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Islands of the South Pacific

Battles & Beaches: 75th Anniversary of WWII (Honiara to Port Vila), 13 Nights

Commemorating The End of WWII

13 Nights | Departs Honiara, Solomon Islands, 23rd October 2020 | Arrives Port Vila, Vanuatu, 4th November 2020

Join Coral Expeditions and partners onboard expedition vessel Coral Discoverer on a 13–night expedition voyage through the autonomous regions of Bougainville, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the end of WWII in May 1945. This journey will be conducted in partnership with the Australian Geographic Society and recognises the sacrifices and honours the legacy of Allied and Axis Forces that fought in the theatre of the Pacific War.

These battles were fierce confrontations between the Imperial Japanese Navy and the United States Navy with combined forces of Allied nations including Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United Kingdom forces. Many significant battles took place in the South Western Pacific countries of Solomon Islands and Vanuatu as well as Bougainville, and this expedition visits battle sites where relics remain either on land or below the sea.

Pacific Islanders were greatly impacted by the war on their doorstep with some playing crucial roles, like the scouts who found John F Kennedy after his patrol boat was sunk. This expedition explores the history of the period and will also offer guests an immersion into the idyllic island landscapes, strong cultural traditions of Pacific Islanders and the renowned warmth and hospitality of the peoples of the Pacific.

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Expedition Highlights

  • Informative, insightful commentary and presentations by special guest lecturers and wartime historians
  • Visit Torokina in Bougainville, site of the Japanese surrender in 1945
  • Walk in the footsteps of John F Kennedy on Kennedy Island and learn about his crews’ rescue
  • Cruise Iron Bottom Sound and pause to pay tribute to Allied troops at wreck sites like the HMAS Canberra
  • Snorkel and scuba dive over WWII wrecks, now vibrant marine habitats, at Million Dollar Point, Tulagi and Havannah Harbour
  • Cruise into the caldera of a sunken volcano at Ureparapara



23 October 2020

Bridge Deck Balcony Stateroom $14,480 n/a
Promenade Deck A $12,410 n/a
Promenade Deck B $11,370  $17,055
Main Deck A $10,860  n/a
Main Deck B $10,340  n/a

Prices are per person, listed in Australian Dollars (AUD) and include GST. *Limited sole use occupancy available.



Embarkation: Board at Honiara at 4:00pm for 5:00pm departure.
Disembarkation: Arrive and disembark in Port Vila, capital of Vanuatu, at 08:00am.

The following itinerary is indicative and should be used as a guide. Each expedition is guided by our experienced Masters and Expedition Leaders taking into account 10+ metre tidal range, weather and sea conditions.

Following are some of the key destinations we visit on this expedition.

Day 1: Depart Honiara (Solomon Islands)

Honiara South Pacific Cruise Coral Expeditions

At midday join a pre-cruise tour in Honiara to gain an overview of the Guadalcanal Campaign including the Guadalcanal American Memorial at Skyline Ridge, the Battle of Edson’s Ridge and the Henderson Field.

Board your Coral Expeditions ship, Coral Discoverer, at 4:00pm where there is time to settle into your cabin before our 5:00pm departure.

Join our Expedition Team for an insightful introduction to the Pacific Theatre of War in the 1940’s and meet your fellow travellers, the Master and crew for the Captain’s Welcome Drinks.

Rendova Island (Solomon Islands)

We visit Rendova Island, where United States forces wrested control of the island from Japanese forces. Rendova Island is significant after John F Kennedy – US Navy lieutenant and 35th US President-to-be – swam ashore with his crew after their PT-109 patrol boat was rammed by the Japanese destroyer Amagiri.

Two Solomon Islanders found JFK’s shipwrecked crew who had been surviving on coconuts, and delivered a message inscribed into a coconut by JFK, to the Allied base on Rendova Island, which resulted in their rescue.

Rendova Island was the base for a series of land and sea battles between Allied and Japanese forces known as the New Georgia campaign. The island is home to several small villages while the south coast is a nesting site for endangered leatherback turtles. We visit Roviana Lagoon where there is an opportunity to swim and snorkel in tropical waters.

Blackett Strait & Kennedy Island (Solomon Islands)

We cruise through the narrow pass of Blackett Strait where the Battle of Blackett Strait took place in 1943, after a successful Guadalcanal campaign, with the sinking of two Japanese destroyers. It was in the aftermath of a later Blackett Strait engagement that Kennedy’s PT-109 was rammed and sunk.

