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Legends of the South Pacific: Tahiti to Easter Island

South Pacific Cruise

Summary : Laced with wispy islands and coral atolls, the tropical seas that stretch from French Polynesia to Easter Island have seen missionaries and mutineers, intrepid explorers and enigmatic cultures pass their way. Traveling aboard the new National Geographic Orion, encounter spectacular volcanic landscapes in Bora Bora, and the uplifted atolls of Makatea and Henderson Island. Snorkel and dive some of the most remote and pristine reef systems in the world. Hear the tales of the Mutiny of the Bounty and the Kon-tiki, and experience the lively culture of the islands. The finale of the voyage is one of the most isolated landfalls of Polynesia:  Easter Island, where giant, prehistoric carved stones, called moai, dot the slopes of the famous Rano Raraki volcano and other areas of the island.

Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Culture, Diving, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography, Snorkeling


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$999,999,999 to $0

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Day 1 – 2
U.S. / Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia / Embark

Depart for Papeete in the late evening, arriving in the early morning, and transfer to day rooms at your hotel. Enjoy an introduction to the culture, history, geology, and archaeology of French Polynesia on a guided tour of Papeete. Visit the Musée de Tahiti et des Îles, and trace the legacy of some of Polynesia’s most famous expats at the Paul Gaugin Museum and the James Norman Hall Museum, home of the American author who co-wrote Mutiny on the Bounty. Enjoy time to stroll the waterfront, then board the National Geographic Orion and take to the Tahitian seas.

Day 3
Bora Bora, Society Islands

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 with naturalists by 4x4 or on foot, or hop on a bicycle to discover Bora Bora on your own. Stroll the beach beneath coconut palms and don your mask and fins to snorkel or dive amid clownfish, sea turtles, harmless sharks, and manta rays on the coral reefs here.

Day 4 – 9
Tuamotu Archipelago / At Sea

On the northwestern edge of the Tuamotu Archipelago, natural forces have uplifted the atoll of Makatea, exposing a raw geology of coral and limestone cliffs, deep caves, and landscapes of riddled rock. Wander through the ruins of early 20th century phosphate mines, take a swim in an underground grotto, or join birders in search of the island’s endemic fruit dove. Then sail to 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 see its historic sites, including a 19th-century church built out of coral. Snorkel among the protected reefs or ride the current into the lagoon on a world-famous drift-dive.

Continue to Raroia, to meet the local community and hear the tale of the Kon-Tiki, a wooden raft built by a Norwegian explorer that beached on the reef at the end of its epic journey. Navigate jewel-like reefs and islets during a day at sea on our way to Pukarua, where you'll be greeted by traditional dances. Visit a vanilla plantation, and get to know the friendly people of this remote atoll before continuing on your voyage east.

Day 10 – 11
Mangareva, Gambier Islands / At Sea

Famous for its black pearls, Mangareva is the largest of the Gambier Islands. Venture underwater to snorkel or dive, meet islanders to learn about their culture and the missionaries who made their home here, and go on a hike with naturalists. Spend a day at sea visiting the sauna or the gym, watching footage of the ocean with the undersea specialist, or relaxing on deck.

Day 12 – 16
Pitcairn Islands / At Sea

Many of the mutineers of the legendary Bounty made their home on Pitcairn Island in the late 18th century, and about 50 of their descendants still live here today. Visit this last remnant of the British Empire and learn about its place in 18th-century exploration. Meet the locals and hear a few words of the unusual Pitkern dialect—a combination of English “sailor speak” and Polynesian phrases. Visit the grave site of mutiny leader Fletcher Christian, and see the Bounty’s anchor, which was salvaged in 1957.

Your next stop is the UNESCO World Heritage site of Henderson Island, an uplifted atoll that is uninhabited and virtually untouched by humans. On hikes and Zodiac excursions, discover the island’s four endemic bird species, rich flora and fauna, and fascinating geology. Then spend a day on Ducie Atoll, watching for frigatebirds and boobies and snorkeling or diving among spectacular reefs. The Pitcairn Islands have been identified as one of the last unspoiled ocean environments on the planet by marine ecologist and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Enric Sala as part of the Pristine Seas project. Set out on your final voyage east, listening to talks by experts as you sail two days towards Easter Island.

Day 17 – 20
Easter Island / Santiago, Chile / U.S.

Disembark on Easter Island and check into your hotel, then set out into a landscape of volcanic calderas, jagged lava fields, and sweeping grasslands to discover the colossal moai statues, the astonishing legacy of a long-lost culture. Join archaeologists to examine these statues and discuss their meaning and creation, and visit burial sites, quarries, and intricately carved ceremonial altars. After time to explore on your final morning, fly to Santiago to connect to your overnight flight home.


This itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.

Photo Expeditions:

The photo team, a National Geographic Photographer and a Photo Specialist, will enhance your voyage by working with you on photo composition and exposure; helping you develop your own unique vision; showing you how professionals edit and store images while on the go; and sharing the stories behind some of their greatest images. Whether expert or interested beginner, you'll find added benefits such as walks ashore and Zodiac cruises dedicated to photography, presentations on the creative and technical aspects of photography, and one-on-one mentoring and coaching in the field.

Scuba Diving Requirements: Scuba divers must be certified by an internationally recognized dive association prior to the voyage, and certification cards and logbooks must be shown on board. Divers must have logged 25 dives in total and made a dive within the 12 months preceding the voyage.

Accommodations as indicated; all meals and non-alcoholic beverages aboard the ship; all shore excursions and sightseeing; transfers to and from group flights; tips (except to ship's crew), taxes and service charges; services of a ship physician and expedition staff; use of kayaks.

Not Included:
International air transportation; passport and visa expenses; baggage/accident/cancellation insurance; items of a personal nature such as alcoholic beverages, email and laundry; gratuities to ship's crew at your discretion; scuba diving surcharge; fuel surcharge may apply.

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