South Pacific Journey to Distant Islands

South Pacific Journey: Tips on how to Go to 14 of the Most Distant and Culturally Fascinating Islands

Could 20, 2023 No Feedback »

The South Pacific area comprises about 30,000 islands – it appears unfathomable – 30,000! So how on the planet do you resolve 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 potential! Study how one can get to 14 of probably the most distant islands in Melanesia in 17 days whereas studying in regards to 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 appeared round to attempt to discover cowl. A girl in a hut was making an attempt to get my consideration as she waved her palms. Our eyes locked and he or she motioned for me to come back inside. As soon as once more, the South Pacific was displaying its welcoming hospitality.

I ducked into the thatched hut. I used to be shocked after I glanced up and seen an entire group of village ladies and babies watching me.

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

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

I realized that the villagers of Loh hadn’t welcomed international guests since 2016. This lack of holiday makers was rather more than a pandemic-related absence, it was the character of residing 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 typically arduous to get to, have restricted area, and have little infrastructure – which creates a lot 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 technique 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 necessary to understand there are the everyday cruise firms that cruise the South Pacific Islands, nonetheless, they go to the islands which have extra infrastructure. They begin in huge cities like Sydney, LA, and Brisbane. And so they go to the extra in style vacationer locations like Tahiti or Fiji; locations with airports and cruise ports. Certain – these are nonetheless small South Pacific islands, however they’ve the infrastructure to welcome 1000’s of passengers from huge cruise ships.

Most South Pacific cruises don’t go to distant, tiny islands like Loh Island. Those with no tourism, motels, electrical energy, or plumbing. And that’s precisely the place I needed to set foot…onto the South Pacific Islands which can be arduous (if not inconceivable) 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 truly gives expedition-type journey to locations which can be almost inconceivable 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 permits for the flexibleness to reply to the surroundings, wildlife, and different journey elements. It’s typically finished by small ship as a result of it’s often the one technique to get to actually distant locations. An expedition cruise seems 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 aren’t any shore excursions; it’s extra unpredictable and rugged in a manner. 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 a lot of days the place flexibility was needed and we went manner 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 important to be rigidly versatile to do an expedition journey.

Hearken to the Novice 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 complete group of islands within the Pacific Ocean that consists of three areas; Micronesia, Melanesia, and Polynesia.

South Pacific Map
MAP Map offered by @Kahuroa

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

To provide 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 without doubt one of the prime birding locations on the planet with over 501 endemic birds and it’s dwelling to the Coral Triangle which comprises at the least 500 species of reef-building corals and is without doubt one of the eight main coral reef zones on the planet.

After which there’s the rationale I cruised by Melanesia – the tradition. It is without doubt one of the most culturally advanced areas on the planet. The islands have over 1000 languages! The locals reside in villages devoid of recent conveniences (besides cell telephones), depend on the sources of the land, journey by canoe, protect their historical past by oral traditions, and foster tight-knit communities centered round household ties and elders. They interact in commerce utilizing shells and pigs, take part in elaborate ceremonies, perform sure unsettling rituals, and, at occasions, uphold the observe of a ‘bride value.’

South Pacific culture

Melanesia is without doubt one of the final locations on earth the place you’ll get to expertise these items of their purest type.

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

Journey the South Pacific and also you’ll most positively hear terrifying tales of headhunters. It’s the place among the final headhunting tribes had been discovered. Traditionally it was a land of warring tribes and cannibalism. Despite the fact that 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-Form 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 characterize varied 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 fabricated 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 other people of the South Pacific

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

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

Every single day we stopped at totally different island communities and had an opportunity to work together with the locals. I don’t suppose it could be potential to go to all of those islands by yourself. Nonetheless, with Heritage Expeditions it was straightforward to traverse these little-known islands in a comparatively brief time period.

Sepik River Papua New Guinea – Land of the Crocodile

As we landed our zodiacs in Kopar village the children and villagers waved a welcome to us. The villagers carried out three totally 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 very good have a look at us…the guests.

Very similar to journey to India – it’s important to be snug with being stared at whereas doing South Pacific journey.

Along with the flowery 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 convey their crafts to Kopar to fulfill (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 neighborhood 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 youngsters lined up on the seashore singing and dancing wildly with an accompaniment of a heavy drum beat.

The neighborhood even welcomed us into the village by way of a ceremonial ‘ribbon chopping’ (twine chopping). It was a beautiful ‘Western world’ welcome to a really historic 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 fabricated from bushes, leaves, flowers, and shells actually dropped from the bushes and hopped round leaving the whole crowd in giggles.

Nissan Island Papua New Guinea – Assembly Forest Spirits

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

Despite the fact that it was a Sunday and usually a quiet day the whole 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 picket masks.

The native youngsters giggled and screamed as the boys danced round with spears wanting ominous. These dances didn’t solely carry out for us – the guests – but in addition for the native individuals and children with the intention to train the traditions to the youthful generations within the village. I got here to be taught that our visits had been an necessary a part of this passing down of information to the whole village. Typically tourism could be damaging, 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, stunned me.

