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Join a unique cruise to discover the hidden gems of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands aboard the Spirit of Enderby.

This 14 day expedition cruise visits the remote and relatively undiscovered islands of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, where once-in-a-lifetime birdwatching and fascinating culture awaits. Bird highlights of the trip include the Manus friarbird, Mussau monarch and the paradise drongo, as well as endemics of the Solomon Islands including Roviana rail and Solomon sea eagle. For those with a keen interest in birdwatching, there is a specialised birding programme available. Aside from the spectacular birdlife, Melanesia boasts incredible marine life, with crystal clear waters for snorkelling and kayaking. 

The tour begins in the culturally rich Sepik River, before sailing across the Bismarck Sea to the remote shores of Manus and Mussau Islands. With the lowest population densities of New Guinea, delve into the region’s history and learn about the traditional lifestyle of the locals. Cross the Buka Channel to Nissan Island to view the reminders of World War II, before visiting the long isolated Bougainville Island. Finally, sail through the Solomon Islands, where there are opportunities for landings, village visits and snorkelling in the pristine, turquoise waters. 

Typical itinerary

  1. Day 1: Arrive Madang, Papua New Guinea

    On arrival at the port town of Madang, transfer to the Madang Resort for your first night. In the evening, enjoy a welcome dinner with your fellow travellers and the expedition team at the resort.

    Accommodation: Madang Resort, 1-night

  2. Day 2: Madang, board Spirit of Enderby

    Situated on a picturesque peninsula, surrounded by islands and waterways, Madang has a thriving community renowned for its traditional artists, and the richness of the surrounding forests. The day begins with a visit to Lababia Wildlife Management Area with its tall forest and richly diverse wildlife, before returning to Madang to explore the markets with your guides. Birders in the group will leave much earlier for a morning birding excursion, before meeting up with the rest of the group in Madang.

    In the afternoon, board your cruise vessel – the Spirit of Enderby, settle into your cabin, and join your captain and the expedition team on the bridge as you set sail.

    Accommodation: Spirit of Enderby, 12-nights

  3. Day 3: Sepik River

    Today, the day is spent exploring the Sepik River - Papua New Guinea’s longest river, which flows from the highlands to the Bismarck Sea. The Sepik River is Papua New Guinea's equivalent to the Amazon and it is the people of the Sepik that makes this region an exciting and fascinating place to visit. Locals are unique in their belief in the spirit world with its mythical stories and rituals. Travel by Zodiac boats up the tributaries and channels in search of local wildlife, and meet the villagers who are known for their traditional artwork.

  4. Days 4-5 : Manus Province

    The little known area of Manus Province is considered a jewel in the crown of Papua New Guinea. Due its biological isolation, the islands are home to vast numbers of endemic species, and the two days spent exploring the islands are likely to be the birding highlights of the expedition. The smallest province in Papua New Guinea, Manus Province is made up of a group of 18 islands - also know as the Admiralty Islands - and is located in the Bismarck Archipelago, as well as Wuvulu Island and atolls to the west. The largest island is Manus Island, which consists of lowland tropical rainforest, and is home to the endemic emerald green snail. 

    On your first day in the province, visit the small and relatively unexplored island of Bipi to meet the local people. For those interested in kayaking, there will be an opportunity to explore the pristine waters that surround Manus and Bipi, which offer the region’s best snorkelling.

  5. Day 6: Mussa Island

    To the north of New Ireland, and considered a separate bio-region, Mussa Island is one of the western-most extensions of the Lapita culture. Spend the day exploring the island, and learn about the culture of the villagers who live on this remote pacific outpost. There are excellent kayaking opportunities today, and a chance to see turtles. 

  6. Day 7: Kavieng, New Ireland

    At the northern end of New Ireland is the historic town of Kavieng – a developing hub for tourism due to its rich diversity on both land and sea. This morning the birders in the group leave early for the highlands to the south, while the rest of the group explore Kavieng to learn about the Malagan culture, and enjoy the beautiful islands nearby. Later in the day, there will be kayaking and snorkelling opportunities in the clear waters of the local reefs. 

  7. Day 8: Rabaul, East New Britain

    The province of East New Britain offers some great birdwatching and trekking, with its rainforests, rugged mountains and imposing volcanoes. We will visit Rabaul, built on the crest of dormant Mount Tavurvur. See its bubbling hot springs, and enjoy the magnificent views from the harbour and volcanoes from Observatory Ridge. Take a tour of the site of the volcanic eruption that all but destroyed the town back in 1994. 

    During our visit to East Britain, we will see the underground bunker that was the hiding place of Pearl Harbour commander Yamamoto during World War II.

    In the afternoon, head towards the Duke of York Islands to enjoy the kayaking and snorkelling opportunities. 

  8. Day 9: Nissan Island

    Nissan Island is the largest of the Green Islands which lie approximately 200 kilometres east of Rabaul in the tropical waters of the Buka Channel. The island’s surrounding waters have rich currents which carry an abundance of marine life across the pristine coral reefs. Ashore, there are reminders of World War II events, when the islands were recaptured by New Zealand. During your time on land, you can meet the friendly locals and explore the dense woods for the fascinating, yet elusive birds which reside here. There will be opportunities for snorkelling and kayaking to discover the colourful reefs that surround Nissan Island.

