Through The Islands & Atolls Of Micronesia

Manila to Kavieng | 9 November 2023 to 4 December 2023

Master: Matthew Fryer, Expedition Leader: Melanie Faithfull & Cara Cavanagh, Guest Lecturers: Alasdair McGregor, Greg Watson, Michael Hermes, Jeremy Robertson & Cristiana Damiano

Jump To: Day 1 | Day 2Day 3Day 4Day 5Day 6Day 7Day 8Day 9Day 10Day 11Day 12Day 13Day 14Day 15Day 16Day 17Day 18Day 19Day 20Day 21Day 22Day 23Day 24

Day 1: Manila, 09 November 2023

Even by Southeast Asian standards this city seethes with humanity. Everywhere, people – people everywhere. 

An amalgam of the various agents of Philippine colonization, Spanish, American and Japanese, this city was once the toast of Asia – raffish, sophisticated, and wealthy. 

World War II blew that reputation away – along with most of the city. Manila has never really recovered from the cataclysm. 

Guests gathered in the afternoon at the Admiral Hotel, were transferred to the ship, welcomed, and cleared immigration. Lines were thrown at 5.30 pm.  After the usual mandatory safety drills conducted by purser Zac, Expedition leader Mel introduced the expedition team and the itinerary for the next few days.  

Many of the guests were veterans from previous Coral Expeditions cruises, so, with bubbles in hand, everyone celebrated their good fortune as the ship set a course for adventure. 

Day 2: Apo Reef, 10 November 2023

Apo reef is one of those places well known to divers worldwide. This small island has one of the best protected examples of a coral community in the country. Ranger’s patrol 24 hours a day on the lookout for illegal fishers. The results were evident to guests as they snorkelled amongst pristine coral ramparts and a highly diverse fish community.  

Everybody was able to do a short walk through the typical coastal scrub forest to a lighthouse, the ascent of which afforded a sweeping view of the island, girt as it was by its turquoise fringed reef. 

Near the lighthouse, on the beach, conditions were deemed suitable by turtles for nesting. Very fresh tracks from last night bore testament to their efforts the night before. 

Another ecosystem available for inspections was the fringe of mangroves surrounding a saltwater lake inside the coastal dunes. Accessed by a boardwalk, guests were able to inspect the forest closely.  

Upon our return to the vessel, Guest Lecturer Michael conducted his legendary Micronesian Book Club” where he introduces some books that he has brought along relevant to the destination. Quirky, informative, funny, or just plain bizarre, there was lots for guests to take in at their leisure throughout the rest of the voyage. 

Captain Matt then put his hand in his pocket for Captain’s Welcome drinks, accompanied by canapes by chef and team. 



Day 3: Sibuyan Island & Cresta De Gallo, 11 November 2023

The Visayas are a group of disparate, smaller islands that make up one of the four main provinces of the Philippines. One of these, Sibuyan, is known for the dense, primary forest that still covers much of the land.  Xplorers were able to land here, with guests making their way to Magdiwag township.  

Within the forest nearby we were met by the Mayor, who has a deep commitment to environmental protection and forest regeneration. After a short welcome everyone was invited to plant some saplings to help in the process.  

Afterwards, two choices beckoned. Some of the party chose to do a short walk along a forested creek bank to Lambingan Falls, and its attendant plunge pool. Cool, clear, fresh water allowed for a refreshing soak for many, while some other visitors came equipped with masks and saw some of the colourful and unique fish that specialize in living in these fast, oxygen-rich waters. 

Those who did not wish to do the walk were encouraged to roam about the town itself. There is always something going on, and, with the friendliness and outstanding hospitality of the townsfolk, 

it is impossible not to walk around without a smile on your face. 

Upon our return to the wharf – it being 11 am on the 11th of the 11th – a short Remembrance Day ceremony was held. 

After lunch, Expeditioners all departed for an afternoon of leisure at Cresta del Gallo island. The atmosphere ashore was rather akin to a small private beach resort. There was the usual heartfelt welcome by the local people with lots of opportunities to beachcomb swim, snorkel or simply laze away the time chatting to all and sundry. 

The reef was very different to this morning. Isolated patches of coral surrounded by sandy plains. The fish here were especially noteworthy. Very high species diversity and most were fearless. This, and the presence of live clams, indicated how well protected this reef was – a rarity in this country of 170 million seafood loving people. 



