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.
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, 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.
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 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.
Makira is the most easterly of the main islands in the Solomons archipelago. Nearby to the east lies Santa Ana, a small raised coral atoll. Sea caves on the island are believed to be the site of first habitation in the Solomons, dating back to 1280 BC. We spend time with the locals, who share with us their traditional song and dance. Join our naturalists for a walk across the island, looking out for colourful orchids and the elusive Melanesian Megapode.
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 canoes in completely traditional ways. Watch out for locals hand-crafting their vessels on the shore with adzes.
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 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 two endemic bird 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 or a visit to Luganville Township.
Vanuatu’s second largest island,visited by Captain Cook in 1774, Malakula and its coastal islands became known as The Cannibal Islands due to the fierce reputation of the Big Namba and Small Namba tribes. We explore the southern shoreline, home of the Small Nambas tribal group and the least developed and most traditional part of Malakula. The nearby low-lying Maskelyne Islands offer first-class snorkelling opportunities. Be transported back in time as we witness the famed Masked Dances of Malakula.
Arrive into Port Vila early morning and disembark. Upon disembarking a transfer to your central hotel or the airport will conclude your voyage.
One bunk (one upper and one lower) and one additional lower berth, writing desk, wardrobe, and drawers. Private washbasin. Shared shower and toilet facilities nearby with other Main Deck cabins. These cabins have a porthole.
Two lower berths, writing desk, wardrobe, and drawers. Private washbasin. Shared shower and toilet facilities nearby with other Main Deck cabins. These cabins have a porthole.
One bunk (one upper and one lower berth), writing desk, wardrobe, and drawers. Private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin. These cabins have windows.
Two lower berths, writing desk, wardrobe, and drawers. Private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin. These cabins have windows.
Separate bedroom with a double bed and a single bed or sofa in the lounge, writing desk, wardrobe and drawers. Private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin. Mini Suites have windows.
Large lounge area, separate bedroom with double bed, single bed in the lounge, writing desk, wardrobe, drawers, and fridge. There is a private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin. Large forward and side facing windows with great views.
Discovery Fund : 600 USD pp
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.
Some departures are on the SHOKALSKIY - the sister ship to the SPIRIT OF ENDERBY