Secrets of Melanesia:  Solomon Islands and Vanuatu
Secrets of Melanesia:  Solomon Islands and Vanuatu
Secrets of Melanesia:  Solomon Islands and Vanuatu

Secrets of Melanesia: Solomon Islands and Vanuatu

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Regular price
$5,495.00
Sale price
$5,495.00

All Prices are in USD$ per person

12 Days Small Ship Expedition Cruise

Departs Honiara, Solomon Islands

Sail into a world that few have ever experienced; idyllic islands and isolated villages where unique time-honored traditions and elaborately costumed dancers welcome us into their world. Sail from Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands, to discover the beauty of the outer Solomon Islands. Relax as our ship glides into secluded bays, and takes us to remote oceanic islands where the art of traditional navigation lives today. On Santa Isabel the rhythms of life continue little changed, with daily life centered on the village and family. Malaita is culturally rich, the traditional currency, Malaitan shell-money, is still made on the island and is used as a dowry, and worn as a status symbol.

Vanuatu has produced a kaleidoscope of cultures and more than 100 indigenous languages. With over 80 habitable islands, islanders have closely guarded their own cultures and languages.

  • Itinerary
  • Accommodation
  • Important Information

Day 1: Honiara, Solomon Islands

Arrive in the port town of Honiara; make your own way to the Solomon Kitano Mendana Hotel where overnight accommodation is included in your expedition for the first night. This evening meet with your fellow travelers over dinner at the hotel.

Day 2: Honiara, Solomon Islands

Honiara was founded as a military base during World War II and was witness to the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. This morning, enjoy a tour of Honiara visiting historical sites including the iconic Japanese and American war memorials. Birdwatchers will head to Mt Austen in search of some of the Solomon Islands’ most spectacular birds, including the Solomon Sea Eagle. Board the ship this afternoon. After familiarizing yourself with your cabin and the ship join the captain and expedition team on the bridge.

Day 3: San Jorge & Utuha Islands

One of the largest in the Solomon Islands, most of Isabel remains unexplored and undiscovered. We will explore 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 we are treated to a warm welcome and have the opportunity to explore the forest and coral reefs during our visit.

Day 4: Malaita

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 Kawio 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 5: Makira

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 6: Nendö – Temotu Province

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. Venturing inland, we 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.

Day 7: Duff Islands

The Duff Islands are a cluster of 11 small islands on the edge of the vast Pacific Ocean. We navigate the Zodiacs through the shallow passages in the reef to visit the only inhabited island, Taumako. Here we 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 are largely cut off from the outside world. We learn about their continued use of traditional sailing canoes and marvel at some of the most beautiful yet isolated islands you will ever encounter.

Day 8: Vanikoro

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 9: Vanua Lava

This morning we arrive in Vanuatu at the northern outpost of Vanua Lava, the largest island in the Banks Islands which is crowned by the active volcano Mt Séré’ama. Walk the main street and see the carefully manicured tropical gardens of 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 we explore the nearby offshore islands for snorkeling and beachcombing.

Day 10: Espiritu Santo

A full day 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. Indulge in a swim in the crystalline waters of Champagne Beach with its famed powdery white sand. This afternoon experience 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 11: Ambryn

Today we 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 practiced and custom carving is alive and well. A short 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 a final snorkel excursion.

Day 12: Port Vila, Vanuatu

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.

Inclusions:

  • Pre/Post cruise transfers
  • 1 Night Hotel Accommodation share twin including dinner and breakfast
  • All on board ship accommodation
  • All meals onboard the ship
  • All expedition shore excursions as mentioned in the itinerary
  • Program of lectures by noted naturalists

Exclusions:

  • Discovery Fund of USD$600.00 per person (Payable on board)
  • Birding Supplement USD450.00 per person
  • All items of a personal nature
  • Laundry
  • Drinks
  • Gratuities
  • International/domestic flights
  • Visas
  • Travel insurance

Accommodation based on the below or similar

Ship: Spirit of Enderby or similar

The Spirit of Enderby (Professor Khromov) is a fully ice-strengthened expedition vessel, built in 1984 for polar and oceanographic research and is perfect for Expedition Travel.

She carries just 50 passengers and was refurbished in May 2019 to provide comfortable accommodation in twin share cabins approximately half of which have private facilities. All cabins have outside windows or portholes and ample storage space.

On board there is a recently updated combined bar/library lounge area and a dedicated lecture room. The cuisine is excellent and is prepared by top NZ and Australian chefs.

The real focus and emphasis of every expedition is getting you ashore as often as possible for as long as possible with maximum safety and comfort. Our Expeditions are accompanied by some of the most experienced naturalists and guides, who have devoted a lifetime to field research in the areas that we visit. The ship is crewed by a very enthusiastic and most experienced Russian Captain and crew.

The name Spirit of Enderby honors the work and the vision of the Enderby Brothers of London. The Enderby Captains were at the forefront of Antarctic exploration for almost 40 years in the early 1800s. It also celebrates Enderby Island, arguably the greatest Subantarctic Island in the world.

Technical description:

Classification: Russian register Arc 5 ice class
Year built: 1983
Accommodation: 50 berths
Shipyard: Finland
Main engines: power 2x1560 bhp (2x 1147 Kw)
Register: Russia
Maximum speed: 12 knots (2 engines),
Cruising speed: 10 knots(one engine)
Bunker capacity: 320 tons

PAYMENTS: A non-refundable deposit of 30% is required at the time of booking. The balance of the tour price is required 100 days prior to your travel date. If you book inside this period, full payment will be required at the time of booking. Payment can be made by bank transfer. If you cancel between 185 and 100 days prior to your travel date 30% of your tour cost will be charged. If you cancel within 100 days prior to your tour departure you will be charged 100% of your tour cost.

Innovative Travel recommends purchasing travel insurance.

For full terms and conditions refer to the Heritage Expeditions 2020-2021 Conservation and Adventure Expedition Cruising Brochure

TERMS AND CONDITIONS:

Full Terms and conditions are listed on the Innovative Travel website. When a booking is made it is accepted that these are agreed to. They include the following: Itineraries are correct when initially published, however are subject to change due to circumstances outside our control.

Flights are the responsibility of the passenger and Innovative Travel takes no responsibility for costs involved for any changes to flights that might be required due to necessary amendments in itineraries

Trip prices and dates are correct at the time of the website going live, however all offers are subject to reconfirmation at the time of booking. Note prices usually display available discounted rates if any, (eg. Early Bird Deals if applicable). All featured tour itineraries and offers maybe subject to change due to seasonal variations without notice, or due to local conditions or other conditions. Please confirm all details at time of booking. Travel insurance is mandatory for all Innovative Travel bookings. All passports must be valid for 6 months prior to your return to your home country. Visas are the responsibility of the traveler. For full terms and conditions, please refer to our Booking Conditions page.

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