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 or paddleboard, go biking to local villages, and connect with the people and 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 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 the island before embarking the National Geographic Orion.
Jutting out from an aquamarine lagoon ringed with tiny islets, Bora-Bora’s angular volcanic crags are a spectacular sight. Explore the island’s slopes and shores by 4x4 and enjoy unparalleled views of the island’s turquoise lagoon. Then snorkel, dive, kayak, and stand-up paddleboard from one of the motus, or islets on the outer reef.
Encircled by a single fringing reef and sharing a common lagoon, Raiatea and Taha'a 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 Taha'a, then go ashore for a visit to a small, family-run vanilla plantation.
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. Visit these sites with cultural experts or archaeologists who will bring them to life. Trace the perimeter of the island on a bicycle, then explore the verdant shoreline by kayak or stand-up paddleboard. Finish the day with a swim in the island’s crystal-clear lagoon.
Spend two days exploring some of the nearly 80 islands and atolls in the “Dangerous Archipelago.” Fakarava is 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. An uplifted coral atoll, the island of Makatea is one of the most unique landforms in the Pacific. Navigate limestone caves and grottos with your expedition team and local guides, or search for endemic fruit doves and myriad seabirds. Then, conditions permitting, snorkel and dive among colorful fish on the nearby reef.
The atoll of Rangiroa is a ring of slender islands known for some of the best diving and snorkeling in French Polynesia. The turquoise lagoon at its center is the second largest in the world. Our ship passes between the palm-fringed islets to anchor inside the lagoon near the village of Tiputa. Visit the tranquil village and spend time with its friendly residents. Kayak, snorkel, and scuba dive in the waters here, home to large schools of pelagic fish, manta rays, dolphins, sea turtles, and hammerheads.
Disembark this morning and take a short flight back to Papeete, where you’ll connect to 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.