There is an opportunity to visit Kennedy Island to relax on the beach and swim in the tropical waters where JFK and his crew made a rudimentary raft from the wreckage to assist the injured swim ashore after their vessel was rammed.

Later, we go ashore at Ghizo town, the second largest town in the Solomons, which was established as an administrative base partly to stop the now defunct practice of tribal head hunting.  We are welcomed ashore with a cultural performance and are able to wander through Gizo and its waterfront market. There is an option for scuba diving over the wreck of Toa Maru, a Japanese transport ship sunk by American submarine USS Searaven.

Buin & Kangu Beach - Bougainville (Papua New Guinea)

Today offers a true expedition-style excursion as we venture ashore at Kangu Beach near the little-visited town of Buin deep in the jungle on Bougainville Island.

During WWII this coast was occupied by Japanese forces who fortified the area against US attacks with bunkers, tunnels, coastal guns and anti-aircraft defences. If conditions are suitable, we plan to spend time relaxing on the beach and swimming in tropical waters.

Cape Torokina – Bougainville (Papua New Guinea)

Cape Torokina is where the Japanese Imperial Navy surrendered aboard Royal Australian Navy vessel HMAS Diamantina in 1945. Earlier, at the beginning of the Bougainville campaign during Operation Cherry Blossom, amphibious landings were undertaken by US forces as part of Allied efforts advancing towards the Japanese stronghold around Rabaul in Papua New Guinea.

We take a guided tour of a local village and visit the former airfield where Japanese aircraft dropped bombs, forcing the Allies to relocate squadrons elsewhere to avoid aircraft damage.

Tetepare Island (Solomon Islands)

Wildlife viewing opportunities abound at Tetepare Island, a rugged, rainforest-clad uninhabited island which was mysteriously abandoned by its residents in the mid-19th century. The island’s traditional landowners have formed a conservation project to protect the entire island as a wilderness region of archaeological and conservation significance. The island’s dense jungle lures approx. 80 bird species including rare and endemic birds, which in turn attract birdwatchers.

Tetapare Island is an important nesting site for green and hawksbill turtles as well as the highly endangered Pacific leatherback turtle. A robust population of dugongs and dolphins inhabit the surrounding sea and we may be lucky enough to see these creatures while snorkelling in the lagoon or by joining rangers on a turtle tagging program. There will be an opportunity to purchase artefacts from carvers who come from nearby islands.

Tassafaronga Point & Iron Bottom Sound (Solomon Islands)

The Battle of Tassafaronga was a night time battle whereby US Forces intercepted eight Japanese destroyers delivering food and supplies to their troops on Guadalcanal, with the resultant loss of a Japanese destroyer and a US cruiser. There may an opportunity to scuba dive or snorkel at the site of this shipwreck or visit local villages.

Later, we learn more about the Solomon’s and Guadalcanal campaigns as we pause to pay tribute above WWII wrecks in Iron Bottom Sound including HMAS Canberra.

Tulagi (Solomon Islands)

During the Guadalcanal campaign, Japanese ships in Tulagi Harbour were raided by aircraft launched from USS Yorktown in a prelude to the Battle of the Coral Sea. Under the code name of Operation Watchtower, in an extended battle US Forces landed and captured Tulagi, which was then the Capital of the Solomon Islands. With Tulagi sustaining extensive damage, after WWII ended the Capital was relocated to Honiara.

We go ashore at Vanita Jetty where we are welcomed with a traditional Solomon Islander warrior welcome followed by music and dance performances. We take a guided walking tour around Tulagi township and visit the cut through the hill, the cricket pitch, former Commissioners Residence and the Tulagi Market. We explore the harbour by Xplorer tender vessels visiting Tanambogho and Ghavutu. There may be an opportunity to dive or snorkel the waters around Tulagi which are well-known for magnificent wreck diving.

Mboli Passage (Solomon Islands)

The Mboli Passage is a narrow waterway that dissects the Ngela Islands (also known as the Florida Islands). The lushly vegetated pass is the location of a fresh water station where Allied warships replenished water supplies by a pipeline fed from limestone caves high on the hill. The Mboli Passage is the final resting point for WWII wrecks such as a Japanese destroyer and we take the opportunity to explore the passage by Xplorer tender vessels.

Ureparapara (Vanuatu)

One of the most geographically spectacular islands in the South Pacific, Ureparapara is an extinct stratovolcano rising 764m above sea level. Accessible only be sea and landlocked on three sides, we cruise into the cone of the volcano which evolved through eruptions and cascading molten lava.  We go ashore in Xplorer tender vessels to be welcomed by traditional ‘water music’ which involves women splashing rhythmically in the shallows of the sea.

