19 Night Cruise sailing from Cairns to Singapore onboard Silver Explorer.
If you think Indonesia is all about Bali, then think again. Seemingly untouched by time, the Banda Islands, Buton Island, Belitung and Karimunjawa are examples of life beyond the tourist trail and offer a slice of local flavour that is untamed and unimaginable. A trip to meet the Asmat tribe of Papua New Guinea is surely a memory-making moment, to be discussed under the swaying palms of the Java Sea.
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.
Thursday Island, Australia
While it may not be the largest island - a taxi can take you on a bespoke tour of the entire island in less than an hour - Thursday Island is a vibrant jewel in Australia's crown. Located adrift from the northern tip of the Australian mainland, it's one of the tropical Torres Strait islands, which are scattered between the mainland and Papua New Guinea. A gaping deep water port means the location is ideal for fishing, but you'll have to avoid the temptation to swim in its idyllic seas - the waters are renowned for crocodiles, sharks and stingers.
Agats (Asmat), Indonesia
The Asmat is a region of nearly inaccessible forested wetland that has long sheltered Asmat tribes from outsiders. The village of Agats is the capital of the Asmat region. The homes, longhouses, shops, schools and religious centers of Agats are all located along elevated wooden and concrete boardwalks in the heart of a dense mangrove thicket. The Asmat Museum is a must-see. Here it is possible to dote over exceptional examples of the Asmat's renowned and vibrant woodcarving traditions. Elaborate displays of ancestor poles, drums, body masks, shields, daggers, and skulls, are reminders that headhunting and cannibalism were practiced here until the 1970s.
Triton Bay, Indonesia
In 2008, the Kaimana Regency declared a 6000 square kilometer (over 2,300 square mile) Marine Protected Area around the waters of Triton Bay. Conservation International maintains an office in Kaimana and a field station out in Triton Bay where visiting scientists can do their work studying the staggering marine biodiversity of the reserve. It is truly second to none, and the area offers everything from the tiniest pygmy seahorses, to large and graceful whale sharks. Triton Bay is known for its beautiful soft coral gardens as well as nesting green turtles, and a population of coastal Bryde's whales.
Banda Neira Island, Indonesia
Banda Neira is situated in a volcanic area and steam can occasionally be seen rising from the peak of neighboring Gunung Api. An eruption caused a lava flow here as recently as the 1980s. The town itself is historic and was wealthy in its heyday thanks to plentiful nutmeg, clove and pepper trees. The colonial buildings of Banda Neira are part of the charm of this administrative center of the Banda Islands a group of ten small volcanic islands. The remains of two impressive Dutch forts are on UNESCO's Tentative List to become a World Heritage Site along with the rest of the Banda Islands themselves.
Buton Island seems to be small compared to its neighbor Sulawesi, but with slightly more than 4,400 square kilometers (just under 1,700 square miles) it is Indonesia's 19th largest island. Much of the lowland consists of uplifted karst and other limestone formations. Due to its hilly topography it still has a considerable amount of forest most of it is seasonal tropical lowland forest with mangroves in coastal areas. Visitors to Bau-Bau, the main city on Buton Island, may well be welcomed with a mangaru, which is a welcome dance performed by three men to respect guests and to ward off enemies. Overlooking Bau-Bau is Benteng Keraton Buton, known as having been the seat of the sultan. Claiming to be the biggest fort in Indonesia and made of coral blocks, it commands an excellent view over the city and port and the sea beyond.
Belitung Islands, Indonesia
The island of Belitung is large, measuring roughly 4,500 square kilometer (1740 square miles). Along with neighbouring Bangka and the many other surrounding small islands this is not just an archipelago, but a substantial province of Indonesia. Belitung used to have many tin mines, but today the island is better known for its nature. The most distinct features of Belitung's many beaches are the fascinating granite rock formations along the shallow shores. These rocks can reach the size of houses and lie in bold contrast to the white sand. Swimming and snorkeling in the crystal clear waters reveals healthy corals and hundreds of fish.
Advanced, airy and elevated, Singapore is a spectacular, futuristic vision of utopian city life. A healthy population of almost six million call it home, but this is a city designed with space to breathe, and gorgeous outdoor parks, massive indoor greenhouses and beautiful recreational spaces spread between the City of Gardens' skyscrapers and soaring structures. Once a quiet fishing village, now a glistening island city-state and an international beacon of science, education and technology. Singapore is almost intimidatingly clean - and the hyper-efficient public transport system whips residents and visitors across the city's neighbourhoods in a heartbeat. Glorious fountains and audacious skyscrapers loom up - nodding to traditional feng shui beliefs - and putting on dazzling illuminated displays after dark.