WHY YOU SHOULD GO
Even in this day and age, many of Micronesia’s thousands of remote islands and atolls are barely on the map. Some are very nearly uninhabited, while others have their own distinctive indigenous cultures. If you’re an indefatigable traveller looking for a fresh destination, we recommend Micronesia, and its Melanesian neighbour, the Solomon Islands, for their crystal clear lagoons packed with marine life, sites of ancient and modern history, and the mystique of the remote and unknown.
A common departure point for Micronesian cruises, Koror is the most populace island of the Republic of Palau. Palau’s seafaring culture, much like the island’s language, has always been unique to the islands, and today many Palauans maintain a traditional village lifestyle. Island visitors often head to Dolphins Pacific, the world’s largest dolphin research facility, where they can swim with trained dolphins.
Travelling between the tiny atolls of Ngulu, Sorol, Satawal and Pulap in the Caroline Islands (Federated States of Micronesia), it is easy to see why the best cruising in Micronesia requires a ship with a shallow draft, allowing her to navigate closer to shore. Silver Sea Expedition’s Silver Discoverer also has a fleet of 12 Zodiacs and a glass-bottom boat, so that guests can land on isolated shores and explore submerged ecosystems, up-close and in-depth.
Chuuk Lagoon is a scuba-diving paradise. During WWII Chuuk was the main base of the Japanese forces in the south Pacific, but in 1944, an American attack made the lagoon ‘the biggest ship graveyard in the world’. In the crystal-clear sheltered waters, divers visit virtually intact wrecks whose holds contain fighter planes, tanks, and torpedoes. The wreck of the submarine I-169 Shinohara which participated in the attack on Pearl Harbor, is of special interest. The encrusted wrecks attract a diverse array of marine life, including manta-rays, turtles and rare corals.
On Pohnpei Island, take a trip from the capital of Kolonia to Nan Madol — a ruined stone city that lies off the eastern shore of the island that was the capital of the Saudeleur dynasty until the early 1600s. The city, constructed in a lagoon, comprises a series of nearly 100 small artificial islands linked by canals.
Nukuoro is a remote island in the state of Pohnpei. It has no airstrip, and passenger boats call irregularly — only once every few months. Like nearby Kapingamarangi Island, its inhabitants are of Polynesian culture, as it was settled by people from Tokelau in the Polynesian triangle.
From Micronesia, a day at sea will take a cruise ship as far as Kennedy Island in the Solomon Islands group. This popular tourist attraction marks the spot where a young John F. Kennedy swam ashore when his PT boat was hit by a Japanese destroyer in 1943. On the eastern tip of the Solomon Islands lies Marovo Lagoon — the world’s finest double-barrier-enclosed lagoon, bordered by the large New Georgia and Vangunu Islands. It contains hundreds of beautiful small islands covered by coconut palms and rainforest and surrounded by coral. Visit laid-back Melanesian villages, take a lagoon tour, or dive in the ‘fish soup’, before sailing on to Solomon Islands’ capital city of Honiara, on Guadalcanal Island.
HOW TO DO IT
Discover remote tribal villages, uncharted atolls and coral isles aboard Silverseas newest luxury expedition ship the Silver Discoverer. Benalla Travel will work out the finer details, but don’t forget your snorkel as diving is a must on all voyages throughout the cruising season.