South Pacific Journey to Distant Islands

South Pacific Journey: Easy methods to Go to 14 of the Most Distant and Culturally Fascinating Islands

Could 20, 2023 No Feedback »

The South Pacific area accommodates about 30,000 islands – it appears unfathomable – 30,000! So how on the earth do you determine which of them to go to? I used to be confronted with this query as I attempted to plan my South Pacific Journey. Considered one of my objectives was to go to the actually distant, seldom visited South Pacific islands in Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu with out spending months doing it. Right here’s the excellent news…it’s doable! Be taught how one can get to 14 of probably the most distant islands in Melanesia in 17 days whereas studying concerning the distinctive tradition, historical past, and panorama of the South Pacific.

What began as a sprinkle of rain, transitioned rapidly to a downpour. I attempted to cowl up my digital camera and regarded round to attempt to discover cowl. A lady in a hut was making an attempt to get my consideration as she waved her fingers. Our eyes locked and he or she motioned for me to come back inside. As soon as once more, the South Pacific was exhibiting its welcoming hospitality.

I ducked into the thatched hut. I used to be bowled over once I glanced up and seen a complete group of village ladies and young children watching me.

Loh Island South pacific hospitality
Protected from the rain with native ladies

I regarded across the hut created from palm leaves, a mud flooring, no electrical energy, no plumbing – it was life at its simplest. All the ladies have been desperate to ask me questions, as I used to be of them. We fumbled by way of a dialog about marriage, motherhood, and training. I used to be as fascinating to them as they have been to me. Two very completely different worlds collided in that hut because the rain got here down, and I used to be so excited to expertise it.

I discovered that the villagers of Loh hadn’t welcomed international guests since 2016. This lack of tourists was far more than a pandemic-related absence, it was the character of dwelling on a really, very distant island within the South Pacific.

Distant South Pacific Journey

On this uber-connected world – it’s arduous to find locations that really feel really untouched. They’re usually arduous to get to, have restricted house, and have little infrastructure – which creates plenty of insurmountable hurdles for vacationers who wish to do South Pacific Journey.

Regardless of these hurdles – distant locations like Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu are completely definitely worth the journey. One approach to overcome these hurdles is to journey to the South Pacific Islands by ship.

Heritage Expeditions South Pacific Travel
Heritage Adventurer – your transportation to the distant South Pacific Islands

I’m not speaking about simply any ship. It’s vital to appreciate there are the everyday cruise firms that cruise the South Pacific Islands, nevertheless, they go to the islands which have extra infrastructure. They begin in massive cities like Sydney, LA, and Brisbane. And so they go to the extra common vacationer locations like Tahiti or Fiji; locations with airports and cruise ports. Positive – these are nonetheless small South Pacific islands, however they’ve the infrastructure to welcome 1000’s of passengers from massive cruise ships.

Most South Pacific cruises don’t go to distant, tiny islands like Loh Island. Those with no tourism, lodges, electrical energy, or plumbing. And that’s precisely the place I needed to set foot…onto the South Pacific Islands which are arduous (if not unimaginable) to get to.

Papua New Guinea Bougainville Volcano

Enter Heritage Expeditions which has been cruising to distant South Pacific islands for 10 years now. The small family-owned expedition cruise firm really gives expedition-type journey to locations which are almost unimaginable to get to. The Heritage Expeditions Secrets of Melanesia cruise will take you to this point off the vacationer path…there’s barely even a path in any respect!

What’s Expedition Journey

Expedition journey is a journey area of interest that enables for the pliability to reply to the surroundings, wildlife, and different journey components. It’s usually performed by small ship as a result of it’s normally the one approach to get to actually distant locations. An expedition cruise appears to be like form of like a mini model of a cruise ship – however this isn’t a typical ‘cruise’. There’s no want to decorate up, no theater reveals, and there are not any shore excursions; it’s extra unpredictable and rugged in a approach. An expedition ship is sufficiently small to have the ability to anchor offshore in deep waters and passengers are transported by Zodiac rafts on shore to small villages or nature areas.

South Pacific Expedition Travel
Attending to the distant South Pacific islands

We had plenty of days the place flexibility was vital and we went approach off the itinerary, altering plans on account of cultural points (warring tribes!) and climate. We traveled in some uncharted waters and went to locations that the captain or the expedition chief had by no means been to earlier than. On expedition journey, you let the journey take you, reasonably than you taking the journey.

