Voyage to the Cultural Heart of Asia's Islands aboard the Caledonian Sky

Overview

The subtropical islands of the Philippines, Taiwan, and Japan float like jewels upon the Pacific, offering precious treasures for adventurers to discover. You’ll snorkel and dive in crystal-clear waters, stroll along white-sand beaches and through ancient cedar forests, visit stunning cultural heritage sites, and, all along the way, enjoy the onboard amenities of the 100-guest Caledonian Sky.

Note: This cruise is not exclusive to, nor operated by, Wilderness Travel, who acts solely as agent in booking your reservation with the ship operator. The itinerary, lecturers, and all other arrangements are subject to change at the discretion of the cruise line.

Itinerary

Days 1-2, Mar 11-12, 2017
Depart USA / Manila, Philippines

Board your independent flight to the Philippines. Arrive in Manila on March 12 and check into the Marriott Airport Hotel for dinner and overnight.

Day 3, Mar 13, 2017
Manila / Embark Caledonian Sky

Spend the day touring Manila’s old walled district and Spanish colonial center. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before embarking the Caledonian Sky.

Day 4, Mar 14, 2017
Hundred Islands National Park

Comprised of 124 lushly vegetated, mushroom-shaped islands, Hundred Islands National Park offers lovely beaches, gorgeous vistas, and tranquil, crystal-clear waters. Spend the day on one of these private islands birding, snorkeling, diving, and exploring by Zodiac.

Day 5, Mar 15, 2017
Vigan

Established in the 16th century, Vigan stands as Asia’s finest example of a planned Spanish colonial city. Exceptionally intact, its grid street pattern and architectural influences earned the city UNESCO status in 1999. Wander the cobbled streets and pay a visit to the Pagburnayan pottery makers to learn about the production of Vigan’s famous burnay jars.

Day 6, Mar 16, 2017
Babuyan / Calayan, Bauyan Islands

Explore Babuyan, home to steep foothills, volcanic cones, mangroves, and a marine sanctuary. Take a stroll along Calayan’s gorgeous white-sand beaches and snorkel or dive in the warm waters, while birders search the forest for the Calayan rail, a flightless bird endemic to the island.

Day 7, Mar 17, 2017
Basco, Batan Island

Batan was the first domino to fall during Japan’s invasion of the Philippines during World War II, and you will hear harrowing tales while visiting a tunnel used as a hideout by Japanese soldiers. Climb to the top of Radar Tukon, a former lighthouse and U.S. weather station, which offers 360-degree views across the island. Savor the fresh air and bucolic setting of the Vayang Rolling Hills, then take a leisurely stroll around the town plaza, dominated by Santo Domingo de Basco Church, built in 1812.

Day 8, Mar 18, 2017
Hualien, Taiwan

Arrive in Taiwan’s second-largest city, located on the mountainous east coast. Hualien serves as your gateway to Taroko National Park, centered upon its namesake marble gorge. The park comprises some 227,000 acres and varying altitudes, from near sea level at the mouth of the Liwu River to towering Mount Nanhu at more than 12,000 feet. Such dramatic climate changes create a diverse array of vegetation and habitats, which boast a third of Taiwan’s vascular plants, half of its mammal species, and over 140 recorded of resident bird species.

Day 9, Mar 19, 2017
Keelung (Taipei)

Dominated by Taipei 101—a 1,600-foot-high tower that resembles a stalk of bamboo—Taiwan’s capital offers a captivating mix of Asian and Western influences. The city is famous for its street food, so make a stop to sample a variety of xiaochi (little snacks) while visiting top attractions such as the Chinese-influenced Martyrs’ Shrine, Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall, commemorating Taiwan’s former president, and the National Palace Museum, which houses the world’s largest collection of Chinese art. Or, leave the city bustle behind to visit Yehliu Geopark with its surreal rock formations, as well as Gold Ecological Park, built to offer insights into the region’s gold-mining culture.

Day 10, Mar 20, 2017
Ishigaki, Yaeyama Islands, Japan

Commercial center of the Yaeyama Islands, Ishigaki is renowned for its pristine beaches and prime diving spots. Go canoeing along the mangrove-lined Miyara River and soak in the views of the Hirakubo Peninsula from the Tamatorizaki Observatory. Get some spelunking in at the 1,000-foot-long Sabichi limestone cave with its fantastic stalactites; the cave leads out onto a beautiful beach. Lunch at a local restaurant is followed by a visit to Minsa Kogei Kan, where you can watch talented craftswomen weaving their distinctive Minsa textiles.

