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Setting sail from Cairns
Cairns is a buzzing tourist hub, gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest. A snorkelling trip out to the reef is the most obvious excursion to take here, but other options include riding the Skyrail cableway over the rainforest canopy or swimming in the croc-free saltwater lagoon.
Papua New Guinea: Alotau
Alotau is the capital of Milne Bay province, on the remote eastern tip of mainland Papua New Guinea. Milne Bay was the scene of heavy fighting during the Second World War, and today you can dive amongst the wreckage left behind. Alotau also serves as a base for visiting the nearby islands, including the fascinating Trobriand archipelago.
Papua New Guinea: Tufi
The laid back town of Tufi enjoys a beautiful setting, on a fjord-like inlet that was shaped by volcanic activity rather than ice. The coral-rich waters off the coast make this a diver’s paradise, and there are also many traditional villages in the area where the locals dress in clothes made of tapa, a cloth produced from the bark of the mulberry tree.
Papua New Guinea: Tami Islands
This small archipelago consists of four atolls around a central lagoon, where the vibrant coral reefs attract plenty of divers and snorkellers. The islanders lead a simple village life and are renowned for their intricately carved ‘Tami bowls’, traditionally used for dowry payments.
Papua New Guinea: Madang
Madang, first settled by Germans during the 19th century, was once known as the ‘prettiest town in the Pacific’, and retains its charm despite significant damage during the Second World War. There is some great snorkelling and diving just offshore, while the city’s towering casuarina trees support a noisy population of flying foxes.
Papua New Guinea: Kopar Village (Sepik River)
The legendary Sepik River takes you into the remote and unspoilt heart of Papua New Guinea, a place where headhunting and cannibalism existed within living memory. The region is also known for its remarkable art, and for the ceremonies where young men are ritually scarred so that their skin resembles that of a crocodile.
Jayapura, also known as Port Numbay, is the capital of Indonesia’s Papua province. This busy city is well off the tourist trail, and provides an introduction to the fascinating customs of the region. Nearby sights include beautiful Lake Sentani, where you can take a trip on a local longboat out to one of the islands.
Indonesia: Cenderawasih Bay
The broad sweep of Cenderawasih Bay, off the northern coast of Papua, is known for its spectacularly biodiverse coral reefs. These waters are home to dolphins, dugongs and four different species of turtle, but the star attraction is the resident population of whale sharks, the biggest fish in the sea.
Indonesia: Mommon Peninsula (West Papua)
Indonesia: Triton Bay
The protected marine reserve of Triton Bay rivals Raja Ampat as one of Indonesia’s premier locations for snorkelling and scuba diving. The biodiversity here is remarkable, with species ranging from pygmy seahorses to mighty whale sharks, and it’s also a nesting site for green turtles.
Indonesia: Kai Archipelago
The Kai Archipelago, part of the Maluku islands, is known for its idyllic beaches. The ancestors of the Kai people are believed to have come here from Bali, but there is no written history, with an oral tradition of stories known as Tom-Tad that are passed down from generation to generation.
Arriving in Darwin
More of a large town than a city, Darwin is less about what's contained within the city limits and more about the huge expanse of wild landscape that's outside it. Closer to Jakarta than Sydney, the city really does feel remote in its tropical perch. There are a number of waterfront restaurants and pretty parks, making it a pleasant place to relax after a long flight. For those with the energy we highly recommend a visit to Litchfield and Kakadu National Parks.
Visit Litchfield National Park and embark on a crocodile-spotting boat trip, where you can see these intimidating, prehistoric beasts jump clean out of the water for a meal.
Your home from home
Sleek and stylish, Ponant's wonderful Explorer yachts blend luxury and intimacy with a discreet elegance and tasteful décor.
What we love
Named after six of France's most famous explorers, Le Champlain, Le Lapérouse, Le Bougainville, Le Dumont d'Urville, Le Bellot and Le Jacques Cartier offer exciting and adventurous itineraries in the utmost comfort. Technologically advanced, with the latest in environmentally friendly hardware, the new ships embody Ponant's trademark élan and flair, with just 92 spacious rooms and suites, a stylish pool deck and an intimate, refined onboard ambience.
|Refined with a wonderful mix of a modern super yacht and nautical tradition, all with a French flair.
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Where to stay near Darwin
Don’t hang around in Darwin itself; if you want to see more of the Top End, we recommend Bamurru Plains.
Visit the Red Centre
From Darwin take a flight to the Red Centre to see the magical sites of Uluru and Kings Canyon, yet another one of those once in a lifetime experiences!