Day 4: Kalanggaman Island, 12 November 2023

Typhoon Rai really went to town on this island in 2021. The old saying however is that it is an ill wind that blows no good. While the storm did indeed cause substantial damage to infrastructure and boats, it also made the island more inaccessible for longer. The local reefs and vegetation therefore has had a chance to recover. 

It showed. A beautiful, flat coastline, marked by white coral sand beaches, terminating in a long sandbar stretching out into the blue.  

This isolated speck was ours for the day. Not only were the usual beach activities on offer, but there were also creature comforts such as daybeds, cabanas and umbrellas tucked into the shade of the ubiquitous coconuts (also there for the drinking!) and the the spreading Barringtonia trees.  

Divers were encouraged by instructors Chrissy and Maddy to undertake a skills upgrade dive, in preparation for more challenging locations yet to come. 

Less determinedly aquatic guests dawdled contentedly until a return to the ship for Guest Lecturer Christiana’s talk Coral Reef Ecosystem -Status and Conservation” an overview of the threats to coral reefs and efforts being undertaken to mitigate them. 

After lunch there was another opportunity to inspect these reefs once again. Or, more simply, beachcomb, sit on the sand in the shade and converse with new friends – be they shipmates, or local people.  





Day 5: Limasawa & Santa Sofia, 13 November 2023

One of the standout features of our journey through these islands since departing from Manila has been the ornate welcomes and the overwhelming friendliness from the locals.  This country has a long-standing reputation for hospitality and here, on our morning visit to Limisawa, the reception guests received on arrival far exceeded anything previously encountered. Cruise ships have never been common in these small islands and we were often the very first since covid.  

This island is also famous for being the very first place where a Christian service was performed in the Philippines, with Father Pedro de Valderrama officiating on Easter Sunday, 1521, as part of Magellan’s explorations in search of both riches and heathen.  

Upon disembarking from the vessels, guests had to walk past an honour guard of excited kids (day off school!) waving flags and shouting greetings. 

Energetic guests were invited to climb the 450 steps leading to Magellan’s cross, commemorating the site of an original, now long gone, cross. It WAS a hot climb. 

Down at the town’s main square there were traditional food and snack stalls, coconuts to drink, dancers all costumed up and loads of excited friendly faces.  

Other customs on display were in tents, where one could become aquatinted with the local script (an elegant, coclique one) and have your name inscribed on a slice of bamboo as well as getting a henna tattoo. Being a hot, sweaty day, these tattoos, for many, tended to be more temporary than usual! 

Lunch done, another afternoon on a small remote island was on offer. The usual attraction… snorkelling… looking for that elusive fish that you missed last time, a slow, lazy kayak off the beach, or yet another afternoon of leisure.  

Locals had outdone themselves and presented ship’s company with a magnificently ornate fruit platter with the vessel’s name spelt out in coconut amidst a cornucopia of mangos, melons, grapes, rambutans, pineapples pitaya and duku langsats. Everyone was very moved by this gesture of welcome. That didn’t stop them enjoying the bounty on offer.  

Many thanks to all. 




Day 6: Bucas Grande & Daku Island , 14 November 2023

After an early breakfast, we all headed into Sohoton Bay for the remarkable jellyfish tour of the lagoon there. This landscape was idyllic – the rounded limestone hills, surrounded by the brackish waters, and covered with lush natural rainforest was truly wonderful. Pitcher plants hung from the trees and flying foxes [Pteropus sp.] screeched and fussed about in the higher canopy. Some spotted the remarkable hornbill also, which was a thrill. The highlight however was the jellyfish – thousands of these harmless and beautiful animals. A good number of us got in to swim with them, although the sight was just as good from the boats. The whole experience was worth the unnerving passage through a long dark cave in the boats – no wonder we needed helmets! A fabulous morning. 

After lunch we experienced our last afternoon enjoying an idyllic Philippine site, Daku Island. We had a range of activities available to us – kayaking, swimming, painting, and snorkelling. The locals had prepared a huge platter of tropical fruit, a local traditional welcome, which we all enjoyed immensely. The rambutans and pineapple were my favourite! 



Day 7: At Sea, 15 November 2023

Today we headed east, leaving Philippines and off toward Palau and Micronesia. Many of us started the day with a yoga session which was a terrific way to get going – thanks Chrissy! 

