Islands of the Coral Sea
16 days with Silversea Rating:
Day 1 — Port Vila, Vanuatu
Day 2 — Aniwa and Tanna, Vanuatu
This reef is really unique because it is growing on top of a lava flow. You will discover a big variety of corals in countless colours. From Moorish idols to whitetip reef sharks you will also find a great variety of fish.
Silver Discoverer will then reposition to Tanna Island, where we will take to the Zodiacs to go ashore in Port Resolution. Our first activity in the afternoon will be a visit of the village and their people. We will be welcomed with a dancing ceremony by both men and women, before we actually get to walk to and through their village.
Then the volcano expedition will start. We will get onto Off-Road vehicles and drive through lush forests up to Mount Yasur. Mount Yasur is a very active volcano -its activity was first recorded by Captain James Cook in 1774 and continued uninterrupted since then.
The last part is walking up a trail up to the rim of the volcano’s crater. It much depends on how active the volcano is as to how far we are allowed to go. As soon as you reach the top you can look into the volcanic crater and hear the rumbling of the volcanic activity. There are two main craters -with volcanic activity in each crater. The first crater on the left side is usually very active; small explosions can normally be observed and fireworks of lava are blown out from below the crater into the sky. The second crater is less active in terms of ejected lava but from time to time pushes out big clouds of fumaroles and ash. As sunset finishes and the darkness progresses the volcanic activity turns into a breathtaking firework. The ejected lava glows in red and orange colours.
We will return quite late to Silver Discoverer.
Day 3 — Makura, Vanuatu
Makura is quite small, but is the peak of an old volcano whose rim remnants are believed to be neighbouring islands Emae and Mataso. There is a small village on the north-western part of the island. This is the only place where there are two sandy beaches. This afternoon we will be looking for sites to snorkel and dive, while hikers might want to climb to the top of the island.
Day 4 — Ambrym, Vanuatu
Ambrym is known as the island of magic and of the 113 local language of Vanuatu 5 alone are spoken on Ambrym –apart from Bislama, one of the three official languages of the country.
We will go ashore near the village of Ranon to have a look at the local community and see the very special Rom dance. Normally these dances are only shown during grade-taking ceremonies or men’s secret society meetings and on those occasions the participants actually prepare their masks and costumes in secrecy.
Apart from the mesmerising Rom dance we will be entertained by one of the local string bands and hope to see some of Vanuatu’s sand drawings. Although some might simply see them as aesthetically pleasing drawings, UNESCO has recognised them as a local “writing” system and inscribed them on the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Day 5 — Cruising the Coral Sea
Take advantage of the luxurious amenities aboard Silver Discoverer and help our birders spot some of the seabirds found far away from their nesting grounds or look for dolphins and other cetaceans known to frequent these waters.
Day 6 — Port Mary, Santa Ana, Solomon Islands
After a short welcome on the beach we will head to the sports ground where we will be entertained by traditional songs and dances by members of the three different villages on Santa Ana (Owaraha in the local language).
Islanders will have set up several stands with souvenirs, ranging from traditional shell money to fishing floats and different carvings based on local stories and legends.
For those interested in a hike, the local school, located at the centre of the island, can easily be reached. For those interested in a swim, snorkelling or diving, the late morning and early afternoon will give you time to enjoy the waters in front of Ghupuna.
In the afternoon Silver Discoverer will continue eastward. Let our lecturers introduce you to our next destination.
Day 7 — Mbike Island and Roderick Bay, Solomon Islands
Once we reach Mbike you will see that huge trees give shade and a picture-perfect little beach will invite you to swim and snorkel, while the extensive coral reef ecosystems, teeming tropical fish and exceptional dive sites beckon our divers as well. The snorkelling might show feather stars and colourful nudibranches, vase sponges and gorgonian fans, lionfish and octopus -all part of this truly remarkable marine environment.
If you would like to find out what other parts of the Florida Islands have to offer, join us on a Zodiac snorkel safari into nearby Roderick Bay
During the afternoon Silver Discoverer will continue westward to reach the Solomon Islands’ Western Province.
