Secrets of Melanesia
Exploring the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu
Aboard Spirit of Enderby
- 11 days, 26 October – 5 November 2015
- 12 days, 26 October – 6 November 2016
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 that were isolated from each other by sea or impassable mountains, 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 diving in the world and while everybody will have the opportunity to snorkel and appreciate the beauty beneath the waves, we also offer an optional scuba-diving programme for those wishing to maximise their underwater experiences. This experience includes the SS President Coolidge located sleeping in the waters around Espiritu Santo, listed among the top wreck dives in the world it is a diving jewel due to its accessibility. Formally a luxury liner and then commissioned by the U.S. Navy as a military transport vessel, glass chandeliers from when she was a liner mix with cannons, jeeps and trucks from her military days. 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 worth 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 else where 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.
Honiara was founded by the British 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. Alternatively 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.
San Jorge & Santa Isabel Islands
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 divers to experience the thrill of a ‘first’ dive.
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 & Santa Ana (San Cristobal)
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 – Temotu Province
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 diving and 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.
Espiritu Santo – Vanuatu
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 or diver can explore the wreck of SS President Coolidge. 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 diving and 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.
Dates and Cost
- Spirit of Enderby – 11 days,
- 26 October – 5 November 2015
- 26 October – 6 November 2016
- Ex: Honiara – Solomon Islands to Port Vila – Vanuatu
|shared facilities||private facilities|
|Main Deck Triple||Main Deck Twin||Superior||Superior Plus||Mini Suite||Heritage Suite|
Additional charges are payable on board (All prices are per person in USD)
Sole occupancy: 1.8 times the published cost on all cabin types except suite cabins which will be charged at 2 times the published cost.
- Pre/post cruise transfers, all on board ship accommodation and meals and all expedition shore excursions.
- All shore excursions as outlined in itinerary.
- All accommodation and meals while onboard the vessel.
- Services of Expeditions leaders.
We are able to organise pre and post excursions and accommodation as required. Please contact us for further details.
What’s not included
- Airfares and any airport taxes.
- Travel and cancellation insurances.
- All items of a personal nature, laundry, drinks, gratuities.
- International/domestic flights, visas and travel insurance.
How to Book
To initiate your reservation, please contact us as soon as possible to place an option on the voyage and cabin grade of your choice. The Booking Form in the brochure is to be signed, completed and returned to Adventure Associates along with your deposit. Reservations are established only when you receive written confirmation and acceptance of the deposit payment and Booking Form.
|Deposit required:||25% of Total cruise price in US$|
|180 days prior to departure:||A further 25% of cruise price in US$|
|90 days prior to depature:||Full balance due in US$|
|If booking within 89 days of departure:||Full payment must be made in US$|
For deposits in US Dollars, your local bank will be able to arrange a US$ Bank Draft for you. Deposits may also be made in Australian Dollars – these will be converted to US$ at the applicable exchange rate. All final payments must be made in US Dollars by US$ Bank Draft or US$ cheque made payable to “Adventure Associates”. Please contact us for our account details should you wish to pay by telegraphic transfer.
Cancellations and Refunds
Written instructions only will be accepted by Adventure Associates to cancel a reservation. Cancellation charges are subject to regulations or airlines, cruise companies, coach and tour operators, hotels and any other Principals involved. If it is necessary to cancel your arrangements, the following non-refundable provisions will apply.
|Until 120 days prior to departure||Refund of deposit less US$400 per person handling fee|
|Between 119-90 days prior to departure||Full loss of cruise deposit|
|On or within 89 days prior to departure||Loss od all deposits and tariffs forfeited*|
*If cancellation occurs within the 89 day period and full payment has not yet been received, the full penalty will still apply and unpaid monies are due immediately. For these and other reasons it is mandatory that you obtain trip cancellation insurance (see terms and conditions).
Prices quoted are based on group participation and no refunds will be made for any part of the program in which you choose not to participate, including any helicopter flying time (if applicable and which, at the discretion of the captain and expedition leader, may or may not be utilised). It is understood that refunds cannot be made to passengers who do not complete the tour for any reason whatsoever.
Spirit of Enderby
Vessel, the Spirit of Enderby, is perfect for Expedition Travel. 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. It carries just 48 passengers in very comfortable accommodation (refurbished in New Zealand Nov ’04). The cuisine is excellent and is prepared by top NZ and Australian chefs. 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 Capitan and crew.
The Spirit of Enderby measures 72 metres in length and is fully ice-strengthened. Powered by two 1,560 horse power diesel engines. It is capable of speeds of up to 12 knots. What makes this Expedition Vessel absolutely unique is the equipment we carry including: 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. b) Our specially designed and built Hovercraft (2) give us unprecedented over ice capability in Antarctica allowing us to land in places that are inaccessible to other ships.
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.