Day 1 — Honolulu, Hawai’i, USA
Embark the Silver Explorer and depart on your exciting Silversea Expedition — “Polynesian Stepping Stones”.
Once you have settled in and before Silver Explorer leaves the pier, you will attend a mandatory safety drill. During a special sail away party say good-bye to downtown Honolulu and watch the Aloha Tower disappear in the distance.
Later you will be introduced to your Expedition Team and this evening you can enjoy the delights of a specially prepared menu in The Restaurant.
Days 2-4 — At sea, crossing the North Pacific
During our voyage south, unwind after your long flight to Honolulu and the first day of activities on Hawai’i. Our lecturers will introduce you to the Polynesian and Western exploration of this part of the Pacific, the wildlife to be encountered and the different cultures present today.
Attend workshops and seminars and let our chefs prepare delicious culinary specialties on the Sun Deck or in The Explorer Lounge.
We will be crossing the Dateline (for the first time) and will miss September 28 this way…
Day 5 — Weston, Fanning, Kiribati
The Line Islands have been of importance to whaling and guano harvesting in the 19th century, while telecommunication and military installations have been important in the 20th century on Christmas and Malden. Because of population pressure on the main island of the Republic of Kiribati, voluntary resettlement has taken place and we will find that Fanning is now settled by some 2,000 Micronesians.
Silver Explorer will drift in front of English Passage and we take our Zodiacs to go ashore near Weston Point. This is where the administration seat is and we can walk to see the local homes and their seaweed plantations. We will have the opportunity to see a folkloric presentation, acquire local souvenirs and go swimming in the protected bay just southeast of Weston Point.
Day 6 — London, Christmas Island, Kiribati
Christmas Island was named by Captain Cook –and there even is a Cook Island. Used to produce copra –dried coconut meat- and as a military base in the 1940s-60s, this Christmas Island has been declared a Wildlife Refuge in 1975 and has large seabird colonies. Birders will also be interested to see the endemic Christmas Island Reed Warbler known as the Bokikokiko. Some of the 18 seabird species we hope to see include Christmas and Wedge-tailed Shearwater, Phoenix Petrels, Black Noddies and Little White Terns. Pending permission we might visit Cook Island for birding and swimming and Motu Tabu for birding –both are important breeding grounds and especially at Motu Tabu one has to be very careful where to step as Wedge-tailed Shearwater like to breed in burrows.
One of the attractions to anglers is bonefishing in the lagoon.
Day 7 — At sea
Having visited two of the inhabited Line Islands, our lecturers will use the sea day to talk about the uninhabited islands and their importance to wildlife or the early Polynesian seafarers that not only stopped on the islands for a short while, but actually settled them during centuries.
When not attending a lecture or relaxing on the Sun Deck, get help from the onboard Photographer during a workshop or look for whales and dolphins.
Day 8 — Malden, Kiribati
When Malden was visited in 1825 it was found to be uninhabited, but Lt. Malden –after whom the island is named- discovered remains of former (Polynesian) settlements. One reason they could have survived on this island is that they found large seabird colonies of at least 11 species, including Masked, Red-footed and Brown Boobies, Lesser Frigatebirds, Sooty and Grey-backed Terns, as well as Blue-grey Noddies across the island. The Polynesians could have lived off the birds, but the resulting guano was harvested from the mid-19th century until 1927. A railroad system (using sails and the prevailing winds for propulsion) was used to transport the guano to the western point of the island to be loaded onto barges. We intend to land near this point and walk or hike across the island –using in part the old railroad embankments- and to see some of the remains of the Polynesian structures. 21 archaeological sites with more than 70 structures can be found mostly occurring along the north coast. Remains of the British nuclear testing observation unit dating back to the 1950s are close to the landing site.
Despite an extensive white beach on Malden’s western side, swimming and snorkelling will be offered from anchored Zodiacs.
Day 9 — Starbuck Island, Kiribati
Seen by Captain Starbuck in 1823, it took more than 45 years before guano-digging took place on this small island. Guano harvesting stopped in the late 19th century, but when overpopulation in Tarawa forced the Kiribati government to look for resettlement areas in the late 20th century, this uninhabited island was considered for a while, even palm trees were planted –less than 30 were still growing in 2016.
We hope to go ashore and explore the ruins of the former guano camp, look for the remains of various shipwrecks dating from the 19th century, as well as some of the seabird colonies that created the guano deposits. The WWF estimated in 2001 that –depending on the season- up to six million Sooty Terns call Starbuck their home. Starbuck has been declared a Wildlife Sanctuary, to protect the turtles that come to nest, the marine life and the 16 species of seabirds that use the island. Snorkelling off the islands shore very much depends on the sea conditions, but would be offered from our Zodiacs.
Day 10 — At sea and crossing the dateline
Heading in a south-westerly direction Silver Explorer will once again have to pass the dateline! This time we gain a day and have the fourth of October twice.
On our first fourth of October you can attend lectures about the Cook Island and perhaps the pearl industry, taste some of the culinary specialties prepared by our chefs, or simply relax on the outer decks. Enjoy the wide open space of the South Pacific.
Day 11 — Manihiki, Cook Islands
According to many, Manihiki is the most beautiful of the Cook Islands. Known as “The Island of Pearls”, it is a triangular atoll in the Northern Group composed of 40 tiny islets encircling a lagoon four kilometres wide. This completely enclosed body of water is the source of the island’s greatest asset —black pearls.
At the pier you will be welcomed by representatives of the villages with speeches, prayers and dances. During an excursion across the lagoon you can learn first-hand how the pearls are made by taking an informative pearl farm tour, or use the occasion to swim and/or snorkel over and around the pearl lines. The villagers will have prepared a local lunch and will be available to show and sell you some of their finest pearls.
