The PLAN!!!

So here we are, 180 countries down and just 20 to go – it’s mad to think that I only left Shanghai just over two weeks ago, and in that time I’ve managed to visit Taiwan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Burma, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia – and with any luck I’ll be in Brunei (181) before close of play tomorrow and the Philippines (182) by the end of this week (typhoons permitting).  But if you think I’m “nearly there”, think again.  Every single remaining state is an island nation and none of them have anything approaching an international ferry service.  This could take a looooooooong time.

A loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong time.

Here’s a draft of a sketch of a inkling of The Plan from here to the end of The Odyssey ExpeditionBut as always, everything is open to change.

183: East Timor

There is a Pelni (Indonesia’s national ferry service) ship that goes from Denpaser in Bali to Kupang in (West) Timur.  I’ll be crossing the border, then sitting in Dili for a few days while I apply for (yet) another Indonesian visa.

184: Palau

After returning to Kupang, I will take a Pelni ship to West Papua.  From there I hope to persuade a swashbuckling yachtie to take me to the South-West Islands of Palau: only a few hundred kilometres north (as opposed to the capital Koror which is a thousand kilometres away).  I’ll then be coming straight back to West Papua.

185. Papua New Guinea

Just a case of crossing the border from West Papua.

186. Solomon Islands

If I island-hop through PNG and make it to Bougainville, I should be able to take a canoe over the short hop to the Shortland Islands and tick the Solomons off the list.  From there I should be able to island-hop via Gizo to Guadalcanal, the main island.

And here’s when it becomes REALLY tricky…

Have a gander at this map of the Pacific Island states I knocked out on the back of a napkin…

All This And MORE!!

Take a note of the scale!!! From the Marshall Islands down to Fiji I’m going to have a cover a distance approximately the same as from Darwin to Melbourne via Sydney.  This is no Caribbean Island hop, these are gargantuan chucks of bitchin’ ocean I have to cover.

The only options open to me are hitching a ride on cargo ships and cruise ships.  Cyclone season starts at the end of this month (and continues to May) so yachts are right out.  Even if someone was mad enough to take me, it would just be too dangerous – I mean, have you SEEN A Perfect Storm?  Ygads!

So here’s the sketch of how I’m going to do this…

187. Nauru

The isolated (and isolationalist) island of Nauru is really hitting hard times these days.  The rich phosphate deposits that secured the island’s finances are now completely depleted (as of this year), leaving an impoverished island in the middle of nowhere that is going to be a real bitch to get to – it’s the only Pacific Island where you need a visa and an invitation to ruck up.  Seriously guys?  Seriously?

My hope is that I can hop a supply/cargo ship from The Solomons north to The Marshall Islands, one that stops at Nauru along the way.  But these things may only come once every few months.

188. Micronesia

Micronesia (like jungle) is massive, stretching across a vast swathe of the Pacific Ocean.  The bit I’m interested in is an island called Kosrae in the far east of the nation, which I could use as a stepping stone to…

189. The Marshall Islands

I lie awake at night fretting about ever reaching The Marshall Islands.  So far from just about anywhere they cajole and torment me in my dreams.  But if this semi-mythical cargo ship can take me there, I’d be one happy Odyssey bunny.

190. Kiribati

If a cargo ship has got me this far, maybe it can take me a little further: to the western half of Kiribati.  From there at least I know I can take a Kiribati Shipping Services ship (which comes once every couple of months) down to…

191. Tuvalu

Here I’ll have to make the decision whether to stay on the Kiribati Shipping Services ship to Fiji or swing a left to:

192. Samoa

Again, this place is a little off the beaten track, but it’s position between the US Samoan islands and Fiji means that if I’m lucky, I might be able to find something that can float me to:

193. Tonga

If I get here, the hump should be over: I’ll be on the cruise ship circuit.  Hopefully in return for entertaining the troops with tales of my adventures (and possibly the odd song and dance routine), I’ll be allowed to hitch a ride on a cruise to:

194. Fiji

Fiji seems to have the best international transport links with the region, and I may regret not coming here first, but if all works out, I should be able to stay on the same cruise ship through the Fijian islands and on to:

195. Vanuatu

And then onto:

196. New Zealand

My original final destination, things have changed a little since I failed to reach Sri Lanka, Maldives and The Seychelles.  It shouldn’t be too hard to find something to ship me to:

197. Australia

Arriving in Sydney (because I owe Alex Zelenjak a pint in The Three Monkeys), I’ll be headed down to Melbourne and kidnapping my long-suffering girlfriend Mandy for the trip across the Nullabor all the way to Perth.  If I can find a cruise that is going to Europe or South Africa, there’s a good chance it will stop at: 198. Sri Lanka, 199. Maldives and 200. The Seychelles.

