Pacific Explorer


Pacific Explorer

Style: PioneerGroundbreaking tours to unique destinations
Duration: 27 days
Type: GroupTravel with a small group of other travellers

Dossier

A unique opportunity to explore an amazing array of islands in the Pacific, which are some of the least visited nations and territories in the world, including Wallis & Futuna, Pohnpei and Kiribati. Though many of the 9 islands we discover can be visited individually, this is a rare chance to be able to explore the wider region, taking in Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. This is a tour for real travellers -- those who have a passion for exploration and discovery -- those who seek an adventure that is off the 'tourist trail' to places where few have been before. You should not come looking for 5-star resorts and high-speed wi-fi. Just be sure to come with a true sense of adventure and a great travel spirit.


Tour Rating

Fitness ●●●○○ | Off the Beaten Track ●●●●○ | Culture ●●●●○ | History ●●●○○○ | Wildlife ●○○○○

Tour Pace

Moderate

Tour Highlights

  • A comprehensive exploration of some of the smallest and most remote countries in the world
  • Explore Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia
  • Experience the diversity of the Pacific cultures
  • Be one of only a couple of dozen English speakers to travel to Wallis & Futuna a year

Tour Essentials
Accommodation: Comfortable tourist class hotels, with en-suite bathrooms, plus 2 nights traditional style ‘buias’ (bungalows) with shared bathroom in North Tarawa, Kiribati
Included Meals: Meals as shown in the itinerary; breakfast (B), lunch (L), dinner (D)
Group Size: Maximum 6
Start Point: Nadi, Fiji
End Point: Nadi, Fiji
Transport: Regional flights, minibuses or private cars
Countries: Fiji, Wallis & Futuna, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Nauru (transit stop, without leaving the airport), Pohnpei (Federal States of Micronesia), Kiribati, Samoa

Tour Itinerary Notes

While our intention is to adhere to the day-by-day itinerary as advised below, a degree of flexibility is built in. Overnight stops may vary from those suggested and on occasions alternative accommodation, of a similar standard to that named below, will be used.

The itinerary as described below is very dependent on current flight schedules, and in some cases these may only be fully confirmed within a few months of travel. On some routes flights may only operate once or twice a week. Should the days of operation change then this will have an impact on the overall itinerary and inadvertently the programme will need to be revised. We will do our best to visit each island nation named below, but we reserve the right to substitute some of the destinations, with one or more other island nations.

Tour Guide

Our guides are a key strength, chosen for their knowledge of and passion for the areas in which they work. All of our guides are carefully hand-picked, and are not just passing through these countries, but are usually locally born. Unlike some companies it should be noted we do not send a guide or tour leader from Undiscovered Destinations in the UK as we have every confidence in our locally appointed representative who is responsible for operating the tour on our behalf.

It should be noted that a different guide will be allocated in each island nation. The group will not be accompanied throughout and will fly between each island without a guide. On arrival at each destination the group will be met and transferred to the hotel. On occasions you will be met by your guide. Alternatively upon check-in at the hotel you will be given a ‘welcome letter’ with details about when and where to meet your guide for a tour briefing.

In the event of any flight delays or cancellations, our partner in Kiribati who is responsible for overseeing the complete itinerary, will contact the group accordingly, provide full assistance and manage any changes.

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.

Fiji

The town of Nadi was established in 1947 as a "Government Station" on the higher grounds of Nadi, and established itself as Fiji’s tourist hub in the 1960s. For most travellers Nadi is a transit point for other destinations in Fiji and in our case is the start and end point of exploration of the Pacific. Depending on the date and time of your arrival, we can arrange optional activities and guided services in Fiji, not included as part of the tour, given that our tour focuses on some of the more isolated island nations.

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 Lomipeau. (B.D)

Wallis & Futuna

These two little-known French-funded volcanic specks lie smack in the centre of the Polynesia/Melanesia region. Wallis and Futuna, which lie 230km away from each other, are linked through French governance but that is where the connection ceases: Wallis has ancestral connections with Tonga, while Futuna traces its roots to Samoa. This is evident in the languages, which are quite different although mutually comprehensible, as well as the Samoan-like tapa designs of the Futunans and the Tongan-influenced designs found around Wallis. The two islands remain competitive with each other, but Wallis, being more populous (around 10,750 residents) and the centre of government, retains the upper hand. Wallis will also be our base for our short stay.

