16 Night Cruise sailing from Cairns to Lautoka onboard Silver Explorer.
If the Great Barrier Reef was not already on your bucket list, then it is now. Join us as we follow the coral south to Middleton Reef and deep dive - literally - into an underwater world of prismatic beauty. If all the subaquatic activity gets too much for you, then you'll enjoy the spectacular traditional dances on Vanuatu's black-beached terra firma. A tale of islands in the blue, this is a true voyage to the ends of the earth.
Highlights of this cruise:
Tourism is the lifeblood of Cairns (pronounced Caans). The city makes a good base for exploring the wild top half of Queensland, and tens of thousands of international travelers use it as a jumping-off point for activities such as scuba diving and snorkeling trips to the Barrier Reef, as well as boating, fishing, parasailing, scenic flights, and rain-forest treks.It's a tough environment, with intense heat and fierce wildlife.
Whitsundays (Hardy Reef), Australia
Hardy Reef is one of the many thousands of small reefs that make up the Great Barrier Reef and lies just off the Whitsundays coast of Australia. The coral wall of Hardy is home to an ecosystem of magnificent corals and marine life. Hundreds of fish species here will surprise and delight. Visitors have specific protected areas where they can swim and snorkel and marvel at the many underwater wonders, amongst them the giant groupers. There are other reef options in the area for swimming and snorkelling in the best possible location based on sea conditions.
Capricornia Cays National Park, Australia
The Capricorn Group and Bunker Group are two groups of islands and reefs extending parallel to Queensland's coast some 80 kilometers northeast of Gladstone. These two groups are protected as the Capricornia Cays National Park. At the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, the beauty of the Capricorn-Bunker group of islands was one of the reasons the Great Barrier Reef was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Area in 1981. The natural integrity of the heavily vegetated cays contrasting with the blue reef waters and white coral sands is visually impressive, but these cays and islands are also important for seabirds and turtles. The park contains the most important offshore loggerhead turtle rookery on Australia's east coast and research stations on Heron Island and One Tree monitor the conditions on land and in the sea.
Mystery Island, Vanuatu
Inyeug Island, better known as Mystery Island, is part of the Tafea Province of Vanatu, the southernmost collection of islands. This is a picturesque island with large rounded cliffs jutting from the water. The cliffs create protected lagoons with some of the lightest, clearest waters in the world. The island is, with the exception of an airstrip used twice weekly, made up entirely of beaches and reefs. This place is ideal for relaxing, swimming and snorkelling in the tranquil waters, where many diverse tropical fishes hide between the corals.
Waisisi (Tanna), Vanuatu
Waisisi is a bay and a village located on Tanna's eastern shore. The black sandy beach - an indication of the volcanic activity of the island- and the lush forest belie the fact that this has been an important site in the White Sands region. A famous war was fought here and a tree planted to mark the end of it can still be seen. This area is also home to the John Frum Cargo Cult. Waisisi will be the gateway to see Mount Yasur -the most accessible explosive volcano in the world. Locals believe their spirit god dwells in there so it is a sacred place to the local tribes. The volcanic firework display at sunset is awe-inspiring.
Ambrym Island, Vanuatu
Unlike Espiritu Santo with its raised coral reefs and white sand, Ambrym is a volcanically active island with dark sand beaches. Ambrym is known as the island of magic and is the source of five local languages that all evolved on Ambrym. This handful of languages contributes to the well over 100 languages of Vanuatu. Some of Ambrym's magic takes place in the lush greenery of the local community of Ranon. Here the people perform a very special and traditional 'Rom' dance. Participants prepare their masks and costumes in secrecy and the dance is reserved for special occasions.
North of Nadi through sugarcane plantations and past the Sabeto Mountains is Lautoka, nicknamed the Sugar City for the local agriculture and its big processing mill. With a population of around 50,000, it's the only city besides Suva and, like the capital, has a pleasant waterfront. It's the sailing point for Blue Lagoon and Beachcomber Cruises but is otherwise unremarkable for tourists, itself having few hotels and fewer good restaurants. Locals recommend the city as a less-expensive place to shop for clothing, but note that it can take as long as 45 minutes to drive here.