Day 11, Mar 21, 2017
Kerama Islands

This mostly uninhabited chain lies southwest of Okinawa—and a world away from its hurried pace. Just four of the Kerama Islands are populated, and you step ashore via Zodiac for a morning walking tour of the main village. Visit the humble Peace Pagoda and Mount Takatsuki Observatory for scenic views before returning to the ship for lunch. This afternoon board Zodiacs to search for migrating humpback whales.

Day 12, Mar 22, 2017
Naze / Koniya, Amami Islands

The Amami Islands are defined by dense jungle, daunting caves, superb beaches, and lush sugarcane fields. Learn about natural wonders, history, and culture at Amami Park on Naze, which houses numerous displays of photographs, artifacts, and artworks by Japanese painter Tanaka Isson, the “Gauguin of Japan.” Isson’s famous images of Naze’s birds and flowers are magically reproduced in textiles at Oshima Tsumugi Pongee Village, as you watch local artisans at work before returning to the ship for lunch. This afternoon, a short hike through the ancient Kinsakubaru Virgin Forest reveals giant ferns, broadleaf trees, and rare bird species.

Day 13, Mar 23, 2017
Yakushima Island

Yakushima is home to a primeval temperate rainforest of giant sugi (Japanese cedar), earning this small island UNESCO World Heritage status. These ancient cedars have stood for upwards of 5,000 years, and you get a sense of their majesty on a trek through Yakusugi-Land. Gain further insight through the interactive displays at Yakushima Environmental and Cultural Village.

Day 14, Mar 24, 2017
At Sea

A day at sea offers the chance to relax on deck and attend informative lectures.

Day 15, Mar 25, 2017
Itsukushima Island

Popularly known as Miyajima or “Shrine Island,” Itsukushima is considered holy to both Shintoist and Buddhist Japanese. The island is home to the iconic Itsukushima Shinto Shrine, masterfully crafted 12th-century red torii gates that appear to float above the water at high tide. Other highlights include taking the ropeway up to Daisho-in Temple on Mount Misen, and touring Senjokaku or Toyokuni Shrine, the “Hall of One Thousand Tatami Mats” the largest structure on the island.

Day 16, Mar 26, 2017
Naoshima Island (Uno-Ko)

The port of Uno-Ko serves as the gateway to Naoshima, an island known for its many modern art museums. Your day of contemporary culture begins at Benesse House Museum, an integrated museum/hotel that incorporates nature inside as well as around the seashore and nearby forest. Then head to the subterranean Chichu Art Museum, where works by Claude Monet, James Turrell, and other major artists are housed almost totally underground. Finally, visit the Ie or Art House Project, an organic project that turns abandoned houses into living art spaces.

Day 17, Mar 27, 2017
Kobe / Disembark / Kyoto

Disembark in Kobe, then transfer to Kyoto for an introductory tour. Japan’s imperial capital from 794–1868, the city seems frozen in time with numerous tranquil temples, serene gardens, and traditional tea houses. Visit the 17th-century Nijo Castle before a tour and tasting at Matsui Sake Brewery. After lunch at a local restaurant, tour the 14th-century Kinkakuji, “Temple of the Golden Pavilion,” covered in gold leaf, and Ryoanji, a Zen temple famous for its rock garden. Check into the Kyoto Okura Hotel with dinner at the hotel or an option to dine at your leisure.

Day 18, Mar 28, 2017
Kyoto

Visit Kiyomizudera,“Pure Water Temple,” one of Japan’s most revered temples. Dating from 780 and designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the temple is built over the Otowa Waterfall. Following lunch at a local restaurant, tour Sanjusangendo or Rengeo-in, a temple noted for its 1,001 statues of the goddess Kannon, and the impressive Fushimi Inari Shrine, dedicated to the gods of rice and sake. Return to the hotel for a festive farewell dinner.

Day 19, Mar 29, 2017
Kyoto / Osaka / USA

After breakfast, tour Kyoto’s scenic Arashiyama district. Enjoy lunch before transferring to the airport in Osaka for your independent homeward flight.

Highlights

Highlights

Experience a warm welcome and legendary Filipino hospitality as you visit remote islands and cultural heritage sites to learn about daily life and local traditions
Witness the cultural melting pot of vibrant Taipei, as well as Taiwan's "wild side" in beautiful Taroko National Park
Photograph the iconic scarlet tori of Miyajima, a World Heritage Site and sacred site of pilgrimage
Explore Kyoto, the well-preserved cultural gem that was once the imperial capital of Japan for over a thousand years

Details

Length: 19 days
Cost From: $16,980  
Arrive: Manila, Philippines
Depart: Osaka, Japan
Lodging: 14 nights aboard 100-guest vessel, 3 nights hotel
Meals: All meals included
Activity: Small Ship Cruising
Trip Level:

15-day cruise, snorkeling activities, cultural excursions