- Travel with a stellar team of experts including legendary oceanographer and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Robert Ballard, renowned for his discovery of the wreck of the Titanic.
- Snorkel colorful reefs and attend a kava ceremony in Vanuatu, kayak a serene lake and visit a local village in New Caledonia, and raft through tropical forests in Bali before taking part in a purification ritual.
- Delve into diverse cultures, from the contemporary art scene of Hobart, Tasmania to the Buddhist temples of Java, Indonesia.
- Encounter the magnificent wildlife of Sri Lanka in two national parks known for their high concentration of elephants and leopards.
Join a team of National Geographic experts to encounter vibrant island traditions, dazzling reefs, and diverse wildlife from Vanuatu to Tasmania to Sri Lanka. Go snorkeling in the turquoise lagoons of New Caledonia, explore a botanical oasis in the heart of Singapore, and experience the traditional cultures of Bali and Java. Soak up the rhythms and colors of island life at lively markets and artisan workshops, and stroll along the white-sand shores of some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
Depart independently on your commercial flight to Hawai’i. Meet experts, staff, and
fellow travelers at a welcome dinner at our beachfront hotel. The next day, board our
private jet and fly toward the South Pacific, crossing the international date line. We
lose a day en route and arrive in Vanuatu the following afternoon.
Part of a volcanic archipelago chain, Vanuatu was inhabited by Melanesian people as
early as 1300 b.c., and Europeans first reached these shores in 1606. On the lush isle of Efate, delve into Melanesian culture on a visit to a local village, where we’ll enjoy a traditional meal and dance performance, followed by a dip in natural hot springs. Then visit blooming botanical gardens to learn about the island’s flora and fauna. This evening, take part in a kava ceremony.
The next day, take a local flight to the island of Tanna, where we’ll travel by 4x4 to the base of Yasur volcano and hike around the crater lip. Then visit a local village to experience everyday life. Alternatively, step aboard a local banana boat for a trip to the tiny, rugged island of Pele, part of a marine protected area. Spend the day snorkeling, beachcombing, and relaxing in the idyllic setting.
Fly south to Tasmania, which was once the site of Australia’s most notorious penal settlement. Today the island is known for its dramatic landscapes as well as its thriving cultural scene. Arrive in Hobart, the island’s vibrant capital.
Choose from several options: embark on a tour of the city, then venture to the Rosny Hill Lookout, which offers panoramic views of the city, its surrounding waters, and majestic Mount Wellington. Alternatively, experience the real-life account of a female convict in Tasmania during the 1830s through Her Story, a live historical drama. Enjoy a visit to the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary and get up close to kangaroos, wombats, Tasmanian devils, and more.
This evening, take a ferry to the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), Australia’s largest private museum, which is renowned for its diverse collections and innovative design. Enjoy a private tour, followed by dinner in the Nolan Gallery.
Our private jet brings us to Yogyakarta, the cultural heart of the Indonesian island of Java. Upon arrival, visit Prambanan, the largest Hindu temple in Indonesia. Its main shrine soars 154 feet high above the Prambanan valley, a lush green expanse dotted with the ruins of 244 smaller monuments. Spend the next day exploring the island’s wondrous temple of Borobudur—the largest Buddhist temple in the world—built some 1,200 years ago during the short reign of the Shailendra dynasty and mysteriously abandoned shortly thereafter. Around 1000 a.d., the eruption of a neighboring volcano concealed the site in ash, and it was not rediscovered until 1814. Explore this colossal temple, dramatically situated on a hill top. Marvel at the exquisite stone carvings of the temple’s many decorative panels depicting Buddhist doctrines and events from the Buddha’s past lives.
Due to its close proximity to India, as well as a history of invasion by the Portuguese, Dutch, and British, Sri Lanka boasts a rich cultural fusion of Asian and European influences. It’s also home to 26 national parks, two of which we’ll visit.
