Apra to Cairns
20 days with Silversea Rating:
Day 1 Apra
Departure 4:00 PM
Guam is blessed with spectacular natural beauty and a rich cultural history. Apra Harbor is a deep-water port located on the western side of the island. The island is part of the Mariana Islands and near the Mariana Trench, which is the deepest part of the earth’s oceans, and the deepest location of the earth itself. The port serves both as a U.S. naval station and Guam’s main commercial port. The harbour, formed by the Orote Peninsula to the south and Cabras Island in the north, is considered to be one of the best natural ports in the Pacific. Guam’s unique culture, traditions and heritage have remained intact despite European imperialism, wars and changing foreign governments. Archaeological evidence suggests that the indigenous Chamorros of Indo-Malayan descent migrated from the Southeast Asian islands and settled throughout the Marianas archipelago. Being expert seamen and skilled craftsmen, they flourished and built unique houses and canoes suited to the region. As a matriarchal society and through the prestige of the women, much of the Chamorro culture and traditions were able to survive. Since the 16th century, a wave of foreigners have arrived on Guam’s shores, including Ferdinand Magellan in 1521 who remained on the island for three days to restock his small convoy. Americans, Asians, Europeans, Micronesians and other visitors have since left their imprint on the island’s pastimes and tastes.
Day 2 Gaferut (Yap)
Gaferut is a small and slightly crescent-shaped uninhabited island in the northern Caroline Islands. Both the reef-flat and the island have the same shape with a maximum dimension of 1.1 by 0.6 kilometers of reef-flat and 660 by 230 meters of the island above the water. Only one narrow passage on the western side can be used at high tide. The sandy beach on the northern side shows turtle tracks and the air is filled with hundreds of Great Frigatebirds, Sooty Terns and White Terns as well as Red-footed and Brown Boobies. The Great Frigatebirds and coconut crabs are sacred to the visiting Micronesian and coconut crabs are not allowed to be eaten. Almost exactly 800 kilometers due east of Yap, the island was an important provision and resting stop for Micronesian ocean-going canoes coming from Woleai, Ifalik, Lamotrek or Satawal heading north for Guam or Saipan. To the Micronesians, the island was Faiau or Fayo (“stone” or “rock” in the language of Woleai, 265 kilometers to the southwest) and phosphate was discovered in the early 20th century by Germans and extracted by the Japanese in the mid-1930s. Today only a depression and clearing in the southern part of the island shows where the mining had taken place. The presence of phosphate has led to the belief Pisonia grandis trees existed at one time, while today Gaferut is almost entirely covered with tree heliotropes and just a handful of coconut palm trees on the western side.
Day 3 Lamotrek, Yap
Lamotrek is both a coral atoll in the Federated States of Micronesia, and one of the fourteen outlying atolls that partly makeup the island State of Yap, as well as the only inhabited island of the atoll. While the total land area is less than half a square mile, the atoll’s reef encloses a lagoon that is 12 square miles in size. The population of Lamotrek is approximately 373, and the residents are accustomed to visitors but still maintain their own culture proudly. Visitors to this small island will be greeted with generosity and friendliness that makes up the essence of the Yapese culture. The village is located on the lagoon side of Lamotrek Island and shows almost as many canoe houses as traditional homes. The lagoon offers snorkeling to see giant clams and, if not on a voyage, the Queen Veronica, the biggest outrigger canoe in the whole Federated States of Micronesia, can be seen.
Day 4 Satawal (Yap)
Satawal is a remote coral island made up of just over 1 km2 of land that is thick with coconut and breadfruit trees. It is home to approximately 500 inhabitants. Archaeologists have not yet agreed about when or how the island Satawal was settled. The people of Satawal are culturally and linguistically related to those of Chuuk in the Caroline Islands. Satawal has a narrow fringing reef and is not frequently visited by outsiders. After World War II, the island was controlled by the United States and administered as part of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands from 1947. Satawal became an official part of the Federated States of Micronesia in 1979. Satawal is famous for its ocean-going canoes and navigators –Mau Piailug was the navigator on the Hokulea.
Day 5 Pulap
Pulap Atoll is one of Chuuk State’s western most atolls. It is found some 270 kilometers due west of Weno, Chuuk’s main island. Two thirds of the population lives on Pulap proper in the north, while one third of the population lives in Tamatam, some 12 kilometers across the lagoon to the south. The reef on the eastern side of the lagoon is submerged, while the western side has a small uninhabited islet almost halfway between Pulap and Tamatam. The reef channels leading to Pulap proper and the lagoon’s excellent visibility have been compared to swimming and snorkeling in an aquarium with the possibility to see wrasses, surgeonfishes, blennies, tangs and damselfishes. Although there are not many beaches, sightings of hawksbill and green sea turtles are occasionally reported.
