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Epic Polynesia: Cook Islands to Fiji

  • Trip Type: Small Ship
  • 16 Days | Papeete to Lautoka
  • Group Size: Max 102

Expedition Details


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.

Trip Highlights

    • Ride Zodiacs through the pass at Aitutaki, entering its sparkling turquoise lagoon.
    • Snorkel and dive colorful reefs in five different Pacific island groups—French Polynesia, Cook Islands, Samoa, Wallis and Futuna, and Fiji.
    • Marvel at elaborately decorated cathedrals in tiny Wallis and Futuna, a difficult-to-reach autonomous French territory.
    • See firsthand how the village of Waitabu created Fiji’s healthiest marine parks as you snorkel or dive the healthy house reef.

Itinerary - 16 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Day 16 — 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 flight home, or choose to extend your stay.

Related Trips

Special Offer

Complimentary Airfare

Book by March 31, 2017 and receive complimentary round-trip international airfare from Los Angeles. We'll also cover your bar tab on board and all tips for the crew.

Book More and Save

Save 10% on the expedition cost when you book two or more voyages in French Polynesia aboard the National Geographic Orion. Voyages may be back-to-back or non-consecutive journeys.

Offers are for new bookings only, may not be combined with other offers, and are subject to availability. Please call for details.

National Geographic Expert

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.

Sisse Brimberg

Sisse BrimbergSisse Brimberg has produced more than 25 stories for National Geographic magazine over the last three decades. Her work ranges from documenting the life of fairy-tale writer Hans Christian Andersen to her latest National Geographic project chronicling the Viking culture. Brimberg won first prize for “Picture Story of the Year“ from the National Press Photographers Association for her story on migrant workers. Born in Denmark, Brimberg established and managed her own photo studio in Copenhagen after attending photography school. Her photographs have been exhibited around the world in Germany, Greece, Brazil, Mexico, New York City (International Center for Photography), and Washington, D.C. (The Newseum).

Sisse will join the following departure:

May 10 - 26, 2018


Lindblad/National Geographic Logo

This trip is offered in association with Lindblad Expeditions.


  • May 10 - 26, 2018
  • May 24 - Jun 09, 2018 REV

REV Indicates trip operates in reverse.

Expedition Cost

Category 1 $15,680
Category 2 $18,670
Category 3 $21,990
Category 4 $23,990
Category 5 $28,940
Category 6 $33,440
Solo Suite A $23,520
Solo Suite B $32,990

Prices are per person, double occupancy, in Categories 1 though 6.

International airfare to Papeete and return from Nadi, Fiji, or vice versa, is not included in the expedition cost.

View Ship/Deck Plan