Explore the Pacific’s Remotest Islands by Private Air Charter

Hidden Pacific II:

A private charter exploration of the Pacific’s remotest countries

Designed and led by Wheeler Expeditions

All of us dream of being here on an idyllic South Pacific island paradise. Some of us, however, want to experience more. We want to go to the remotest, least-known island nations in the Pacific – to meet who lives there, to learn first-hand what makes them tick as a country, to understand their prospects for the future.

Dr. Jack Wheeler designed this trip for dedicated, world-class travelers to easily reach the islands of the Pacific that almost no one goes to. Many of these islands are virtually cut off from the rest of the world, nearly impossible to get to without incredible effort, time, and money.

Dates of Travel: June 26th – July 8th, 2016


SUMMARY

During this truly extraordinary two-week journey, we will visit ten Travelers Century Club countries, six of which are UN member states: The Marshalls, Kiribati, Nauru, Tuvalu, Canton Island, Samoa, American Samoa, Wallis & Futuna, Niue, and Tonga.

The majestic beauty of these islands is beyond stunning. You will never forget swimming with humpback whales in Vava’u and snorkeling in the lagoon of Canton or the chasms of Niue. You get the exclusive chance to meet the Presidents of Kiribati and Samoa, the Prime Minister of Tuvalu, as well as their top business leaders.


BOOKING DETAILS

Cost of Trip: $14,500 per person

Contact Info: Jack Wheeler – jwexpeditions@gmail.com, 202-656-3008

Deposit, Payment, Cancellation, and Refund:

*Non-refundable 20% deposit of $2,900 per person upon booking.
*Refund of deposit and balance in full on the condition of a fully-paid, acceptable replacement for you. Note: you may want to consider trip cancellation insurance.

For more detailed information on the cost breakdown, click here.


ITINERARY

Day 1: Saturday, June 25

Arrive, Vava’u, Tonga, on Fiji Airway FJ275, departing Nadi at 8:00am, arriving Vava’u non-stop at 11:10am. (Note: all HPII participants must arrive in Vava’u by Saturday, June 25. Please consider arriving earlier, as it’s such a wonderful place.

Ask anyone who has sailed a yacht through the South Pacific about Vava’u and their eyes will mist over: all they’ll be able to say is, “Magic…the most magical place in all the South Seas.” Upon arrival, we ensconce ourselves at the luxury Mystic Sands Resort. After lunch, the afternoon is yours, as the options are many.

Vava’u is a sailing, snorkeling, diving, fishing, hidden, white-sand beach, tropical paradise. Oh, it’s also the best place on earth for whale watching. And not just watching them swim or breach from a boat – but swimming and snorkeling in the water right next to them. When you do that, you hear the whales singing to each other. You feel them singing as their vibrations resonate through your body like a deep tissue massage. Starting in June, humpback whales congregate from all over the Pacific to the sheltered coves of Vava’u to mate and calve. To swim alongside these gentle giants is, for many, a spiritual experience.

Then there are the sea caves, which rival or exceed Capri’s Blue Grotto – like Swallow’s or Mariner’s Cave. At sunset, we’ll reconvene at Vava’u’s favorite bar, Tonga Bob’s. Then we have our Welcome Dinner back at the Mystic Sands.

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Day 2: Sunday, June 26

This morning we board our charted Super King air 200 to the unknown and unique paradise of Niue. Supposedly “self-governing” in “free association” with New Zealand, it’s kept isolated from the world by the Kiwis. The only way to get there is to fly 1500 miles from Auckland and back – unless you have your own plane, as we do. So fo us, it’s a short 230 mile/80 minute flight.

We transfer to the Scenic Matavai Resort. Niue – Polynesian for “Hey, guys, there are coconuts here!” – is uniquely fabulous. As a huge limestone rock with no silty river runoff, the water is incredibly clear – visibility can reach over 200 feet. There are a multitude of chasms through which you clamber to these out-of-a-movie tidal pools perfect for snorkeling, surrounded by colorful reef fish. The limestone cliffs encircling the coast are riddled with caves filled with multi-colored stalactites and stalagmites.

After lunch, we’ll visit the Avaiki King’s Pool, where once only royalty were allowed to swim, then go snorkeling in the Matapa Chasm.We’ll be back at the Matavai for one of those day-glo sunsets.

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Day 3: Monday, June 27

Today we relax and enjoy ourselves exploring Niue. Among the places we’ll see are the Limu Pools and the Palaha Sea Cave. There’s lots more, but we also want to take time with the Niuean people, who are so hospitable and friendly. You’ll certainly make friends. Tonight, we’ve invited Niue Premier Toke Talagi and Niuean business leaders to join us for dinner.