Day 6 Chuuk Lagoon
Chuuk Lagoon, formerly known as Truk Lagoon, is the main island of Chuuk State –with more than 36,000 residents the largest of the four states making up the Federated States of Micronesia. Located at the center of the Caroline Islands, the reef protecting the lagoon has a length of more than 220 kilometers with 41 islets on it, while 57 islands and islets are found within the lagoon. The capital Weno is on Weno, one of the two larger of several other volcanic islands in the lagoon, hence the local name of Chuuk (mountain). Since none of the islands actually carries the name Chuuk, the lagoon and islands are commonly known as Chuuk Islands. Some 1600 years before the Spaniards first saw and then claimed Chuuk Lagoon, Micronesian had already established themselves on two of the islands. The Caroline Islands were sold to Germany in 1899 as a result of the Spanish-American War and later turned over to Japan as a mandated territory after WWI. The natural harbor created by the reef had been used by the Japanese navy during WWII as its largest forward naval base with submarine repair shops and a communication center. In addition to airstrips and seaplane bases, infrastructure for the more than 44,000 Japanese troops stationed there had been set up. To divers Chuuk Lagoon is one of the highlights in the Pacific because it contains a ghost fleet: during “Operation Hailstorm” 44 Japanese ships were sunk by American carrier-based planes.
Day 7 Oroluk Atoll
Oroluk Atoll is one of the 12 municipalities of Pohnpei, one of the four states of the Federated States of Micronesia. The atoll is found northwest of the island of Pohnpei and is almost halfway between Pohnpei and Chuuk. Several passes lead into the large lagoon -of those West Channel and Pioneer Pass are closest to Oroluk Island, the only inhabited islet on the reef’s northwestern corner. There are a few places where sand collects on the reef and accordingly one of these more than 25 islets and sand cays is called Sand Island. Despite its small size of 0.15 square kilometers, Oroluk Island was occupied by the Japanese during WWII and a lookout tower had been erected, while Oroluk Anchorage, the lagoon’s western side was used by Japanese ships. The few residents found on Oroluk Island are usually from the Kapingamarangi village Porakiet in Kolonia, Pohnpei. They are looking after the island, planting taro and bananas and set up fish traps on the northwestern reef flats. The water in the lagoon has been described as one of the most transparent within the state and not only reef fish, but also Pacific green turtles and hawksbill sea turtles can often be seen.
Day 8 Pohnpei
Pohnpei (also known as Ponape) is the largest island in the Eastern Caroline Archipelago and the national capital of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). The State of Pohnpei is one of four that comprise the FSM, along with the islands of Chuuk, Kosrae and Yap. Unlike other Micronesian islands, volcanic Pohnpei boasts tropical jungles, mist-covered mountains, mangrove swamps and exotic flora. Abundant rainfall feeds streams, rivers and tumbling waterfalls. Pohnpei’s most prominent landmarks include Sokeh’s Rock, a steep, 800-foot (244-metre) volcanic outcrop overlooking the harbour; the town of Kolonia; and Nan Madol, the mysterious, ancient stone city that is Micronesia’s best known archaeological site and often called the “Venice of the Pacific”. Built on 100 man-made islets by the legendary Saudeleur kings, the ruins can be visited by boat from Kolonia, but require a permit and a guide. The main town of Kolonia boasts such historical sites as the remnants of the Spanish Wall, built in 1889 as a boundary for Fort Alphonso XII; the Catholic Mission Bell Tower, part of the old German church torn down by the Japanese during World War II; the Lidorkini Museum, an occasional Japanese tank, and the Japanese Shrine. When exploring around the island, bird watchers may be able to spot the endemic Pohnpei fantail and Pohnpei flycatcher. Pier Information The ship is scheduled to dock at Dekehtik Port, Pier #4 in Kolonia. The town is within walking distance. Non-metered taxis are available upon call. We recommend establishing the fare before leaving the pier area. Shopping Handicrafts and souvenir items can be found in shops around Kolonia and Kapinga Village. Most shops are open from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The local currency is the U.S. dollar. Cuisine Polynesian and Micronesian dishes as well as the typical American fast food can be found in a variety of eateries and hotel restaurants around Kolonia. Other Sites Explore the island’s capital and see its major points of interest including the Cultural Center. The main attraction is the archaeological site of Nan Madol, reached via a boat trip. For independent sightseeing, it is best to use taxis.
Day 9 Day At Sea
Days at sea are the perfect opportunity to relax, unwind and catch up with what you’ve been meaning to do. So whether that is going to the gym, visiting the spa, whale watching, catching up on your reading or simply topping up your tan, these blue sea days are the perfect balance to busy days spent exploring shore side.