After breakfast, Guest Lecturer Alasdair provided an informative presentation on colonial history of the region. 

Bridge and Engine Room tours were also conducted – that sparkling clean engine room is a sight to behold! 

After lunch, Guest Lecturer Mike provided a presentation on the Local History of the Region in 20 Objects where we got to handle authentic old artefacts and heard stories from the region’s past.  

Following that, the hospitality team put on a Cocktail making demonstration, and guests could win the end product by answering a question. The session included a rather strong whisky-based drink made by Captain Matthew, which a lucky guest won by knowing Matt’s surname! Thanks to Ellen and the team.  


Day 8: At Sea , 16 November 2023

After a leisurely breakfast, Guest Lecturer Jeremy gave his first presentation entitled the “Sex Life of Birds” which was a fascinating insight into varied and complex business of avian reproduction. 

After morning tea, Guest Lecturer Greg gave an equally interesting lecture, looking at that group of plants which are carnivorous. This was quite timely, as we had only a day or two before been enjoying the remarkable pitcher plants of the Philippines.  

In mid-afternoon, the Engineers provided a presentation on the workings of the ship’s engines, overall construction, and its water and waste systems. It is surprisingly complex below deck, and everyone agrees amazingly clean down there. 

Before sunset drinks, Guest Lecturer Alasdair put on a beautiful presentation based on his life as an artist entitled “An Artist Adrift”. He had got to just about every corner of the globe to illustrate in wonderful gouache the many wonders of nature and landscape. 

After advice today that there was a Covid case on board, we were crossing our fingers, hoping this wouldn’t mean that our shore activities would be impacted. Fortunately, we were able to continue as planned.  



Day 9: Palau , 17 November 2023

Today was a day everyone was looking forward to – the wonderful islands of Palau. 

The scuba divers had two sensational dives initially on the Sand Bar off Ulong [Rock] Island and then at the Ulong Channel. There were beautiful corals, lots of schooling fish and some saw a Hawksbill Turtle or a Manta Ray or maybe both. We had lunch on shore on Rock Island, which gave us time to explore the shoreline, with its wonderful bird life. We saw white Tropic Birds with their elegant tail feathers, and a lucky few saw the brilliant blue Kingfisher and the Bekai, the local Megapod jungle fowl.  

The snorkelling here was also fabulous. 

And the opportunity to visit the settlements and the museums was also a fascinating adventure, with Palau’s beautiful forests and rolling hills. Both museums proved to be well worth the visit, as we learnt a great deal about the culture and history of these enchanted islands.  



Day 10: At Sea , 18 November 2023
Today was a day focused on learning.

First thing, Chrissy’s yoga class proved popular again as an energizing way to start the day. 

After breakfast, Expedition Leader Cara gave us an informative overview of the days ahead, accompanied by our local agent Thomas. 

Later in the morning, Guest Lecturer Jeremy provided a very interesting lecture on Shell and Stone Money, which was topical with our visit to the famous stone money site on Yap tomorrow. He also had a beautiful bride price object made of hundreds of shells, woven into an object the shape of a cummerbund. Most informative – but he was cagey about the merits of Bit Coin! 

After lunch, both Bridge and Engine room tours were on offer and then later in the day, Guest Lecturer Cristiana provided us with a very informative presentation on the critical importance of sharks to our marine environments. Informative and amusing – who would have thought vending machines are more dangerous than sharks!

A pod of Spinner Dolphins turned up this afternoon briefly, to enjoy a little bow wave action. It was a grey day, but the sea was gentle, and we all have our fingers crossed that the sun will be out for us on Yap Island tomorrow.  


Day 11: Yap , 19 November 2023

After an early breakfast, we all got out and off onto a wonderful day at Yap. For many of us, this was to be the highlight of the trip. Viewing the famous Stone Money of Yap as well as enjoying the pristine waters of the island, whether snorkelling or scuba diving.  

We broke into two groups, so we wouldn’t cramp each other’s style, which made a lot of sense.  

The weather was fickle, with showers coming and going, but it didn’t greatly impact on either our land or sea-based activities. The snorkellers saw a good range of species today, some spotting good numbers of pipe fish, a moray eel and others a good-sized shark, though the species was hard to determine. The village visits were delightful with various beautiful traditional architecture, dancing groups and lots of stone money. If you didn’t get a memorable photo today, you weren’t trying. 

