Arrive in Brisbane and connect with your independent flight to Port Moresby. Gather at your included hotel for a welcome dinner and overnight.
After a morning at leisure and lunch at the hotel, enjoy a city tour, visiting the National Museum which exhibits one of the finest collections of primitive art in the world, including Sepik River carvings. You may also view, and purchase, fine-quality carvings and handicrafts at PNG Arts. This afternoon embark the Odyssey.
Enjoy a relaxing morning on board and attend informative lectures on the culture and natural history of the region. After lunch board Zodiacs to visit Halioea where you are warmly welcomed by dancers, local children, and fishermen in lakatois, small sailing canoes. Unique gravesites line the shore of the island; traditionally the dead were buried standing up, with their heads poking out of the ground and covered by clay pots. Later, enjoy your first opportunity to snorkel or dive in the warm waters of the Coral Sea.
The Trobriands are legendary for their yam cults, Kula Ring of trading, and overwhelming friendliness toward visitors. Go ashore on Kitava and visit the tidy village lined with fragrant frangipani trees. Dancers greet you with performances that are among the best of the South Pacific. Spend the afternoon at the nearby idyllic island of Narutu, with superb opportunities for snorkeling, diving, swimming, as well as beachcombing from the palm-lined, white-sand beach. Join naturalists for a hike where you may spot flying foxes, helmeted friarbirds, and channel-billed cuckoos.
Approaching Iwa’s beach, watch for traditional Kula Ring trading canoes and local fishermen in small outriggers. Ascend carved steps up a limestone cliff to a plateau for a tour through Iwa’s three small villages: Oporo, Okaito, and Obomatu.
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. And, learn about the island’s WWII history—Rabaul was a Japanese stronghold under Admiral Yamamoto. 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.
Completely encircled by an oblong reef, few passenger vessels are able to visit this small group of islands. Land on a sandy beach this afternoon and meet the 350 inhabitants of charming Tingwon—a picture-perfect village—and enjoy their hospitality and dances. After your visit snorkel or dive along the islets’ surrounding reef.
Villagers warmly welcome you ashore 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. After lunch your lecture series continues as you cruise toward Micronesia.
Enjoy a relaxing day at sea as lecturers enlighten you on the natural and cultural wonders that lie ahead.
This afternoon village maidens greet you and present a traditional welcome dance adorned in lava-lava skirts. Meet the men of Satawal, who still navigate their outrigger canoes without instruments, steering by the sun, stars, and swells.
This classic, tiny circular atoll 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. After lyrical dances by grass-skirted women, you are free to wander and admire the island handicrafts, or perhaps visit one of the traditional thatched-roofed houses set under shady trees. In the afternoon choose to snorkel, dive, sail in one of the handsome large canoes, or go birding with your ornithologist.
An idyllic, uninhabited island, Sorol offers shady groves of coconut palms bordering a crystal-clear lagoon. This afternoon explore the sandy beaches for nesting sooty terns and white-tailed tropicbirds, or slip into the warm waters for a snorkel or dive excursion.
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 Island. Afterwards visit the nearby palm-clad sandy islets for nature walks, birding, snorkeling, and diving.
Lush, dense jungle covers these stunning islands, while underwater coral “jungles” boast more than 1,400 species of brilliantly-hued tropical fish. This morning take a leisurely hike to world-famous Jellyfish Lake for an extraordinary snorkeling experience. After centuries of biological isolation and subsequent evolution, the melon-sized jellyfish that live here have lost their ability to sting. The afternoon is free to explore Koror, visit the Belau National Museum and the Coral Reef Center, or do a bit of souvenir shopping. After your final dinner on board disembark for a late evening transfer to the airport for your independent overnight flight home.