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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.
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. (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)
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. (B,L)
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 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).