Cairns, AustraliaArrive in Cairns and board the National Geographic Orion.
At SeaYour first day at sea will be spent crossing the Coral Sea, with features reefs and islands rich in birds and aquatic life. Join the naturalists with your binoculars, attend lectures by the expedition team, and settle in to life on board.
Papua New GuineaSail for the Milne Bay Province and explore the colorful markets of the mainland and the reef-fringed volcanic islands off the coast. Explore a turbulent history of colonialists, missionaries, and headhunters. Examine World War II artifacts on land and underwater, and snorkel, dive and kayak the reefs and lagoons of the idyllic Louisiade Archipelago.
At Sea / Solomon IslandsSpend a day at sea, sailing for the jungle-clad peaks and vibrant reefs of the Solomon Islands. The islands are historical due to the fierce battles fought during World War II, but thet are also some of the least visited and most dive-worthy islands in the South Pacific. Explore the haunting war relics at a U.S. supply depot on Guadalcanal Island, and discover the bird life of Kennedy Island. On the island of Owaraha (formerly known as Santa Ana), attend a traditional dance performed by villagers in elaborate costumes and masks.
At SeaContinue your crossing of the Coral Sea.
Sail for Vanuatu's main island, Espiritu Santo. Snorkel, swim, and kayak in Paradise Lagoon and before setting out for the Blue Hole Grotto, a jewel-blue freshwater source surrounded by jungle. Take a zodiac to Lelepa and explore Fels Cave, which features walls decorated with ancient petroglyphs, and visit Vanuatu’s first and only UNESCO World Heritage Site, the final residence and burial site of 17th-century Chief Roi Mata.
In the afternoon, snorkel Million Dollar Point, a historical site where many tons of military equipment were dumped after the war, or experience one of the best wreck dives in the world: the S.S. President Coolidge.
At SeaAttend lectures on board and learn about the fascinating history of the region as you sail for Fiji.
Beqa, FijiArrive in Fiji, an nation of over 300 islands which are known for their pristine coral reefs, sun-drenched villages, and tranquil, tropical atmosphere. Take a zodiac to the island of Beqa, located off the southern coast of Viti Levu. Dive or snorkel the surrounding coral reefs, go on walks in the jungle, and paddle sea kayaks along mangrove-lined channels.
Fiji / DisembarkIn the morning, disembark in Lautoka, Fiji, and transfer to the airport for your connecting flights.