Day 12 — Rakahanga, Cook Islands
Although Rakahanga is quite close to Manihiki, the almost rectangular atoll has no real channel between ocean and lagoon -and thus is not suitable for pearl production. The 77 islanders live in Nivano, on the southernmost of the atoll's islands, and use the other 8 motu (islands or islets) to plant and harvest coconut, taro and bananas. Fishing is a favourite pastime and there even is a tuna fishing competition in January.
One of the unusual features of the island is its cemetery where graves have been covered by tiny huts that contain some of the belongings of the deceased to help them in the life beyond.
We intend to go ashore in Nivano's small harbor to explore the island's settlement and meet the islanders.
Day 13— Suwarrow, Cook Islands
Suwarrow is a coral atoll in the centre of the Cook Islands, roughly 1300km south of the equator. Although its name goes back to a Russian visit in the early 19th century the island is considered Crown Land and as such Queen Elizabeth II is the official owner. The island has a rich history and has had a number of solitary ‘caretakers’. One of them, New Zealander Tom Neale, lived here for a total of 16 years. His experience during his first two periods was written up by him and became a bestseller as “An Island to Oneself”.
In 1978, the island was declared a National Park of the Cook Islands due to the plentiful marine and bird life it supports. Today the island’s population consists of 2 caretakers (from April to October) and millions of birds. Sooty Terns, Masked Boobies, Red-footed Boobies, Brown Boobies, Great Frigatebirds, and noddies nest on most islets, and the atoll is also an important wintering site for Bristle-thighed Curlews, making this a paradise for our bird-watchers. Humpback whales frequent the waters surrounding Suwarrow and green turtles come into the lagoon using the beaches to deposit their eggs ashore. The atoll’s islets are home to large populations of coconut crabs.
Silver Explorer has received a special permit to visit this outstanding atoll and we intend to make the most of our time ashore and in the water.
Day 14 — At sea
Today will be a day to scan the seas for humpback whales, especially since the area northwest of Aitutaki is known as an area where they congregate. Our lecture staff will have time to prepare you for our visit to Aitutaki and talk about the natural history, seabirds, and underwater creatures, as well as the early settlers of the Cook Islands and their interesting stories.
Day 15 — Aitutaki, Cook Islands
Aitutaki is rightly known as one of the most spectacular destinations in the Cook Islands. Its reef completely encompasses a large turquoise lagoon.
We go ashore using our fleet of Zodiacs -but before stepping on land, a local warrior appears and challenges all visitors. Once we have stepped across a special stone at the landing site, we are free to do as we please on the island. Our excursion continues aboard local boats, crossing the lagoon to the small islet of Tapuaetai for a delicious barbecue luncheon in a lush South Pacific setting. Look for Red-tailed Tropicbirds, grab some snorkelling gear to see what is underwater at Honeymoon Islet or let your stroll along the beach continue out onto a sand cay.
Birders will be looking for the Blue Lorikeets among the coconut palm trees in Arutanga.
Day 16 —At Sea
Silver Explorer will sail in a northwesterly direction to reach French Polynesia and the Society Islands. Our lecturers might talk about the different explorations and approaches of the British and French and their overseas colonies of the 19th century, or perhaps about some of the famous writers or painters that made the Pacific their home.
Day 17 — Raiatea, French Polynesia
Raiatea, meaning "faraway heaven", is not only famous for its stunningly beautiful bays and landscapes, but also its rich culture and history. Raiatea launched migratory journeys to faraway islands now called Hawaii and New Zealand.
We will head for the dramatic and well maintained Marae Taputapuatea -a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As Raiatea was considered to be the religious centre of Polynesia, this is a highly significant marae site with many associated legends involving both the sacred and magical.
Day 18 — Bora Bora, French Polynesia
One cannot adequately describe the spectacular beauty of Bora Bora’s emerald-green hills and tranquil sapphire-blue lagoons. Be on deck while we enter through the only navigable pass into the lagoon and drop anchor in front of Vaitape, Bora Bora’s main village.
Select from a variety of excursions and activities today. Enjoy a leisurely, open-air ‘le truck’ tour of Bora Bora’s highlights: ancient marae stone temples, the Faanui Protestant Church, scenic lookout points with spectacular vistas of the lagoon and distant islands, old WWII remnants and popular Matira Beach. Sample local fruits, watch a pareo demonstration, and stop at Bloody Mary’s before returning to the ship.
Alternatively, use specially designed, open-air, off-road vehicles, to visit some of its most dramatic sites that are only accessible by four-wheel drive. Veer inland following a trail that leads up the mountain to an amazing panorama. From this height, you can view Bora Bora’s breathtaking multi-coloured lagoon. See canons remaining from the American presence during WWII.
Of course, you may choose instead to simply spend the day swimming and snorkelling in this idyllic tropical paradise.
Day 19 —Papeete, French Polynesia
After breakfast, disembark Silver Explorer.
Expedition highlights and wildlife listed here are possible experiences only and cannot be guaranteed. Your Expedition Leader and Captain will work together to ensure opportunities for adventure and exploration are the best possible, taking into account the prevailing weather and wildlife activity. Expedition Team members scheduled for this voyage are subject to change or cancellation.
Not sure what to wear while onboard? Visit our shop and gear up. We've got layers to keep you dry and warm, breezy wear to keep you covered and cool, and accessories to keep everything packed up and ready to go. So, no matter the weather, you'll be better prepared for your expedition.
Our Gear Shop has an expert outfitting staff and features all the essentials:
Make sure you get all your essentials today. We offer packages or individual items, for your convenience, and recommend you place orders at least 30 days before your embarkation date.