Day 8 — Njari Island, Solomon Islands
Playful dolphins sometimes accompany Zodiac on their way between the ship and the snorkelling area.
After our morning exploration of Njari we will clear out of the Solomon Islands and head for Papua New Guinea. Our lecturers will start with their topics about Papua New Guinea.
Day 9 — Cruising the Coral Sea en route to Rabaul, Papua New Guinea
In the afternoon Silver Discoverer will enter Blanche Bay and will pass the active volcano Tavurvur and several other prominent geological features.
We will clear into Papua New Guinea and will continue our voyage along the northern coast of New Britain shortly before midnight.
Day 10 — Garove Island, Papua New Guinea
Around sunset Silver Discoverer will leave the caldera and continue west-south-westward.
Day 11 — Tami Island, Papua New Guinea
Beaches and reefs should provide a good starting point for swimming, snorkelling and diving.
Day 12 — Kafure Village, Tufi, Papua New Guinea
Upon arrival, we will canoe along the smooth waters of the Kwapurina Fjord. With local villagers as our oarsmen, we will be guided under canopies of ancient mangrove forests, which are home to Tufi’s wide range of colourful birds and butterflies. Continuing on our journey, we return to the entrance of the fjord and the small settlement where the villagers will welcome us with traditional dance and song. There will also be an opportunity to observe the making of tapa cloth and to make souvenir purchases.
During the afternoon we will enjoy one of the local beaches nearby to relax, swim, snorkel and dive.
In the afternoon, we will also visit Dobu Island, which is one of the smaller islands of the D’Entrecasteaux archipelago. Although small in size, the island played and plays an important role in the Kula Ring. If we go ashore, we will hopefully get to see some of the objects used in the Kula trade. Neighbouring islands feared the Dobu Islanders because they were believed to be great sorcerers.
Birdwatchers are in for a treat whilst visiting the D’Entrecasteaux Islands. Look out for Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, parrots and eagles and—if we are very lucky—we may even spot a bird of paradise (or two!).
Diving and snorkelling is tide/current dependent, butwith crystal clear water and the visibility of some 30 metres or more. The coral gardens are extremely healthy with a huge diversity of both hard and soft corals.
The seabed normally is littered with many different species of echinoderms, including the blue Linckia sea star, feather stars, sea cucumbers, and the odd crown of thorns starfish conspicuously positioned in a crevice of the reef. Myriads of small damsels, chromis and other reef fish swarm over corals, and some larger fish lurk in the deeper water on the edge of the reef, including a whitetip reef shark.
Day 13 — Samarai Island, Papua New Guinea
Coming into the jetty on Samarai by Zodiac might be slightly surreal: it will be one the most modernised community we will come across throughout this voyage. Many people come from neighbouring islands for the Saturday market (our visit will be on a Tuesday). It is quite surprising to see how many solidly constructed houses are found on this tiny island and how densely populated Samarai is while the surrounding islands seem to consist just of lush tropical forests.
The final shopping opportunity in the Samarai market will be quite exceptional. The dark, heavy wooden carvings are ornate and inlaid with shells and mother of pearl. Just make sure that what you buy is allowed to enter Australia!
This evening our Captain will want to invite you to the Captain’s Farewell cocktail and the Executive Chef and Restaurant Manager will invite you to the Farewell Dinner.
Day 15 — Cruising the Coral Sea
Our on-board Photographer/Videographer will present his/her Voyage-DVD, showing all the interesting encounters with Melanesian cultures, customs and events, as well as the wildlife seen above and below the surface of the Coral Sea.
Day 16 — Cairns, Australia
All This Included
Imagine a land of over 1,000 islands, rich with culture and spectacular wildlife. Imagine a journey that combines this dramatic natural beauty with Zodiac® trips to tiny villages, mesmerising traditions and days at sea with informative lectures. Imagine all this and more on this splendid journey through the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.
Cruising: Suite onboard Silver Discoverer
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