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. In addition we will take a look at Mata’Utu, the country’s administrative and business centre. Overnight Hotel Lomipeau. (2 nights – B.L.D)

Day 3 - Round the Island tour including lake and visit the Tongan Ruins.

Day 4 - Church history tour and picnic lunch

Day 5 – Wallis & Futuna to Noumea, New Caledonia

After breakfast there will be a visit to the capital before an early light lunch. After lunch transfer to the airport for a flight to Noumea. Overnight Hotel Le Lagon. (B.L)

Upon arrival in Noumea transfer to our hotel.

New Caledonia

The third largest island in the Pacific after Papua New Guinea and New Zealand, New Caledonia, a dependent overseas territory of France is only 1,500 km east off the coast of Australia. Seeing this "terra incognita" in 1774, the British navigator James Cook found a similarity between the mountainous terrain of the Grande Terre and his native Scotland, whose former name was "Caledonia." From coast to coast, New Caledonia, stretches some 500 kilometres passing through the archipelago of Loyalty Islands, and is home to surprising and remarkably diverse landscapes. Principally a beach destination New Caledonia is a charming mix of French and Melanesian: warm hospitality sitting alongside European elegance, gourmet food served beneath palm trees, sand, resorts, and bungalows. Long gorgeous beaches form a backdrop to cafes and bars, with horizons displaying tiny islets, all of which attract day trippers.

Noumea

With its cheerful multi-ethnic community, New Caledonia’s cosmopolitan capital is sophisticated and uncomplicated, classy and casual. The relaxed city sits on a large peninsula, surrounded by picturesque bays, and offers visitors a variety of experiences. Diners can eat out at sassy French restaurants hidden in Quartier Latin, dine at bold water-fronting bistros or grab a bargain meal from a nocturnal van in a car park.

Day 6 – Noumea Discovery day tour

Today we start with a tour of the city and a stop at the market before driving to the Tjibaou Cultural Centre for a 3.5hr guided tour. We visit the main points of interest including the Place d’Cocotilers, and some of the city’s museums including the Museum of New Caledonia and the Maritime History Museum. Overnight Hotel Le Lagon. (B)

Day 7 – Noumea to Port Vila, Vanuatu

We take an early 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. In the afternoon enjoy a city tour taking in the main points of interest including Vanuatu’s National Museum, where you can discover the Ni-Vanuatu art of storytelling through sand drawings and visit their 24hour main market. Overnight Holiday Inn Hotel.

Vanuatu

With a population of approximately 221,000, Vanuatu boasts 113 distinct languages and innumerable dialects. This makes it one of the most culturally diverse countries on earth, a result of thousands of years of sporadic immigration from many Pacific countries.  Over the millennia, natural boundaries such as large open stretches of water, dense jungle and mountainous terrain, isolated many groups from each other, even those from the same ethnic origins. And isolation bred not just warfare, but quite different, sophisticated societies and political systems.

Day 8 – Full Day Island Tour of Efate

After breakfast we depart for a full day circular tour of the island. Our first stop is at Iarofa Custom 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 at Holiday Inn Hotel. (B.L)

Day 9 – Full Day Tour to Artok

Full day tour to Artok (a World Heritage Site)– the revered mass burial site of Chief Roi Mata and the 50+ individuals who accompanied him to the afterlife.  After Roi Mata’s burial around 400 years ago a prohibition was imposed on the island preventing people from residing there.  The maintenance of this prohibition over four centuries has led to the development of a unique biodiversity on the islands, where a number of rare and endemic plant and animal species have found refuge.  Visitors will be treated to an exclusive day-long adventure that will provide people with an appreciation of the World Heritage values of this spectacular island and its rich cultural and environmental history.

Highlights:

* The breath-taking beauty of Artok’s rich cultural landscape, protected by custom law for over 400 years

* The mass burial site of the great Chief Roi Mata, buried with over 50 members of his family and court.

