Summary : Beginning with the magnetic pull of Easter Island, see all four of the Pitcairn Islands before heading over to the Gambier and Austral Islands, Bora Bora and Tahiti. For lovers of legend and lore, the journey reverses part of the odyssey of the mutineers of the Bounty. Birders will love the opportunity to see rare endemics and as well as large seabird colonies, while snorkelers will relish a chance to see what is hidden to most.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Snorkeling, Triple/Quad Cabins
$11,700 to $32,000
Embark and be introduced to your Expedition Team. Familiarize yourself with the elegant Silver Cloud, meet some of your fellow travelers and enjoy the first of many memorable meals in one of the restaurants.
These two days will offer you relaxation. Gather in The Theatre for staff introductions and briefings on Zodiac safety. The members of the Expedition Team, all knowledgeable experts in their various scientific fields, will present lectures about the rarely visited islands and archipelagoes that you will visit. Topics will include botany, anthropology and ornithology, and prepare you for the adventures to come. As your voyage follows to a certain degree the route of HMS Bounty, the Historian will also describe how your itinerary is connected to the famous breadfruit-expedition of William Bligh and Fletcher Christian.
Other onboard diversions may include photographic workshops, Spa treatments, and a workout in the Fitness Centre.
Ducie, a small isolated atoll, is the easternmost of the Pitcairn Islands. A mere speck in the surrounding expanse of ocean, uninhabited except for thousands of nesting seabirds that reside among the two plant species (beach heliotrope and at least one specimen of Pemphis) that grow over seventy percent of the island. Bird species you should be able see include Murphy’s Petrels, Common White Terns, Great Frigatebirds and Masked Boobies. Few have ever snorkeled on top of the remains of the Acadia, wrecked in 1881, or in the atoll’s lagoon waters. If conditions permit, this will surely be a highlight of the voyage.
Go ashore on this remote and uninhabited raised coral island on its northern shore. Although inhabited by Polynesians a few hundred years ago, Henderson’s isolation has led to its primary attraction: four endemic land birds. The onboard Ornithologist would like to lead a guided nature walk, hoping to spot the flightless Henderson Rail, Stephen’s (or Henderson) Lorikeet, the Henderson Fruit-dove, and the Henderson Reed Warbler. The island is also known to have ten endemic species of plant life. To protect the rare, natural state of Henderson Island, UNESCO designated it as a World Heritage Site in 1988.
If conditions permit, snorkeling off anchored Zodiacs will be offered.
Halfway between Peru and New Zealand, Pitcairn was the perfect hiding spot for the famed HMS Bounty mutineers and their Tahitian wives. Not only had the island been misplaced on early maps of the region, but it can also be very difficult to come ashore as large breakers tend to build up just in front of the small harbor of Bounty Bay. Depending on the sea conditions, you will either go ashore by Zodiac, or will have the privilege to use one of Pitcairn’s longboats.
The goal is to visit with the islanders, descendants of the Bounty crew, and get a sense of their daily lives, far removed from the rest of the world. Listen to their distinct dialect, a combination of 18th-century English and Tahitian, and explore the island, either on your own or accompanied by one of the guides. Visit the museum, the cemetery, the school and hike towards Fletcher Christian’s cave. Birders should be on the lookout for the endemic Pitcairn Reed Warbler, while stamp collectors will certainly want to purchase a few of the coveted Pitcairn Island stamps to keep as reminders of their visit to this remote island. Pitcairn Island cook books, hand-carved replicas of the Bounty, walking canes, and other souvenirs will be set up at Adamstown’s meeting ground next to the church and post office.
Located northwest of Pitcairn, Oeno is a beautiful low-lying island rarely visited. Oeno used to be the island Pitcairn Islanders went to on their ‘holidays’. The little island is surrounded by white sandy beaches inside a lagoon. A sand bar, which is constantly undergoing change, is currently unattached to the island. The island is home to a number of seabirds such as Murphy’s Petrels, Sooty Terns and Brown Noddies.
Access to the island is quite limited, as the currents close to the channel leading to the island can be quite strong and one has to carefully navigate around the many coral heads.
Mangareva is the main island of the Gambier Islands and together with Taravai, Akamaru, Aukena and several smaller islands is the visible part of an old volcano.
