Updated: Oct 16
I can't quite recall when I first learned about the Santa Cruz Islands in the Solomon Island group, but whenever it was, it sparked a burning desire within me to visit them. Perhaps my longing was driven by the fact that a couple of them rank among remotest inhabited islands in the world. The Santa Cruz group comprises seven island groups: Nendo, Utupua, Vanikolo, Tikopia, Anuta, the Duff Islands, and the Reef Islands. Together, they make up the Temotu Province of the Solomon Islands. I had the chance to explore two of these islands during my time with Heritage Expeditions, but it was the remote Tikopia and Anuta that I really wanted to visit. I also wanted to spend more time on Vanikolo Island to pursue my interest with La Perouse, the French explorer whose ship wrecked there in 1788.
I now understand why so few yachts make it to Tikopia and Anuta. We were only the second yacht to visit Tikopia since 2019. The challenge lies in having to sail directly upwind against the strong and relentless SE Trades. We punched our way from Vanikolo Island for the best part of a day and night to reach our destination, and Strannik is a larger vessel with more horsepower than most yachts. Even with Strannik, I have to say it wasn't the most comfortable leg of the journey.
Was it worth it? For me, it's a resounding yes. It was a dream come true. Tikopia is a hidden gem of an island, inhabited by the most beautiful people. It's considered a Polynesian outlier, one of the few islands within what is known as Melanesia inhabited by Polynesian people.
These islands have been seriously affected by cyclones in the past. In 2003, Cyclone Zoe wreaked havoc, and earlier this year, Cyclones Judy and Kevin caused considerable damage. Rising sea levels make them increasingly vulnerable. Sadly, we only managed to spend a couple of days on Tikopia. I would have loved to stay longer, but our plans to visit Anuta, Duff, and Reef Islands were sadly thwarted by unfavourable weather conditions. It simply means we'll have to make a return trip... and we will.