Day 10 Nukuoro
Nukuoro is Pohnpei’s second most southerly atoll some 480 kilometers southwest of the island of Pohnpei. The nearly circular atoll with a deep central lagoon has some 46 islets on the almost unbroken reef surrounding the 40 square kilometer lagoon. It is said that at low tide it was possible to walk from one islet to the other without getting wet. Some of these islets are not natural, but man-made by building up pieces of coral on the lagoon side of shallow reef areas as seawalls, having them filled with sand by the ocean and eventually bringing soil to use them for gardening. The combined landmass of all these islets is 1.7 square kilometers and the largest of these islets close to the channel into the lagoon, Nukuoro Island, is also the administrative center. This main islet has a village spread along the lagoon side with a population of roughly 400 residents, although several hundred Nukuorans live on Pohnpei, the main island of the state. While formerly Nukuoro’s inhabitants had to be self-sufficient subsistence farmers with taro patches and other gardens located at the center of their island, or were fishermen, for the last 20 years pearl farming has been tried on a small scale.
Day 11 Kapingamarangi
Kapingamarangi is the most southerly atoll of the Caroline Islands and thereby also the most southerly of Pohnpei State. Closer to New Ireland, PNG than to Pohnpei, Kapingamarangi is one of the few Polynesian outliers in the western Pacific. The atoll and its lagoon cover an area of more than 70 square kilometers, but the combined land of the 33 islets on the lagoon’s eastern side is only 1.1 square kilometer. Three of these islets are home to the roughly 500 residents of Kapingamarangi. Touhou, the smallest of the three, has the largest population and is connected to larger Ueru (sometimes spelt Welua) by a zigzagging causeway. Just south of Touhou –and slightly bigger- is Taringa (Taarin) which has the smallest group of residents. In total there are some 500 people living on Kapingamarangi, but more live in the village of Porakiet on Pohnpei where they were given land by the former Japanese administration in 1919. The Greenwich Passage with its two narrow channels on the atoll’s southern side permits small ships to enter, and in the late 19th century trade with Rabaul (then German New Guinea) was started. Under the Japanese administration a few islets close to the channels were used to house a small radio tower, barracks and two temporary piers for seaplanes on the largest islet. The wreck of an American Liberator bomber, “WWII’s unluckiest plane”, is found in 20-30 feet depth in the lagoon. A few islets still feature under their Japanese names.
Day 12 Day At Sea
Day 13 Rabaul
If surreal and unique experiences are your thing, then the Papua New Guinean town of Rabaul should tick your travel boxes. Found on the north eastern tip of New Britain Island (the largest island off mainland PNG) Rabaul, the former provincial capital, has quite a remarkable location. The town is inside the flooded caldera of a giant volcano and several sub-vents are still quite active today! The lively city was almost entirely devastated by Mount Tavurvur in 1994, covering the city in ashfall, but thankfully costing no lives. Since then, thanks to Rabaul’s deep-water port, commerce has been on the up, and a few shops and hotels have managed to find an audience. However, Rabaul’s remote location together with the volcano still being one of the most active and dangerous in Papua New Guinea means tourism in not rife. Rabaul has an impressive WWII history which includes a 300-mile network of tunnels dug by Japanese POW designed to conceal munitions and stores. After the Pearl Harbour bombings, the Japanese used Rabaul as their South Pacific base for the last four years of WWII, and by 1943 there were about 110,000 Japanese troops based in Rabaul. Post war, the island was returned to Australia, before it was granted independence in 1975. It should be noted that patience is a virtue here. However, that is not all bad. The slow pace of transportation allows travellers to marvels at the quite astonishing landscape. Divers will also be richly rewarded – the marine life of the island is extraordinary.
Day 14 Jacquinot Bay
Jacquinot Bay is a large open bay on the eastern coast of the island of New Britain. It is a tranquil place with white sandy beaches and tropical palm trees all around. There is also a well-known beautiful waterfall that flows out of the mountainside with freezing cold water right onto the beach. But during WWII, however, it was not a quiet place. It was, in fact, an important base for the Australian Army who liberated it in November 1944. This base was used to support Australian operations near Rabaul which were conducted in early 1945 in conjunction with advances on the northern side of New Britain.
Day 15 Tami Islands
The Tami Islands are a small archipelago of just four islands located south of Finschhafen in the Huon Gulf. Collectively, they are part of Morobe Province. Tami Island is the main island and is one of just two islands in the enclave to be inhabited. The people here are known for their elaborately carved, oblong-shaped “Tami bowls”. The small community of islanders live simply. Tami has just a single primary school and a small medical aid post. Coconut and areca palm trees, Alexandrian laurel and frangipani make for a lush and colourful appearance of the island. South of Kalal Village is a small sandbar that permits snorkelling.
