Pacific Explorer


Pacific Explorer

Style: PioneerGroundbreaking tours to unique destinations
Duration: 27 days
Type: GroupSmall group tours with a maximum of 12 travellers

Itinerary

Day 1 – Nadi, Fiji

Arrive in Nadi, the joining point of our tour. You can arrive at any time on this day. Meet your fellow travellers ahead of your departure the next day for Wallis & Futuna. Overnight Tanoa International Hotel or similar.

Day 2 – Nadi, Fiji to Wallis & Futuna

Morning at leisure without any guided arrangements, before a transfer to Nadi airport for your flight to Wallis & Futuna, where we will stay for 3 nights. Upon arrival the group will be met and transferred to the hotel, and will later be given a briefing by our local guide. Overnight Hotel l'Albatros or similar. (D)

Days 3 and 4 - Wallis

Although a quiet island, there is enough to keep visitors occupied for a couple of days.  What Wallis lacks in lofty emerald peaks and pearly white beaches it makes up for with its outrageously clear-blue lagoon, weird circular crater lakes and extensive archaeological sites tucked away in the bush. It is a big, flat jungle of a place where traditional life is played out behind plain, modern concrete walls. Over the next couple of days we will visit some of the island’s archaeological sites, the lagoon and an islet known for birdwatching. In addition we will take a look at Mata’Utu, the country’s sprawling administrative and business centre. Overnight Hotel l'Albatros or similar. (2 nights – BLD)

Day 5 – Wallis & Futuna to Noumea, New Caledonia

After a leisurely morning followed by an early lunch we will transfer to the airport for a flight to Noumea where we stay for 2 nights. On arrival we will check in to the hotel where later the group will be given a briefing by our local guide. Overnight Hotel Le Lagon or similar. (BD)

Day 6 – Noumea

Today we take a half day tour of the capital, Noumea (3-4 hours). We visit the main points of interest including the Place d’Cocotilers, the Tjibaou Cultural Centre and some of the city’s museums including the Museum of New Caledonia and the Maritime History Museum. Overnight Hotel Le Lagon or similar. (B)

Day 7 – Noumea to Port Vila, Vanuatu

We take a morning flight to Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu. On arrival we are met and transferred to the hotel where we are given a tour briefing by our local guide. After lunch we take a city tour; stops include the Cultural Centre (museum) and the Summit Gardens, the largest tropical garden in the South Pacific. Here we find 10 hectares of gardens that showcase thousands of different botanic species from all over the world. These species include water plants, succulents, orchids, bromeliads, heliconias, palms, cycads and fruit trees. In addition, we will enjoy the sights, scents and sounds of the sandalwood industry that has provided a livelihood for over 200 years in Vanuatu. Overnight Warwick Le Lagan Hotel or similar. (B)

Day 8 – Island Tour

After breakfast we depart for a full day circular tour of the island. Our first stop is at Larofa Village where we will experience some of the traditional practices and skills, and be mesmerised by an amazing fire-walking display. We continue with an opportunity for some swimming in the magnificent Blue Lagoon before visiting Pangpang to see huge ancient banyan trees and learn how they were used by ancestors. Later we will return to Port Vila. Overnight Warwick Le Lagan Hotel or similar. (BL)

Day 9 – City Tour

Enjoy a short city tour (2 to 3hrs) taking in the main points of interest including Vanuatu’s National Museum. Later return to the hotel with the afternoon at leisure. Overnight Warwick Le Lagan Hotel or similar. (B)

Day 10 – Port Vila to Tanna Island

Today we will enjoy a scenic adventure to one of the world's most accessible active volcanoes. Our Yasur Volcano exploration starts with a scenic one-hour flight to Tanna Island. This journey takes in the spectacular views of Port Vila Harbour, South Efate and Erromango with its beautiful coastline (weather permitting). On the approach to White Grass Airport in Tanna you will have a great view of the magnificent landscape of Tanna Island. Here we will be met by our friendly safari staff and taken to a local resort for some refreshments. Then our volcano tour begins with a 4WD journey across the island, passing local villages, dense native bush, and crossing plains of volcanic ash with stunning views as we approach Yasur Volcano. Once we reach the summit it is a short 10-minute uphill walk to the rim of the crater, where we will observe the awesome power of the world's most accessible active volcano! This ancient volcano is conspicuously located in one of the most pristine, unspoiled corners of the globe. Late evening return to our accommodation on Tanna Island. Overnight Evergreen Resort or White Grass Ocean Resort. (B)

Day 11 – Blue Cave

Carved by natural spring water which reflects the sunlight, we make a morning visit to Tanna’s Blue Cave.  Later return to our hotel with the remainder of the day at leisure. Overnight Evergreen Resort or White Grass Ocean Resort. (B)

To visit the cave you must be a swimmer and be prepared to make a short under water dive to the entrance. Snorkel equipment will be provided. For those not wishing to visit the cave an alternative excursion will be arranged locally.