Before the large lagoon had been used for black pearl farming, local divers brought up black-lip pearl oysters for their mother-of-pearl and used them for trade. Mangareva is known as the cradle of Catholicism in French Polynesia and in the mid-19th century St. Michael’s Cathedral was built using large amounts of mother-of-pearl shells to decorate the altar. The building has recently been renovated and to see the workmanship of the locals you will visit the church. The church is still involved in teaching students how to engrave mother-of-pearl shells and you can visit their workshop. If possible, visit a pearl farm and can swim and snorkel in the lagoon.
As the Silver Explorer travels towards the Austral Islands, learn about the residents of these remote islands—not only humans, but also plants and animals.
When not attending a lecture or relaxing on the Sun Deck, get help from the onboard Photographer during a workshop or contemplate the wide expanse of the South Pacific while Silver Explorer sails in a westerly direction to reach Raivavae.
Your first stop in the Austral Islands has been described as a small and laid-back version of Bora Bora—without the tourists. Land on Raivavae’s north shore to semi-circumnavigate the island by local bus. A stop will be made at a marae where one of the few tiki carved on Raivavae can still be seen in a private garden. Once past the airport, which had to be built in the lagoon because there was not enough flat space on land, you will come to meet the Zodiacs again on the southeast side to be transferred across the lagoon to Motu Vaiamanu. This is the typical South Sea paradise one expects: crystal clear waters, white sandy beaches, pandanus and coconut palm trees, with reef fish for snorkelers to enjoy and tropicbirds, reef herons, noddies and the occasional shorebird for birders. If you just want to relax on the beach, listen to the local musicians and taste some of the local delicacies prepared for you.
Tubuai is the administrative center for the Austral Islands, but is probably best-known for the role it played in the selection of a home for the Bounty mutineers before they finally landed on Pitcairn. See where the mutineers’ settlement Fort George was meant to be built where only impressions of the moat are still visible, as well as two of the important marae (ancient ceremonial sites).
If you want some exercise, a guided walk of will cross the island and even a strenuous hike to the top of the island can be done if it has not rained.
Join your experts in The Theatre for the final fascinating lectures about French Polynesia and attend a briefing on the variety of activities that will be on offer while in Bora Bora and other important information needed to make the most of your time ashore.
Join the Videographer to view the video presentation of your journey so far. Tonight the Captain would like to invite you to his Farewell Cocktail Reception and the Restaurant Manager and Executive Chef have prepared a special Farewell Dinner.
No superlatives can adequately describe the spectacular beauty of Bora Bora’s emerald-green hills and tranquil sapphire-blue lagoons. Silver Explorer will enter the narrow channel into the lagoon at dawn. Be out on deck to watch the sun rise behind Mount Pahia and Otemanu and look for dolphins playing at the entrance to the lagoon.
Select from a variety of excursions and activities today. Enjoy a leisurely, open-air ‘le truck’ tour of Bora Bora’s highlights: ancient marae stone temples, the Faanui Protestant Church, scenic lookout points with spectacular vistas of the lagoon and distant islands, old WWII remnants and popular Matira Beach. Sample local fruits and watch a pareo (sarong) demonstration before returning to the ship.
Alternatively, climb into a specially designed, open-air, off-road vehicle, to circle the island and visit some of its most dramatic sites that are only accessible by four-wheel drive. Veer inland following a trail that leads up the mountain to an amazing 360-degree panorama. From this height, you can view Bora Bora’s breathtaking multi-colored lagoon. See cannons remaining from the American’s presence during WWII.
Optional flight excursion:
Perhaps the most spectacular way to see Bora Bora is from the air on a helicopter flyover. This optional flight aboard a 5-seat “Squirrel” helicopter circles the island for spectacular views of the lagoon fringed with white sandy beaches and a network of smaller islets.
If you would like to see Bora Bora’s underwater world, a snorkel safari permits you to swim with rays and with reef sharks.
After breakfast, disembark Silver Explorer.
Read this itinerary as a guide only; the exact route and program varies according to weather conditions - and the wildlife you encounter. Flexibility is the key to the success of this expedition. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Ship accommodation; Wi-Fi aboard ship; onboard meals; butler service onboard ship; complimentary beverages (select wines, champagne, spirits, bottled water, specialty coffees, juices and soft drinks) onboard ship; onboard gratuities (except spa and salon); Silver, Medallion, Grand and Owner's Suite guests receive laundry service and dinner at Officer's table. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare; government fees and taxes; transfers and luggage handling; optional excursions such as flightseeing; passport and visa expenses; travel insurance; items of a personal nature; Wifi; fuel surcharge may apply.
Photo Credit: © Creative Services at Silversea Cruises