Day 16 Tufi
Tufi is located on the south-eastern peninsula of Cape Nelson in the Oro Province of Papua New Guinea. It is situated on a tropical fjord, which is the work of ancient volcanic activities and was not shaped by ice as the descriptive name might lead you to believe. Surrounded by uncharted coral reefs, the underwater world has attracted many divers wanting to see for themselves how the area earned the description of having more fish than water. Although Tufi has been the administrative centre of the region, traditional ceremonies are still very important with natives wearing tapa cloth made from the bark of mulberry trees found in the local forest. Dance is predominant in the culture and performers sport fanciful headdresses decked with bird-of-paradise plumes and a rainbow of iridescent feathers. Tufi’s wide range of colourful birds and butterflies is well-known throughout Papua New Guinea, boasting several ‘largest’, ‘biggest’ and ‘smallest’ records.
Day 17 Dei Dei Hot Springs (Fergusson Island); Dobu Island
Fergusson is one of the three biggest and mountainous islands in the Milne Bay Province, and part of the D’Entrecasteaux Islands. On Fergusson’s south side are the famous Dei Dei geysers — natural hot springs that periodically erupt with vapour steam next to mud pools and a warm stream. The hot springs are still used by locals to cook food in palm frond and pandanus leaf baskets placed into the boiling hot water. Birds in the area include Eclectus Parrots, Yellow-bellied Sunbirds and the endemic Curl-crested Manucode – a bird-of-paradise.
Dobu is a small island in the D’Entrecasteaux Group next to Fergusson Island and Normanby Island. The island was formerly feared because of black magic and the local “witch” doctors cursing the healthy or treating the sick. An anthropological study was done by Reo Fortune in the 1930s which resulted in the book “The Island of Sorcerers”. The island is also part of the famous Kula ring. Participants in the exchange system pride themselves with mwali and soulava (armbands and necklaces) that are given and received still today and it is interesting to see how the traditional objects have been adorned with modern paraphernalia. A stroll through the main village on the northwestern tip will show the school and church and trails leading along the shore passing traditionally thatched houses and gardens.
Day 18 Samarai
Samarai is a tiny island south of Papua New Guinea’s southeastern peninsula dwarfed by neighbouring islands. Once a famous trading port and the second-largest settlement in the Territory of Papua (the Australian-administered southern part of what today is Papua New Guinea), Samarai used to be Milne Bay Province’s capital until 1968 when administrators were moved to mainland and the town of Alotau. The relocation was necessary as the 29-hectare (72-acre) island was simply overcrowded. With only about 450 residents remaining today, it still is one of the most densely settled islands in Papua New Guinea.
Day 19 Day At Sea
Day 20 Cairns
Arrive 6:00 AM
Warmly welcoming you to the natural wonders of the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns is a treasure trove of rich tropical beauty and incredible sea life. Swathes of rainforest spread out to the north, where you can soar over the canopy in a cable car, before looking down over narrow channels of water plummeting down gorges and crocodile-filled waterways. The diverse lands of the Atherton Tableland lie to the west, but it's the crystal-clear waters - and life-filled reefs - of Cairns' remarkable underwater world that draws universal adulation. Priding itself as the Gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, explore Cairns' constellation of colour, as you dive into the world's largest and most spectacular underwater universe. Head out on a glass-bottomed boat tour to explore the 3,000 coral reef systems, and let hours drift by appreciating the waving corals and life-imbued reefs during exceptional scuba diving and snorkelling sessions. Cairns is huddled in amongst abundant swathes of rainforests, which give way to glorious crescents of golden beach. Kuranda - with its scenic railway and heritage market stalls - waits to be discovered, cloaked within the depths of the rainforest. Learn of the indigenous people of North Queensland during cultural performances, and hear the throaty reverberations of digeridoos, as you hear eternal stories handed down through time, from generation to generation. Back in Cairns, there's always time for a coffee or a beer, or a feast on fresh oysters with glasses of Cairns' white wines – boldly flavoured with mango and banana notes.
All This Included
Unmistakably different from anywhere you might have been before, Micronesia and Papua New Guinea are rich in history and traditional legacies. Immerse yourself in a cultural tour de force during the next 19-days, experiencing diverse cultural traditions as you travel from island to island. From sailing an ocean-going outrigger to enjoying a glorious singsing in Papua New Guinea, this voyage takes interactive travel to a whole new level.
Cruising: Cabin onboard Silver Explorer
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