* A guided tour through an ancient rainforest, unique to Vanuatu

* Fels cave – where the great chief took his last breath; and ancient rock paintings

* Scenic boat trips to and from the World Heritage sites

* BBQ Lunch included

Overnight Holiday Inn hotel. (B.L)

Day 10 – Port Vila to Tanna Island & Lowinio Traditional Village tour

After an early breakfast transfer to the airport for the morning flight to Tanna Island. The flight to Tanna Island takes in spectacular views of Port Vila Harbour, South Efate and Erromango with its beautiful coastline (clouds permitting).

On arrival we will be met and taken to our accommodation to check in and refresh before setting out to visit Lowinio, a village of the Yakel tribe and of cultural interest.  Untouched by western influence for thousands of years this primitive friendly village will capture your hearts and imagination as they step you back in time to discover what few tourists in the world get to experience.

Return to hotel with the remainder of the afternoon and afternoon at leisure. Overnight Evergreen Resort. (B.L.D)

Day 11 – Tanna Ultimate Volcano Safari

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, and unspoiled corners of the globe. Late evening return to our accommodation at Evergreen Resort. (B.L.D)

Day 12 – World’s Largest Banyan & Beach Picnic tour

After breakfast visit the World’s largest Banyan Tree.  Over 200m around its girth this tree and environment is not be missed.  Welcome to swing within it on its immense vines before heading back down over white beaches for a picnic lunch.  Later we return to your hotel with the remainder of the day at own leisure. Overnight Evergreen Resort. (B.L.D)

As part of this morning’s excursion there is an option for a visit to the Blue Cave for those confident in water and competent in swimming as entry is only by sea. This can be done before or after the Banyan Tree and beach picnic.  As this activity is weather dependent it can only be confirmed on the day. Please advise your guide before leaving the hotel if you are interested.

Day 13 – Tanna Island to Port Vila

Breakfast at the hotel before a transfer to the airport for the morning flight back Port Vila. On arrival transfer to the hotel. Enjoy this day at your own leisure. Alternatively in the afternoon and evening there is an opportunity to visit the nearby downtown area for shopping or for a stroll with options to try the famed Vanuatu beef or eat at an iconic Ni-van place like L’Houstalet and try a local delicacy like flying fox (fruitbat).

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, at own expense, before taking an afternoon drive to the west of the Capital. Overnight Coral Sea Resort & Casino.

Solomon Islands

Just 9 degrees south of the equator, the Solomon Islands are comprised of 992 islands, of which 147 are inhabited. These islands stretch 900 miles in a south-easterly direction from the Shortland Islands, on the border with Papua New Guinea, to the Santa Cruz Islands, which border Vanuatu. The archipelago covers an area of 461,000 sq. km made up of deeply forested mountainous islands and low-lying coral atolls.

The Solomon Islands are part of the Melanesian group of islands that also includes Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, and Fiji.  Archaeological and linguistic evidence shows that hunters and gatherers from Southeast Asia first settled the Solomon Islands, with seafarers following later, and it is believed that early Papuan speaking settlers began arriving around 3,000 BC. Austronesian speakers arrived in 4,000 BC.

Today between 70 and 80 percent of the population live a subsistence way of life, often away from the main urban centres. The number of local languages listed for the Solomon Islands is greater than 75. Communal, clan and family ties remain strong in these islands with the existence of the Wantok system. A key part of the Melanesian culture, Wantok means people from the same language groups who are blood relatives and part of the extended family, support and assist one another. Traditional practices are still being followed, especially by those living in the interior of the country's larger islands. Off the beaten path, village life remains much as it has been for centuries. Entering the totally unique environment of the islands of the Solomons is a richly rewarding experience. Without doubt, this is one of the few remaining truly unspoilt tourist destinations left in the world.

Day 15 –Honiara City Tour & Polynesian village.

The 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. Return to our hotel or to another venue for lunch before the afternoon tour.

After lunch, you will visit the Red Beach and Polynesian village; this will give you an insight to the day to day living of the Polynesian people of the Solomons.  On our way, back there is an opportunity to stop at Betikama School and a carving shop.