Or as our expedition chief put it – it’s a must to be rigidly versatile to do an expedition journey.

Hearken to the Newbie Traveler Podcast the place I discuss travel by expedition ship to Melanesia. Study what to anticipate and why it’s such a particular area to journey to.

South Pacific Journey

The South Pacific is greater than a musical – it’s a whole group of islands within the Pacific Ocean that consists of three areas; Micronesia, Melanesia, and Polynesia.

South Pacific Map
MAP Map supplied by @Kahuroa

My South Pacific journey took me by way of the Melanesia area on Heritage Expeditions’ new 120-passenger Heritage Adventurer ship. This was the right approach to journey to South Pacific distant island villages and cultures that usually get only a few if any guests.

To present you an thought of simply how few individuals go to Melanesia
Vanuatu – 121,000 annual guests
Solomon Islands – 29,000 annual guests
Papua New Guinea – 211,000 annual guests
France 218,000,000 annual guests

Why Journey to Melanesia?

Melanesia is made up of 4 international locations; Fiji, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, and Papua New Guinea. These international locations embody 1000’s of islands within the South Pacific overflowing with biodiversity.

It is likely one of the high birding locations on the earth with over 501 endemic birds and it’s residence to the Coral Triangle which accommodates a minimum of 500 species of reef-building corals and is likely one of the eight main coral reef zones on the earth.

After which there’s the rationale I cruised by way of Melanesia – the tradition. It is likely one of the most culturally complicated areas on the earth. The islands have over 1000 languages! The locals reside in villages devoid of contemporary conveniences (besides cell telephones), depend on the sources of the land, journey by canoe, protect their historical past by way of oral traditions, and foster tight-knit communities centered round household ties and elders. They have interaction in commerce utilizing shells and pigs, take part in elaborate ceremonies, perform sure unsettling rituals, and, at instances, uphold the observe of a ‘bride worth.’

South Pacific culture

Melanesia is likely one of the final locations on earth the place you’re going to get to expertise this stuff of their purest kind.

South Pacific Island Tradition – Like Nothing You’ve Ever Skilled Earlier than

Journey the South Pacific and also you’ll most undoubtedly hear terrifying tales of headhunters. It’s the place a number of the final headhunting tribes have been discovered. Traditionally it was a land of warring tribes and cannibalism. Though that doesn’t exist any longer, there are nonetheless loads of tribal disagreements, and the warring is deeply rooted of their tradition.

Expertise the One-of-a-Type Singsings

The time period ‘Singsing’ refers back to the elaborate festivals held all through Melanesia, the place villagers showcase theatrically choreographed dance and vocal performances. They’re spectacular occasions with ornate costumes, dances, uncommon music, and singing.

The dances and costumes symbolize numerous village occasions equivalent to giving thanks for harvests, asking for a profitable hunt, and blessings for weddings, funerals, births, and good well being. There have been dragon dances, frog dances, elaborate masks, headdresses manufactured from uncommon feathers, and complex piercings. More often than not I sat and watched in disbelief and awe that this was for actual.

Watch the number of costumes, dances, music, and folks of the South Pacific

The villagers inspired us to take part in lots of the singsings, which invariably resulted in them bursting into laughter and pointing on the amusing foreigners and our dance strikes! I beloved becoming a member of the dances, you may’t assist however be completely satisfied interacting with this historical cultural custom.

South Pacific Cruise Island Hopping – The place to Go and What to Count on

Each day we stopped at completely different island communities and had an opportunity to work together with the locals. I don’t assume it might be doable to go to all of those islands by yourself. Nevertheless, with Heritage Expeditions it was simple to traverse these little-known islands in a comparatively brief time frame.

Sepik River Papua New Guinea – Land of the Crocodile

As we landed our zodiacs in Kopar village the youngsters and villagers waved a welcome to us. The villagers carried out three completely different dances that includes elaborate costumes: the fish dance, dragon dance, and snake dance. Locals from surrounding villages alongside the 700-mile-long Sepik River flocked to Kopar to see the efficiency in addition to to get a great take a look at us…the guests.

Very like journey to India – it’s a must to be snug with being stared at whereas doing South Pacific journey.