For those who are interested in the particular names of the sites today, the morning group visited 1. Gal, Kanifay [stone money site] 2. Angel Dalipebinaw [chief with the beautiful stone and whale tooth necklace/chain and large shell knife] 3. Kaday [ceremonial meeting place near the sea, with the beautiful young woman in traditional dress] and finally 4. Tomil [ceremonial house under construction, children stick dancing, leis etc.]. The sequence was different in the afternoon, with the children dancing first, and the others should be distinguishable from my descriptions. 



Day 12: At Sea , 20 November 2023

Another sea day with calm seas and clear skies to ease our journey into the heart of Micronesia. For the keen ones there was stretching and yoga on offer early, all under Chrissy’s calming direction.  

After a leisurely breakfast we gathered in the Bridge Deck Lounge for a fascinating, and at times hilarious, presentation from Greg into the habits and eccentricities of naturalists from past centuries. From Linnaeus, who saw sex everywhere he looked, to the excesses of Frank Buckland of the ‘sturgeon under the kitchen table’ fame, Greg gave us a wonderful insight into the mad world of a number of these obsessive souls.   

After a morning tea break, the lectures resumed with Mike giving a reprise of his fascinating discussion of ‘Micronesia in 20 Objects’. From a one-million-year-old stone axe to a Coca-Cola yoyo, each object emphasized the diversity of human cultures.  

Adam took the microphone after lunch and gave a talk brimming with useful tips on how to improve on our photography. We were all then encouraged to head out on deck to turn his advice into reality. And as if on cue some saw a juvenile brown booby come to rest on the deck, while others were able to photograph a passing whale. There was much discussion about the creature’s identity, but the consensus seems to be that it was a Bryde’s whale. 


Day 13: Ifalik Atoll , 21 November 2023

There was much anticipation over breakfast for the first of our remote atoll visits. But we couldn’t just stroll onto the Xplorers and head to shore. Correct protocol needed to be followed. So, while Alasdair gave us an overview of the great conflicts in the region of 80 years ago in his talk entitled War in Paradise, Captain Matthew and our local agent, Thomas, headed to shore. There they parled with the village chief, presented him with gifts on our behalf and made sure that all was in place for our visit to Ifalik Island.  

We were then soon on the Xplorers and heading for shore where we were treated to a warm and colourful greeting. The villagers, young and old, flanked our path up the beach from the Xplorers, singing and clapping, and our heads, necks and hats were bedecked with leis. We then split into informal groups and toured the village accompanied by a guide – from the elementary school to the church and the village food gardens. Close to our landing spot the villagers also put on displays of weaving, basket making and food preparation. For the eagle eyed there were also a few handicrafts to purchase. Then it was time for an eagerly awaited dance performance. Both women and men – from four or five-year-olds upwards, formed long and rhythmic lines as they swayed, clapped, and slapped their bodies in unison. Their skin glowed from liberal dustings of turmeric powder and their bodies were adorned with woven palm necklaces, headdresses, anklets and lavalavas.  

With lunch behind us, it was then time to get back on the water. The divers headed in one direction on a zodiac and the snorkellers found a reasonably sheltered spot in the lagoon not far from waves curling over the reef.  

While the fish life was a little light on, the visibility was excellent, and at times the snorkellers felt they were hovering weightless in space over the deep blue beyond. 

For those not snorkelling, Jeremy and Greg took a nature walk on the northern end of the atoll’s main island. A ruddy turnstone or two, and a few Pacific golden plovers were sighted.    

Back on the ship, the dining room was abuzz with appreciation for what we had witnessed – a community living as close to a traditional life as possible. All would agree that such encounters are becoming increasingly rare. 



Day 14: Lamotrek Island , 22 November 2023

Another wonderful day lay ahead, immersed in the culture of these remote specks of land in the vast Pacific Ocean. And again, Thomas and the Captain were first ashore. They took gifts for the village and obtained the approval of the Chief to land.  

We were warmly welcomed by lines of happy children, and with leis atop our heads, were then ushered to rows of seats under a tarpaulin ahead of a formal welcome from Chief Yetigmal. The Chief’s welcome was delivered in English by another village elder, and our Captain and Thomas responded enthusiastically.  