Day 4: Tuesday, June 28

We’re bound for the French Territory of Wallis and Futuna this morning. It’s a 500 mile/2.5 hour flight. To say few visitors ever reach here is an understatement. The only commercial flights are from another French possession, New Caledonia, and back. Yet there is a wonderful small place to stay, l’Albatros, with –no surprise– great French cooking and wines.

Our hosts, M et Mme. Pecher, will take us around the island to see the extraordinary Lalolalo Crater Lake, towering Tepa Church, and the amazing cathedral of Mala’efo’ou. Then we’ll go sailing out into the breathtaking Wallis Lagoon. We’ll end the day with a gourmet dinner of fine French cuisine at l’Albatros.

Day 5: Wednesday, June 29

This morning, our King Air takes us on a 250 mile/90 minute flight to Apia, Samoa. On arrival, we transfer to the legendary Aggie Grey’s. Aggie was an institution for 50 years in Samoa. I met her in 1976, a marvelous lady. Her hotel, now run by Sheraton, remains on of the Pacific’s most iconic hotels.

After lunch, we visit the Robert Louis Stevenson Home and Museum. Revered a “Tusitala” (Teller of Tales) by the Samoans, he spent the last four years of his life here, passing away in 1894. After our visit, we walk up the hill to his tomb with the famous epitaph, “Home is the sailor, home from the sea, and the hunter home from the hill.” By late afternoon, we’re back at Aggie’s for a sundowner by the pool and dinner at its famous veranda restaurant.

Day 6: Thursday, June 30

This is your day to explore Samoa. You can kick back at Aggie’s and visit famous beaches like the one where Gary Cooper filmed “Return to Paradise” in 1953. You can venture to the To Sua Ocean Trench on the south coast; one of the most beautiful swimming spots you’ll find on the planet is here in Fotofago Village, Upolu. To Sua, meaning ‘big hole’, is just that–a large, fern-encrusted 30m deep saltwater-filled sinkhold in a lava tube running to the oceans. Or you can snorkel with turtles in a hidden cove that’s their favorite haunt.

It’s your day to have the most fun you can. At day’s end, we hope to meet or have dinner with Samoa’s O le Ao O le Malo (Chieftain of Government or President), His Highness Tufuga Efi, and a number of Samoan business leaders.

Day 7: Friday, July 1

Today we go back in time–literally. We take off from Fagali airport in Apia at 8am, and 35 minutes later we arrive in Pago Pago, American Samoa–where it is 7:35am Thursday. We’ve crossed back across the Date Line.

The first thing we do is make a bee line for the Sadie Thompson Inn. In late 1916/early 1917, Somerset Maugham stayed here ad met another guest, a prostitute from Honolulu named Sadie Thompson, who became the main character in his short story Rain. Three movies were made from this story– the 1928 silent classic Sadie Thompson starring Gloria Swanson, the 1932 Rain starring Joan Crawford, and the 1953 Miss Sadie Thompson, starring Rita Hayworth. Sadly, no one seems to know what happened to the real Sadie. The inn looks a little different now than 100 years ago, but the history is still there.

We’ll explore the famous harbor dominated by Rainmaker Mountain, drive along the spectacular coastline to Samoa’s Cock’s Comb, go for a swim on Two Dollar Beach, and then have a relaxing lunch and afternoon at Tisa’s Barefoot Bar and Grill.

Run by Tisa Fa’amuli and her partner Candyman, Tisa’s is considered by many as the best beach bar in the entire South Pacific. Peaceful and secluded, it’s an institution in American Samoa, and the best place to meet local Samoans, from villagers to government ministers. We won’t want to leave, but we must, to fly back to Apia and Aggie’s at day’s end.

Day 8: Saturday, July 2

We step into history today, flying 660 miles/3.25 hours to storied but now forgotten Canton Island in the Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA) of Kiribati, a World Heritage Site. While not a sovereign nation, the Line/Phoenix Islands are listed in the Travelers’ Century Club as a distinct jurisdiction. PanAm built the airstrip in the late 1930s, which was expanded for WWII and used for Hawaii-Australia flights until 1965. It’s still functional and we have a landing permit.

Canton (or Kanton) is the only inhabited island in the Phoenix group. Only a dozen families live ther now, and they will take us into their homes. They’ll perform a Welcome Ceremony for us, and show us what is considered the best snorkeling on earth in the Canton lagoon. This evening we’ll have a firelit feast of the fish we caught with them today. The friendliness and hospitality of the Canton islanders will overwhelm us.

