Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu

Hidden Melanesia - Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu 17 Days

Prices From £9,250pp
October Only | 16 nights

Single Cabins Available

Hidden Melanesia - Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu 17 Days

Aboard: Heritage Adventurer

Set sail aboard the Heritage Adventurer for an extraordinary journey into a realm that few will ever encounter. Here, ancient customs and intricately adorned dancers extend their warm embrace, inviting us to delve into the fascinating history, iconic World War II landmarks, diverse cultures, and captivating wildlife of Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu. Join us on this remarkable 17-day expedition cruise for an authentic and unparalleled experience.

In the company of a team of expert naturalists, you will discover hidden archipelagos and remarkable locations such as the volcanic wonders of the D'Entrecasteaux Islands, Bougainville Island, the New Georgia Islands, and Espiritu Santo, the inspiration for James Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific, to name just a few. Snorkel in the Marovo Lagoon, the largest saltwater lagoon in the world, discover incredible birdlife in a diverse array of habitats, and learn about the ways of life for numerous communities as you immerse yourself in the wonders of these captivating lands.

Highlights

  • Discover the hidden gems of Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu on one unforgettable trip
  • Immerse yourself in a world of unique time-honoured traditions and elaborate customs, and learn all about the destinations’ traditional lifestyles, history and culture
  • Experience a kaleidoscope of cultures in Vanuatu, where more than 100 indigenous languages are spoken
  • Explore along spectacular reefs which are home to masses of fish and coral gardens of every colour
  • Incredible birding opportunities, especially in the Solomon Islands where you will find many endemic species
  • Snorkelling opportunities available

What's Included

  • One night's hotel stay in Cairns pre-voyage including dinner and breakfast
  • Flight from Cairns to Port Moresby pre-voyage
  • Transfers to and from ship for arrival and departure
  • All meals on board ship and drinks with lunch and dinner
  • All excursions shown in itinerary
  • Programme of expert lectures and talks by noted naturalists

Single Cabins Available

This vessel offers single occupancy cabins, which is a perfect option for solo travellers. Travelling alone is often the best way to see the world. No responsibilities, no difficult choices and no trying to please anyone else…just you, your itinerary and your adventurous spirit!

Our popularitinerary Suggestions

All our itinerary holidays are fully customisable

Cairns, Australia
1Day

Cairns, Australia

Arrive independently to the urban tropical paradise of Cairns and transfer to your hotel for your included overnight stay. In the evening you will be invited to meet your fellow travellers and expedition guides for an included dinner in the hotel.

You may wish to arrive here a couple of days before your expedition begins to discover this wonderful area that is known as the gateway to natural wonders the Great Barrier Reef and Wet Tropics World Heritage Rainforest.

Fly to Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
2Day

Fly to Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

After breakfast this morning you will transfer to the airport for your flight to Port Moresby, the bustling gateway and capital city of Papua New Guinea. Enjoy a visit to the National Museum and Arts Centre, exhibiting one of the finest collections of primitive art in the world, before boarding Heritage Adventurer this afternoon. After time to settle into your cabin and familiarise yourself with the ship, your captain and expedition team will offer a briefing on what to expect on the voyage ahead.

Louisiade Archipelago, Deboyne & Tagula Islands
3 - 4Days

Louisiade Archipelago, Deboyne & Tagula Islands

Following a morning at sea, your first adventure will take you to the Louisiade Archipelago in the early afternoon. This remarkable archipelago spans approximately 400 kilometers along the northern boundary of the Coral Sea and stands as one of the prominent island formations in the South Pacific. Seldom explored by outsiders, this region is a treasure trove of hundreds of islands, captivating lagoons, and extensive barrier reefs. It is also the ancestral home of the seafaring Dobu people.

With two full days allocated for exploration, there will be ample opportunities for activities such as snorkeling. You might even chance upon the majestic Manta Rays, known to frequent these waters around established feeding sites. There's also the possibility of encountering a remarkably preserved Japanese A6M2 Zero, the primary fighter aircraft of the Imperial Japanese Navy, resting intact in the shallow waters.

