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South Pacific: Secrets of Melanesia

Sail into a world that few have ever experienced; idyllic islands and isolated villages where unique time-honoured 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 around 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. Our expedition embraces some of these cultures and languages and offers a window into the happiest country in the world.

Our journey offers some of the greatest underwater experiences in the world and everybody will have the opportunity to snorkel and appreciate the beauty beneath the waves. Snorkel at Million Dollar Point, where there are a multitude of bulldozers, cranes, fork lifts, and trucks piled upon one another in this unique dive site, justifiably giving this location its worthy name. And then there is the abundance of marine life and coral gardens that draw you into a magical underwater world that truly is waiting to be explored elsewhere on our expedition.

For birders this itinerary offers once in a lifetime species on remote islands where few have been before, endemic birdlife such as the Solomon Sea Eagle may be spotted. The birding potential is exceptional and to allow birders to maximise the opportunities on the expedition there will be an optional specialised birding programme with customised excursions. A picture postcard paradise awaits us as we uncover the Secrets of Melanesia.

South Pacific: Secrets of Melanesia itinerary:

show reverse 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 travellers and the expedition team over dinner at the resort.
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. Tour Honiara, visiting historical sites including Henderson Airfield. 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. After familiarising yourself with your cabin and the ship join the captain and expedition team on the bridge.
Day 3: San Jorge Island and Santa Isabel
One of the largest and highest islands in the Solomon Islands, most of Isabel remains unexplored and undiscovered. We will head for the remote southern shores and Thousand Ships Harbour which is nestled between San Jorge Island and the high peaks of southern Santa Isabel. The multitude of inlets, channels and bays provide numerous opportunities for our days exploration.
Day 4: Malaita
Mountainous Malaita is home to one-third of the Solomon’s total population, with pristine rivers and unexploited tropical forests. Anchoring in one of the harbours on the western side of the island, we’ll spend the day ashore, including a visit to Langa Langa Lagoon, famous for its artificial islands. An excursion into the hills behind Auki provides good chances of sighting birds endemic to Malaita.
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 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. 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. 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 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 largely cut off from the outside world; learn about their continued use of traditional sailing canoes.
Day 8: Vanikolo
Today we 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. We also have a good chance to see the recently rediscovered Vanikoro Flying Fox.
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 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 we 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 we 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 make an inaugural visit to 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. On this voyage we can offer a unique kayaking experience. 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 up small rivers or creeks into tropical jungle, rainforest or mangroves, sometimes beyond the reach of our Zodiacs.

South Pacific: Secrets of Melanesia reverse itinerary:

show main itinerary
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. On this voyage we can offer a unique kayaking experience. 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 up small rivers or creeks into tropical jungle, rainforest or mangroves, sometimes beyond the reach of our Zodiacs.
Day 11: Ambryn *
The Spirit of Enderby will make an inaugural visit to 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 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 we 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 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 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 we explore the nearby offshore islands for snorkelling and beach combing. The surrounding waters are home to the recently discovered Vanuatu Petrel.
Day 8: Vanikolo *
Today we 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. We also have a good chance to see the recently rediscovered Vanikoro Flying Fox.
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 largely cut off from the outside world; learn about their continued use of traditional sailing canoes.
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 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 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 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. 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 4: Malaita *
Mountainous Malaita is home to one-third of the Solomon’s total population, with pristine rivers and unexploited tropical forests. Anchoring in one of the harbours on the western side of the island, we’ll spend the day ashore, including a visit to Langa Langa Lagoon, famous for its artificial islands. An excursion into the hills behind Auki provides good chances of sighting birds endemic to Malaita.
Day 3: San Jorge Island and Santa Isabel *
One of the largest and highest islands in the Solomon Islands, most of Isabel remains unexplored and undiscovered. We will head for the remote southern shores and Thousand Ships Harbour which is nestled between San Jorge Island and the high peaks of southern Santa Isabel. The multitude of inlets, channels and bays provide numerous opportunities for our days exploration.
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. Tour Honiara, visiting historical sites including Henderson Airfield. 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. After familiarising yourself with your cabin and the ship join the captain and expedition team on the bridge.
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 travellers and the expedition team over dinner at the resort.
* = Indicative
Map for South Pacific: Secrets of Melanesia
Spirit of Enderby, the ship servicing South Pacific: Secrets of Melanesia

Spirit of Enderby

Vessel Type: Expedition

Length: 72 metres

Passenger Capacity: 50

Built / refurbished: 1984 / 2004

The Spirit of Enderby 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 November 2004 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 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 honours 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 1800’s. It also celebrates Enderby Island, arguably the greatest Subantarctic Island in the world.

a) our fleet of RIB’s, (rigid inflatable boats) sometimes referred to as zodiacs. These extremely safe and stable craft will land you at some of the most amazing places.

 

 


Cabin layout for Spirit of Enderby
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