With the formalities over, we were free to wander and watch demonstrations as diverse as basket making, weaving, boat building, navigation, massage, and herbal medicine preparation. And as with our previous day’s village visit, there were memorable dance performances staged for our pleasure. While the women lined up on high ground, the men took to the sand at the water’s edge and told a story in dance and chant of the changes outsiders, and in particular the Japanese, brought to their island home in years long ago.  

Before heading back to the ship, many of us took advantage of a table brimming with handicrafts. From shell necklaces to woven lavalavas, tightly wound skeins of coconut rope and carvings, there was something there for everyone.  

After lunch, and while the divers and snorkellers did their thing, about a dozen or so of us took turns to ride in a couple of traditional sailing canoes. With a lateen rig and a sail that was end-for-ended when the vessel wanted to tack, the ride proved a small but fascinating taste into the way these thoroughly seagoing and ancient design craft functioned.  

Back on board, rather than thinking of long-distance human migrations on sailing canoes, we returned to the Bridge Deck Lounge to learn more from Cristiana of the fascinating journeys that sea turtles make. Cristiana also gave a moving account of the threats that turtles face from pollution, poaching, fishing bi-catch and so on. A sad reality of today.  

And so we left Yap state and Coral Adventurer travelled onwards to the islands and atolls of Chuuk.  

Lamotrek Philippines


Day 15: Poluwat Island , 23 November 2023

After yet another peaceful overnight passage, Coral Adventurer eventually came to anchor on the outside of the reef at the Poluwat Atoll. The view we enjoyed over breakfast was as postcard perfect as one could imagine of a South Seas paradise. Coconut fringed sandy beaches back the lagoon’s intense aqua waters, with steep pitched thatched roofs scattered among the island’s verdant tropical forest. As in previous days, the Captain and Thomas formed the advance party and negotiated our successful arrival at the main village.  

Once we were all ashore, we gathered in the shade of one of the village’s meeting houses for a dance performance by a group of children. But for the young ones, the dance was but a prelude to much greater excitement. While we explored ashore, they were to be shown aboard the Coral Adventurer. Such an experience would surely be way beyond each of their wildest imaginations, living as they do far from cruise ships and most of the trappings of the outside world.  

After breaking into two groups, we were led by our guides on a tour of the village. What was very noticeable on this occasion was the damage done to both substantial churches by a recent typhoon, with sections of the roof still missing from both.   

Following the village tour we headed back to the Xplorers and a transfer across to Alei Island on the northern side of the lagoon. Elsewhere, the divers were again in action, enjoying the underwater splendours of this tropical idyll.  

But the non-divers were certainly not going to miss out. While we’d been enjoying the hospitality of the village, our own hospitality team had been busy ashore setting up morning tea on the beach. There was even a glass or two of bubbly in readiness for our arrival! 

So, while most of us enjoyed the refreshments and then a relaxing swim in such an idyllic setting, a group of intrepid walkers set off along the beach with the intent of reaching the lighthouse at the northern end of the island, a relic of WWII Japanese occupation. The going was slow in the heat and soft sand, made even slower by a detour to find some Japanese wartime fortifications secreted in the forest. In the end, only two walkers made it all the way to the lighthouse, and on the return leg several were very appreciative of a lift back to the last Xplorer in one of the village boats.  

By contrast, the rest of the day was very relaxed and cruisy, with the rescreening by popular demand of the Life of Pi, and a chance to recharge the batteries ahead of an action-packed day at Truk Lagoon.   


Poluwat Philippines


Day 16: Truk Lagoon , 24 November 2023

After a delay of an hour or so we took our pilot onboard around 07.00 and made our way into the lagoon of the most extensive atoll in the world. It was going to be a busy morning, with two dives scheduled on just a few of the famous WWII Japanese wrecks scattered across the floor of the lagoon – warships, merchant ships and aircraft. These are in relatively deep water, but not to be outdone, the snorkellers were also to have the chance to dive on a wrecked zero fighter in shallower water. Both the diving and snorkelling were facilitated through the services of a local dive guide. 

And for a few that didn’t want to wet their toes, Alasdair put on an informal art ‘class’ on deck 6 aft – if only the ship would stop swinging at anchor, they might have had a better go at their subject! A second dive rounded out the morning for the keen ones. 

The third and final dive, together with a second snorkel, completed a fascinating water program of peering into history and the calamitous days in 1944 when bombs rained down on the Japanese and so many lives were lost.  

