Summary : For many, Polynesia is the very definition of paradise, evoking classic images of palm-fanned beaches, azure lagoons, and exotic, flower-bedecked islanders. Begin in legendary Tahiti and continue east for a Marquesas tour, admiring the sky-piercing volcanoes, lushly-carpeted canyons, and chiseled bays. The low-lying Tuamotu Archipelago, whose remote atolls—mere rings of coral dotted by tiny islets enclosing aquamarine lagoons—offer some of the world’s most dazzling snorkeling and diving. Step ashore on seldom-visited Pitcairn, witness the amazing bird life of uninhabited Henderson and Ducie Islands, and conclude your adventure with an Easter Island tour. This voyage offers a comprehensive blend of Polynesia’s natural and cultural splendors, backdropped by dreamy, postcard-perfect scenery.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Diving, Hiking, Snorkeling
$999,999,999 to $0
Depart on your independent flight to Papeete. Arrive in the late evening and transfer to your hotel.
Relax during a morning at leisure, then join a tour of Papeete, the capital of French Polynesia’s largest island. Pass by orchards of papaya as you drive along the stunning coast. Visit the renowned Gauguin Museum to learn about the life of the artist in the islands and the Museum of Tahiti, which traces the islands’ history. Embark the Caledonian Sky this evening.
Though remote and sparsely populated, the far-flung Tuamotus comprise the world’s largest atoll chain. These venerable coral constructions rise just high enough above the water to be called land, and if it weren’t for their waving coconut palms, they might be entirely invisible from any distance. Step ashore on Rangiroa this afternoon, whose name translates into “vast sky.” The largest atoll in the Tuamotus, more than 400 motu—low-lying islets and sandbars—sit atop a ring of coral through which at least 100 channels flow. The dazzling lagoon is hailed as one of the world’s greatest dive destinations, and whether snorkeling or diving, you will be rewarded with unparalleled underwater vistas. Birders watch for blue lorikeets, red-footed boobies, and great frigatebirds, while a beach walk takes you to Tiputa village to meet locals who demonstrate energetic traditional dances.
Attend informative lectures today as the Caledonian Sky cruises toward the legendary Marquesas Islands.
Considered one of the most beautiful island groups in the South Pacific, the Marquesas lie farther from a continental coast than any other islands in the world. Unlike other Polynesian islands, the Marquesas have no surrounding reefs or placid lagoons. Their wide, deep bays are havens for vessels such as yours.
Spend three days exploring this dazzling collection of islands whose breathtaking vertical peaks reach into the clouds, while carpets of lush tropical vegetation drape cliffs and canyons that descend to sea-sculpted bays. Countless sooty, fairy, and bridled terns circle tiny, rocky pinnacle islets. Zodiacs bring you ashore on a variety of islands, to be greeted on some by dancers and drummers adorned in leis and tapa cloth, and welcomed to others by the blowing of large conch shells—the traditional pu greeting. On walks you may see petroglyphs or tiki figures—representing deified ancestors—flanked by banyan trees, fragrant plumeria, blooming orchids, and silvery waterfalls. Open-air craft markets display baskets, shell jewelry, and wooden carvings. Birders search for the endemic Nuku Hiva pigeon and Marquesan swiftlet. Though the islands lack fringing reefs, snorkelers and divers will discover many colorful fish against a backdrop of sheer walls and dramatic arches covered in soft corals.
Delightful music and dancing welcome you to this idyllic island—the first land sighted in the Pacific by Europeans. Visit the small village whose residents raise taro, bananas, and coconut palms for copra (dried coconut.) Birders search for Pacific golden plover while snorkelers and divers explore the fringing reef.
Coconut palms and breadfruit trees cover the beautiful islets that surround Puka Rua’s lagoon. Garland-bedecked dancers greet you in the tiny village whose 150 hospitable inhabitants earn a living selling copra. Witness the process of coconut drying, enjoy a local crafts market, or stroll along the lagoon shores watching crested terns circling overhead. Spend the afternoon exploring this lovely atoll’s underwater wonders.
