical fish. Search for striking endemic birds, including the Solomon Island sea eagle, buff-headed coucal, and Melanesian megapode. Stroll through tiny villages and isolated island communities for a glimpse of traditional life on these idyllic islands.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Diving, Hiking, Snorkeling
$14,480 to $40,580
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 your hotel.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Attend lectures recapping your experiences and join naturalists on deck to search for seabirds and marine mammals.
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.
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.
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.
Attend lectures from onboard experts during an educational day at sea.
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.
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.
Disembark this morning for a tour of Port Vila, ending at the airport for your independent flight to Brisbane. Dinner and overnight at an airport hotel.
Transfer to the airport for your flight home.
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. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.
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. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions. ExpeditionTrips can assist U.S. residents with travel protection options.
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.
One pre-cruise hotel night in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea; one post-cruise hotel night in Brisbane, Australia; arrival and departure transfers on group dates; shipboard accommodations; snorkeling; $80 gear certificate; all meals onboard ship and group meals ashore; soft drinks, beer, and wine (with lunch and dinner); gratuities; limited medical expense coverage and emergency evacuation insurance*. Subject to change at any time.
Airfare; excess baggage charges; airport arrival and departure taxes; transfers for independent arrivals and departures; passport and/or visa fees; accident/baggage/cancellation and additional travel insurance; diving; items of a personal nature such as laundry, bar charges and alcoholic beverages other than those listed as included, email/Internet/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.
Photos ©: G. Fasanelli, Mike Moore, Rich Pagen