Then I’m done, right?  Er, right… as long as no new nations are created between now and the end of this.  Like, say, South Sudan



If you have any contacts in the South Pacific who are involved in shipping or cruises, please pass them on via the CONTACTS page.  In return for helping me finish The Odyssey in one piece I’m willing to give plenty of publicity to any company or individual that would like to get involved.


Graham Hughes

Graham Hughes is a British adventurer, presenter, filmmaker and author. He is the only person to have travelled to every country in the world without flying. From 2014 to 2017 he lived off-grid on a private island that he won in a game show, before returning to the UK to campaign for a better future for the generations to come.

This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. Tim Panton

    Fantastic trip!
    If you happen to get the chance, you could stop off on Niue, ( which seems to have dropped off your list of nations. It is _lovely_ and ‘kinda’ on your way. (400 miles south of american Samoa). The water there is fresh, coming from deep boreholes.

  2. Mr. E

    Should South Sudan require your visit, will you still try and get there ASAP or will you take a (flight-free) break to spend time with Mandy and perhaps get some publicity work done?

    In any case it is one hell of an adventure! Well done and best of luck.

  3. Eric

    Is there a time limit for your endeavor? I think it will take you quite a while to accomplish this, good news is that if you are stuck somewhere for a while, it’s not a bad place to be stuck in!
    While your travelling about you should try to find a confluence while you are at it

    Good luck!

  4. gavinmac

    Dili is not an unpleasant place to spend a few days. You can walk out to the big Christ statue and you can walk around the town and look at the lush mountains and harbor.

  5. Traineediplomat

    I have some connections on Nauru, might be able to at least avoid the visa issue lol. Getting to/from might be interesting!

  6. Ash

    great trip! what about Israel and (palestine ?)

  7. Aengus

    What about two inflatable armbands and off you swim??? Or train a friendly dolphin??

    Good luck Graham, you’ll find a way, you always do!!

  8. martin

    I had no idea you would need an invite to Nauru. its a small land of 21km you can walk it all in a day

    there is a Nauru embassy in SUva Fiji so try and get your visa there

    & theres a consukate of nauru in brisbane

  9. Sophie

    Sounds like a fun trip! I am a fan but please consider that you might hurt people’s feelings when you say you’re going to be able to “tick the Solomons off the list”. These places are more than items to be checked off on a list, they are peoples homes and communities, and it can be hurtful to see them represented as simple items on a list to be completed. I live in Palau and your plan to hurry to one of the South West Islands- all of which are home to fewer than 50 people and which you should ideally request permission of the traditional leaders to visit, just to turn around and leave? What will you be able to tell the worls about Palau after that? Please consider visiting the main islands and seeing the daily lives of our people.

    1. Graham

      Hi Sophie,

      I am quite excited about visiting Palau (if and when!!) as well as The Solomon Islands, but please be aware that I am not getting paid by the tourist boards, airline companies, cruise companies, Lonely Planet or anybody else to visit these places.

      This means yes, if I can get away with not hanging around very long or refraining from taking an unnecessary 1000km sea journey to visit extra islands in the same country it’s in my best interests, as I won’t be able to visit ANY more countries if I run out of money – I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that getting around the Pacific is going to be incredibly expensive as it is.

      The ‘public transport’ rule is not mine, it’s the Guinness World Records and only applies to land-based journeys on which I could conceivably break a national speed limit. No such limits apply on the high sea so I’m free to hop on the backs of a couple of turtles if necessary!!

  10. Sophie

    ps another question- is it considered public transport if you catch a ride on someone’s private boat? not sure how that affects your eligibility for the record, bu that is probably your best bet (it’s not cyclone season north of the equator now ) and i see yachts coming into palau fairly regularly.
    you can send messages to the marinas in the region and they could hook you up with some captains?

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