Flanked by Polynesia, Micronesia and Australia, Melanesia consists of chains of large mountainous jungle covered islands that include Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia, The Solomon Islands, Fiji, and Vanuatu. Several of these islands played host to some of the most significant and brutal battles in the Pacific during World War II, of which remnants can still be seen in the sunken battleships and fighter planes and within the complicated Japanese tunnels that snake into the jungle interiors. Modern Melanesia boasts active volcanoes, vibrant tribal cultures, and raw unspoiled wilderness.
While in search of ‘Terra Australis’, the fabled Southern Continent, European explorers first contacted the islands of Melanesia during the 16th and 18th Centuries. A sad history of resource exploitation and the infamous ‘blackbirding’ slave trade soon followed. The Melanesian countries have experienced the rule of a number of colonial powers that include Britain, Germany, the United States, and Japan eventually gaining independence in the 1960s and 70s.
Although now predominantly Protestant and Catholic, Melanesian culture still maintains traditional customs and polytheism. Influence was traditionally rooted in ancestral worship from which social ranking was derived. Communities were guided by both matrilineal and patrilineal lines and were governed by a traditional system of consensus, gift giving, and obligation. Additionally, cannibalism and witchcraft played an important role in day-to-day life and can still be found today.
Join Infinity in Melanesia to hike erupting volcanoes, rum dance with cannibals, and dive spectacular WWII wrecks.