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From the verdant crags of Tahiti to the teeming reefs of Fiji, embark on a sweeping voyage to the western reaches of Polynesia, encountering tropical islands and reefs that few others will ever see. Immerse yourself in Aitutaki’s warm azure waters, and experience genuine Polynesian hospitality throughout Samoa. Visit the tiny island nation of Wallis and Futuna, and marvel at its impressively decorated cathedrals before diving into a sparkling lagoon. Learn new techniques for photographing colorful markets and friendly faces as you are welcomed into Fijian villages with traditional kava ceremonies.
Aboard the state-of-the-art National Geographic Orion, cruise between five Pacific Island groups.
Glide in Zodiacs through the narrow pass at Aitutaki, and swim in the island’s dazzling inner lagoon.
Marvel at elaborately decorated cathedrals in tiny Wallis and Futuna, a difficult-to-reach autonomous French territory.
Enjoy a special Fijian welcome at the village of Waitabu, and then see firsthand how locals created the country’s healthiest marine parks as you snorkel and dive the bordering reef.
Itinerary - 17 Days
Day 1 — Depart U.S.
Depart the U.S. on an overnight flight to Tahiti.
Day 2 — Papeete, French Polynesia
Arrive in Papeete, Tahiti, early this morning, check in to dayrooms, and take a brief tour of Tahiti before embarking National Geographic Orion. (L,D)
Days 3, 4, & 5 — Tahaa/Raiatea/At Sea
Acclimate to Polynesia’s slower pace with a day on Tahaa, snorkeling, kayaking, and paddleboarding the lagoon and stroll the tiny island’s beaches. On adjacent Raiatea, visit Marae Taputapuatea, an important ceremonial site that served as the starting point for Polynesian seafarers heading for Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Hawaii, and New Zealand. Spend the morning exploring this site, then jump in the warm seas for a swim. (B,L,D)
Days 6, 7, & 8 — Aitutaki, Cook Islands/At Sea
Renowned for its spectacular inner lagoon ringed with white sand, Aitutaki has been described as the perfect South Pacific island. In 1789, Captain William Bligh sailed here just before the mutiny aboard the ill-fated H.M.S. Bounty. Board Zodiacs to enter the lagoon via the pass on the western side of this volcanic atoll. Once ashore, step over sacred welcome stones to be greeted with a traditional Polynesian welcome of drumming and dancing. Explore the aquamarine waters of the lagoon and its surrounding reef and walk along palm-fringed white beaches. Meet the island’s friendly residents and experience traditional Polynesian food, culture, and hospitality on a visit to a village in the interior. Then enjoy life aboard National Geographic Orion as we spend two days sailing west toward Samoa. (B,L,D)
Days 9 & 10 — Samoa
With its spectacular beaches and aqua lagoons, hidden waterfalls and lava-sculpted landscapes, Samoa captures the essence of the South Pacific. Hike through rain forests vibrant with flowers and birds, take a dip in a swimming hole, go snorkeling or diving on the reef, and soak up the languid rhythms of island life that drew Robert Louis Stevenson to these shores. (B,L,D)
Days 11, 12, & 13 — At Sea/Exploring Wallis and Futuna
Another of France’s South Pacific territories, the tiny island group of Wallis and Futuna lies between Samoa and Fiji. Be on deck just after sunrise, as National Geographic Orion navigates the channel into the lagoon at Wallis Island, where we’ll anchor for the day. Visit the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption, Mata-Utu, a stunning edifice built of blue volcanic stone chiseled and trimmed by hand, or the Church of St. Joseph, with its colorfully decorated interior. Later, snorkel, kayak, or paddleboard from one of the tiny islets offshore. (B,L,D)
Days 14 & 15 — Exploring Fiji
Our first stop is Taveuni, Fiji’s third largest island, known as “The Garden Island” for its rich vegetation, which includes several species found nowhere else in the world. Enjoy a warm Fijian welcome at the village of Waitabu, and snorkel in one of the Pacific’s most successful community marine parks. Explore the waterfalls of nearby Bouma National Heritage Park, and dive nearby reefs. (B,L,D)
Days 16 & 17 — Lautoka/Home
After breakfast, disembark in Lautoka on Fiji’s main island of Viti Levu. Tour the western part of the island before transferring to the airport for your overnight flight home, or choose to extend your stay. (Day 16: B, L)
Book by July 31, 2017 and receive complimentary
round-trip international airfare from Los Angeles
to Papeete and return from Nadi, or vice versa. We
will also cover your bar tab on board and all tips for
the crew. Book two or more South Pacific voyages
aboard National Geographic Orion and save 10%
on each expedition.
Offers are for new bookings only, may not be combined with other offers, and are subject to availability. Please call for details.
Accompanying each expedition is a diverse team of experts — from naturalists to regional specialists — who will share their knowledge and insights on the wildlife, landscapes, and local culture. See one of the members of our extraordinary team below.
National Geographic photographer Michael Melford has produced more than a dozen feature stories for National Geographic magazine and more than 30 for National Geographic Traveler, including eight covers. Some of Michael’s recent assignments have focused on Russia, Israel, and North America’s national parks. He has produced photography for eight books for National Geographic, including three on Alaska, his favorite being Treasures of Alaska, for which he spent four months traveling to every corner of the state. When not shooting for National Geographic, Michael enjoys giving seminars and workshops on photography and sharing both his love of nature and his extensive knowledge.
Travelers should be in good health and comfortable walking or standing for extended periods of time. Daily activities may include city walking tours, visits to sites, game drives, or easy hikes, with options for more physical activities such as hiking, kayaking, snorkeling and biking.
Click here for a description of all activity levels.