- Watch the National Geographic Orion navigate the Tiputa Pass into the lagoon at Rangiroa, one of the largest atolls in the world.
- Go ashore at the seldom-visited isle of Huahine, former residence of Tahitian royalty, and visit ancient sites with an archaeologist.
- Grab one of our ship’s stand-up paddleboards or kayaks and glide across serene turquoise lagoons.
- Take in spectacular views over Bora-Bora from one of its emerald crags, and then snorkel or dive from a private motu—an islet on the outer reef.
Experience the heart and soul of French Polynesian while exploring island cultures as well as natural wonders above and beneath the sea. Take to the waters by kayak, Zodiac, or paddleboard and connect with the welcoming people and rich traditions of the islands. On Raiatea, discover the historic ceremonial site, called a marae, where Polynesian seafarers would begin their bold sailing expeditions into the unknown—voyages that would eventually lead to populating Hawai'i and New Zealand. Sail among some of the 80 or so atolls of the Tuamotu Archipelago, and dive or snorkel the thriving reefs along this string of tiny islands.
This trip is operated in collaboration with Lindblad Expeditions.
Depart for Tahiti, the largest of French Polynesia's Windward Islands. Arrive in Papeete and check in to your hotel. Awake to stunning views of Tahiti's azure lagoon and spend the morning at leisure. After lunch, take a tour of the island before embarking the National Geographic Orion.
ntercontinental Tahiti Resort and Spa; National Geographic Orion for the remainder of the voyage
Spend two days exploring some of the nearly 80 islands and atolls in the “dangerous archipelago.” Meet the friendly residents of idyllic Anaa and take a dip in the emerald-hued lagoon, dotted with spectacular coral formations. Then venture to Fakarava, one of the largest atolls in French Polynesia and part of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Snorkel the protected reefs or ride the current into the lagoon on a world-famous drift dive.
The atoll of Rangiroa is a ring of over 400 slender islands surrounding a central turquoise lagoon, the second largest in the world. It is also a center of the pearl farming industry, famed for the production of unique black pearls. Our ship passes between the palm-fringed islets to anchor inside the lagoon near the village of Tiputa. Visit the tranquil village and kayak, snorkel, and scuba dive in the waters here, home to large schools of pelagic fish, manta rays, dolphins, sea turtles, and hammerheads.
An uplifted coral atoll, the island of Makatea is one of the most unique landforms in the Pacific, and one of the few islands in this archipelago which has a natural source of fresh water. Navigate limestone caves and grottos with your expedition team and local guides, or search for endemic fruit doves and myriad seabirds.
Encircled by a single fringing reef and sharing a common lagoon, Raiatea and Tahaa offer plenty to explore. One of the most important cultural sites in the Polynesian world, Marae Taputapuatea served as the starting point for Polynesian seafarers heading for Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Hawai'i, and New Zealand. Spend the morning exploring this site on Raiatea, then enjoy a refreshing swim in warm turquoise seas. Watch from on deck as we navigate lagoon channels en route to Tahaa, then go ashore for a visit to a small, family-run vanilla plantation. First introduced to Tahiti by French colonists, vanilla was once a major export crop, famous for filling the tropical air of Tahaa with its heady fragrance.
One of Polynesia’s best-kept secrets and the former home of Tahitian royalty, Huahine maintains the highest density of ancient marae in French Polynesia. Explore these sacred communal sites, once believed to be places where the world of the living converged with the world of ancestors and gods. Then trace the verdant shoreline by kayak, Zodiac, or stand-up paddleboard. Cap off the day with a swim in the island’s crystal-clear lagoon.
Disembark this morning amid one of the South Pacific’s most iconic sites: the volcanic crags of Bora Bora, jutting out from an aquamarine lagoon ringed with tiny islets. Take a short flight back to Papeete and transfer to the airport for your overnight flight home.