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Locals paddle a traditional canoe at sunset

Best of Micronesia: Rabaul to Palau

Example 15 Day Cruise aboard Caledonian Sky
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Snorkel or dive nearly every day as you discover the western corner of Micronesia—this region boasts more than 1,300 species of fish. Meet friendly locals, who greet you with traditional dances, and search for island endemics and a multitude of seabirds. Tour Pohnpei's famed archaeological site, Nan Madol, a National Historic Landmark with 92 megalithic man-made islands that was once the residence of royalty and priests from the 12th to 15th centuries.

Day-by-Day Summary

Day 1 : Cairns, Australia
Day 2 : Cairns | Rabaul, Papua New Guinea | Embark Caledonian Sky
Day 3 : Tingwon Islands
Day 4 : Tsoi Island
Day 5 : Kapingamarangi, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM)
Day 6 : Nukuoro Atoll
Day 7 : Pohnpei Island
Day 8 : Oroluk Atoll
Day 9 : Chuuk (Truk) Island
Day 10 : Pulap Atoll
Day 11 : Satawal Island
Day 12 : Ifalik Atoll
Day 13 : Sorol Island
Day 14 : Ngulu Atoll
Day 15 : Koror, Republic of Palau | Disembark

Highlights

  • Snorkel or dive almost daily - this region has over 1,300 species of fish
  • See the amazing Chuuk (Truk) Lagoon with over 50 coral-encrusted WWII ships
  • Meet with friendly locals, who greet you with traditional dances
  • Search for island endemics and a multitude of seabirds
  • Tour Pohnpei’s archaeological site Nan Madol, a National Historic Landmark

Ship

Caledonian Sky

Places Visited

Activities

Trip Type

  • Small Ship

Activity Level

Relaxed

Trip Snapshots

Locals paddle a traditional canoe at sunset South Pacific shoreline Parrots in Papua New Guinea Traditional hut in Papua New Guinea Snorkel the clear, blue waters of the South Pacific

Day 1 Cairns, Australia

  • 1 Dinner
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.

Day 2 Cairns | Rabaul, Papua New Guinea | Embark Caledonian Sky

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
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. 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.

Day 3 Tingwon Islands

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
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. 

Day 4 Tsoi Island

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
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.

Day 5 Kapingamarangi, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM)

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
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. 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.

Day 6 Nukuoro Atoll

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
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.     

Day 7 Pohnpei Island

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
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 your historian, with 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.       

Day 8 Oroluk Atoll

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
This classic atoll’s ring of coral has only a few islets around its perimeter, and is inhabited by a family of eight who 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.  

Day 9 Chuuk (Truk) Island

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
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. 

Day 10 Pulap Atoll

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
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.   

Day 11 Satawal Island

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
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. 

Day 12 Ifalik Atoll

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
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. 

Day 13 Sorol Island

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
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.  

Day 14 Ngulu Atoll

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
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.

Day 15 Koror, Republic of Palau | Disembark

  • 1 Breakfast
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. 

Caledonian Sky

Per person starting at
$12,980
Your suite on the Caledonian Sky features three portholes
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Category 1
Category 1 suites are 240 square feet and have three portholes.
Relax in your category 2 suite on the Caledonian Sky
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Category 2
Category 2 suites are 230 square feet and have large picture windows.
Your stateroom on the Caledonian Sky is large and allows great light
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Category 3
Category 3 suites are 220 square feet with a picture window.
Greet the day through your sliding glass window
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Category 4
Category 4 suites have 220 square feet and have direct deck access via a sliding glass door.
Your cabin on the Caledonian Sky has a sliding glass door and two portholes
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Category 5
Category 5 suites are 240 square feet and feature two forward facing portholes and direct deck access via a sliding glass door.
Sail in comfort aboard the Caledonian Sky
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Category 6
Category 6 suites are 215 square feet and pave patio doors leading to private balconies, which are 45 square feet.

Notes

- Rates are per person based on double occupancy.

For most activities a moderate level of exertion is required. You will need to climb into and out of Zodiacs and tenders for diving and snorkeling activities and excursions ashore. Ashore, you must be able to walk moderate distances over beaches and sometimes rough terrain. Average daily temperatures will range from the low to upper 80s°F, though high humidity can make it feel warmer. Though this voyage occurs during the dry season, rainfall is always a possibility.

Included:
  • Daily activity options including cultural tours, nature walks, and Zodiac cruises
  • All accommodations
  • World-class lecture and expedition team
  • All onboard meals and group meals ashore, including soft drinks, beer, and wine with lunch and dinner
  • All entrance fees, taxes, and landing and port charges
  • Arrival and departure transfers on group dates
  • Gift certificates for recommended expedition gear and reading materials
  • Medical expense coverage and emergency evacuation insurance

Excluded:
  • Airfare from your home city/Cairns/Rabaul and Koror/home city
  • 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, alcoholic beverages (other than listed above), and other incidentals
  • Email/Internet/fax/telephone charges

Included

  • 14 Breakfasts, 13 Lunches, 14 Dinners
Payment & Cancellation Policies
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