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Remote lagoon in Papua New Guinea

Discover the Secrets of Melanesia: Exploring Papua New Guinea, The Solomon Islands and Vanuatu

Example 17 Day Cruise aboard Heritage Adventurer
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Discover a kaleidoscope of cultures as you travel through Vanuatu, home to more than 100 indigenous languages. With more than 80 livable islands, inhabitants have fiercely protected their customs and languages. This 17-day trip incorporates several of these cultures and languages. On Tetepare Island, discover one of the South Pacific's conservation gems. At the same time, inhabitants of culturally rich Malaita Island continue to create and utilize traditional Malaitan shell money as dowry and as a status symbol. Beautiful reefs are home to swarms of fish and vibrant coral gardens throughout Melanesia. These seas include some of the world's finest marine diversity for snorkeling, and everyone may appreciate the beauty beneath the waves. This aquatic aquarium is ideal for exploration and discovery, whether snorkeling or swimming.
Explore the inlets of VanuatuTropical Island and Underwater Paradise for DiversSwimming in the crystal blue waters of Papua New Guinea.Aerial photo of Sepik RiverTraditional hut in Papua New GuineaTravelers enjoying the ocean view from the beach.Wandering through the swampy forests of Melanesia.Tribe in JayapuraColourful children of Papua New GuineaRemote lagoon in Papua New Guinea
Highlights
  • Uncover the hidden gems of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.
  • Snorkel waters with some of the greatest marine diversity in the world.
  • Kayak along coral reefs, marine life, and locals in their dugout canoes.
  • See once-in-a-lifetime bird species on remote islands where few have been.
  • Delve into the history and culture of remote Melanesian communities.
Places Visited
  • Papua New Guinea
  • South Pacific
  • Solomon Islands
  • Ambrym Island
  • Bougainville
  • East New Britain
  • Luganville, Espiritu Santo
  • Madang
  • Makira Island
  • Malaita
  • Manus
  • Melanesia
  • Nendo Island
  • New Georgia Islands
  • Nissan Island
  • Oceania
  • Port Moresby
  • Port Vila, Efate
  • Rabaul
  • Sepik River
Activity Level: Relaxed
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Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

  • 1 Dinner
Arrive in Papua New Guinea’s sprawling capital Port Moresby and transfer to your hotel where our group will spend the first night of the expedition. This evening meet with your fellow travelers and the expedition team over dinner at the resort.

Day 2: Madang | Embark

Enjoy breakfast at the hotel before our flight to Madang, the picturesque peninsula surrounded by islands and waterways. It is a thriving community renowned for its traditional artists, and the richness of its surrounding forests. Enjoy a Madang and Environs tour upon arrival which includes a visit to the Coastwatchers’ Memorial Light at Kalibobo, Madang museum and Bilbil Village before returning to Madang to explore the markets. Boarding your ship you will have time to settle into your cabin and familiarize yourself with the ship; we will also take the opportunity to introduce you to your expedition team and our voyage plans. You are invited to join the expedition team in the Observation Lounge and up on the Observation Deck as we set sail for the Sepik River.

Day 3: Sepik River

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Sure to be one of the highlights of our expedition, we have allowed plenty of time to fully appreciate this remarkable river, its birds, animals and the people that call it home. The Sepik River, the longest in Papua New Guinea, flows from the highlands to the Bismarck Sea. It is a rich arterial river that has fostered great traditional artists. We plan to explore the river by Zodiac, following tributaries and channels in search of local wildlife. Enjoy a warm welcome at Kopar Village where we will experience village life and a traditional Dragon Dance unique to this region. Bring along plenty of the local currency (kina) to purchase unique carvings directly from the artists.

Day 4: Manus Island

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Seldom visited and little known, Manus Island is considered a jewel in the crown of Papua New Guinea. Biologically isolated the Manus Province is home to a high proportion of endemic species and our stop here is likely to be a birding highlight. Once the location of a detention center, part of Australia’s ‘Pacific Solution’, life on Manus Island continues according to traditional customs. Comprised of 10 villages and a population of less than 1,000, our visit to Derimbat Village includes taking part in an elaborate welcoming ceremony before exploring their village and unique way of life with a local guide.

