A Voyage through the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu aboard the Spirit of Enderby

Overview

Delicate orchids, exotic birds, remote villages, idyllic islands, and some of the most phenomenal snorkeling in the world: this is Melanesia. Sail from Hoiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands, to chiseled bays and seldom-visited sandy beaches. Step ashore the mountainous island of Malaita where you are welcomed with song and dance, venture inland on the largest of the Santa Cruz Islands to experience the manufacturing of red feather money, and navigate by Zodiac through shallow passages to the reefs of uninhabited Taumako. On Vanua Lava, crowned by its majestic volcano, climb through waterfalls and on Espiritu Santu, search for endemic birds and swim in the pristine waters off Champagne Beach. Your journey concludes with a chance to see masked dancers in the mystical forests of Ambryn, and a final snorkel in this picture-perfect realm of the South Pacific.

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

Day 1
Honiara, Solomon Islands

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 travelers over dinner at the resort.

Day 2
Honiara, Solomon Islands

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 Spirit of Enderby this afternoon.

Day 3
San Jorge Island and Santa Isabel

One of the largest in the Solomon Islands, most of Isabel remains unexplored and undiscovered. Explore the remote southern shores around Thousand Ships Harbour. 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.

Day 4
Malaita

Mountainous Malaita has pristine rivers and unexploited tropical forests. Enter the seldom visited Kwai Harbour, here 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.

Day 5
Makira

Makira is the most easterly of the main islands in the Solomon’s archipelago. This morning the ship anchors 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 their traditional song and dance. If you 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. The Spanish navigator Álvaro de Mendaña de Neira unsuccessfully tried to establish a colony there in 1595. This is the home of red feather money, sourced from the Scarlet Honeyeater. Venturing inland you'll visit a village where the ancient traditions are still very much alive. Watch the manufacturing 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. 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 largely cut off from the outside world; learn about their continued use of traditional sailing canoes.

Day 8
Vanikolo

Today, explore the archipelago of Vanikolo, with its five islands encapsulated by a dramatic barrier reef which offers superb snorkelling. French explorer Jean-François de La Pérouse was wrecked here after both his vessels, La Boussole and Astrolabe, struck the reef in 1788. On the shore we 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.

Day 9
Vanua Lava

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 centre 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.

Day 10
Espiritu Santo

Enjoy 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. 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.

Day 11
Ambryn

The Spirit of Enderby will visit Ambryn, 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 practised 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 Ambryn 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 12
Port Vila, Vanuatu

Arrive into Port Vila early morning and disembark. Upon disembarking, a transfer to your central hotel or the airport will conclude your voyage.

Highlights

Highlights

Search for some of the most spectacular birds in the Solomon Islands including the Solomon Sea Eagle
Visit historical sites including the Japanese and American war memorials
Take Zodiacs into bays, inlets, mangrove forests, and to the blue holes of Espiritu Santu
Snorel and swim in pristine waters with exotic fish found nowhere else on the planet

Details

Length: 12 days
Cost From: $5495  
Arrive: Honiara, Solomon Islands
Depart: Port Vila, Vanuatu
Lodging: 10 nights aboard a 50-passenger vessel, 1 night hotel
Meals: All meals aboard ship included (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Activity: Cultural Adventures, Snorkeling, Walking, Small Ship Cruising
Trip Level:

12-day cruise, cultural explorations and walking tours, snorkeling
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