With one Xplorer attending to the divers and snorkellers,  

the second ferried the remainder of us to Eten Island, the site of a Japanese wartime airbase. Walking through the forest of coconut palms, breadfruit trees and figs, with bats flying through the canopy, it was hard to believe that most of this island was once cleared of vegetation. Our local guide led us through the forest until we reached a handful of houses and there looming out of the trees was a massive ruin made from reinforced concrete. It had once been the headquarters of the Japanese 26th Air Flotilla.  

The building’s upper storey was in a state of collapse – graphic evidence from the moment when an American bomb scored a direct hit in 1944. Nature was now doing what high explosives had failed to do, albeit at a much slower pace. Strangler figs and vines now covered many of the building’s outer walls, and tree roots cascaded down though holes in the collapsed roof.  

Back onboard Coral Adventurer, we relived the happenings of the day and received a short description from Second Officer Alex of when the kids from Poluwat had their own special kind of adventure aboard our lovely vessel.  

All in all, a memorable day.  

Truk Philippines


Day 17: Day at Sea , 25 November 2023

As is the habit for a sea day, the morning started for the keen ones with Chrissy’s stretching and yoga class in the Bridge Deck Lounge.  

Then after breakfast, there was more exercise aplenty – but this time of a more cerebral kind, as first Jeremy and then Greg gave equally fascinating talks. Jeremy covered the extraordinary story of Austronesian navigation, and how early voyagers through the Pacific Ocean made their way through their unwritten knowledge of the stars, currents, bird behaviour and so much more. His discussion was made so much more relevant by us having encountered a genuine Micronesian navigator on our visit to Lamotrek a couple of days before.  

And then for something completely different, Greg took over after morning tea and gave us a fascinating guide to the world of venom – not just as one might expect from snakes and spiders, but frogs, lizards, the male platypus and right through to the most venomous of all, the box jellyfish. ‘Striking Beauties’ indeed! 

After lunch, those of us who hadn’t yet enjoyed the delights of the engine room descended into the bowels of the ship for tour with the engineers. At 1430 there was a rescreening of the documentary, ‘My Octopus Teacher’, one of the most beautiful and moving of nature films to be released in recent years.  

And if you thought that sea days were a little empty, well the hospitality team proved that notion wrong by putting on a wine tasting, with each select drop accompanied by appropriate canapes. Then … if you were still wanting more action after dinner, Chrissy ran a games night, full of enough fun to last us until our next destination, Ant Atoll.   



Day 18: Ant Atoll , 26 November 2023

We made a dramatic entrance into our third state in the Federated States of Micronesia. An Xplorer set off to explore the narrow S-shaped entrance into Ant Atoll and unperturbed Captain Matt followed. There was little leeway for error as the channel was narrow and as we slowly went through we could feel the windage pushing the ship towards the shallow fringing reefs as we maneuvered through the bends. Spontaneous applause celebrated our safe arrival in the lagoon and some were seen kissing their rosaries.  

An Xplorer dropped off the landing party and then the snorkellers back for an excellent snorkel in pristine waters. Ashore Greg set about capturing a large Coconut Crab that later in the day extracted revenge by partially crushing his right thumb. Much blood but a wound to be worn with pride. Meanwhile, Jeremy led some intrepid birders on a walk on the islet that was rewarded with four endemic birds: the Pohnpei Parakeet, Pohnpei White-eye, Pohnpei Flycatcher and the Pohnpei Fantail; plus several Micronesian birds such as the ubiquitous Micronesian Honeyeater, Caroline Islands White-eye, Micronesian Imperial Pigeon and Micronesian Starling. We were surprised to see the day-flying Short-eared Owl that was given away by the alarm calls of the honeyeaters and starlings.  

Many returned to the ship to shower and dress in their most colourful clothing for the famous Coral BBQ back on the beach. A delightful evening watching the sun set, eating the delicious food and enjoying lively conversations enlivened by recited poetry and the odd limerick. A highlight was the feeding of the tame Black-tipped Reef Sharks with left over prawns. Back to the ship and the energetic convened in the Bridge Deck Lounge for cheese platters followed by karaoke. Spirited performances from guests and crew. Much laughter and fun. Out on deck and the nearly full moon was surrounded by a spectacular halo of light. 