Day 5: New Hanover Island

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Traditionally known as Lavongai Island, volcanic New Hanover is a wild, rugged and untouched paradise complete with a dense rainforest, waterfalls and exceptional beaches fringed by reefs and smaller satellite islands. Sparsley populated, the villages here enjoy a subsistant, traditional lifestyle. Exceptional snorkeling is a given here with much to experience below the surface, while Three Island Harbor, on the north-west tip of the island, features four Japanese WWII wrecks which were sunk by Allied bombers in 1944.

Day 6: Rabaul and Kokopo, New Britain

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Six beautiful cone-shaped volcanoes ring Rabaul’s dramatic, flooded-caldera harbor. Visit the bubbling hot springs and take in the magnificent views of the harbor and volcanoes from Observatory Ridge. As we explore the island, we will see fascinating reminders of the Japanese occupation, our tour taking in the site of the enormous volcanic eruption that all but destroyed Rabaul town, the underground bunker that was the hiding place of Pearl Harbor commander, Yamamoto, and joining the locals shopping at the bustling Kokopo markets.

Day 7: Nissan Island

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
A tropical atoll adrift in the azure waters of the Buka Channel, Nissan Island is bathed in rich tropical currents that abound in marine life. Seldom have outsiders had the opportunity to discover this world promising abundant pelagic fish-life and pristine coral reefs. Ashore there are still reminders of the brief, but intensive, World War II activities during which the islands were recaptured by Kiwi, Australian and British forces from the Japanese occupiers. During our time ashore we will meet with the friendly locals from all three of the island’s Balil Villages and search the dense woods for some of the elusive birds that occur here. Later the snorkelers will find plenty to discover in the coral reefs that surround Nissan.

Day 8: Bougainville Island

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
We plan to be among the first expeditioners to re-discover the treasures of Bougainville, long isolated and in a strange way protected due to the conflict which swirled around its shores. Today it is emerging once again as a newly vibrant and remarkably pristine island paradise, it is home to some of the greatest biodiversity in the region both above and below the water. We plan to explore the area around Arawa, including the Panguna Copper & Gold Mine site – the setting for the movie Mr Pip – with great opportunities to access the island’s interior and its reefs. Spend your last Kina under the thatched roof of the Arawa Markets amongst the hum and chatter of hundreds of locals.

Day 9: New Georgia Islands

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
The volcanic New Georgia Islands are found in the Western Province of the Solomon Islands and are characterized by extensive reefs and lagoons, rugged terrain and an abundance of rivers. Nature enthusiasts will relish landing on Kolombangara Island, where we plan to visit the Imbu Rano Lodge and Conservation Area which protects the islands central peak and search for the rare Roviana Rail along with other endemic bird species. Snorkel the wreck of a US NAVY FAF Grumman Wildcat (carrier version) WWII plane off a tiny island where the surrounding reefs are home to some of the highest fish counts in the world. Stock up on the local currency to purchase the wood or stone carvings that the people of the Western Province are so famous for.

Day 10: Tetepare Island

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Uninhabited for 150 years, this rugged island cloaked in rainforest and fringed with coral reefs is home to one of the Solomon Islands’ leading community driven conservation projects Tetepare Descendants’ Association. Receiving international recognition for its conservation and archaeological significance. Three species of turtle, including the endangered leatherback, nest on its beaches while other species inhabiting the island and surrounding waters include dugong, the world’s largest skink, endemic Tetepare White-eye and many more.

Day 11: Malaita

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Mountainous Malaita is home to one-third of the Solomon’s total population and features pristine rivers and unexploited tropical forests to explore. This morning we plan to visit the beautiful uninhabited Leli Island, an ideal snorkel site with its calm clear waters and abundant array of fish and corals. In the afternoon we plan to be among the first to visit a remote and hard to reach village where we will experience a rapturous warrior welcome from the Kwaio mountain people. One of the most traditional communities in the Solomon Islands, enjoy an authentic slice of village life as we learn about their conservation efforts.