Day 9: Sunday, July 3

It will be a very reluctant goodbye to our friends on Canton. But after a Farewell Ceremony this morning, we board our King Air for a 640 mile/ 3-hour flight to Funafuti, Tuvalu. You know you’re in for a good time with a place that has an airport code of FUN. And it’s true–Tuvalu has a special magic that makes it one of my favorite places in the Pacific.

We transfer to a marvelous, funky hotel called the Vaiaku Lagi. After lunch, we’ll rent motor bikes and traverse Funafuti’s only road–8 miles from one end of the island to the other. This place is so laid back no one uses a cell phone–everyone’s close by, so they prefer to personally visit one another. Most families don’t have a TV. They’d rather spend time with each other and their friends, swim and fish in the lagoon, play volleyball at the end of the day, sing and dance at night. We’ll play, sing, and dance with them.

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Day 10: Monday, July 4

We take a small boat out to Tepuka islet on the other side of the lagoon this morning, and enjoy a picnic lunch on the beach. There’s a historic surprise here I’ll show you. We return to enjoy Funafuti’s captivating charms. We’ll be very likely the only foreign visitors in the country. There are not tourist facilities of any kind. What captivates you are the people.

Tuvaluans are incredibly friendly, maybe the friendliest people I’ve ever met on the planet. Everyone of all ages has a smile for you and is open, welcoming, and generous. So we’ll have more fun with them, young and old. Then, after a glorious lagoon sunset, we’ll have dinner with Tuvalu Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga and Tuvaluan business leaders.

Day 11: Tuesday, July 5

This morning we board our King Air 200 for a 650 mile/3.5 hour flight to Tarawa, Kiribati. Upon arrival, we transfer to Mary’s Motel, the best on Tarawa and right next to the causeway to Betio Islet where the famous WWII Battle of Tarawa was won by the US Marines. After lunch, we’ll visit Red Beach 1, 2, and 3, Green Beach, and Black Beach. There are remnants of the battle all over, like a Japanese gun emplacement on Black Beach and a US Sherman tank off Red Beach 1. Upon return, we’ll enjoy an adult beverage while watching the sunset, then have dinner with the Taiwan Ambassador to Kiribati (which recognizes Taipei not Beijing).

Day 12: Wednesday, July 6

Kiribati is how the islanders pronounce “Gilberts,” the name given to the islands by the British. It’s pronounced ki-ree-bass, and it’s a mystery why “ss” is spelled “ti.” The main part of the island, South Tarawa, is extremely overpopulated with some 50,000 squeezed onto it. We’ll spend all day exploring it and meeting a lot of very friendly people. At day’s end, we’ll meet with Kiribati President Anote Tong and his successor (elections are in March 2016), as well as a number of Kiribati business leaders.

Day 13: Thursday, July 7

We board our King Air early this morning for a 390 mile/1.5 hour flight to Nauru. This is a day trip as there are no overnight facilities, and you can drive around this single island UN member state nation in less than an hour.

Nauru is the smallest in population country in the world, 8.1 square miles with 9,300 people living around its 10-mile circumference. Only Monaco (less than 1 square mile on the French Riviera) is smaller in area.  People live along the perimeter green strip. The vast gray area in the center is uninhabitable because the islands dug out all phosphate, leaving it a wasteland, along with gigantic wreckage of the mining operation on the shore. The unbelievable profligacy of the Nauruans during their phosphate splurge has left them destitute and the most obese people on earth. Spending the day here is a truly profound, world educational experience you will never forget. We’ll be back in Tarawa in time for our sunset cocktail and a lobster feast dinner at Mary’s.

Day 14: Friday, July 8

This morning we depart for Majuro, Marshall Islands. Upon arrival, transfer to the Robert Reimers Hotel in the center of Majuro. After lunch, we explore the island to meet as many Marshallese as we can.

Late this afternoon, we hope to have a meeting with newly-elected (January 2016) President of the Marshall Islands, Casten Nemra. At dinner this evening, we’ll be inviting a number of the Marshall’s top businessmen.