On the second day of our expedition in the archipelago, our focal point will be Tagula Island, the largest among the cluster of islands. Back in 1889, a gold rush brought international attention to this island. However, today, our attention will be drawn to the lush tropical rainforest and the unique native wildlife it harbours. We'll be on the lookout for endemic species like the Tagula Honeyeater and Butcherbird, as well as distinctive frogs and lizards that call this island home.

D’Entrecasteaux Islands
5Day

D’Entrecasteaux Islands

This morning you will awake amidst the volcanic archipelago known as the D’Entrecasteaux Islands. Among the anticipated highlights today is the exploration of the island's geothermal region, characterised by hot springs and bubbling mud pools enveloped by lush vegetation. You will have the opportunity to snorkel nearby amid a myriad of colourful coral and fish, all drawn by the underwater hot springs that emanate from small vents on the ocean floor, creating a mesmerising display of bubbles rising to the surface. This underwater world has been likened to "swimming in champagne" due to its astonishing clarity, and the marine life here is renowned for its abundance, as well as the awe-inspiring sizes that the coral formations attain. Additionally, our plans include a visit to Dobu Island, a diminutive but culturally significant island that plays a pivotal role in the Kula Ring, a renowned cultural exchange system extensively studied and described by the anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski.

Trobriand Islands
6Day

Trobriand Islands

Nestled within the tranquil Solomon Sea and famously referred to as the 'Islands of Love,' the Trobriands unveil a pristine slice of traditional culture untouched by external influences. As we explore this idyllic paradise, we'll relish the sight of pristine white sandy shores, vibrant villages brimming with color, crystal-clear aquamarine waters, and captivating marine ecosystems. Engage with the Trobriand islanders and immerse yourself in their dynamic, time-honored dances, paying homage to the art of fishing and the seasonal yam harvest. Delve into the intriguing history of the 'Kula Ring,' an intricate web of ceremonial trade relationships binding the islands of Milne Bay and eastern Papua New Guinea together in a longstanding tapestry of friendship. Moreover, these islanders are celebrated for their exquisite ebony wood carvings, often adorned with exquisite mother-of-pearl shell embellishments. Take to the azure waters for an unforgettable snorkeling adventure amidst kaleidoscopic coral reefs inhabited by Parrotfish, Neon Damsels, and a plethora of other brilliantly hued species.

Woodlark Island
7Day

Woodlark Island

Nestled within the embrace of its natural bounties, Woodlark Island, an isolated gem in Papua New Guinea's expanse, boasts an intricate tapestry of life that spans millennia. With its biological and mineral riches, this remote haven grapples with the enduring tug-of-war between conservation and mining. The resilient local community stands as a rare exemple of self-sufficiency, drawing sustenance from time-honoured traditions. At loggerheads with this, Woodlark has also been deemed one of the largest and most profitable gold mine developments of recent years.

Meanwhile, the island's secluded rainforests harbour an array of flora and fauna, a treasure trove of biodiversity. Over 40 species which are found nowhere else on our planet, have flourished here, and the anticipation of unearthing more lingers in the minds of scientists. Recent revelations have unveiled the emergence of new species of frog and lizard.

As we explore here, our agenda encompasses immersing ourselves in the vibrant village life and embarking on quests to encounter the island's unique wildlife. Our quests will take us in search of the elusive Woodlark Cuscus, an endangered species on the IUCN Red List, along with endemic lizards, botanical wonders, amphibious marvels, and the enigmatic world of insects. In our exploration, we may even stumble upon hitherto unknown species, adding to the island's mystique.

Bougainville Island
8Day

Bougainville Island

Lying to the east of the Papua New Guinea mainland and north of the Solomon Islands, our next adventure brings us to the fascinating and remarkably isolated Bougainville Island, an area that is high on many travellers’ wish lists thanks to its rugged, jungled terrain with amazing coral reefs that harbour some of the greatest biodiversity in the region both above and below the water. As we explore here you will get an insight into the island’s strong ties and connections with the Solomon Islands, which is reflected in their music, culture and language.

