19 Night Cruise sailing from Darwin to Apra onboard Silver Explorer.
They may be hard to get to, but the lesser-known islands of Indonesia and Micronesia are well worth it. Experience cultures and traditions that make up the beating heart of the region - get off the beaten track with a Zodiac trip to Agats and (hopefully) meet the reclusive Asmat tribe, learn the near-forgotten art of traditional sailing in Yap and if luck is on our side, swim with harmless whale sharks in Papua New Guinea.
Highlights of this cruise:
Australia's capital of the north is a uniquely tropical city, and a historically isolated outpost of this vast, diverse country. Reaching up towards the equator, a full 2,000 miles from Sydney and Melbourne, the city was named in honour of Charles Darwin by the British settlers who established a frontier outpost here. With a unique history, beautiful islands nearby, and a palette of sizzling Pacific flavours, colourful Darwin is an enchanting and exotic Australian destination. Crocodiles patrol the jungled waterways and tropical rainforests around Australia's gateway to the Top End. Explore via airboat to look down on the veiny waterways of the mist-laced Kakadu National Park. The sounds of chattering birdlife and the gentle splash of fountains and waterfalls will fill your ears in George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens. Soak it all in, before kicking back and relaxing with a picnic and a crackling barbecue.
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.
Pulau Miossu, Indonesia
Almost totally covered in coconut palm trees, Pulau Miossu is the western and smaller of the two Su Islands. Located at the eastern entrance of the Dampier Strait and within sight of West Papua's north coast, the Su Islands were used for a short time by Allied Forces at the end of WW II to have P-38 fighter planes stationed there. Today, little remains from those days and even the former airfield is covered by vegetation. Pulau Miossu has just a few houses and is occasionally visited to harvest coconut and to enjoy the white sandy beaches and the rich underwater world.
Colonia (Yap), Micronesia
Colonia is the Capital of Yap and the bustling town combines modern times with traditional ways. Most Yapese people today live in modern structures, but several villages have areas with typical meetinghouses and men's houses. Many of these villages exhibit the famous stone money or 'rai.' Although the circular aragonite pieces were used on Yap, most of them actually came from Palau. In a bold undertaking, Yapese men traveled to Palau to quarry the heavy stones and then transport them on rafts or out-rigger canoes back to Yap over roughly 240 nautical miles of open water. The islands of Yap have been governed by various colonial powers. The German administration of the mid-1800s dug a channel through the main island to speed the delivery of produce between the north and south sides. This narrow channel is still used today.
Lamotrek, Yap, Micronesia
Lamotrek is both a coral atoll in the Federated States of Micronesia, and one of the fourteen outlying atolls that partly makeup the island State of Yap, as well as the only inhabited island of the atoll. While the total land area is less than half a square mile, the atoll's reef encloses a lagoon that is 12 square miles in size. The population of Lamotrek is approximately 373, and the residents are accustomed to visitors but still maintain their own culture proudly. Visitors to this small island will be greeted with generosity and friendliness that makes up the essence of the Yapese culture. The village is located on the lagoon side of Lamotrek Island and shows almost as many canoe houses as traditional homes. The lagoon offers snorkeling to see giant clams and, if not on a voyage, the Queen Veronica, the biggest outrigger canoe in the whole Federated States of Micronesia, can be seen.
Guam is blessed with spectacular natural beauty and a rich cultural history. Apra Harbor is a deep-water port located on the western side of the island near the Mariana Islands and the Mariana Trench, which is the deepest part of the earth's oceans, and the deepest location of the earth itself. The port serves both as a U.S. naval station and Guam's main commercial port. The harbour, formed by the Orote Peninsula to the south and Cabras Island in the north, is considered to be one of the best natural ports in the Pacific.