This evening, however, we have three options, for this is–or is not–Departure Day. The options are:

  1. You can depart for Honolulu tonight, Friday the 8th, on United 155 at 8:05pm if you want to get back home now.
  2. You can stay until Monday the 11th when UA155 operate again (at no extra cost to you–we’ll pick up the tab at Reimers). Note that UA55 arrives at Honolulu at 2:50AM–the same morning, 18 hours before you left, as it crosses the Date Line.
  3. You can take the UA154 tomorrow morning, Saturday the 9th for Pohnpei in Federated Micronesia. Stay in Pohnpei to visit the incredible Nan Madol, and/or continue on to Kosrae, Tru (Chuuk), and Guam. THere is a daily non-stop UA 200, from Guam to Honolulu.

Whichever you choose, tonight will be our Farewell Dinner, to celebrate the mind-boggling adventure we’ve just had.


IMPORTANT NOTES

Cost includes: 

All air transportation from Vava’u to Majuro as specified in itinerary. All ground transportation, transfers, tours, and activities as specified in the itinerary. All meals (breakfast/lunch/dinner, including bottled water) with group from dinner Saturday, June 25 to breakfast Friday, July 8 (or through breakfast Monday if staying on in Majuro). All accommodation from the night of Saturday, June 25 through the night of Friday, July 8 (or Sunday, July 10 if staying on in Majuro).

Cost does not include:

International airfare fo Vava’u and from Majuro; visa fess (if any; not required for US or EU citizens); single occupancy accommodation. Meals, services, and activities not with group or in itinerary; personal expenditures, such as laundry, camera fees, communications, gratuities, etc.; beer, wine, or alcoholic drinks. 

Important caveat: 

Every effort will be made to adhere to the itinerary above. Due to the vagaries of travel in this region and of adventure travel in general, the itinerary may be altered in any way necessary. Participants are expected to accept this, and to maintain a cheerful attitude on an adventure such as this. 


ABOUT YOUR GUIDE

Dr. Jack Wheeler has had two parallel careers: one in adventure and exploration with Wheeler Expeditions; the other in the field of geopolitics after receiving his Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Souther California, where he lectured on Aristotelian ethics.

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Regarding the first career, at age 12 he was honored in the White House by President Eisenhower as the Youngest Eagle Scout in the history of the Boy Scouts. He climbed the Matterhorn at age 14, swam the Hellespont (LIFE Magazine 12/12/60) and lived with Amazon headhunters at 16, hunted a man-eating tiger in Vietnam at 17, and started an export business in Vietnam at 19.

When he wrote The Adventurer’s Guide (New York: Mackay, 1975), described by Merv Griffin as “the definitive book for anyone wishing to lead a more adventurous and exciting life”, and became a popular guest on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

He has made three “first contacts” with tribes never before contacted by the outside world: a clan of Aushiri in the Amazon, the Wali-ali-fo in New Guinea, and a band of Bushmen in the Kalahari. He has retraced Hannibal’s route over the Alps with elephants; led numerous expeditions in Central Asia, Tibet, Africa, the Amazon and elsewhere, including 18 expeditions to the North Pole;  and has been listed in The Guinness Book of World Records for the first free fall skydive in history at the North Pole. Wheeler Expeditions has conducted exclusive expeditions to dozens of countries across the globe for over 35 years.

Dr. Wheeler received his PhD in Philosophy from the University of Southern California, where he lectured on Aristotelian ethics. Author of numerous articles in political philosophy and geopolitics, he began in the early 1980s a series of extensive visits to anti-Soviet guerrilla insurgencies in the Third World and later helped support democracy movements in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, as unofficial liaison with Reagan White House. Dr. Wheeler continues to provide information to a number of Congressional offices on issues regarding political and economic freedom throughout the world.

Dr. Wheeler has been called the “real Indiana Jones” by the Wall St. Journal. He has traveled to all 193 countries recognized by the U.N. and overall has visited 283 Travelers Century Club and 499 MostTraveledPeople distinct jurisdictions on all seven continents. He leads three to five private expeditions a year. In addition to consulting and writing on geopolitical strategy, he works with business leaders on various projects worldwide.

On a personal note, he married Rebel Holiday in St Tropez, France in 1986. Rebel joins him on some trips when her schedule allows. She is involved in business, design, coaching, speaking, and creating art. Jack and Rebel are the proud parents of two sons who have grown into fine young men.


BOOKING DETAILS

Cost of Trip: $14,500 per person

Contact Info: Jack Wheeler – jwexpeditions@gmail.com, 202-656-3008

Deposit, Payment, Cancellation, and Refund:

*Non-refundable 20% deposit of $2,900 per person upon booking.
*Refund of deposit and balance in full on the condition of a fully-paid, acceptable replacement for you. Note: you may want to consider trip cancellation insurance.

For more detailed information on the cost breakdown, click here.