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 on 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, with an abundance of marine life and coral gardens that draws you in to explore a magical underwater world. During frequent snorkel excursions throughout the expedition everybody will have the opportunity to appreciate the beauty beneath the waves.
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 or the Vanikoro White-eye may be seen. 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 over dinner at the resort.
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.
One of the largest in the Solomon Islands, most of Isabel remains unexplored and undiscovered. We explore the remote southern shores around Thousand Ships Harbour. Beautiful uninhabited islands dot the waters and verdant forest covers slopes which surround the harbour as we are treated to a warm welcome and have the opportunity to explore the forest and coral reefs.
Mountainous Malaita has pristine rivers and unexploited tropical forests, we enter the seldom visited Kwai Harbour, here the local people choose to live on small artificial islands off the coastline, we 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Arrive into Port Vila early morning and disembark. Upon disembarking a transfer to your central hotel or the airport will conclude your voyage.
Itineraries are subject to change.
Main deck triple cabin: This cabin has one bunk (one upper and one lower) and one lower berth, wardrobe, drawers, a desk and washbasin. The nearby showers and toilets are shared with other Main deck cabins.
Cabins have two lower berths, wardrobe, drawers, a desk, washbasin. The nearby showers and toilets are shared with other Main deck cabins.
Cabins have one bunk (an upper and lower – two), wardrobe, drawers, a desk, a private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin. These cabins have windows.
Cabins have two lower berths, wardrobe, drawers, a desk and a private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin. These cabins have windows.
A small bedroom with a 3/4 bed and a single bed in the lounge, wardrobe, drawers, a desk and a private bathroom with shower. toilet and washbasin. This suite has 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 (Payable on board): 600 USD pp
Spirit of Enderby
Vessel Type: Expedition
Length: 72 metres
Passenger Capacity: 50
Built / refurbished: 1984 / 2018
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.