Day 12 – Numba Village

Today we visit the friendly village of Numba, untouched by western influence for thousands of years. This self-sufficient village continues to live as their ancestors did, maintaining their kastom practices and beliefs. We learn about the culture and history of the Kastom people together with the other numerous and distinct cultural groups in Vanuatu. Later we return to our hotel with the remainder of the day at leisure. Overnight Evergreen Resort or White Grass Ocean Resort. (B)

Day 13 – Tanna Island to Port Vila

This morning we take a short flight back to Port Vila where we are met on arrival and transferred to the hotel. After check-in we set off on an afternoon excursion to visit the small Tanna Coffee factory. The Tanna Coffee Development Company was first established in 1982 in order to assist in the development of the newly independent South Pacific nation of Vanuatu. Though the coffee is grown on nearby Tanna Island, it is transported here for roasting and packaging. Later we will enjoy a pleasant walk through lush tropical rainforest to see the Cascade waterfalls. Here you may want to step under the falls or take a dip in the clear rock pools for a refreshing swim. Or, maybe just sit under the cool shade and enjoy the lush green setting. You will be able to enjoy the scenery from our lookout view on the way back from the waterfalls. Return to the hotel. Overnight Warwick Le Lagan Hotel or similar. (B)

Day 14 – Port Vila to Honiara, Solomon Islands

Today we leave Port Vila on an early flight to Honiara, capital of the Solomon Islands. Upon arrival we are met and transferred to our hotel. After check-in and time to rest, we will have lunch before taking a city tour to allow us to discover many points of scenic, cultural and historic interest about Honiara and the Solomon Islands. The Honiara central market is busy, colourful, and offers local produce and crafts, after which we will visit the Parliament House, built for the people of Solomon Islands. With a commanding position, the US Peace War Memorial was constructed in 1992 for the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Guadalcanal. It provides an excellent view of Iron Bottom Sound and the surrounding mountainous regions of Honiara and Guadalcanal. The small National Museum accommodates the diverse cultural artefacts of the Solomon Islands. Later return to our hotel. Overnight Mendana Hotel or similar. (L)

Day 15 – Guadalcanal Island Day tour

We will spend the day touring the island of Guadalcanal and seeing its many highlights and attractions. It is known for its many WWII sites, several of which we will visit during the day. The islands are also home to many botanical gardens displaying a wide variety of plants, and we will be sure to visit one of these. A village tour will give us first-hand experience of the traditional daily lives of Solomon Islanders. We will gain an appreciation of the unique cultures of the islands as we learn about traditional customs and practices. Overnight Mendana Hotel or similar. (B)

Day 16 – Honiara to Kosrae, Micronesia, via Nauru

We take a very early flight (5am) firstly to Nauru, the world's smallest island nation with a population of  under 10,000 inhabitants, and covering just 8 square miles, before making a connection onto Kosrae. With a connection time in Nauru of around 2 hours it is hoped that during the layover there will be time to clear immigration (and get a very rare passport stamp), and take a very short island tour. From Nauru we will continue to Kosrae, arriving mid-afternoon. On arrival we will be met and transferred to our hotel. Overnight Nautilus Resort or similar. (LD)

Day 17 – Kosrae

Today we will tour Kosrae, an island rich in history. It was originally settled by people sailing east from Southeast Asia and north from Polynesia, and later arrivals included Spanish, German, and Japanese settlers. In 1525, Portuguese navigators in search of the 'Spice Islands' (Indonesia) came upon Yap and Ulithi. World War II brought an abrupt end to the relative prosperity experienced during Japanese civil administration. Following the trusteeship under U.S. administration after WWII, the Federated States of Micronesia is now independent and self-governing.

One of the wonders of the island is the 14th century Lelu Ruins -- an archaeologists dream. Slowly being enveloped by the tropical jungle, these are the ruins of an enigmatic ancient civilization. Built by hand over the course of several hundred years, the city of Lelu was crafted from multi-ton basalt prisms that were transported from the other side of the island. The walled city represented the peak of cultural development and architectural achievement during the last years of the 15th century. The religious and political capital -- with its impressive high walls, royal tombs and residences of the king and his family, and intricately cut channels for canoes to transport food and other necessities -- will capture your imagination like no other site on Kosrae. We will enjoy a guided hike through the jungle, learning along the way about the local flora used by traditional healers, to the 1000-year-old Menke Ruins which are a reminder of Kosrae’s past. Here you will see basalt walls, chambered living quarters and religious platforms. This area was developed long before Lelu, and is considered a religious site where ancient Kosraens worshiped an island goddess.  At the Kosrae State Museum we will see ancient artefacts and restored photos of Kosraean history and culture. During our island exploration we will also visit the Green Banana Paper Company, where organic paper products are produced using the fibre from old banana trees. We will follow this with a walk to the Yekla waterfall. Overnight Nautilus Resort or similar. (BLD).