  9. Day 10: Bougainville Island

    Bougainville is the largest island in the Solomon Islands archipelago, and is known as the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, which is part of Papua New Guinea. Bougainville is a long-isolated and protected island due to past conflict, and forms a single landmass with the nearby island of Buka, separated by a deep 300-metre strait. There are several active, dormant and inactive volcanoes which rise to 2400 metres, including Mount Bagana in the north-central part of the island which often throws out smoke visible for many kilometres.

    Since the signing of a peace agreement in 2001, the island is re-emerging as a newly vibrant and pristine paradise, home to some of the greatest biodiversity in the region. Spend the day exploring the area around Arawa including the Bougainville Copper Mine site, and the island’s interior and reefs. 

  10. Day 11: Choiseul Island

    Today, your first day on the Solomon Islands, visit the remote northern coast of Choiseul. Choiseul Island, also known by its native name of Lauru, is the largest island of the Choiseul Province in the Solomon Islands. The island is densely forested and mountainous, and the highest point is Mount Maetambe at 3,500 metres above sea level.

    Once the home of the Choiseul crested pigeon, explore the forest in search of numerous bird species. Transfer to zodiac boats, and travel deep into the mangrove forest to the Sui River Falls, where you may encounter crocodiles, or possibly dugong. Visit the site where Kisa shell money was manufactured, where it is still valued and protected by the village elders to this day.

  11. Day 12: New Georgia Islands

    In the western province of the Solomon Islands, visit the New Georgia volcanic islands where there are an array of fascinating reefs and lagoons to discover. Land on Kolombangara Island to visit a reserve protecting the islands central peak, and search for the rare Roviana Rail, and other endemics. For those interested in the marine environment, the surrounding waters are known for World War II wrecks, and diversity of fish along the reefs. 

  12. Day 13: Santa Isabel Island

    The Arnavon Islands, situated north-west of Santa Isabel, are within an area rich in marine biodiversity and one of the most important rookeries in the western Pacific for the endangered hawksbill turtle. The islands also support a variety of terrestrial fauna, including 41 species of bird, six species of bat and at least seven species of reptile. The snorkelling around the islands is superb due to its protected marine life, and is an excellent place to explore by kayak.

  13. Day 14: Disembark Honiara

    As the end of the cruise approaches, the Spirit of Enderby docks in Honiara, on the northern coast of Guadalcanal. Situated by the Manatiko River, Honiara has a rich history dating back to the Second World War. Honiara was witness to the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, where allied forces overcame the Japanese invasion. During your stay visit the Henderson Airfield, war memorials or the open-air war museum.

    Early in the morning, the birders among the group head to the rainforested slopes of Mount Austen in search of a range of spectacular birds including the Solomon sea eagle. The group then disembark in Honiara to transfer to an overnight hotel or straight to the airport for a flight home.

You should note: The above itinerary is for guidance only – programmes may vary depending on local weather conditions, the availability of landing sites and opportunities to see wildlife. The final itinerary will be determined by the expedition leader on board. A Discovery Fund fee of US$600pp is payable on board the vessel, which supports local projects within the area ensuring the longevity and success of educational, environmental and cultural initiatives in the region.

Key info

  • Duration and price excluding international flights: 14 days from £6,720 pp
  • Group size: 50
  • Departures:
  • Included in the price/package:
    • 12 nights on board Spirit of Enderby
    • All meals on board
    • 1 night hotel accommodation on half board basis
    • Transfers
    • Shore excursions and activities
    • Additional Discovery Fund payable on board: US$600 pp
    • Birding supplement: US$500 pp
    • Kayaking supplement: US$995 pp
  • Activities available:
    • Boat trip
    • Culture
Featured locations:

New Ireland – Kavieng

Kavieng, the capital of Papua New Guinea's New Ireland province, is known for its ancient Malagan culture, breathtaking scenery, beautiful beaches and prolific dive sites, which include both natural sites and also a number of wrecks dating back from the Second World War.

  • Where: North-eastern Province
  • Excellent for: Beach stay, History & culture

East New Britain

One of the few places in the world where you can get up close and personal with an active volcano; Rabaul is built on the crest of dormant Mount Tavurvur, and has one of the world’s deepest harbours. Rabaul is also known for its scuba diving and snorkelling sites and its diverse flora and fauna.

  • Where: East New Britain Province
  • Ideal for viewing: spinner dolphin, orange-footed scrubfowl, blue-eyed cockatoo, southern cassowary, Papuan frogmouth

Highlands & Sepik River

At 1,126 kilometres, the Sepik River is Papua New Guinea's equivalent to the Amazon and it is the people of the Sepik that makes this region an exciting and fascinating place to visit. Life revolves around the river, and locals are unique in their belief in the spirit world with its mythical stories and rituals.

  • Where: Central Highlands
  • Ideal for viewing: dwarf cassowary, Gurney’s eagle, twelve-wired bird of paradise, king bird of paradise, white-eared catbird
  • Excellent for: River safaris
This itinerary is available on the following cruise vessel:

Spirit of Enderby

The ice-strengthened Spirit of Enderby accommodates a maximum of 50 passengers in comfortable twin cabins, all of which have an outside view. She makes an ideal expedition vessel for visiting remote locations such as the Kamchatka Peninsula or the South Pacific in search of wildlife.