Ant Atoll


Day 19: Pohnpei , 27 November 2023

An early breakfast while we docked in Colonia on Pohnpei a large island in the Senyavin Islands, a subset of the Caroline Islands. With an area of 334 km2 this high volcanic island has long supported a large population that currently is about 37,000 people. Colonia, is the largest and most developed town in the Federated State of Micronesia.  

We disembarked at the wharf and split into two groups, one taking a bus ride to Kepirohi Waterfall while the other started with the Nan Madol ruins. A short easy walk through fine forest led to the gushing waterfall. A few changed for a dip in the pool beneath the falls while others explored the luxuriant vegetation along the path with fine mosses, flowers and many birds. This group had an early lunch before regrouping and swapping to the more robust buses that could reach the Nan Madol ruins.  

The first group at the ruins were there at low tide and hence had a mainly dry walk. The second group were there on a rising tide that was flooding the mangroves. Consequently, many crossed the final channel in a boat under the command of the Chief Officer Jason. The ruins lived up to all expectations and inspired wonder with the scale of the walls, leading to much speculation as to how the large basalt rocks were moved from the quarries on the other side of the island. This of course was not a problem if one accepted the local tradition that they were levitated by magic. A wonderful site with so many mysteries: why did they have canals that had gates to maintain their depth at low tide? Why were there so many artificial islands and what was the significance of the location? Despite the challenges for many of the access trail, we all felt the visit was well worth the effort. 

The return to the ship included a visit to a highly specialised shop that only sold the local gourmet pepper. Many of us bought this precious commodity – certainly the most expensive pepper at US$10 for 80g! Let us hope we can get it through Customs and it lives to its reputation… The final stop was a visit to a Bell Tower that was a reminder of the brief German colonial period. This rounded off a splendid day in one of the few World Heritage sites in the Pacific. We left the shelter of the atoll passing through the fringing reef in pouring rain with the ethereal rusting wreck emphasizing the dangers of the passage. Unperturbed the Pilot nimbly descending a rope ladder into a pitching small boat and left us to continue our voyage.  



Day 20: At Sea , 28 November 2023

A sea day offered the chance of a bit of a sleep in apart from the insomniacs and fitness devotees who participated in the yoga session with Chrissie. Breakfast was followed by an information session on tomorrow’s excursion at Kosrae. Mike informed us about what little is known of the ruins at Lelu, their function and the significance of their location. This was followed by guest lecturer Cristiana talking about The Explorer Gene, and speculating on how it was linked to the human urge to explore and may be correlated with creativity and attention deficit disorders. 

In the afternoon guests were treated to an entertaining cooking demonstration by Chef Paul that included revelations on his role aboard the Coral Adventurer. Guest lecturer Mike championing the role of women at sea with an interesting presentation on the little-known lives of three women pioneers who travelled the world against the odds. 


Day 21: Kosrea , 29 November 2023

We all departed on the Xplorers for a pier landing at Lelu and caught a bus to the Lelu ruins. These were similar to the ruins of Nan Madol on Pohnpei with large horizontal columns of basalt separated by smaller basalt rocks in a building style that resembled the making of a log cabin. Adjacent were two tombs where bodies were allowed to decompose before the bones were transported to other funerary sites. This site has towering walls and a clear cultural significance until 1850, but has so far not applied for World Heritage status. Sadly, the poverty of the island was apparent with much of the decline in culture and increase in litter that appears to be an inevitable corollary of westernization. We were entertained by five women dancers telling the stories of catching fish and the making of Sunday soup. The birders were delighted to see two of the local endemics: the Kosrae Fruit Dove and the Kosrae White-eye. 

We all took the bus to the Kosrae Museum that housed a variety of local artefacts, relicts from WWII and some fine biological specimens in a room supported by the Korean government. We finished off at the Tridacna Clam Farm, where the inspiring German manager, Martin, explained how he was breeding seven species of clams for export to European and US aquarium trade. The clams were very beautiful and we were privileged to see some clams being induced to produce sperm after a serotonin injection for the fertilization of eggs produced earlier. The whole project is doing well however the whole project is very dependent on the energy and enthusiasm of Martin due his problems retaining trained staff who can acquire easier and better paid work in the USA. 

After lunch back on board the Coral Adventurer we all walked to the public sea pool where our sponsored clams were put into submerged cages to grow up on the reef. Many snorkelled around the clam cages and out to the Blue Hole. Those who were not snorkelling split into two groups: one explored the town; while the other group returned to the pier to board kayaks for a tour of the mangroves. The heavy rain did not dampen their enthusiasm. 