Day 18 – Kosrae to North Tarawa, Kiribati

This morning we take an early flight to Kiribati, another truly remote island paradise, and one of the world’s smallest island nations situated in the middle of the Pacific. Fewer than 6,000 visitors make it here each year, making it the 4th least visited country in the world. This geographically isolated nation is untouched thanks to its seclusion and inaccessibility. Upon arrival at Bonriki International Airport, located on South Tarawa, we will be met and transferred to our hotel on North Tarawa. After check-in, followed by lunch, we will join our local guide for a cultural tour of North Tarawa. Discover the world of giant clam farming and observe traditional village life in North Tarawa. Visit ancient shrines, hear age old stories, and learn traditional skills of weaving and coconut husking. Overnight Tabon Te Kee Kee Lodge or similar. (LD)

Day 19 – North Tarawa, Kiribati

Enjoy a half day excursion of North Tarawa, and tide permitting, discover the turquoise lagoon by canoe. Overnight Tabon Te Kee Kee Lodge or similar. (BLD)

Day 20 – South Tarawa, Kiribati

After breakfast transfer to South Tarawa, home to the largest concentration of the population, the seat of government and commercial centres. Enjoy a half day tour taking in the main sites including the museum, Parliament House, government buildings and handicrafts centre. Overnight Mary’s Motel or similar. (BL)

Day 21 – South Tarawa, Kiribati

Today we explore the sites and hear the stories of one of the bloodiest battles in the Pacific during World War II. Explore relics of the battle, view the landing sites, and visit memorials to the battle and the lives lost. Overnight Mary’s Motel or similar. (BL).

Day 22 – South Tarawa, Kiribati to Nadi, Fiji

Transfer to Kiribati’s international airport for a late morning flight to Nadi, Fiji. Arrive in Nadi mid-afternoon and then transfer to our hotel. Overnight Tanoa International Hotel or similar. (B)

Day 23 – Nadi, Fiji to Upolu, Samoa

Early this morning we fly to the island of Upolu, Samoa. Upon our arrival we will be met and transferred to our hotel in the capital, Apia. After check-in we will take an afternoon tour. Today much of Apia looks as it did when Robert Louis Stevenson settled here in 1889. Our sightseeing will include a visit to the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum, situated in the hills to the south of Apia. This museum, with its spectacular setting, showcases and preserves the memories and lifestyle that drew him and his family to Valima, Samoa. Overnight Tanoa Tusitala or similar. (B)

Day 24 – Upolu, Samoa

Today will be spent touring the island of Upolu. The entire country of Samoa serves as a cultural storehouse of fa'a Samoa, the traditional Samoan way of life. Most Samoans still live in villages featuring fales (oval houses), some of which have stood for centuries (though tin roofs have replaced thatch). Our route then takes us south over Le Mafa Pass and down towards the south side of the island. At the south-eastern corner of Upolu is a cliff like mountain, which forms a dramatic backdrop to the deep sands of Lolomanu Beach, facing a group of small offshore islets.  Along the south coast are many idyllic stretches of white sand and black rocks overhung by coconut palms.

The combination of tropical climate and fertile soil make Samoa the perfect environment for rainforests and other lush landscapes such as mangrove swamps and marshes. These ecosystems are all alive with native wildlife, such as seabirds, skinks, flying foxes, geckos, as well as a plethora of unique flora. One of the best remaining rainforests is O Le Pupu-Pue National Park on Upolu. This park runs from the southern coast up into the mountainous interior of the island. Bird lovers, and those who enjoy exploring nature on foot, will love this place. Later return to our hotel in Apia. Overnight Tanoa Tusitala or similar. (B)

Day 25 - Upolu, Samoa

After breakfast we take a half day tour of Apia and its surroundings, discovering the sites of historical and cultural significance to Samoa. We will visit Mulinu’u Peninsula, the sacred burial grounds of the chieftan families of Samoa, the site of Parliament House, the Independence Monument, the Lands & Titles Court, the German Monument where the German flag was raised during Samoa’s time as a colony and the landing site of the first Catholic Missionary to Samoa. A stop is made at the Fresh Produce Market to view locally grown items including a variety of vegetables, fruits, plants, and flowers, as well as Samoan delicacies, handicrafts and souvenirs. We continue to the Moamoa Cathedral with its exquisite stained glass windows which is one of the oldest churches in Samoa. Overnight Tanoa Tusitala or similar. (B)

Day 26 – Upolu, Samoa to Nadi, Fiji

Transfer to the airport for our lunchtime flight to Nadi, Fiji. Upon arrival transfer to our hotel for the last night of the tour. Overnight Tanoa International Hotel or similar. (B)

Day 27 – Tour Ends

Our tour ends after check-out from the hotel. A transfer will be provided to the airport for your international departure.