New Georgia Islands, Solomon Islands
9Day

New Georgia Islands, Solomon Islands

Discover the unique allure of the volcanic New Georgia Islands, nestled within the Western Province of the Solomon Islands. These islands boast a captivating landscape featuring extensive reefs and lagoons, rugged terrain, and a profusion of winding rivers. For nature enthusiasts, Kolombangara Island promises an unforgettable adventure. Our itinerary includes a visit to the Imbu Rano Lodge and Conservation Area, a sanctuary dedicated to preserving the island's central peak, where you can embark on a quest to spot the elusive Roviana Rail, among other exclusive bird species.

Dive into history by snorkeling at the site of a sunken US NAVY FAF Grumman Wildcat (carrier version) WWII plane, located near a petite island. Here, the surrounding reefs host some of the planet's most prolific fish populations. Don't forget to stock up on the local currency beforehand, as you may to purchase some of the renowned wood and stone carvings crafted by the talented artisans of the Western Province, a must-have souvenir of your journey.

Nissan Island
10Day

Nissan Island

Uninhabited for 150 years, this untamed island shrouded in lush rainforests and bordered by vibrant coral reefs is home to the Tetepare Descendants' Association, a prominent community-led conservation initiative in the Solomon Islands. Garnering international acclaim for its commitment to conservation and its archaeological importance, this island serves as a nesting ground for three turtle species, including the critically endangered leatherback, on its pristine shores. Meanwhile, a plethora of other remarkable species call this island and its surrounding waters home, such as the elusive dugong, the world's largest skink, the endemic Tetepare White-eye, and numerous others.

A standout feature of our journey will be this afternoon's exploration and snorkelling excursion in Marovo Lagoon, renowned as the largest saltwater lagoon on the planet. Whether above or beneath the water's surface, Marovo Lagoon is nothing short of breathtaking. It boasts a distinctive double-barrier reef encircling the dormant volcanoes of the central main islands, along with luminous cave systems teeming with marine life. The opportunity to discover globally exceptional marine biodiversity, magnificent coral reefs, intricate estuarine and island complexes, flourishing mangrove forests, and lush sea grass beds eagerly awaits us.

Malaita & Makira
11 - 12Days

Malaita & Makira

On day 11 we will arrive at mountainous Malaita, home to pristine rivers and intact tropical forests, and one-third of the Solomon’s total population. After a morning spent exploring the clear and calm waters that surround the island, in the afternoon we have been invited to spend some time with the world-renowned Kwaio People, led by Chief Esau, to learn all about their traditional way of life which the community have fiercely guarded alongside their ancestral lands. This invitation offers the rare privilege to discover some of the most authentic, yet innovative, communities in the region, and is possible only by your tour operator’s ongoing connection with the community and their assistance with the development of innovative community conservation programs.

The following day will see you arrive in Makira, the most easterly of the main islands in the Solomon’s archipelago, where we will anchor in the calm waters of Star Harbour. As we explore around this unique area and take a short walk to Makira’s south coast, you can enjoy some traditional song and dance performances as we spend time with the locals and learn about their way of life here. As we take a Zodiac cruise amongst the mangrove forests that line the shores, the local boys may be surfing on their hand-carved palm wood boards.

Nendö, Temotu Province
13Day

Nendö, Temotu Province

Lying to the south-east of the Solomon Islands we fill find the Santa Cruz Islands and Nendö, the largest island in this archipelago, and our last point of exploration in the Solomon Islands. We will go ashore here to join the locals in traditional dances and learn all about the manufacturing of red feather money which is sourced from the Scarlet Honeyeater that is found here.