Remnants of the struggle had been scattered all through the village on Nissan Island, because it had been dwelling 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 cherished Coke, and inevitably some bottles had 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 Struggle

Probably the most tragic islands in Papua New Guinea – Bougainville was a special kind of go to. I realized in regards to the tragic historical past of the latest civil struggle, which lasted for 10 years, and the underlying causes that sparked its initiation. The extended combating 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 heart of the tragedy. We witnessed the sad remnants of what stays and noticed the way it continues to affect the individuals and the surroundings as much as this present day. The locals interact in every 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 latest referendum through which they voted to interrupt away from PNG and type 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. Nonetheless, the thriving island was ultimately deserted. There are 3 potential causes: dysentery, headhunting, and curses – or possibly all of them?

For over 100 years, it has remained uninhabited and is presently managed as a conservation web site 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 the whole 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 possibly can 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. In addition they have unimaginable snorkeling simply offshore. Actually, it was most likely my favourite snorkeling of the whole journey.

We had been in a position to get ‘hands-on’ with two of the island’s most necessary animals – coconut crabs and endangered Inexperienced and Hawksbill turtles! We watched the rangers tag a turtle document its data after which launch it into the ocean. You could possibly see simply how a lot the rangers cherished their jobs and the island.

Coconut crabs disguise in bushes, caves, and within the floor. It’s the biggest terrestrial vertebrate on the planet weighing as much as 4 kg. And so they form of appear like big spiders…which is a bit terrifying! They will truly break right into a coconut and might carry coconuts as much as 3 miles. Surprisingly these crabs can’t swim, in order that they dwell 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; nonetheless, we had been there to fulfill 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 fulfill us and share their tradition. The Kwaio dwell in one of the 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 right down to the coast and meet us and the ship. They did demonstrations of their cooking, how they made handicrafts, and the Chief instructed us about their work to construct up sources for ladies and children within the village and extra.

Chief Esau Kwaio Tribe
Chief Esau Kwaio Tribe

Nonetheless, we additionally had a possibility to take part of their tune and dance rituals – however there was one catch. So as 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 boys of the island did the entire dances. After the festivities, we had 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 the entire youngsters out to work together with the foreigners. That is most likely the very best form of ‘social research’ the children might 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 Crimson Feather Hat

Nendö is the biggest of the Santa Cruz Islands, which mislead 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 street towards the center of the island. After we arrived it felt as if we had been in a ticker tape parade. Locals surrounded us on the street cheering our arrival.

They welcomed us with leis, coconuts, a good looking harmonious choir, and historic dances. Noipe organized a complete academic afternoon – it was my favourite village we visited. After the dances, they’d a dozen little huts arrange the place we might stroll in and find out about a selected 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 crimson feather hats.

Crimson Feather Hats

Nendo Red Feather Hat
Crimson Feather Hat

The crimson feather hat isn’t a hat in any respect. It stands as the one identified bird-based forex in human historical past. This Solomon Islands hat is usually 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 forex is absolutely arduous for me to understand – however I all the time welcome the possibility to find out about cultures totally different than mine.

The ‘hat’, known as a tevau, is definitely 50,000 to 60,000 itty bitty crimson feathers taken from the Scarlet Honeyeater chicken. 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 toes in size, it might take an individual over a yr to finish a full feather coil!

It achieved forex standing as a result of the islanders didn’t have entry to uncommon ores to make cash. As a substitute, individuals thought of scarlet honeyeater feathers as the final word hard-to-get useful resource. They used Tevau as funds made to a lady’s household throughout her marriage till the Eighties. I’m wondering if they’ve ever ceased utilizing them since we nonetheless noticed their manufacturing within the village as we speak.

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

I cherished Noipe, the individuals had been so type and so excited to have us go to. I walked away having realized a lot about their tradition and received to see one of the 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 a little bit decadence by indulging in champagne on Champagne Seaside in Vanuatu. This lovely seashore received its identify because of the volcanic gases that bubble up by the powdery white sand on the shoreline to make it appear and feel like champagne underneath your toes! Despite the fact that the skies appeared like nasty climate – we solely had solar on the seashore which made for a spectacular seashore and snorkeling morning.

Simply after 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 palms in several methods to slap, scoop, and displace the water iso that it that made notes and music. It was awe-inspiring.

Apparently, ladies realized 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 may make, and shortly they’d a ‘band’! Not solely did they current a water live performance, in addition they taught us how we might 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 necessary space throughout WWII. Lots of the allied forces, together with Individuals, had been stationed right here and constructed a good portion of the infrastructure that continues to be in place to this present day. We visited a lot of WWII websites and museums in addition to the native market.

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

Blue hole Vanuatu
Blue Gap

Every South Pacific Island we visited was totally different from the subsequent, however every felt untouched by time. By touring on the Heritage Adventurer it made navigating the distant South Pacific islands potential in 17 days. The Secrets and techniques of Melanesia Cruise is an ideal technique 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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Eagle Creek Packing Organizers

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Favourite Model – Girl Owned

Wallaroo Hats

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I really like all of their types and usually all the time have at the least 2 of their totally different hats with me on each journey I take! All of their types supply 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 modern types!

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Peak Design Tech Pouch

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Don’t overlook to get journey insurance coverage if you will this a part of the world. If you journey to some of 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, nonetheless all opinions expressed listed below are my very own.