Day 12: Makira

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Makira is the most easterly of the main islands in the Solomon’s archipelago. This morning we anchor in the calm waters of Star Harbor. 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. We spend time with the locals, who share with us their traditional song and dance. If we are lucky, the local boys might be surfing on their hand-carved palm wood boards.

Day 13: Nendö, Temotu Province

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Nendö is the largest of the Santa Cruz Islands, which lie to the south-east of the Solomon Islands. The Spanish navigator Álvaro de Mendaña de Neira unsuccessfully attempted to establish a colony in 1595. Biologically these islands share more in common with Vanuatu. It is also the home of red feather money, sourced from the Scarlet Honeyeater. Watch the manufacture of red feather money, and join the locals in dances which reverberate through the ages.

Day 14: Vanikoro

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Today we explore the archipelago of Vanikoro, with its five islands encapsulated by a dramatic barrier reef which offers superb snorkeling. French explorer Jean-François de Galaup, comte de La Pérouse famously disappeared here after both his vessels, La Boussole and Astrolabe, struck the reef in 1788. On the shore we visit a monument to Le Pérouse, erected by fellow explorer Dumont Durville in 1827. Join the naturalists on a forest walk in search of the endemic Vanikoro White-eye and Monarch, or marvel at the delicate Vanikoro Orchid. We also have a good chance to see the recently rediscovered Vanikoro Flying Fox, considered extinct until a recent visit by Heritage Expeditions.

Day 15: Espiritu Santo

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Today we explore Vanuatu’s largest Island, Santo; location of James Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific. Indulge in a swim in the crystalline waters of Champagne Beach with its famed powdery white sand. This afternoon we will enjoy Zodiac cruises to the iconic blue holes of Santo. For those with an interest in the history of the island, there is a visit to Lugainville and Million Dollar Point.

Day 16: Ambrym

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Today we will visit Ambrym, renowned as the island of volcanoes and magic throughout Vanuatu. We plan to head ashore at Ranon on the northern coast where the traditional Rom dance is still practized and custom carving is alive and well. A walk through the forest brings us to the ‘arena’ where masked dancers emerge from the forest. The forests of Ambrym offer some excellent walks to go in search of the local birds and plants, accompanied by our naturalists. This afternoon enjoy a final snorkel excursion.

Day 17: Port Vila, Vanuatu | Disembark

  • 1 Breakfast
Arrive into Port Vila early morning and disembark. Upon disembarking a transfer to your central city hotel or the airport will conclude your voyage. To allow time for disembarkation procedures we do not recommend booking flights from Port Vila before midday. Note: During our voyage, circumstances may make it necessary or desirable to deviate from the proposed itinerary. This can include poor weather and opportunities for making unplanned excursions. Your Expedition Leader will keep you fully informed. This tour offers a variety of activities and excursions. Your personal interests will determine which of these you wish to join. Please note that some activities and excursions will run at similar times and it will not be possible to participate in both. Accordingly, refunds for excursions and missed landings are not available.
 

Ship/Hotel

Heritage Adventurer

Heritage Adventurer
Heritage Adventurer Restaurant
Heritage Adventurer Restaurant

Dates & Prices

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Deals

Big Savings!
Book and save when you travel back-to-back on Discover the Secrets of Melanesia and Indonesian Explorer (32 days departing 11 October 2022). Includes a 10% back-to-back saving. Please call for more details.

US$1,000 FLIGHT CREDIT + FREE DOMESTIC FLIGHT per person when you book on either our Indonesian Explorer voyage departing 11 October 2022 or our Discover the Secrets of Melanesia expedition departing 24 October 2022.
Applies to Oct 24, 2022 departure