Along with the frilly costumes for the singsing, I used to be additionally in awe of the unimaginable artifacts and handicrafts that the villagers had laid out for us to admire and buy. As soon as once more, households traveled for days to carry their crafts to Kopar to satisfy (and promote to) the guests.

sepik river crafts
A household sells crafts of the Sepik River

Manus Island Papua New Guinea – Dancing with Tree Frogs

The group of Manus Island hadn’t seen guests for two+ years. To make up for that they welcomed us with open arms and smiles. As our zodiacs got here near shore school-age children lined up on the seashore singing and dancing wildly with an accompaniment of a heavy drum beat.

The group even welcomed us into the village through a ceremonial ‘ribbon slicing’ (twine slicing). It was a stunning ‘Western world’ welcome to a really historical tradition. They entertained us with singsings, together with a dance depicting the tree frogs that descend from the bushes to feed and drink. Males carrying costumes manufactured from bushes, leaves, flowers, and shells actually dropped from the bushes and hopped round leaving your complete crowd in giggles.

Nissan Island Papua New Guinea – Assembly Forest Spirits

The Balil 1 villagers warmly welcomed us as our zodiac boat bounced by way of the small inlet into the sunken crater that varieties Nissan Island.

Though it was a Sunday and usually a quiet day your complete village and surrounding villagers confirmed as much as carry out a singsing and tour us round their village to share their tradition. The spotlight of the occasion was the forest spirits dance, that includes costumes crafted from tree branches, with every spirit adorned in an intricate wood masks.

The native children giggled and screamed as the lads danced round with spears trying ominous. These dances didn’t solely carry out for us – the guests – but in addition for the native individuals and children in an effort to educate the traditions to the youthful generations within the village. I got here to be taught that our visits have been an vital a part of this passing down of information to your complete village. Typically tourism might be harmful, however on this case, it actually felt like our South Pacific journey had objective and advantages that far outweighed the downsides.

Balil 1 had a small faculty that we toured. The abundance of quotes and indicators displayed within the classroom, discussing well-known people, gender fairness, the importance of environmental conservation, and the worth of peace, shocked me.

Remnants of the conflict have been scattered all through the village on Nissan Island, because it had been residence to an airstrip utilized throughout WWII. My favourite dialog was with Cecilia who was a grandmother of twins she was caring for. I walked up and requested her what she carried in her bag and he or she pulled out an empty Coke bottle! Troopers beloved Coke, and inevitably some bottles have been left. We ended up in a protracted dialog about WWII and the way they don’t make Coke bottles like they used to! She confirmed me how she used the outdated (very heavy) bottle to crack open coconuts!

Bougainville Papua New Guinea – Scars of Civil Battle

Probably the most tragic islands in Papua New Guinea – Bougainville was a special sort of go to. I discovered concerning the tragic historical past of the current civil conflict, which lasted for 10 years, and the underlying causes that sparked its initiation. The extended preventing claimed the lives of over 15,000 individuals.

We rode in vans to go to the now-defunct Panguna Copper and Gold mine that was on the middle of the tragedy. We witnessed the unhappy remnants of what stays and noticed the way it continues to impression the individuals and the surroundings as much as this present day. The locals have interaction in day by day gold mining actions because the mine nonetheless holds plentiful reserves of gold and copper. Nonetheless, the devastating environmental penalties ensuing from the mine’s closure are really heartbreaking.

Bougainville individuals culturally affiliate themselves extra with the individuals of the Solomon Islands than Papua New Guinea, giving rise to a current referendum through which they voted to interrupt away from PNG and kind its personal autonomous area.

That afternoon we had an unimaginable Papua New Guinea sendoff from one of many singsing teams on the island. No devices, no downside! In Bougainville all you want is outdated footwear and bamboo! I used to be in awe as I listened to such lovely music all created with bamboo pipes and flip-flops.

Tetepare, Solomon Islands – A Lesson in Conservation

Welcome to the island gem of the Solomon Islands – Tetepare Island. Over 100 years in the past, quite a few tribes totaling about 1,860 individuals inhabited the island. Nevertheless, the thriving island was finally deserted. There are 3 doable causes: dysentery, headhunting, and curses – or perhaps all of them?

For over 100 years, it has remained uninhabited and is presently managed as a conservation website by 12 rangers from the Tetepare Descendants Affiliation. It was rescued from logging and imminent destruction and now serves as a conservation mannequin for the Solomon Islands and your complete South Pacific.