In Yala National Park, set out in 4x4s to encounter one of the world’s highest concentration of leopards, along with elephants, sloth bears, spotted deer, and peacocks. Then travel west to Udawalawe National Park, the best place on the island to see large populations of Asian elephants in the wild. Set off on a game drive in search of elephants, monkeys, leopards, water buffalo, monitor lizards, and crocodiles.
Alternatively, choose from several options: drive to the sacred pilgrimage site of Kataragama, hike to the ancient Buddhist monastery of Sithulpawwa Rajamaha Viharaya, or visit the fishing village of Kirinda.
Cosmopolitan Singapore is a former British colony that has transformed over a
half-century into one of the world’s leading financial centers. Known for its unique
conservation and sustainability efforts, this innovative city-state also boasts a rich
multi-ethnic culture, which blends Chinese, Malay, and Indian traditions.
Board a private, self-driving vehicle to experience the extraordinary Gardens by the Bay. Built in the heart of Singapore, this 250-acre park is home to the world’s largest glass greenhouse, thousands of plants, and a grove of vertical gardens called Supertrees, which harvest solar energy and serve as air exhaust receptacles. Alternatively, take a guided tour of this vibrant city-state, or visit the acclaimed Singapore Zoo, home to over 300 species of mammals, birds, and reptiles.
Experience the tranquility of magical Bali, whose cultural landscape was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2012. Head into the mountains to explore Ubud, and watch artisans at work creating the island’s famous textiles and handicrafts. Stop in at a jewelry-making studio. The next day, set out on a tour of the island to explore its treasures, from scenic bamboo forests to sweeping paddies to fascinating temples. Or go rafting on the Ayung River, splashing over Class II–III rapids amid a stunning backdrop of rain forest, towering gorges, and terraced rice fields. The following day, go trekking or biking amid the island’s lush landscapes, or enjoy time to explore on your own.
Strung across the shimmering waters of the southwestern Pacific, New Caledonia is a tropical paradise of lush islands, remote atolls, and uninhabited islets. The main island— Nouvelle-Calédonie or New Caledonia—harbors pristine reefs and turquoise lagoons that were designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2008, along with rugged mountains and unusual rock formations.
Sail on a catamaran to a remote island that boasts pristine beaches, dramatic cliffs, dense forests, and deep caves. Snorkel amid vibrant corals and tropical fish at a private, white-sand beach. Afterward, enjoy a barbecue lunch before returning to the main island.
Alternatively, explore the southern part of the main island. In Plain of Lakes, embark on a guided botanical walk through the scrubland, which shelters nearly 170 species of flora, 95% of which are endemic. Visit the beautiful waterfalls of La Madeleine, then venture to the drowned forest of Blue River Provincial Park, where we’ll take advantage of fantastic photo opportunities alongside our National Geographic photographers. Here, hundreds of bleached tree trunks sprout from Yaté, an artificial lake created 60 years ago. Later, marvel at the sparkling South Pacific from a scenic viewpoint and enjoy a picnic lunch. In the afternoon, visit the Tjibaou Cultural Center to learn about Kanak culture, and take a guided walk to discover native flora, and enjoy a reception with a leader of a local Kanak village.
Surrounded by a spectacular aquamarine lagoon and a vibrant reef, Bora-Bora’s rain forest-covered peaks present a dramatic contrast to its ivory shores. Fly to Papeete, Tahiti, crossing the international date line and gaining a day en route. In the early evening, transfer to a charter flight to Bora-Bora. Settle into a beautiful overwater villa situated in the shadow of Mount Otemanu.
Explore the island by all-terrain vehicle, or join a marine biologist for a guided snorkeling tour of the Ruahatu Lagoon Sanctuary. Alternatively, cruise along white-sand shores. Or venture up to 10 feet below the water’s surface in a two-seater submarine scooter, discovering the vibrant marine life of the island’s lagoon. Later this evening, celebrate our journey with a festive farewell dinner.
Return to Papeete by private charter, then continue by private jet to Hawai’i’s Big Island. Check in to our oceanfront hotel on the Kona coast, and enjoy dinner. The following day, connect with your commercial flight home.