Luganville (Vanuatu)

Luganville, on the island of Espiritu Santo was the location of a large WWII Allied base with the huts used by troops still evident today. We enjoy a guided tour of the waterfront city.

Some of the South Pacific’s most extraordinary dive and snorkel sites are in the waters surrounding Luganville. Million Dollar Point is so named after Allied forces dumped unwanted tanks, trucks and other machinery in the sea as WWII ended. These relics have become significant habitats for vibrant coral gardens and extensive fish species, some in water shallow enough for snorkellers to view.

SS President Coolidge was a luxury liner that was commandeered into military service to help with pre-war evacuations, then later as a troop carrier. Coolidge’s staterooms were reconfigured to accommodate up to 5,000 troops and guns were mounted on her decks. Sailing into a mine field at Espirito Santo harbour, the Captain ran the foundering ship aground on a beach, with all but two crew surviving before the hulk slipped into deeper water and sunk. There is an opportunity for scuba divers to explore this significant shipwreck.

Havannah Harbour

Havannah Harbour was utilised as a Naval and seaplane base by US and Allied forces with a fleet of flying boats moored in the harbour. The seabed near the town of Port Havannah remains dotted with WWII artefacts and antiquities like downed seaplanes, artillery shells and other jettisoned equipment making for fascinating diving and snorkelling.

As our incredible South Pacific adventures draw to a close, on our last evening aboard we enjoy the Captain’s farewell drinks amongst new-found friends.

Day 14: Arrive In Port Vila (Vanuatu)

This morning we arrive in Port Vila and disembark at 8:00am. Post-cruise transfers can be arranged on board (additional cost).

This itinerary is an indication of the destinations we visit and activities on offer. Throughout the expedition we may make changes to the itinerary as necessary to maximise your expeditionary experience. Allowances may be made for seasonal variations, weather, tidal conditions and any other event that may affect the operation of the vessel.

October 2020

Departure Departure Arrival Arrival Cost Per Person Cost PP Ship Availability  
23 October 2020 23 Oct 2020 05 November 2020 05 Nov 2020 $10,340 to $14,480 $10,340 to $14,480 Coral Discoverer Available Book

November 2020

Departure Departure Arrival Arrival Cost Per Person Cost PP Ship Availability  
23 October 2020 23 Oct 2020 05 November 2020 05 Nov 2020 $10,340 to $14,480 $10,340 to $14,480 Coral Discoverer Available Book

Your Cruise Price Includes:

  • 13 night Expedition Voyage aboard Coral Discoverer
  • Expert Expedition Team, including a Guest Lecturer
  • Daily guided excursions on the Xplorer and Zodiac tender vessels, and kayaks where conditions allow
  • Small batch local dining, prepared fresh onboard:  buffet breakfasts, buffet lunches and table d’hote dinners
  • Showcase wines, selected beers and soft drinks with lunch and dinner service
  • 24 hour coffee and selection of teas
  • Captain’s Welcome and Farewell Events, and Open Bridge Access with the Captain
  • Comprehensive and fully guided sightseeing in each destination
  • All entrance fees to National Parks and Ports

Your Cruise Price Does Not Include:

  • Travel insurance
  • Alcoholic drinks including beer and wine outside of lunch and dinner service
  • Internet services (available at a cost)
  • Laundry service (available at a cost)
  • Australian entry visas or travel permits
  • Items of a personal nature including but not limited to phone and internet communications and bar charges (outside of the included drinks package as highlighted) laundry charges and souvenir purchases


Tipping is not required:

Other cruise lines automatically add gratuities to your account and service charges to your bar invoices. On Coral Discoverer, our crew has no other agenda than your delight

Our friendly reservations specialists are on hand to assist with your booking arrangements to ensure your holiday runs as smoothly as possible. Contact our team on 1800 079 545 during business hours in Australia or email

Travel Insurance

Comprehensive Travel Insurance is strongly recommended for all travellers as protection against any unforeseen events that may necessitate the cancellation or interruption of your holiday and should be purchased at the same time as you purchase your cruise. It should also include emergency evacuation and repatriation cover.

We recommend Travel Insurance by SureSave.

SureSave, is an Australian company who specialise in travel insurance designed for travellers. SureSave provides world assistance through a customer support team, a claims team and an in-house 24/7 Emergency Assistance division. Underwritten by Lloyds of London, you get peace of mind knowing your security is guaranteed.

Please note: SureSave Travel Insurance policies may only be purchased by Australian residents. For international travellers, please discuss your policy requirements with your local insurance provider.