South Pacific: Melanesia Discoverer

South Pacific: Melanesia Discoverer

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Uncover the hidden gems of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. From the culturally rich arterial of the Sepik River we sail north across the Bismarck Sea to the remote shores of Manus and Mussau Islands. Manus has the lowest density of people in all New Guinea with its people still living a very traditional lifestyle. Next delve into the history, culture and wildlife of New Ireland and New Britain.

We cross the Buka Channel and at Nissan Island can view reminders of the brief but intensive World War II activities during which the islands were recaptured by Kiwi and British forces from the Japanese occupiers. Then enter a long isolated world as we are amongst the first travellers to return to Bougainville in over two decades. Sailing through the turquoise waters of the Solomon Islands, new vistas and unexpected encounters await.

For birders this itinerary offers once in a lifetime species on remote islands where few have been before. The birding potential is exceptional with many highlights including the Manus Friarbird, Mussau Monarch and the Paradise Drango. Endemic to the Solomon Islands we will be on the lookout for the Roviana Rail and Solomon Sea Eagle. Allowing birders to maximise the opportunities available to them there will be an optional specialised birding programme with customised excursions.

These waters also offer some of the greatest marine diversity in the world and everybody will have the opportunity to snorkel and appreciate the beauty beneath the waves – this ocean aquarium is waiting to be discovered.

Trip Name
South Pacific: Melanesia Discoverer
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.


