Image (c) Heritage Expeditions
We came to anchor as the first fingers of light crept over the outline of uninhabited Tetepare Island in the Western Province of the Solomon Islands. Cloaked in lowland rainforest, surrounded by crystalline waters and fringed by biodiverse reefs, Tetepare is the largest uninhabited tropical island in the Southern Hemisphere and home to 81 bird species - including several rare and endemic species.
Loading the Zodiacs as the sun rose for another early start of birding, we were met by Rangers from the Tetepare Descendant's Association who man the Research Station on the island. A fruitful morning birding ticked off the endemic Tetepare White-eye, Melanesian Megapode, White-capped Monarch and Beach Thick-knee to name just a few.
Our afternoon on this pristine island included a botany walk to learn about the island's medicinal plants and snorkelling the crystal clear waters among an array of neon-lit colourful fish, while the Blacktip Reef Sharks kept their distance in the shallow waters near the wharf. Locals from surrounding islands also arrived, creating a makeshift market where we browsed beautifully-made local handicrafts.