Summary : Venture to the heart of Polynesian culture and wildness on this highly immersive expedition where options abound. Choose to kayak, stand-up paddleboard, or take a bike ride for independent exploration and to connect with the local people and islands on a personal level. Explore the historic ceremonial site, called a marae, on Raiatea where Polynesian seafarers would begin their bold expeditions sailing into the unknown—expeditions that would eventually lead to populating Hawaii and New Zealand. Sail among some of the 80 atolls of the Tuamotu Archipelago, a string of tiny islands in an azure sea that hides thriving reefs you can explore while snorkeling and scuba diving.
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Culture, Diving, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography, Snorkeling, Dedicated Solo Cabins
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$7,690 to $16,840
Depart the U.S. on an overnight flight to Tahiti.
Arrive in Papeete, Tahiti early this morning, check into dayrooms and take a brief tour of the island before embarking National Geographic Orion. (L,D)
Begin your voyage with a view of one of the South Pacific’s most iconic images, the angular crags of Bora Bora’s Mount Otemanu. Explore the island’s interior by 4WD, for unparalleled views of the island’s turquoise lagoon, then snorkel, dive, kayak, and stand-up paddleboard from one of the motus on the outer reef. (B,L,D)
Encircled by a single fringing reef, and sharing a common lagoon, Raiatea and Taha’a are islands well worth exploring. One of the most important cultural sites in the Polynesian world, Marae Taputapuatea was a center for Polynesian seafarers and the location from which they set out for Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Hawaii and New Zealand. Spend the morning exploring this site on Raiatea, then refresh yourself with a swim in warm turquoise seas. Watch from on deck as the captain navigates lagoon channels en route to Taha’a, then go ashore for a visit to a small, family-run vanilla plantation. (B,L,D)
One of Polynesia’s best-kept secrets, Huahine is well off the beaten path. Once the home of Tahitian royalty, Huahine maintains the highest density of ancient marae in French Polynesia. Visit these sites with cultural experts and archaeologists who bring them to life. Venture into the lush interior of the island on a bicycle, then explore the verdant shoreline by kayak, stand-up paddleboard or Zodiac. Finish the day with a swim in the island’s crystal-clear lagoon. (B,L,D)
Spend two days exploring some of the nearly 80 islands and atolls in the Tuamotu 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. Spend the day exploring limestone caves and grottos with your expedition team and local guides, or search for endemic fruit doves and seabirds, then snorkel and dive among clouds of 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. The ship passes between the islets to anchor inside the lagoon near the village of Tiputa, where local musicians greet you. Visit the village, and kayak, snorkel, and scuba dive in the rich waters here, home to large schools of pelagic fish, manta rays, dolphins, and sea turtles. (B,L,D)
Disembark this morning and take a short flight back to Papeete, where you’ll connect to international flights home. (B)
This itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips.com is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Optional Diving Program:
Each dive will cost $95, charged to the guests’ shipboard account. The following dive gear is provided: 3mm full wetsuit, BCD, regulator, air cylinder, weights, dive computers, masks, snorkels ahd fins. Guests may choose to bring personal gear if they want. ALL guests who wish to dive MUST meet the following requirements (NO EXCEPTIONS): participants MUST have made a dive in the ocean within the 12 months preceding the voyage; PADI Advanced Open Water Diver or equivalent; OR PADI Open Water Diver or equivalent PLUS one of the following: have 25 logged dives including boat and deep diving experience, or hold PADI (or equivalent) Boat Diver & Deep Diver specialty certifications. Each diver must bring a valid diving certification and a dive log, letter of reference from dive buddy/instructor, or scuba refresher certificate. There is no minimum age requirement, but anyone under 18 must have a parent or guardian sign the liability release form provided prior to diving. Additionally, a PADI Scuba Review course (or equivalent refresher course) is highly recommended for those who have rarely dived in the past year or feel that their skills are rusty.
Certified Photo Instructor:
On all departures, a certified photo instructor will be at your side and at your service to inspire and assist you. Take advantage of talks, presentations, slideshows and “laptop gallery” sharing events. All skill and interest levels are welcome; the instructors can meet you wherever you are on your journey. All you need to participate is a camera— point-and-shoot, smartphone, DSLR, whatever—and a sense of adventure. And you’re sure to return home with amazing photos.
Accommodations aboard ship; meals aboard ship; use of kayaks; most alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages aboard ship; services of expedition leader, naturalist staff and expert guide; crew gratuities; port charges and service taxes. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare; diving program; extensions; passport and visa fees; immigration fees; travel protection plan; items of a personal nature including internet, laundry, etc; fuel surcharge may apply.
Photo Credit: © Bennett Goldberg