Battlefields & Beaches – Through the Solomon Islands & Vanuatu

Battlefields & Beaches – Through the Solomon Islands & Vanuatu

From AUD $11,690


Join Coral Expeditions onboard expedition vessel Coral Geographer for a 13–night expedition voyage through the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. This voyage reveals the remote coral atolls and beaches of the idyllic Melanesia region, with time to explore the wrecks and remnants of the war in the Pacific theatre, and expert guides on hand to discuss the various battle sites, historical significance, and strategies.

This journey recognises the sacrifices and honours the legacy of Allied and Axis Forces that fought in the theatre of the Pacific War. These battles were fierce confrontations between the Imperial Japanese Navy and the United States Navy with combined forces of Allied nations including Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United Kingdom forces. Many significant battles took place in the South Western Pacific countries of Solomon Islands and Vanuatu , and this expedition visits battle sites where relics remain either on land or below the sea.

Pacific Islanders were greatly impacted by the war on their doorstep with some playing crucial roles, like the scouts who found John F Kennedy after his patrol boat was sunk. This expedition explores the history of the period and will also offer guests an immersion into the idyllic island landscapes, strong cultural traditions of Pacific Islanders and the renowned warmth and hospitality of the peoples of the Pacific. Special guest lecturer Rear Admiral Allan du Toit will join you onboard to share his knowledge.

Trip Name
Battlefields & Beaches - Through the Solomon Islands & Vanuatu
Vessel Type: Expedition Passenger Capacity: 120 Built: 2020 Expedition capabilities > Two trademark Xplorer tenders seat all passengers and facilitate comfortable shore excursions > Six zodiacs for more intrepid exploration > Lecture lounge for daily expedition briefings and expert presentations > Small onboard library featuring books on destinations and wildlife > Shallow draft and advanced navigation and propulsion systems allowing access to locations closed to large cruise ships Marine immersion > Navigator lounge in the bridge > Over 1000 square metres of open deck space including a wrap-around promenade deck with panoramic views > Engine room tours and a high level of crew interaction with guests Food and wine features > Single seating dining with communal table serves buffet breakfast and lunch, and multi-course table d’hote dinners > Showcase galley with viewing window creating fresh small-batch cuisine featuring Australian and local produce > Multiple indoor and outdoor bars, including our Explorer bar on the sundeck for sunset drinks > Curated wine cellar featuring boutique wines and exceptional vintage Australian reds Guest comfort > All outside-facing guest cabins with en-suite bathrooms; the majority have a private balcony > Active stabilisers to dampen sea motion > Well-equipped gym > Passenger elevator > Wi-Fi available in all guest areas