Rooms will be available until departure for airport towards midnight. Coral Sea Resort & Casino. (B.L)

Day 16 – Honiara to Pohnpei, Micronesia, via Nauru

We take an overnight flight the Solomon Islands 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 Pohnpei, capital of the Federated States of Micronesia. On arrival, we will be met and transferred to our hotel. In the afternoon take a tour to Ildiduhniap Falls, Kolonia (past ruins of the Spanish Wall and German Bell tower) and visit Kapinga village known for its traditional handicrafts.  Continue to Sokehs Ridge – part of Pohnpei’s iconic landmark and return to the hotel for dinner. Overnight Palms Hotel. (D)

Pohnpei

Located about halfway between Honolulu and Manila, Pohnpei, the seat of the capital of the 4 island states that make up the Federated Sates of Micronesia, lies in the middle of the Eastern Caroline Islands.  It is the largest of the islands with a towering rugged interior of volcanic origin, and a barrier reef enclosing an intertidal lagoon and mangrove fringes.  Pohnpei has a population of approximately 34,000 mostly engaged in subsistence agriculture and a variety of small agricultural and handicraft production.  Pohnpei’s pepper is regarded as the finest in the world.  The most intriguing of all of Pohnpei’s spectacles are the ruins of Nan

Madol, an ancient Venice-like city which is made up of some 92 man made islets, commenced around 500AD with some of the building being dated to as recently as 1500AD.  Being one of the islands after Kauai for having one of the highest annual rainfalls, Pohnpei is an island of waterfalls.  There are over 40 named falls including some ‘twin’ falls.

Day 17 – Circle Pohnpei Tour

Full day Circle Pohnpei Tour including picnic lunch.  On this scenic drive the stops include the ruins of Nan Madol, and Kepirohi Falls for lunch.  We will continue onto the College of Micronesia campus and the seat of the Government of the Federated States of Micronesia, Palikir; before heading back to venue for dinner and hotel for overnight. Overnight Palms Hotel. (B.L.D)

Day 18 – Pohnpei to Kiribati

This morning we take a very early morning early flight to Kiribati, another truly remote island nation, and one of the world’s smallest, 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 accommodation on North Tarawa. Relax and enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure. Overnight Tabon Te Kee Kee EcoLodge. (L.D)

Accommodation at Tabon Te Kee Kee consists of traditional style buias (huts) which offer simplistic, comfortable living. Each hut is a pandanus wood structure with a locally thatched roof and raised floor, ideally suited to the island climate with cooling ocean breezes and shade. Most buias are land-based. In addition there are 2 overwater buias to accommodate couples and larger parties which subject to availability maybe allocated to the group. Kindly note that we are unable to guarantee a particular type of buias in advance of your arrival.

Kiribati

The passing centuries have had little impact on Kiribati's outer islands, where people subsist on coconuts, and seafood. The country has a total land area of 800 sq. km (310 sq. mi) but, incredibly, its 33 atolls and islands are spread over 3.5 million sq. km (1,350,000 sq. mi) of ocean. In fact, Kiribati is the only country in the world to fall into all four hemispheres, straddling the equator and extending into the eastern and western hemispheres. Today’s climate change projections predict that the ocean could swallow this country whole by the end of the century.

Kiribati has been inhabited by Micronesians speaking the same Oceanic language thought to stretch as far back as 3000 BC. Throughout history arrivals from Samoa, Tonga, and Fiji have impacted the cultural landscape. Intermarriage tended to blur cultural differences and resulted in a significant degree of cultural homogenization. Within these islands a Micronesian culture developed, and it was also infused with elements from Polynesian and Melanesian societies. Chance visits by European ships occurred in the 17th and 18th centuries, as these ships attempted circumnavigation of the world, or sought sailing routes from the south to the north of the Pacific Ocean. Kiribati became independent from the United Kingdom in 1979, and today is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the IMF and the World Bank, and became a full member of the United Nations in 1999.

The population is just over 130,000, 2/3 of whom live on Tarawa Atoll. This is one of the world's poorest and least developed countries and has few natural resources. Commercially viable phosphate deposits were exhausted at the time of independence, and today copra and fish represent the bulk of production and exports. In one form or another, Kiribati earns a large portion of its income from abroad (fishing licenses, development assistance, and worker remittances.)

