Take to the sparkling seas of the South Pacific and discover its palm-fringed isles and undersea wonders on an unforgettable voyage aboard the National Geographic Orion. From the pristine reefs of the Tuamotus to the towering peaks of the Marquesas, immerse yourself in a tropical paradise amid some of the most beautiful and isolated islands on Earth. Swim in turquoise lagoons, snorkel over vast coral gardens, and venture ashore to encounter fascinating island cultures.
This trip is offered in partnership with Lindblad Expeditions.
Depart the U.S. on an overnight flight to Tahiti and arrive in Papeete early the following morning. Check in to our tropical hotel overlooking a turquoise lagoon, and enjoy the rest of the day at leisure to explore the hotel’s “lagoonarium” and take advantage of its many amenities. InterContinental Tahiti Resort & Spa
Today, head off on a tour of the city and have lunch at a local restaurant before embarking the National Geographic Orion. Set sail this afternoon.
Spend two days exploring the idyllic Tuamotu Archipelago, comprised of more than 70 atolls and innumerable coral reefs scattered amid turquoise seas. Venture ashore at Makatea, a raised coral atoll framed by striking cliffs, and learn about the forces that have shaped this unique island. Encounter the spectral remains of abandoned mines dating back to 1908, where the British and French excavated phosphate rock until 1966. Then hike through the verdant landscape to explore a limestone cave and its pool within. Snorkel the protected reefs of Fakarava, one of the largest atolls in French Polynesia and part of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, and ride the currents into its vast lagoon on an unforgettable drift-dive (conditions permitting). With an abundance of avifauna on these islands, birders may add endemic species such as the Polynesian Imperial-pigeon and the Makatea fruit dove to their lists.
A relaxing day at sea brings us to one of the most remote island groups on Earth: the Marquesas, a volcanic archipelago characterized by dramatic, rugged peaks that rise from the sparkling Pacific. Take in spectacular views of Hanavave Bay, keeping your camera ready as our ship approaches the shoreline of storied Fatu Hiva island. Enjoy a warm Polynesian welcome on a visit to a local village, and peruse unique Marquesan arts and crafts. Later, choose to tackle a challenging hike to a remote waterfall, exploring landscapes studded with granite formations and stunning flora, or take Zodiacs to a neighboring bay and venture deep into the Omoa Valley on a bird-watching excursion.
At Hiva Oa, we plan to drop anchor in the tranquil bay of Atuona (conditions permitting). Enjoy a fresh-baked French baguette before a visit to the Calvary Cemetery to see the gravesites of French artist Paul Gauguin and Belgian singer Jacques Brel, both of whom spent their final years on the island. Pay a visit to the village of Puamau and then venture into the forest to explore the sacred site of Me’ae Iipona. Learn about Marquesan religious rites, and have an opportunity to photograph one of the largest ancient tiki statues in Polynesia.
Take in the rugged, green-mantled silhouette of Nuku Hiva as we approach the shores of one of the largest of the Marquesas islands. Choose to conclude your adventure here and return to Papeete by chartered flight, then connect with your flight home. Or continue your voyage on our optional extension, following in the wake of great Polynesian explorers to Hawai’i.