An optional pre-cruise tour in Honiara includes visits to the Memorial at Skyline Ridge, the site of the Battle of Edson’s Ridge and others, before boarding Coral Geographer at 4:00pm for a 5:00pm departure. Cruise past Tassafaronga Point, where US Forces intercepted eight Japanese destroyers, before arriving at our overnight anchorage in the Florida Group of Islands.
At Mangalonga Island, we go ashore for an early morning birdwatching excursion with the chance to spot some of the many colourful species here, including claret-breasted fruit doves. We will also dive and snorkel nearby Popondaka Reef – the fishlife here is prolific and it also common to see feather stars and colourful anthias. Later this afternoon we will cruise Iron Bottom Sound, so named for the 32 allied ships that were sunk here during WWII. After cruising by Savo Island, site of the key Battle of Savo Island, we will pause over the wreck of the HMAS Canberra and pay tribute to the 94 men who lost their lives as result of the attack: it remains the largest Australian warship ever lost in battle.
One of the world’s natural wonders, this vast double barrier lagoon has been proposed for World Heritage listing. It was also a key supply base of the Japanese War machine during WWII, and therefore the target of relentless Allied plane attacks. Here we will snorkel and dive waters teeming with tropical fish, and meet the expert Marovo carvers who are famous for the intricate pieces they create from ebony, rosewood and mother-of-pearl.
This morning, go ashore in the provincial town of Gizo to wander through the vibrant open-air markets. Divers may wish to dive the wreck of the Toa Maru with a local operator. Later, we cruise by Kennedy Island, where John F. Kennedy and his crew came ashore after their patrol boat was sunk. This afternoon, snorkel or dive at Njari Reef – a marvellous underwater world considered to be the best snorkelling location in the Solomons.
This marine reserve is home to the largest rookery of endangered Hawksbill Turtles in the South Pacific, and supports some of the healthiest coral reefs. Protected by the unique Arnavon Community Marine Conservation Area, many of the rangers are from surrounding islands. Go ashore at Kerehikapa Island with the chance to see turtle hatchlings emerging from their nests. Later we cruise into Dart Sound and meet the locals at the village of Kia – where many of the committee members and rangers live.
The old capital of the Solomons, Tulagi is filled with wartime history. Be welcomed by a traditional Solomon Islands warrior welcome, followed by music and dance performances. A guided walking tour of Tulagi reveals its history. This afternoon cruise the Mboli passage: this narrow waterway is the location of a station where Allied warships replenished water supplies, and the final resting point for WWII wrecks.
Located at the Eastern tip of Guadalcanal Island, this area of verdant tropical islands is a geographical crossroad, separating Guadalcanal’s calm northern waters from its Tasi Mauri or ‘weather coast’. Five marine protected reserves have been established here to protect the special environment. Here we will visit the local village with an opportunity to purchase handmade local craft, before spending the afternoon snorkelling, diving and kayaking the lagoon.
Be welcomed by the locals of Star Harbour this morning. Enjoy a colourful cultural performance before exploring the village, meet the children at the local school and learn about the harbour’s WWII history.
Day 9 - DAY 9: NENDO
Our last stop in the Solomon Islands, Nendo Island is an excellent location to view and purchase quality artefacts. Enjoy a cultural performance and an opportunity to snorkel from the beach.
One of the most spectacular islands in the South Pacific, Ureparapara is an extinct volcano rising 764m above sea level. Cruising into the cone of the volcano, surrounded on three sides by towering ridges, is an unforgettable experience. Be welcomed by cultural performances, including ‘water music’ a percussive, hypnotic music created by slapping and moving the water, accompanied by the women’s vocal harmonies. Meet the friendly locals and explore the village.
Luganville, the site of a WWII Allied base, is surrounded by extraordinary dive sites.One of these is Million Dollar Point, named for the thousands of tons of war machinery that were dumped here. SS President Coolidge, is also a significant shipwreck here. Sailing into a minefield, she ran aground on the beach before capsizing. A very special shipwreck, it is considered by many to be the best wreck dive in the world.
Day 12 - DAY 12: NGUNA
Nguna Island has white sand beaches and the surrounding waters are marked as the Nguna-Pele Marine Protected area – home to numerous reefs, sea grass beds, mangrove forests and intertidal lagoons. The island’s coral gardens provide a stunning environment for snorkelling and diving. The Island also contains two extinct volcano craters, Mount Tapuora and Mount Marow. Excursion options include volcano treks, snorkelling & diving, and village explorations.
Day 13 - DAY 13: TANNA
This morning we approach Tanna Island and see our first signs of volcanic activity, hot springs bubbling beneath the surface. We are in for a real once-in-a-lifetime experience. We are met by the villagers, who drive us local style in the back of their trucks up through the forest of the lower reaches of Mt Yasur’s active volcano. Continue on foot to the rim of the caldera, and peer into the heart of the volcano and its lava pools. Return to the village to spend time with the locals and learn about their interesting customs.
This morning we arrive in Port Vila and disembark at 8:00 am. Post-cruise transfers can be arranged onboard (additional cost).
Day 15 - Please Note:
This itinerary is an indication of the destinations we visit and activities on offer. Throughout the expedition we may make changes to the itinerary as necessary to maximise your expeditionary experience. Allowances may be made for seasonal variations, weather, tidal conditions and any other event that may affect the operation of the vessel.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
28-02-2021AUD $0-
30-11-202113-12-2021AUD $11,690Coral Deck
30-11-202113-12-2021AUD $13,690Promenade Deck Stateroom
30-11-202113-12-2021AUD $16,950Explorer Deck Balcony Stateroom
30-11-202113-12-2021AUD $17,535Coral Deck
30-11-202113-12-2021AUD $20,535Promenade Deck Stateroom Solo
30-11-202113-12-2021AUD $22,390Bridge Deck Balcony Suite
30-11-202113-12-2021AUD $25,425Explorer Deck Balcony Stateroom Solo
28-02-2021AUD $0-


    • Snorkel and dive almost every day over vivid coral gardens and relax on white-sand beaches
    • Enjoy enriching local culture at the remote island villages of Star Harbour and Nendo, and visit local markets
    • Journey up the slopes of Mt Yasur on Tanna Island, guided by the locals to gaze into the heart of the volcano
    • Spot numerous species of birds and marine life at the important conservation areas of Arnavon Island
    • Visit historic WWII wrecks and significant sites such as the sunken SS President Coolidge at Million Dollar Point, Kennedy Island, Iron Bottom Sound, and Tulagi
    • Sail into Ureparapara’s spectacular volcanic cone, and be warmly welcomed with dances and a performance of the extraordinary ‘water music’
    • Cruise Iron Bottom Sound and pause to pay tribute to lost seamen at wreck sites like the HMAS Canberra
    • Enjoy insightful commentary and lectures by special guest lecturer and wartime historian Allan du Toit