Today, conditions permitting, explore one of the many uninhabited Tuamotu Islands and enjoy swimming, snorkeling, or diving.
Attend lectures enhancing your understanding of the amazing cultural and natural riches you have witnessed, and the wonders that await.
Remote, enchanting, and tiny at six miles around, volcano-crowned Pitcairn was the fabled hideout of the HMS Bounty mutineers in 1790. Step ashore and visit with the 50 hospitable inhabitants of Adamstown, who are the direct descendants of the nine mutineers and 18 Polynesians. The anchor of the Bounty rests beside the courthouse and the ship’s Bible resides in the church. After your island visit, the warm and inviting waters are perfect for a swim, snorkel, or dive.
Sheer limestone cliffs surround this elevated coralline island, a World Heritage Site, pockmarked by caves and blowholes. Henderson’s astounding natural selection has produced ten endemic flowering plants and four endemic species of land birds, including the Henderson Island crake and Stephen’s lorikeet. In the afternoon, snorkel or dive in the marine-life-rich waters.
This small, uninhabited, and rarely-visited atoll is rimmed in white sand beaches that in turn surround a crystalline lagoon. As you walk along the shore, witness a vast variety of seabirds—tens of thousands nest here, including Murphy’s and Phoenix petrels, masked boobies, frigatebirds, and red-tailed tropicbirds. Underwater forays bring you face-to-face with legions of rainbow-hued fish in the warm, clear waters.
Relax on deck and enjoy the ongoing lecture series as you cruise toward Easter Island, a World Heritage Site and one of the most mysterious places on earth.
Your full-day tour begins with a visit to the ceremonial center of Ahu Vinapu where the monolithic stonework is reminiscent of the Inca civilization in Peru, contributing to the theory of contact between the islanders and South America. Continue to Tahai for your first look at the intriguing stone heads, moai, built on massive stone platforms. View nearly 400 monolithic statues in various states of completion at the spectacular volcanic tuff quarries. At Ahu Tongariki visit the largest ceremonial site in Polynesia—a five-year archaeological restoration project was completed in 1996. Then drive to the Rano Kau volcano to view the giant caldera, its sprawling floor dotted with lakes. The ceremonial village of Orongo, dedicated to the fascinating “birdman” cult was built on the rim of this crater and you may explore the old houses and rock walls carved with hundreds of petroglyphs.
After breakfast disembark the Caledonian Sky and enjoy a short tour before heading to the airport for your afternoon flight to Santiago; connecting with flights to the USA.
Arrive in the USA in the morning and connect with your flights homeward.
Accommodations in hotels and on board as outlined in the itinerary; all onboard meals and all group meals on land, including soft drinks, beer, and wine with lunch and dinner; arrival and departure transfers on group dates; services of the expedition staff, including lectures, briefings, slide/film shows; all group activities and excursions; gift certificates for recommended expedition gear; taxes; entrance fees; landing and port fees; all gratuities; comprehensive pre-departure packet; $25,000 of medical expense coverage and $100,000 in emergency evacuation insurance.*
All air transportation; excess baggage charges; airport arrival and departure taxes; transfers for independent arrivals and departures; passport and/or visa fees; baggage/trip cancellation insurance; scuba diving fees and equipment where required; items of a personal nature such as laundry, bar charges, alcoholic beverages, e-mail/Internet/fax/telephone charges.
*Emergency Medical & Evacuation Insurance:
Emergency medical coverage to a maximum benefit per paying passenger of $25,000 is included in the cost of this expedition, as well as evacuation coverage to a maximum benefit per paying passenger of $100,000. Insurance is underwritten by National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, PA. The policy will contain reductions, limitations, exclusions and termination provisions. All coverages may not be available in all states. Please note this coverage does not cover you against trip cancellation or for additional days of travel prior to and/or after the expedition trip dates. ExpeditionTrips strongly advises all clients to purchase travel insurance which includes trip cancellation and interruption coverage for the entire duration of your trip.