You’ll be able to be taught extra about this unimaginable transformation within the e-book, “The Last Wild Island – Saving Tetepare”

They also have a little eco-lodge (a number of conventional huts) there that may be very easy, however you may keep on the island – hike, tag turtles, and take part in conservation efforts. It’s an opportunity to actually see what it’s like to remain in a easy island surroundings. Additionally they have unimaginable snorkeling simply offshore. Actually, it was in all probability my favourite snorkeling of your complete journey.

We have been capable of get ‘hands-on’ with two of the island’s most vital animals – coconut crabs and endangered Inexperienced and Hawksbill turtles! We watched the rangers tag a turtle file its info after which launch it into the ocean. You might see simply how a lot the rangers beloved their jobs and the island.

Coconut crabs cover in bushes, caves, and within the floor. It’s the most important terrestrial vertebrate on the earth weighing as much as 4 kg. And so they form of seem like large spiders…which is a bit terrifying! They’ll really break right into a coconut and may carry coconuts as much as 3 miles. Surprisingly these crabs can’t swim, in order that they reside on the island the place they’re protected.

Malita Solomon Islands – The place the Cultural Tables Turned

Malita is a extra developed and populated island within the Solomons; nevertheless, we have been there to satisfy a really particular tribe for a singular expertise. Right here we met a number of members of the Kwaio tribe who made a particular journey to satisfy us and share their tradition. The Kwaio reside in one of the vital inaccessible locations within the Solomon Islands; excessive up within the highlands in an space known as Naufe’e. They principally had a mountain fortress which allowed them to maintain to their outdated methods and exist regardless of the remainder of the island modernizing.

Chief Esau and a small group traveled for a number of days to come back all the way down to the coast and meet us and the ship. They did demonstrations of their cooking, how they made handicrafts, and the Chief advised us about their work to construct up sources for girls and children within the village and extra.

Chief Esau Kwaio Tribe
Chief Esau Kwaio Tribe

Nevertheless, we additionally had a possibility to take part of their music and dance rituals – however there was one catch. With the intention to take part we needed to put on their conventional clothes…which was principally nothing however a lap lap. A lap lap is only a small waistcloth or loincloth. This was a possibility to get absolutely immersed of their tradition…and get bare and dance! Would you do it?

Frigate Island Solomon Islands – Swim with the Locals

We acquired one other unimaginable welcome to this tiny island. In a cultural twist, the lads of the island did all the dances. After the festivities, we have been free to roam the island and take a look at the mangrove forest or head out snorkeling. The locals got here out in full power to see the festivities and discuss with us. It occurred to be the final day of faculty and the island instructor introduced all the children out to work together with the foreigners. That is in all probability the perfect sort of ‘social research’ the youngsters may get! They loved swimming with all of us and getting rides on the zodiacs.

Frigate Island South Pacific kids swimming
Children swimming at Frigate Island

Nendo Island Solomon Islands – See a Pink Feather Hat

Nendö is the most important of the Santa Cruz Islands, which misinform the southeast of the Solomon Islands. Right here we made a particular go to inland to the village of Noipe.

We rode at the back of lorries and bounced alongside on the primitive highway towards the center of the island. Once we arrived it felt as if we have been in a ticker tape parade. Locals surrounded us on the highway cheering our arrival.

They welcomed us with leis, coconuts, a wonderful harmonious choir, and historic dances. Noipe organized a whole instructional afternoon – it was my favourite village we visited. After the dances, they’d a dozen little huts arrange the place we may stroll in and study a particular cultural custom. There have been ear piercings, cooking, and utilizing tree bark to make conventional clothes and woven mats. There was even an illustration of how they make their notorious pink feather hats.

Pink Feather Hats

Nendo Red Feather Hat
Pink Feather Hat

The pink feather hat shouldn’t be a hat in any respect. It stands as the one recognized bird-based foreign money in human historical past. This Solomon Islands hat is generally seen in museums, however I had the chance to go to the one place on earth the place it was created – Noipe.

I’m not going to lie – this idea of foreign money is basically arduous for me to know – however I all the time welcome the possibility to study cultures completely different than mine.

