Arrive in the port town of Honiara and transfer to the Solomon Kitano Mendana Hotel for the first night. This evening meet with your fellow travellers and the expedition team over dinner at the resort.
This morning enjoy a tour of Honiara, visiting historical sites including the iconic Japanese and American war memorials. Birdwatchers head to Mt Austen in search of some of the Solomon Islands’ most spectacular birds including the Solomon sea eagle. Board the Spirit of Enderby this afternoon.
One of the largest and highest islands in the Solomon Islands, most of Isabel remains unexplored and undiscovered. Head for the remote southern shores around Thousand Ships Harbor, which is nestled between San Jorge Island and the high peaks of southern Santa Isabel. Beautiful uninhabited islands dot the waters and verdant forest covers slopes which surround the harbor as you are treated to a warm welcome and have the opportunity to explore the forest and coral reefs.
Mountainous Malaita is home to one-third of the Solomon’s total population, with pristine rivers and unexploited tropical forests. Enter the seldom visited Kwai Harbour, where the local people choose to live on small artificial islands off the coastline. You are treated to a rapturous welcome on tiny Ngongosila Island where the houses stand shoulder to shoulder. In this one small area several tribal groups overlap and these differences are readily apparent in dance and language. This afternoon the beautiful uninhabited Leli Island is the ideal snorkel site.
Makira is the most easterly of the main islands in the Solomon's archipelago. Nearby to the east lies Santa Ana, a small raised coral atoll. Sea caves on the island are believed to be the site of first habitation in the Solomons, dating back to 1280 BC. This morning anchor in the calm waters of Star Harbour. Join the naturalists for a Zodiac exploration of the abundant mangrove forests that line the shores and take a short walk to Makira’s south coast where the villagers live much as they have for millennia. Spend time with the locals, who share with you their traditional song and dance. If you are lucky the local boys might be surfing on their hand carved palm wood boards.
Nendö is the largest of the Santa Cruz Islands, which lie to the southeast of the Solomon Islands. The Spanish navigator Álvaro de Mendaña de Neira unsuccessfully tried to establish a colony there in 1595. Biologically these islands share more in common with Vanuatu. This is the home of red feather money, sourced from the scarlet honeyeater. Venturing inland visit a village where the ancient traditions are still very much alive. Watch the manufacture of red feather money and join the locals in dances which reverberate through the ages.
The Duff Islands are a cluster of 11 small islands on the edge of the vast Pacific Ocean. Navigate the Zodiacs through the shallow passages in the reef to visit the only inhabited island, Taumako. Here you are welcomed by the Polynesian speaking local people, who live on hand-crafted artificial islands of coral stone within the lagoon. These islands are exceptionally remote and the people largely cut off from the outside world; learn about their continued use of traditional sailing canoes.
Today explore the archipelago of Vanikolo, with its five islands encapsulated by a dramatic barrier reef which offers superb diving and snorkelling. French explorer Jean-François de La Pérouse was stranded here after both his vessels, La Boussole and Astrolabe, struck this reef in 1788. On the shore visit a monument to Le Perouse, erected by fellow explorer Dumont Durville in 1827. Join the naturalists on a forest walk in search of the endemic white-eye and monarch or marvel at the delicate Vanikoro orchid. You also have a good chance to see the recently rediscovered Vanikoro flying fox.
This morning arrive in Vanuatu at the northern outpost of Vanua Lava, the largest island in the Banks Islands which is crowned by the volcanically active Mt Séré’ama. Visit the administrative center of Sola or for a more active option, climb through the waterfalls behind the town for some excellent views over the bay. This afternoon explore the nearby offshore islands for snorkelling and beach combing. The surrounding waters are home to the recently discovered Vanuatu petrel.
Enjoy a full day ashore on Vanuatu’s largest Island, Santo, location of James Michener's Tales of the South Pacific. Early morning sees the birders ashore in search of many of Vanuatu’s endemic birds. Take the opportunity to swim in the beautiful waters of Champagne Beach. This afternoon use the Zodiacs to visit the iconic blue holes of Santo. For those with an interest in the history of this island there is a visit to Lugainville and Million Dollar Point.
The Spirit of Enderby makes an inaugural visit to Ambryn, renowned as the island of volcanoes and magic throughout Vanuatu. Plan to head ashore at Ranon on the northern coast where the traditional Rom dance is still practiced and custom carving is alive and well. A short walk through the forest brings you to the ‘arena’ where masked dancers emerge from the forest. The forests of Ambryn offer some excellent walks to go in search of the local birds and plants, accompanied by your naturalists. This afternoon enjoy a final snorkel excursion.
Arrive into Port Vila early morning and disembark. Upon disembarking a transfer to your central hotel or the airport concludes your voyage.
|Main Deck Triple||Main deck||Superior||Superior Plus||Mini Suite||Heritage Suite|
|Landing Fees: $600 per person|
Optional Birding: $450 per person
Optional Kayaking: $915 per person