“Explore the wildlife and cultural highlights of the Solomon Islands & Vanuatu, with optional specialised birding excursions to track stunning endemic species.”
Solomon Islands | Vanuatu | Honiara | Optional specialist birding excursions to spot endemic species | San Jorge & Santa Isabel Islands | Thousand Ships Harbour | Solomon sea eagle, Melanesian megapode, Vanuatu petrel | Malaita, Makira & Santa Ana Islands | Langa Langa Lagoon | Traditional song & dance performances | Nature walks to see orchids | Santa Cruz Islands | Duff Islands | See local people hand crafting traditional voyaging canoes | Vanikolo Archipelago | Snorkelling over barrier reefs | Vanua Lava | Espiritu Santo, location of James Michener's ‘Tales of the South Pacific’ | Vatthe Conservation Area | Malakula
Description of Melanesia cruise, wildlife cruise
This 11-day Melanesia wildlife cruise takes you through the Solomon Islands and on to Vanuatu, where you will visit isolated villages, enjoy performances by elaborately costumed dancers, and explore the ancient traditions of these far flung archipelagos in the South Pacific. The Melanesia cruise begins in the Solomon Islands, in the capital of Honiara, traveling to the outer Solomon Islands where we can relax in secluded bays. In these remote archipelagos, local sailors still use traditional navigation practices to travel between the islands, such as Santa Isabel where the family is at the epicentre of daily life, which has changed little over the centuries. On Malaita, the local currency is polished shell discs threaded onto string. This Malaitan shell-money is produced on the island, and still used as a dowry payment and worn as a status symbol.
Vanuatu is comprised of over 80 habitable islands, where over 100 languages are spoken. Each culture has closely guarded its traditions and language – helped by the islands’ isolation, the ocean and impenetrable mountain terrain. This kaleidoscope of cultures is amongst the happiest countries in the world – and the stunning landscapes, wealth of marine life and vivid turquoise waters. On the cruise through Vanuatu, you’ll have plenty of time to experience the varied cultures – as well as enjoying what lies beneath the waves, with snorkelling trips to locations such as Million Dollar Point. Here, an unusual underwater seascape of sunken bulldozers, cranes, trucks and forklifts, driven off a pier following WW2, is a surreal testament to colonial greed and corruption. But nearby coral gardens, filled with fish, offer an exhilarating snorkelling experience.
Birders can seek out once in a lifetime species, such as the Solomon sea eagle, as we cruise between islands that few have set foot on before. For enthusiasts, we offer a specialised birding programme, with excursions tailored to make the most of the birding potential around Melanesia. We also have a kayaking experience, which is an incredible opportunity to fit in with Melanesian life, as you paddle over the reefs alongside local people in their dugout canoes. The kayaks enable you to travel further up rivers and creeks, deep into the jungle and through the mangroves, to areas beyond the reach of the Zodiacs.
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During our long involvement in visiting remote islands (over 35 years) we have been instrumental in developing responsible visitor guidelines, and we are aware of the need to travel with minimal impact on the natural environment, and educate and support our passengers to follow our lead, and respect the needs of different ecosystems.
Many issues confront animals and their habitats, the world's oceans and isolated ethnic groups. We share unique, pristine, and wild place with you, as well as taking action. We aim to provide eco-education for our passengers whilst onboard through on-board lectures and information throughout voyages.
All waste generated on our expeditions is disposed of in a responsible manner. The vessel complies with MARPOL where possible and allowable we practice recycling, otherwise all non-recyclable waste is brought back for disposal at approved sites.
Our goal in managing our vessel is to minimise fuel consumption and emissions with regular servicing and a proactive maintenance programme. We annually clean and antifoul our vessel's hull to reduce the risk of biofouling. When selecting our specialist expedition equipment, we research this carefully to ensure that they are the most suitable and environmentally responsible.
Group sizes are kept small to minimize impact and enhance visitor experience.
During our Pacific voyages we visit local historic sites, Wildlife Management Areas, and use local guides, such as wildlife and dive guides, wherever possible to support the local knowledge-base and economy. We allow time for passengers to explore local markets, and waterfront stores and open-air markets ensures shopkeepers and local craftspeople are encouraged to sustain their craft and traditions, as well as create a money flow into the community. We provide opportunities for passengers to meet with villagers and learn about their unique culture and life in remote areas, and encourage respect of local customs and traditions. Where required and able we aim to use local resources and services.
In March 2016, we operated a conservation voyage in partnership with Forest & Bird to the Kermadec Islands where a portion of the voyage's profits go towards Forest & Bird's valuable conservation work. We have also operated a "Cruise for Conservation" to the New Zealand Subantarctic Islands and 5% of the fare is given to a specific conservation cause. The following agencies have benefited: Save the Albatross, Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust and Marine Mammal Research Trust. We have also raised money for the Last Ocean Charitable Trust.
Money is raised from the sale of photographs, books and DVD’s onboard to support the reforestation of an area of native New Zealand forest purchased by the company. The company employs a part-time Conservation Officer.
We partner with Enderby Trust to provide Scholarships for young people, who could not otherwise afford to travel, to join their expeditions. We also have active membership in a number of conservation and travel organizations, including IAATO (International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators).
We have taken a proactive role in research, funding and publishing books on these islands. To date the company has published two books, “Straight through from London” a history of the Bounty and Antipodes Islands; and the “Galapagos of the Antarctic – Wild Islands south of New Zealand”.