On a voyage to the far-flung archipelagos of French Polynesia, explore the unspoiled atolls of the Tuamotus before setting course for the remote Marquesas Islands. The Marquesas, some of which have been virtually untouched since the era of European exploration, are home to a proud people whose unique dialect links directly to the ancient Polynesian language of Maohi. It is believed locally that the spirits of the ancient Maohi linger among the saw-toothed peaks, lush valleys, and limestone grottos that we’ll explore here. Spend time discovering these beautiful and remote islands that once drew the likes of Herman Melville, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Paul Gauguin.
This trip is offered in partnership with Lindblad Expeditions.
Depart the U.S. on an overnight flight to Tahiti.
Arrive in Papeete, Tahiti, early this morning, check in to dayrooms, and take a brief tour of Tahiti before embarking National Geographic Orion.
We begin our exploration of the “Dangerous Archipelago” at Fakarava, one of the largest atolls in French Polynesia and part of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. After a festive welcome with traditional dancers, learn about the island’s pearl industry and walk its pristine beaches. Snorkel the protected reefs or ride the current into the lagoon on a world-famous drift dive. Continue to Raroia, one of the easternmost atolls in this chain and the site where Thor Heyerdahl’s famous Kon-Tiki raft made landfall in 1947.
One of the most remote island groups on Earth, the Marquesas see few visitors, yet offer ample opportunity for exploration. Our visit begins at Hatiheu Bay on the north shore of Nuku Hiva Island—the capital of the archipelago. Gaze at ancient petroglyphs and witness a spectacular dance performance at a Marquesan marae, an open-air space used for spiritual and community gatherings. Or hike up a lush valley with the naturalists in search of rare birds and spectacular views overlooking the isle's towering emerald cliffs. Later, head to the village to sample local foods and peruse unique arts and crafts.
Anchor at Hiva Oa and travel into the mountains above Puamau village to see the stunning Me'ae Lipona, home to one of the largest ancient tiki statues in Polynesia. Visit the Calvary Cemetery to see the gravesites for French artist Paul Gauguin and Belgian singer Jacques Brel, both of whom spent their final years on the island.
Make your way to the deck this morning to photograph the dramatic volcanic pillars of Hanavave Bay as our ship approaches one of the most storied shorelines in the Pacific. Once ashore, visit a remote village to view Marquesan art displays. Choose to tackle a challenging hike to a remote waterfall, or take Zodiacs to a neighboring bay, where local transport will take you on a bird-watching foray deep into the Omoa Valley.
Our final two days in the Marquesas are open for exploration by sea. Scuba dive with manta rays, search for rare cetaceans with our onboard naturalists, and marvel at the rugged volcanic silhouettes of these legendary islands while exploring coastal waters by kayak and Zodiac.
Spend two days exploring some of the more than 80 isles and atolls that make up this seldom-visited French Polynesian archipelago. Snorkel or dive stunning reefs, kayak and stand-up paddleboard on turquoise lagoons, and walk pristine beaches beneath coconut palms.
An uplifted coral atoll, the island of Makatea is one of the most unique landforms in the Pacific. Spend the day exploring limestone caves and grottos with your expedition team and local guides, or search for endemic fruit doves and myriad seabirds, then explore the nearby reef.
After breakfast, disembark in Papeete and tour Tahiti before transferring to the airport for your overnight flight home.
- Moorea Extension2 days from $1,410
On the isle of Moorea, volcanic peaks rise from sapphire seas in an explosion of emerald-green splendor, creating an arresting backdrop for a French Polynesian escape. Settle into our oceanfront hotel and spend time ensconced in this tropical wonderland. Kayak, snorkel, and paddleboard among pristine coral reefs, unwind on white-sand beaches, and explore dense tropical forest where bright hibiscuses bloom and rare birds roost.
Arrive in Tahiti and enjoy lunch at a local restaurant, then board a ferry for the quick ride to Moorea. As we arrive in port, marvel at green-shrouded peaks rising above the sugar-white beaches and turquoise bays of this secluded Polynesian island. Check in to our hotel, then enjoy a free evening to explore palm-lined shores or relax in rooms overlooking the water.
Savor fresh tropical fruit during breakfast at our hotel, then take advantage of the hotel’s many amenities to shape your stay on Moorea according to your own schedule and interests. Set out by kayak to explore the hotel’s private lagoon or nearby pristine coastal ecosystems, coasting above coral reefs in search of colorful fish, sharks, and rays. Don a snorkel mask or a special diving helmet to get even closer to extraordinary underwater creatures. Ride horseback into the lush green valleys of the island’s interior, or relax with traditional Polynesian therapies in the hotel spa. Put your feet in the sand during lunch at the beach bar or enjoy an elegant meal at one of three on-site restaurants.
Wake up to the sound of waves outside your window, and head out for a morning swim in Moorea’s warm waters. Choose to visit a corner of the lagoon where a team of conservationists works to rehabilitate sick and injured sea turtles. Then opt to head out to spot these endangered creatures in their natural habitat while exploring the island’s shores by stand-up paddleboard or outrigger canoe. In the early evening, transfer by ferry back to Tahiti and gather for a Polynesian buffet dinner and a traditional Tahitian dance performance. Then, transfer to the airport to connect with your flight home.