Many of the crew and a few of the guests went ashore in the evening for a look at the town and a meal ashore.  



Day 22: Kosrea, 30 November 2023

Many of us were awoken by the anchor being raised just before daybreak for a short sail along the south end of the island. We dropped anchor so the divers and snorkellers could have an excursion on the coral. Meanwhile back on board guest lecturer Alasdair led a highly informative art session in which he explained how to mix the blues and greens to capture the subtleties of the sea over coral. Most of the snorkellers were back early and joined in. After all the theory some brave souls seized the materials and put it into practice.  

After lunch there was a screening of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, complete with wedges and sorbet… This was followed by a talk from guest lecturer Cristiana on Marine Debris. A sobering wake-up call on all the rubbish that ends up in the sea causing much destruction. Cristiana was on again later in the afternoon reviewing the marine creatures we have seen on this voyage.  



Day 23: At Sea, 01 December 2023

As the Coral Adventurer set sail to our last Micronesian destination, we had the opportunity to enjoy a relaxing day at sea. Calm oceans and clear skies greeted us in the morning, and everyone onboard enjoyed a series of presentations.  

Guest Lecturer Jeremy introduced us to the marvelous world of birds, explaining their intelligence and extraordinary adaptations in their brains compared to mammals.  

Guest Lecturer Greg also covered subjects of an important topic: species extinctions, educating everyone about the challenges of the Anthropocene period. 

After lunch, guests embarked on an onboard adventure: a scavenger hunt, looking for clues and following the art trail, hunting for tips that led them to win a surprise prize! This was followed by another informative presentation, where dive instructor Adam explained the fascinating world of cetaceans. 

We all welcomed the occasion to unwind and relax, preparing for our next incredible ‘Micronesian Sun’ adventure. 

Sea Day


Day 24: Kapingamarangi, 02 December 2023

After a calm day at sea and an informative presentation by our Guest Lecturer Alasdair McGregor about the support of Australian Geographic for scientific and conservation projects and the Coral Expeditions partnership, we arrived at our last idyllic island destination, the hard-to-pronounce but exquisitely beautiful Kapingamarangi Island.  

Located at the southernmost point of Micronesia and part of the Caroline Islands, 33 wooded islets created a paradisiacal scenery for our last adventure, where we had the opportunity to disembark and experience the local village hospitality.  

We learned about their ways of living, from coconut harvesting to weaving and craft-making. But without a doubt, the real highlight was the children’s enthusiasm, welcoming us all with their lively playfulness and genuine smiles. A singular intimate moment of exchange, that touched and warmed our hearts. 

After the rain, all welcomed the sun as we plunged into our last swim, drinks in our hands, cheering on an incredible adventure at our own private and deserted island! What a privilege to exchange memories and mementos forever imprinted in our minds. 



Day 25: At Sea, 03 December 2023

“My soul is full of longing for the secrets of the sea, and the heart of the great ocean sends a thrilling pulse through me.” ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  

Discovery isn’t made by keeping both feet on land…as we covered more than 3795 nautical miles onboard Coral Adventurer; en route to Kavieng, our final destination in Papua New Guinea, we were surrounded by the vast, immense sea. Nurtured by the comforts of our seaworthy ship, we can only wonder about the early Austronesian skilled navigators and their small vessels, braving the unknown seas.  

Sailing across calm waters, we were surprised by a unique encounter, meeting a pod of Sperm whales, the largest of the toothed whales, which also possess the largest brain of any creature known to have lived on Earth. 

After this remarkable encounter, our expedition leader, Cara, introduced us to the incredible future destinations that Coral Expeditions offers, with many of our guests already planning their following voyages! We sure all possess the explorer gene! We then joined guest lecturer Mike to learn more about one of the most controversial characters in ocean exploration, William Dampier.  

In the afternoon, we gathered to reminisce about our journey’s incredible memories and experiences through a series of spectacular drone shots and images captured by our expedition team. It was also time for our artists on assignment to shine, showcasing the art they created during the trip. 

With bittersweetness in our hearts, we celebrated this unforgettable “Micronesia Sun” journey with our adventurous Captain Matt, the crew, and guests, toasting to the memories created with farewell drinks, with the certainty we have shared and experiencing one of the most remote, pristine places on Earth.