An Epic Island Adventure Aboard the Island Sky

Overview

Embark on an award-winning journey that reveals the extraordinary diversity of Melanesia’s landscapes, marine life, and people. Your adventure begins in culturally-rich Papua New Guinea and traces the coast with impressive views of the the Stanley Owens. Continue on to the islands of Bonarua, Dobu, Fergusson, and Laughlan where you’ll be welcomed with songs, snorkel and dive off sand bars and reefs, and hike to hot springs and mud pools. Explore the Solomon Islands and their surrounding waters filled with colorful sponges, iridescent blue mantles, dolphins, dugongs, sea-eagles, and sea turtles. In the Santa Cruz Islands, visit mangrove forests by Zodiac and stroll through welcoming villages. Hike to the crater lake in Tikopia’s center, and sail to Vanuatu, where song and dance are a way of life. The Expedition Team aboard the 100-passenger Island Sky are excellent naturalists and will share their knowledge of the endemic birds, marine mammals, and incredible sea life of these pristine waters.

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 1-3, Sep 10-12, 2020
Depart / Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

Board your independent overnight flight to Papua New Guinea. Lose a day crossing the International Date Line. Upon arrival in Port Moresby transfer to the Airways Hotel for an afternoon at leisure. Gather this evening for a welcome dinner and overnight at your hotel.

Day 4, Sep 13, 2020
Port Moresby / Embark

Visit the National Museum and Art Gallery with its exceptional collections of primitive art, including Sepik River carvings, Malagan masks, and Trobriand Island fishing vessels. Board the Island Sky in the afternoon.

Day 5, Sep 14, 2020
Bonarua Island

Be on deck as the ship traces the coast of Papua New Guinea, to observe the peaks of the dramatic Stanley Owens Range that soar to 13,000 feet. This afternoon visit the island of Bonarua, where a local choir welcomes you ashore. Observe fishing and weaving demonstrations, and stroll through the enchanting village, sampling local delicacies made from sweet potatoes, taro, and yams. Birders venture into the thicket to search for island specialties, and the warm inviting waters of the Coral Sea offer a perfect introduction to the undersea wonders on your first snorkel or dive excursion of many to come.

Day 6, Sep 15, 2020
Dobu & Fergusson, D'entrecasteaux Islands

Today explore these distinctive, jewel-like islands capped by active volcanoes and snorkel or dive in the surrounding marine-rich waters. You will also visit a tranquil seaside fishing village and hike to a series of hot springs and bubbling mud pools surrounded by lush vegetation.

Day 7, Sep 16, 2020
Laughlan Islands

Traditional canoe building is a specialty of the Laughlan islanders. In this very remote corner of eastern Papua New Guinea, find hand-crafted seagoing canoes in various stages of construction, with finely tuned hulls of traditional planking lashed with natural sennit fiber cord and caulked with sap. The residents here welcome you with a stroll through the village of palm-thatched houses. Enjoy an afternoon snorkel off a pristine sand-bar or an adventurous dive off the outer reef.

Day 8, Sep 17, 2020
At Sea

Attend lectures recapping your experiences and join naturalists on deck to search for seabirds and marine mammals.

Day 9, Sep 18, 2020
Solomon Islands / Expedition Stop

Over the next three days, explore some of the numerous small islands of the Solomons. Snorkel or dive over pristine reefs of hard and soft corals, from delicate seafans to staghorn formations, where colorful sponges, flower-like anemones, and giant tridacna clams edged with iridescent blue mantles flourish. We plan to step ashore on traditional islands to visit with locals and learn about life in this tropical paradise, while nature enthusiasts search the lush vegetation for birds and other wildlife.

Day 10, Sep 19, 2020
Tetepare

The largest uninhabited island in the South Pacific, Tetepare is covered with pristine lowland rainforest. Nature walks may reveal some of the island’s 230 recorded bird species, such as Sanford’s sea-eagles, crested cuckoo-doves, Kolombangara monarchs, and beautiful Nicobar pigeons. The surrounding reef is one of the most biodiverse in the world, and crocodiles, dolphins, and dugongs are often found cruising along the coast. The island’s sandy beaches are also an important nesting site for green, leatherback, and hawksbill turtles.

Day 11, Sep 20, 2020
Malaita

The residents of Malaita are renowned for their panpipe ensembles and dances that depict traditional activities, like fishing and sailing. Birders will seek the endemic Malaita fantail.

Day 12, Sep 21, 2020
At Sea

Attend lectures from experts during an educational day at sea.

Day 13, Sep 22, 2020
Utupua, Santa Cruz Islands

A lagoon and barrier reef surround the rarely visited island of Utupua where Zodiacs take you down a fjordlike channel. Among the marshy mangrove trees, learn about an ecosystem that is a beehive of biological activity. Enjoy free time to stroll through Nembo to see the villagers’ prolific gardens, or join a snorkel or dive excursion along the fringing reef where an abundance of small fish attract predators like gray reef sharks, mangrove jacks, Oriental sweetlips, and schools of trevally.

Day 14, Sep 23, 2020
Tikopia

Tikopia is legendary—a remote tropical paradise where traditional customs remain intact. School children clad in tapa cloth harmonize songs of welcome, followed by enthusiastic dances by the young men of the village. A hike to the crater lake at Tikopia’s center may reveal fairy terns, cardinal honeyeaters, and yellow-bibbed lories.

Day 15, Sep 24, 2020
Ureparapara, Vanuatu

On Ureparapara you are welcomed ashore with a performance of “water music.” Then join locals for a tour of the village.

Day 16, Sep 25, 2020
Ambrym

Today you are welcomed ashore by palm-leaf-clad dancers with elegantly carved headdresses before exploring traditional Linbul Village. Ambrym is known for its slit-gong drums, some carved from enormous breadfruit tree trunks.

Days 17-18, Sep 26-27, 2020
Port Vila / Disembark / Brisbane, Australia / USA

Disembark this morning for a tour of Port Vila, ending at the airport for your independent flight to Brisbane. Dinner and overnight at our airport hotel. Arrive in the USA the next day.

Highlights

Highlights

Receive warm welcomes from friendly locals and witness time-honored ceremonies that include hypnotic drumming, melodic bamboo panpipes, and elaborately-costumed dancers.
Snorkel or dive over pristine coral reefs populated by a variety of tropical fish.
Search for striking endemic birds, including the Solomon Island sea eagle, buff-headed coucal, and Melanesian megapode.
Stroll through tiny villages and isolated island communities for a glimpse of traditional life on these idyllic islands.

Details

Length: 18 days
Cost From: $14,480  
Arrive: Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
Depart: Port Vila, Vanuatu
Lodging: 13 nights aboard a 100-passenger expedition vessel, 2 nights hotel
Meals: All meals included aboard ship and with the group ashore (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Activity: Cultural Adventures, Snorkeling, Walking, Wildlife & Natural History, Photography, Diving
Trip Level:

The trip is rated Level 1, Easiest, and is appropriate for anyone in good health who is physically active.
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