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Azure Seas from Tahiti to the Marquesas

  • Trip Type: Small Ship
  • 16 Days | Round-trip Papeete
  • Group Size: Max 102

Expedition Details


On a voyage to the far-flung archipelagos of French Polynesia, explore the unspoiled atolls of the Tuamotus before setting course for the remote Marquesas Islands. The Marquesas, some of which have been virtually untouched since the era of European exploration, are home to a proud people whose unique dialect links directly to the ancient Polynesian language of Maohi. It is believed locally that the spirits of the ancient Maohi linger among the saw-toothed peaks, lush valleys, and limestone grottos that we’ll explore here. Spend time discovering these beautiful and remote islands that once drew the likes of Herman Melville, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Paul Gauguin.

Trip Highlights

    • See ancient stone sculptures, including one of the largest tikis in Polynesia, on Hiva Oa.
    • Hike to a remote waterfall and search for rare birds on far-flung Fatu Hiva.
    • Dive among manta rays and encounter rare melon-headed whales, and dive or snorkel the stunning reefs of Fakarava, part of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
    • Explore the seldom-visited Tuamotu Archipelago by kayak and stand-up paddleboard; walk its pristine beaches; and snorkel or dive vibrant reefs.

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 — At Sea/Tuamotu Archipelago

We begin our exploration of the “Dangerous Archipelago” at Fakarava, one of the largest atolls in French Polynesia and part of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. After a festive welcome with traditional dancers, learn about the island’s pearl industry and walk its pristine beaches. Snorkel the protected reefs or ride the current into the lagoon on a world-famous drift dive. Continue to Raroia, one of the easternmost atolls in this chain and the site where Thor Heyerdahl’s famous Kon-Tiki raft made landfall in 1947.

Days 6 & 7 — At Sea/Nuku Hiva, Marquesas

One of the most remote island groups on Earth, the Marquesas see few visitors, yet offer ample opportunity for exploration. Our visit begins at Hatiheu Bay on the north shore of Nuku Hiva Island—the capital of the archipelago. Gaze at ancient petroglyphs and witness a spectacular dance performance at a Marquesan marae, an open-air space used for spiritual and community gatherins. Or hike up a lush valley with the naturalists in search of rare birds and spectacular views overlooking the isle's towering emerald cliffs. Later, head to the village to sample local foods and peruse unique arts and crafts.

Day 8 — Hiva Oa

Anchor at Hiva Oa and travel into the mountains above Puamau village to see the stunning Me'ae Lipona, home to one of the largest ancient tiki statues in Polynesia. Visit the Calvary Cemetery to see the gravesites for French artist Paul Gauguin and Belgian singer Jacques Brel, both of whom spent their final years on the island.

Day 9 — Fatu Hiva

Make your way to the deck this morning to photograph the dramatic volcanic pillars of Hanavave Bay as our ship approaches one of the most storied shorelines in the Pacific. Once ashore, visit a remote village to view Marquesan art displays. Choose to tackle a challenging hike to a remote waterfall, or take Zodiacs to a neighboring bay, where local transport will take you on a birdwatching foray deep into the Omoa Valley.

Days 10, 11, & 12 — Exploring the Marquesas/At Sea

Our final two days in the Marquesas are open for exploration by sea. Scuba dive with manta rays, search for rare cetaceans with our onboard naturalists, and marvel at the rugged volcanic silhouettes of these legendary islands while exploring coastal waters by kayak and Zodiac.

Days 13 & 14 — Tuamotu Archipelago

Spend two days exploring some of the more than 80 isles and atolls that make up this seldom-visited French Polynesian archipelago. Snorkel or dive stunning reefs, kayak and stand-up paddleboard on turquoise lagoons, and walk pristine beaches beneath coconut palms.

Day 15 — Makatea

An uplifted coral atoll, the island of Makatea is one of the most unique landforms in the Pacific. Spend the day exploring limestone caves and grottos with your expedition team and local guides, or search for endemic fruit doves and myriad seabirds, then snorkel and dive among clouds of colorful fish on the nearby reef.

Day 16 — Papeete/Home

After breakfast, disembark in Papeete and tour Tahiti before transferring to the airport for your flight home.

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.

Jason Edwards

Jason EdwardsNational Geographic's Jason Edwards has been at the forefront of natural history photography for two decades. A passion for animals and the environment defines his extensive career. Since embarking on that career at the Royal Melbourne Zoo, Jason has been recognised globally for his contributions to science, the environment, and the arts. Among other accolades, he is a two-time winner of the Eureka Prize for Science Photography, three-time winner of Communication Arts Photography Annual, two-time winner of the ProMax Golden Muse, and winner of the Australian Geographic Society's Pursuit of Excellence Award, among others. Through his commissioned work and as the face of the National Geographic Channel’s Pure Photography, Jason has taken his storytelling to dozens of countries and to every continent. His work has appeared in hundreds of publications including National Geographic magazine, BBC Wildlife, Australian Geographic, Sports Illustrated, Condé Nast Traveler, and The New Yorker. Jason is also an author of science education books, and his imagery has appeared in everything from environmental campaigns to Hollywood blockbusters.

Jason will join the following departure:

Jun 21 - Jul 07, 2018


Lindblad/National Geographic Logo

This trip is offered in association with Lindblad Expeditions.


  • Jun 21 - Jul 07, 2018
  • Aug 16 - Sep 01, 2018

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.

Airfare to/from Papeete is not included in the expedition cost.

View Ship/Deck Plan