The ‘hat’, known as a tevau, is definitely 50,000 to 60,000 itty bitty pink feathers taken from the Scarlet Honeyeater hen. Particular craftsmen within the tribe make it. They ‘glue’ every little tiny feather with a sticky sap to a protracted wooden coil. The coils are sometimes 20 to 30 ft in size, it may take an individual over a yr to finish a full feather coil!

It achieved foreign money standing as a result of the islanders didn’t have entry to uncommon ores to make cash. As an alternative, individuals thought-about scarlet honeyeater feathers as the last word hard-to-get useful resource. They used Tevau as funds made to a lady’s household throughout her marriage till the Eighties. I ponder if they’ve ever ceased utilizing them since we nonetheless noticed their manufacturing within the village at this time.

At its top, to make the foreign money they needed to pluck from 20,000 particular person birds every year. Regardless of this intense harvesting, hen specialists say the inhabitants of untamed honeybirds on the island thrives to this present day.

I beloved Noipe, the individuals have been so type and so excited to have us go to. I walked away having discovered a lot about their tradition and bought to see one of the vital distinctive cultural items, the tevau, within the South Pacific.

Santo Island Vanuatu

Vanuatu’s largest Island, Santo; is the situation of James Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific. We began our go to with somewhat decadence by indulging in champagne on Champagne Seaside in Vanuatu. This lovely seashore bought its identify because of the volcanic gases that bubble up by way of the powdery white sand on the shoreline to make it look and feel like champagne below your ft! Though the skies regarded like nasty climate – we solely had solar on the seashore which made for a spectacular seashore and snorkeling morning.

Simply once I believed I had witnessed each conceivable type of music in Melanesia, I used to be as soon as once more taken without warning. A gaggle of beautiful ladies walked into the waves with none devices and created incredible music in the water! They cupped their fingers in numerous methods to slap, scoop, and displace the water iso that it that made notes and music. It was awe-inspiring.

Apparently, ladies discovered this ability whereas doing the village laundry within the rivers. They wash the village’s garments within the river and began to play with the sounds that they might make, and shortly they’d a ‘band’! Not solely did they current a water live performance, in addition they taught us how we may be taught a number of notes!

Within the afternoon we moved on to discover one other a part of Santo Island – Luganville. This city was an vital space throughout WWII. Lots of the allied forces, together with Individuals, have been stationed right here and constructed a good portion of the infrastructure that is still in place to this present day. We visited plenty of WWII websites and museums in addition to the native market.

We ended our time on Santo Island with a dip in considered one of its well-known blue holes. Crystal-clear, deep iridescent blue swimming pools distinctive to Vanuatu. These pure phenomena are shaped when underground streams originating within the island’s western ranges resurface as springs, slicing deep round swimming pools into the karst. The proper swimming gap!

Blue hole Vanuatu
Blue Gap

Every South Pacific Island we visited was completely different from the subsequent, however every felt untouched by time. By touring on the Heritage Adventurer it made navigating the distant South Pacific islands doable in 17 days. The Secrets and techniques of Melanesia Cruise is an ideal approach to do South Pacific journey to probably the most distant islands. And it’s one of many solely methods to see the world’s most fascinating cultures.

2023 Secrets and techniques of Melanesia Sailings

Secrets of Melanesia Itinerary
DEPARTURES 23 Oct 2023

5 Journey Necessities for Each Journey

Klean Kanteen 16oz (w/ Café Cap)

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05/20/2023 10:02 pm GMT

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Journey Important

Eagle Creek Packing Organizers

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Favourite Model – Lady Owned

Wallaroo Hats

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I like all of their types and usually all the time have a minimum of 2 of their completely different hats with me on each journey I take! All of their types provide excellent solar safety. The Pores and skin Most cancers Basis recommends the fabric of each Wallaroo hat with a UPF score and a 3+ inch brim as an efficient UV protectant. Plus – they’ve so many trendy types!

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Peak Design Tech Pouch

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Don’t overlook to get journey insurance coverage if you’re going to this a part of the world. If you journey to all these distant locations, you’ll need journey insurance coverage that features emergency evacuation. I usually use Allianz Travel Insurance Policies.

That is the third Heritage Expeditions Cruise I’ve taken, and each was unimaginable. Every of them has been to actually uncommon locations and as soon as once more was primarily about tradition, wildlife, and panorama.
Ross Sea Antarctica
Wrangle Island Russia


I used to be a visitor of Heritage Expeditions on this journey, nevertheless all opinions expressed listed here are my very own.