Torres Islands, Vanuatu
14Day

Torres Islands, Vanuatu

Today we reach Vanuatu, the 4th and final country on your unforgettable Melanesia voyage. Our first stop here will take us to the Torres Islands, a rarely-visited pacific paradise and culturally rich area consisting of four main islets fringed with white sand beaches, clear azure waters, volcanic rock and cliffs topped with lush jungles. Our area for exploration here is Loh Island where we will memorably receive a warrior escort and welcome from the Chief and will experience the thrilling and rarely witnessed cultural wonder of the lēh-temēt – vibrant ritual headdresses known as temēt (primordial spirits) used during special singing and dancing ceremonial rituals. The colourful headdresses are regarded by the villagers as having the highest of supernatural powers and are destroyed immediately at the end of the dance ceremony. We will then have time to enjoy tours of the village, surrounding island or snorkel Loh’s incredible underwater world.

Espiritu Santo & Ambrym
15 - 16Days

Espiritu Santo & Ambrym

On day 15 we will continue our exploration of Vanuatu as we reach Santo, the archipelago’s largest island and famously the setting for James Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific. This morning you can enjoy a walk along the famous powdery white sand of Champagne Beach and take a dip in the surrounding crystalline waters, before setting out on a Zodiac cruise to the iconic blue holes of Santo. For those with an interest in the history of the island, you may want to join a visit to Luganville and Million Dollar Point.

The following day will be the last full day of your voyage and it will be a memorable one as we visit Ambrym, renowned throughout Vanuatu as being the island of volcanoes and magic. At Ranon on the northern coast, we plan to step ashore to take a walk through the forest which will bring us to the ‘arena’ where masked dancers emerge from the forest in a memorable spectacle. In this area the traditional Rom dance is still practised and custom carving is still prominent. We will spend the morning in the forests seeking out local birds and plants accompanied by your onboard naturalist, before enjoying a final snorkelling excursion in the marine life rich, crystal clear waters.

Port Vila, Vanuatu
17Day

Port Vila, Vanuatu

Your voyage concludes in Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu, where after breakfast this morning you will disembark and join your included transfer to the airport or a central location. Should you wish to extend your stay here, please let us know and we will be happy to help you arrange this.

A view from Above

All Aboard

Heritage Adventurer
Mid range vessel

Heritage Adventurer

Previously known as the MS Hanseatic, the Heritage Adventurer is a renowned authentic expedition ship. Purpose-built with ice-strengthened hull, the vessel combines the highest passenger ship iceclass rating (1A Super) with an impressive history of Polar exploration. Designed to match Heritage’s signature experiential expedition travel, the ship accommodates up to 140 guests in welcoming and spacious cabins that feature outside views, separate lounge areas, TVs, en-suite bathrooms and double or twin beds.

Communal areas include a lounge, two restaurant areas including an al-fresco bistro, gym and spa, lecture theatre, library, passenger lifts and outdoor swimming pool and jacuzzi.

Too much to choose from? This is where we come in

Take advantage of our vast experience, passion and expertise to help you hand craft the perfect Papua New Guinea adventure for you.

Michael Gardiner Senior Travel Expert

Mike lives and breathes adventure travel and has a wealth of experience in some of the most exciting and inspirational destinations in the world. His expertise and first-hand experience afford him the skills to help build holidays to remember.

Simon Rowland Senior Travel Expert

As Senior Travel Expert, Simon has an absolute wealth of experience in adventure travel in some of the most fascinating places in the world. With in-depth knowledge and fantastic organizational skills, Simon’s first-hand experience and genuine passion drive him to work to create your perfect itinerary.

Amy Lucas Travel Specialist

Amy’s abiding love of adventure travel has taken her to some of the most incredible wildlife-rich places on Earth. Her vast experience and genuine desire to share her knowledge makes her an outstanding and invaluable person to help you organise your wildlife adventure trip.

Ready to start planning youronce in a lifetime trip?

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0800 195 3385
Outside the uk
+ 44 1625 5811 43
Call us
+ 44 1625 5811 43
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+ 44 1625 5811 43

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Ready to start planning youronce in a lifetime trip?

Call us - 0800 195 3385
Outside the uk? + 44 1625 5811 43
+ 44 1625 5811 43 Call us - 0800 195 3385

Chat Now

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callback

Fill in our
Enquiry form

Book Consultation

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