Christmas is a great time to come together with loved ones, but beyond the backyard BBQ and Boxing Day Test lies an ocean of opportunity and adventure. So this Christmas, join us on our Christmas expedition cruise to Wallis and Futuna – a truly rare voyage of discovery that you’ll treasure for a lifetime.

The islands of Wallis and Futuna lie in the heart of the Pacific Ocean between New Caledonia and French Polynesia. Far off the radar in every sense, these tropical volcanic paradises boast crystal clear crater lakes, serene caves, pristine coral lagoons and a rich history and culture that matches the dramatic landscape.

Archaeological evidence suggests that the earliest inhabitants of Wallis and Futuna were people of the Lapita culture who reached the islands by sea by at least 800 BCE and engaged in agriculture and fishing. But the islands’ histories, cultures and languages diverged in the 15th century when waves of other Polynesian sailors reached the islands: Tongans settled on Uvea (later to become Wallis) after the legendary battles of the Tu’i Tongan warriors and Samoans settled on Futuna.

Three kingdoms of Uvea, Alo and Sigave were in place when the island groups were first encountered by Dutch explorers in the early 17th century, and over 150 years later the British Captain Samuel Wallis ‘discovered’ Uvea in 1767 while exploring the Pacific on HMS Dolphin and gave it his name.

Another 50 years later the whaling industry reached the area and Europeans began to make regular calls to both islands, followed by French Marist (Roman Catholic) missionaries. The missionaries had great early success and relatively little conflict with the notable exception of the violent death of priest Peter Chanel who later became Oceania’s only canonised martyr.

Both islands became French protectorates in the 1880s, and during World War II the Allies based 6,000 troops on Wallis, building roads, landing strips and anchoring facilities in the lagoon which are still central to the island’s infrastructure.

Wallis and Futuna is now a self-governing French overseas collectivity with its territory and population of around 12,000 Wallisian and Futunans split between the two main island groups which lie about 260 kilometres apart.

Every stage of the islands’ diverse history and living culture is evident to the fortunate few visitors who make the voyage with us. From one of the best-preserved Tongan fortresses in the region on Wallis to the Cannibal oven at Lafua on Futuna; the many Catholic churches and cathedrals including the imposing Poi Basilica commemorating Saint Peter Chanel; the terraces of cultivated taro crops and Lake Lalolalo, one of the largest inland crater lakes in the Pacific; the wonders and stories of Wallis and Futuna are sure to inspire.

Rarely visited, the Wallis and Futuna Islands are a modern explorer’s dream of discovery and a window into centuries of cultural tradition but that’s not all this unique Christmas expedition offers.

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Our expeditionary voyage sets sail from Cairns on 16 December 2022 so come early to enjoy this exciting, multicultural and modern tropical city. Summer in the tropics is a feast for the senses and the city of Cairns is bursting with produce including sweet mangoes, fresh seafood and unique local beverages. Explore the world’s oldest rainforest and the calm seas that make for excellent water clarity on the Great Barrier Reef.

Casting off from Cairns on a true blue-water voyage, the Expeditionary Voyage to Wallis and Futuna offers the luxury of time and freedom with 21 nights at sea and an inspiring Expedition Team of Guest Lecturers and Experts to lead the exploration of these faraway lands and share their experiences with an intimate group of intrepid travellers.

As well as the colourful history and culture of Wallis and Futuna, the voyage highlights are many and varied and will see you ticking off once-in-a-lifetime experiences from your bucket list. You’ll visit Pentecost Island to witness ancient cultural traditions; step ashore at one of the world’s largest coral atolls; you’ll cross the International Date Line and get to live a day of your life twice over; and of course spend an unforgettable Christmas and New Year at sea with the Australian crew and guests of Australia’s pioneering expedition cruise line.

Your home for this epic voyage of discovery is the purpose-built and exceptionally-appointed Coral Adventurer, a small tropical expedition ship carrying a maximum of 120 passengers in style, comfort and safety. Designed to access remote wilderness shores, Coral Adventurer embodies Coral Expeditions’ philosophy of adventure, relaxation, generosity and storytelling and provides the perfect setting for the ultimate Christmas experience at sea.

An Expeditionary Voyage to Wallis & Futuna returns to shore in Auckland on 6 January 2023 in time to enjoy a long weekend of Kiwi summer before heading home.