Day 19 – North Tarawa, Kiribati

After taking a very early flight from Pohnpei, today will be kept free for you to relax or to enjoy North Tarawa on your own at leisure. Overnight Tabon Te Kee Kee EcoLodge. (B.L.D)

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. A half day tour takes in all the points of interest and the main sites including the museum and Parliament House.  In the afternoon and subject to the water levels, we will make an excursion by traditional Te Wa-Kiribati canoe in the nearby lagoon.  In the event we are unable to do the canoe excursion on this day, we will try again the following day. Overnight Utirerei Hotel. (B.L.D)

Day 21 – South Tarawa, Kiribati

Today we enjoy a half day sightseeing tour to 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. In the evening experience traditional dance.  Overnight. Utirerei Hotel. (B.L.D)

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. (B)

Day 23 – Nadi, Fiji to Upolu, Samoa

Transfer to Nadi airport for a flight to Apia, the island of Upolu, Samoa. Upon our arrival we will be met and transferred to our hotel. Afternoon at own leisure without any activities arrangement. Overnight Tua O Mauga Lodge. (B.D)

Day 24 –Savaii, Samoa: Tour of Savaii, Samoa

Early pick up from “Tua o le Mauga Lodge” for departure on 08:00 ferry to Savai’i. On arrival in Savai’i start a combined tour of Southern and Northern areas of the island including lunch. Highlights of the Southern tour include the island’s colourful market, Taga Blowholes and surrounding area, tapa making demonstration and Afua’au falls. Highlights of the Northern tour include the lava fields and old buildings destroyed by the lava, turtle sanctuary and endemic birds. Continue to hotel and check-in. Overnight Stevenson Manase Resort. (B.L.D)

Day 25 –: Apia, Upolu Samoa

Drop off at Salelaloga for the morning ferry back to Apia, Upolu. On arrival in Apia transfer to Taumeasina Island Resort’s restaurant for a traditional Samoan lunch. After lunch we visit Sua Ocean Trench in Lotofaga Village.  ‘Sua’ translates as ‘big hole’ – here we will see a natural deep swimming hole surrounded by lush tropical foliage. 

This beautiful scenic drive follows the North East coast of Upolu passing the spectacular Falefa Falls and through the Le Mafa Pass (1700ft above sea level) which has breathtaking views of the East and South coastlines.  The scenic drive takes us through lush green forests, waterfalls, plantations and traditional Samoan villages.  Enroute we stop for a viewing of the famous To Sua Ocean Trench in Lotofaga Village.  To Sua translate as ‘big hole’ – here you will see a natural deep swimming hole surrounded by lush tropical foliage.  Access to the water is via a long ladder giving you the opportunity to swim should they wish to do so.  Continuing on, we then stop at the beautiful white sand Faofao beach with a chance to relax and take in the magnificent surroundings.  We then begin our return trip following the scenic South West Coast and over the cross-Island path where you will experience the lush tropical rain forests.  Our last stop is Papapaiatai Falls, which spectacularly drops into a dormant volcanic crater.  We then pass the Bahai temple experiencing great views as we descend towards Apia. Overnight Tanoa Tusitala. (B.L.D)

Day 26 –: Apia Upolu, Samoa to Nadi, Fiji

In the morning we explore Apia on a guided 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 Samoa. After lunch (at own expense) we transfer to the airport for our afternoon flight to Nadi, Fiji. Upon arrival transfer to our hotel for the last night of the tour. Overnight Tanoa International Hotel. (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 (B)

Inclusions:
Arrival and departure transfers
All accommodation
Transport throughout
Services of local English speaking guides
All regional flights – as referred to in the itinerary
Meals as listed (B – Breakfast, L – Lunch, D – Dinner)
Entrance fees for sites listed as part of the itinerary

Excluded:
International flights – to/from Nadi, Fiji, to coincide with the start and end of the tour
Items of a personal nature
Travel Insurance
Visas
Drinks
Tips (discretionary)