On the idyllic islands scattered on the edge of the Coral Sea, the legends of headhunters, pearl divers, and World War II battles intersect with some of the most spectacular marine wildernesses on the planet. Board the new National Geographic Orion in the Solomon Islands for the second portion of its inaugural voyage and explore Papua New Guinea on the way to the Great Barrier Reef. Get to know the colorful music, dance, and handicraft traditions of the islands we visit, and snorkel or dive from the Trobriands to Lizard Island.
Snorkel or dive pristine Marovo Lagoon in the Solomons and spend three days discovering the magnificent Great Barrier Reef.
Meet the renowned woodcarvers of the Solomon Islands and experience exuberant festivities full of song and dance in Papua New Guinea.
Revisit World War II history on an excursion to Kennedy Island, the site of John F. Kennedy’s PT-109 rescue.
Learn the tale of Captain Cook as we follow in his wake from the Torres Strait to Lizard Island, where his ship was grounded on the reefs.
Itinerary - 14 Days
Days 1, 2, & 3 — U.S./Honiara, Solomon Islands
Depart for the Solomon Islands, crossing the international date line en route. In the capital city of Honiara, board the National Geographic Orion and enjoy a champagne welcome and inaugural festivities. (D)
Day 4 — Solomon Islands
The jungle-clad peaks and idyllic beaches of the Solomon Islands are an unlikely backdrop for the fierce battles that took place here during World War II. Today the islands are some of the least visited, most dive-worthy islands in the South Pacific. Discover the bird life of Kennedy Island, named after John F. Kennedy, who swam ashore here after his PT-109 boat was sunk during the war. Snorkel, dive, or kayak Marovo Lagoon, one of the world’s largest double barrier-enclosed lagoons, and admire the intricate work of local woodcarvers. (B,L,D)
Days 6, 7, & 8 — Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea is a patchwork of mountains and jungle, home to some 700 Papuan and Melanesian tribes, each with its own language. On Kitava in the Trobriands hundreds of villagers gather to welcome us with great festivity, dancing, singing, and chanting. At the former trading post of Samarai, discover the island’s history of colonists, missionaries, and headhunters. Throughout our time here, we’ll swim, snorkel, and beachcomb amid picture-perfect tropical scenery. (B,L,D)
Days 9 & 10 — At Sea/Torres Strait and Thursday Island, Australia
Cross the Coral Sea into the Torres Strait, where Captain Cook sailed aboard the H.M.S. Endeavour during his first Pacific voyage. On Thursday Island, hear harrowing tales of the pearl industry that once burgeoned here on a walk through the pearlers’ cemetery, or take in the view from Lions Lookout. (B,L,D)
Days 11 & 12 — Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef
Trace the Great Barrier Reef south to Lizard Island, where the Endeavour ran aground on the corals in 1770, before Captain Cook successfully completed his voyage. Enjoy a day of snorkeling or diving among the coral gardens that surround Lizard Island National Park. Learn about the importance of the island to the native Dingaal people, and retrace Cook’s steps to “Cook’s Look,” where he plotted his route out of the reefs. Then sail to a remote section of the reef and discover a thrilling array of marine life. (B,L,D)
Days 13 & 14 — Cairns/U.S.
Disembark in Cairns, located in northeastern Queensland. Explore its tropical setting and spend the night at a lovely seaside hotel before your flight home the following day. (B)