Per person starting at
$9,445
Heritage Adventurer - Superior Triple
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Superior Triple
Superior Triple Cabins on Deck 5 are a spacious 22m2 and feature large panoramic windows, two single beds, and one Pullman bed which folds down from the wall, comfortable lounge, writing desk, private en-suite with shower, ample storage, and a flat-screen entertainment system.
Heritage Adventurer - Main Deck Triple
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Main Deck Triple
Main Deck Triple Cabins on Deck 3 is a spacious 22m2 and feature two porthole windows, two single beds, and one Pullman bed which folds down from the wall, comfortable lounge, writing desk, private en-suite with shower, ample storage, and a flat-screen entertainment system.
Heritage Adventurer - Deck 4 Superior
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Deck 4 Superior
Superior Cabins on Deck 4 are a spacious 22m2 and feature large panoramic windows, king or two single beds, comfortable lounge, writing desk, private en-suite with shower, ample storage, and a flat-screen entertainment system.
Heritage Adventurer - Deck 5 Superior
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Deck 5 Superior
Superior Cabins on Deck 5 are a spacious 22m2 and feature large panoramic windows, king or two single beds, comfortable lounge, writing desk, private en-suite with shower, ample storage, and a flat-screen entertainment system.
Heritage Adventurer - Main Deck Single
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Main Deck Single
Main Deck Single Cabins on Deck 3 is a spacious 22m2 and feature two porthole windows, king bed, comfortable lounge, writing desk, private en-suite with shower, ample storage, and a flat-screen entertainment system.
Heritage Adventurer - Superior Single
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Superior Single
Superior Single Cabins on Deck 5 are a spacious 22m2 and feature large panoramic windows, king bed, comfortable lounge, writing desk, private en-suite with shower, ample storage, and a flat-screen entertainment system.
Heritage Adventurer - Worsley Suite
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Worsley Suite
Located on Deck 6, Worsley Suites are a spacious 22m2 and feature large panoramic windows, king or two single beds, comfortable chaise-style lounge suite, writing desk, private en-suite with shower, ample storage, and a flat-screen entertainment system.
Heritage Adventurer - Heritage Suite
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Heritage Suite
Located on Deck 6, Heritage Suites are an expansive 44m2 and feature large double panoramic windows, king bed, large living area with a sofa, coffee table, and chairs, and grand marble bathroom with a double basin, bathtub, and shower, large writing desk, floor to ceiling cabinetry for storage and a flat-screen entertainment system.

Notes

During your voyage, circumstances may make it necessary or desirable to deviate from the proposed itinerary. This can include poor weather and opportunities for making unplanned excursions. Your Expedition Leader will keep you fully informed.

Please note: On this voyage a unique kayaking experience is offered for an additional charge. There is no better way to fit in with the locals, often paddling in their own dugouts, and to experience the stunning coral reefs. These self-propelled craft allow you to enjoy short excursions through a tropical paradise, interact with the locals, and discover at a different pace, sometimes beyond the reach of your Zodiac.

Cruise fare includes:
  • Pre & Post cruise transfers
  • One night hotel accommodation in a twin share room (incl. dinner/breakfast)
  • All on board ship accommodation with meals
  • All shore excursions and activities, excluding optional specialized birding and kayaking programs
  • Program of lectures by noted naturalists

Cruise fare does not include:
  • Discovery Fund
  • Government landing fees
  • All items of a personal nature: laundry, drinks, gratuities
  • International/domestic flights
  • Visas
  • Extensions
  • Travel insurance
Included
  • 15 Breakfasts, 14 Lunches, 16 Dinners
  • 16 Nights Accommodations
  • Accommodations as listed
  • Ground transportation as listed
  • Excursions and activities as listed
  • Meals as listed
  • Complimentary Parka 
  • Pre- & Post- Cruise Transfers
     
  • Complimentary boot rental is available. However, due to the limited supply of boots available aboard the ship, it is recommended that you bring your own rubber boots for best fit and availability. Youth size boots are not available.
Excluded
  • Gratuities
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal Expenses
  • Flight costs (please request a quote)
  • Additional excursions during free time
  • Fuel and transportation surcharges (when applicable)
  • Required Visas if applicable
  • Discovery Fund / Government Landing Fees 

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This was our first trip to South America and we were a little nervous. But Adventure Life made things so easy! All our questions were answered before we left, and our guide, Vidal, was amazing! He gave us enough space to explore without rushing us along. He also knew where the best picture taking opportunities were, which was great.
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