Day 1 - Day 1: Madang, Papua New Guinea
Arrive in the port town of Madang and transfer to the Madang Resort for the first night. This evening meet with your fellow travellers and the expedition team over dinner at the resort.
Day 2 - Day 2: Madang
Madang is a thriving community renowned for its traditional artists, world class diving opportunities and the richness of its surrounding forests. This morning we leave Madang for the highlands close to the township; here the tall forests contain a richly diverse wildlife. We arrive back in Madang with time to explore the colourful markets with your Guides. Optional excursions this morning for bird enthusiasts. Late morning board the Spirit of Enderby, settle into your cabin and join the captain and your expedition team on the bridge as we set sail.
Day 3 - Day 3: Sepik River
Sure to be one of the highlights of our expedition. The Sepik River is the longest river in Papua New Guinea, it is a rich arterial that has fostered great traditional artists. We plan to explore the river by Zodiac following tributaries and channels in search of local wildlife. We also meet with the villagers and marvel at their artistry.
Day 4 - Days 4: Manus Province
Seldom visited and little known, Manus Island is considered a jewel in the crown of Papua New Guinea. Biologically isolated, the islands are home to a high proportion of endemic species including the Superb Pitta which is likely to be one of the birding highlights of the expedition. The waters around Manus offer some of the most spectacular and rich reefs in the region, seldom explored waters promising a myriad of opportunities.
Day 5 - Day 5: Mussau & Little Mussau Islands
Spend the morning exploring larger Mussau Island with a visit to the local school and a 3-kilometre walk through regenerating forest to a refreshing waterfall and swimming hole. For birders there is the chance to spot the endemic Mussau Fantail and Mussau Monarch. Discover paradise on Little Mussau Island in the afternoon where we will enjoy a beach buffet lunch before exploring the island and extensive coral gardens home to colourful giant clams and a rich diversity of aquatic marine life beneath the warm azure water.
Day 6 - Day 6: Tabar Island, New Ireland
Be among the first visitors to be welcomed at Tabar Island’s Tiripatz Village, discover this little-known island where our hosts are as interested in finding out about us as we are learning about their life on this remote Pacific outpost. In true expedition style we will explore the surrounding mangroves and ocean snorkel reefs. A full day’s birding on the Lelet Plateau offers the chance to see the New Ireland Friarbird, and still undescribed Bismarck Flyrobin among other species.
Day 7 - Day 7: Lambom Island
Rise early and head to the bridge for your chance to see the Beck's Petrel known to frequent this area. Snorkel colourful coral gardens or discover the site of swindler Charles Marie Bonaventure du Brei, Marquis de Rays’ (or Charles I of Nouvelle France as he dubbed himself) failed attempt to establish a colony here before heading to Lambom Island in Lassim Bay to enjoy beach time, birding, singsings and a true immersion into village life.
Day 8 - Day 8: Rabaul & Kokopo, New Britain
Six beautiful cone-shaped volcanoes ring Rabaul’s dramatic, flooded-caldera harbour. Visit the bubbling hot springs and take in the magnificent views of the harbour and volcanoes from Observatory Ridge. As we explore the island, we will see fascinating reminders of the Japanese occupation, our tour taking in the site of the enormous volcanic eruption that all but destroyed Rabaul town, the underground bunker that was the hiding place of Pearl Harbour commander, Yamamoto, and joining the locals shopping at the bustling Kokopo markets. In the afternoon we head towards the Duke of York Islands to take advantage of the excellent snorkelling opportunities.
Day 9 - Day 9: Nissan Island
A tropical atoll adrift in the azure waters of the Buka Channel, Nissan Island is bathed in rich tropical currents that abound in marine life. Seldom have outsiders had the opportunity to discover this world promising abundant pelagic fish-life and pristine coral reefs. Ashore there are still reminders of the brief, but intensive, World War II activities during which the islands were recaptured by Kiwi, Australian and British forces from the Japanese occupiers. During our time ashore we will meet with the friendly locals from all three of the island’s Balil Villages and search the dense woods for some of the elusive birds that occur here. Later the snorkellers will find plenty to discover in the coral reefs that surround Nissan.
Day 10 - Day 10: Bougainville Island
We plan to be among the first expeditioners to re-discover the treasures of Bougainville, long isolated and in a strange way protected due to the conflict which swirled around its shores. Today it is emerging once again as a newly vibrant and remarkably pristine island paradise, it is home to some of the greatest biodiversity in the region both above and below the water. We plan to explore the area around Arawa, including the Panguna Copper & Gold Mine site – the setting for the movie Mr Pip – with great opportunities to access the island’s interior and its reefs. Spend your last Kina under the thatched roof of the Arawa Markets amongst the hum and chatter of hundreds of locals.
Day 11 - Day 11: Choiseul Island
Today we arrive in the Solomon Islands on the remote northern coast of Choiseul Island. Here the mountains tumble to the sea, broken only by torrents of fresh water cascading from the highlands. This was once the home of the Choiseul Crested Pigeon and, while it no longer walks the forest floor, many other species can still be found here. We cruise by Zodiac deep into the mangrove forest towards the Sui River Falls where Dugong and crocodiles live. Here Kisa shell money was manufactured and used extensively in trade around the neighbouring islands. It is still valued and protected by the village elders to this day.
Day 12 - Day 12: New Georgia Islands
The volcanic New Georgia Islands are found in the Western Province of the Solomon Islands and are characterised by extensive reefs and lagoons, rugged terrain and an abundance of rivers. Nature enthusiasts will relish landing on Kolombangara Island, where we plan to visit the Imbu Rano Lodge and Conservation Area which protects the islands central peak and search for the rare Roviana Rail along with other endemic bird species. Snorkel the wreck of a US NAVY FAF Grumman Wildcat (carrier version) World War II plane off a tiny island where the surrounding reefs are home to some of the highest fish counts in the world. Stock up on the local currency to purchase the wood or stone carvings that the people of the Western Province are so famous for.
Day 13 - Day 13: Santa Isabel Island
The Arnavon Islands are north-west of Santa Isabel in the midst of an area rich in marine biodiversity and one of the most important rookeries in the western Pacific for the critically endangered Hawksbill Turtle. The islands also support a high diversity of terrestrial fauna, with 41 species of birds, 6 species of bats, and at least 7 species of terrestrial reptiles. Sensational snorkelling can be experienced around the islands.
Day 14 - Day 14: Honiara, Solomon Islands
Located on the northern coast of Guadacanal, by the Mataniko River, Honiara was founded by the British as a military base during World War II. Honiara was witness to the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, where the Allied forces eventually overcame the Japanese invasion. Today we enjoy the option of touring Honiara, visiting historical sites including Henderson Airfield, war memorials and the open-air war museum. The birders head to the rain-forested slopes of Mount Austen in search of some of the Solomon Islands’ most spectacular birds, including the Solomon Sea Eagle. For those disembarking, a transfer to either a central city hotel, or to the airport, will conclude your voyage OR join us to discover the ‘Secrets of Melanesia’. To allow time for disembarkation procedures we recommend that you book flights from Honiara after midday. Note: During our voyage, circumstances may make it necessary or desirable to deviate from the proposed itinerary. This can include poor weather and opportunities for making unplanned excursions. Your Expedition Leader will keep you fully informed.
Day 15 - Please Note:
Itineraries are subject to change.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type


    • Discover Madang, Papua New Guinea
    • Explore Manus Province
    • Visit Nissan Island, Bougainville Island, Choiseul Island, New Georgia Islands & Santa Isabel Island
    • Cruise Solomon Islands