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.
Honiara was founded as a military base during World War II and was witness to the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. Tour Honiara and visit historical sites including the iconic 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. After familiarising yourself with your cabin and the ship join the captain and expedition team on the bridge.
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.
Mountainous Malaita is home to one-third of the Solomon’s total population, with pristine rivers and unexploited tropical forests. Anchoring in the seldom visited Kwai Harbour, we’ll spend the day ashore visiting the local people who choose to live on small artificial islands. This afternoon the beautiful uninhabited Leli Island provides the ideal snorkelling site with calm clear waters and an impressive array of fish and corals.
Makira is the most easterly of the main islands in the Solomons archipelago. This morning we anchor in the calm waters of Star Harbour. Join our naturalists for a zodiac exploration of the abundant mangrove forests and take a short walk to Makira's south coast. We spend time with the locals, who share with us their traditional song and dance.
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 tried to establish a colony there in 1595. Biologically these islands share more in common with Vanuatu. This is the home of red feather money, sourced from the Scarlet Honeyeater. Today the islanders will perform the dances of their ancestors with traditional red feather sticks.
The Duff Islands are a cluster of 11 small islands. On the tiny island of Taumako in the Solomon Islands’ eastern province of Temotu live some 500 Polynesians who may be the only people in the Pacific still capable of building and sailing traditional voyaging cans in completely traditional ways. Watch out for locals hand-crafting their vessels on the shore with adzes.
Today we explore the archipelago of Vanikoro, with its five islands encapsulated by a dramatic barrier reef which offers superb snorkelling. French explorer Jean-François de La Pérouse was stranded here after both his vessels, La Boussole and Astrolabe, struck this 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 wander in search of endemic flora and fauna species.
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. Vanua Lava with its nearby Motu Lava and Reef Islands offers diverse landscapes, rich culture and a bountiful underwater world. The surrounding waters are home to the recently discovered Vanuatu Petrel which we will be looking for upon our departure.
Enjoy a full day ashore on Vanuatu’s largest Island, Santo; location of James Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific. Early morning offers a visit to Vatthe Conservation Area for the birders in search of many of Vanuatu’s endemic birds. Other opportunities include swimming, snorkelling, zodiac exploration of the iconic blue holes of Santo, or a visit to Lugainville Township and Million Dollar Point.
Today we will make an inaugural visit to Ambryn, renowned as the island of volcans 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. 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.
Arrive into Port Vila early morning and disembark. Upon disembarking a transfer to your central hotel or the airport will conclude your voyage.