Expedition Details


Experience the heart and soul of French Polynesian while exploring island cultures as well as natural wonders above and beneath the sea. Take to the waters by kayak or paddleboard, go biking to local villages, and connect with the people and traditions of the islands. On Raiatea, discover the historic ceremonial site, called a marae, where Polynesian seafarers would begin their bold sailing expeditions into the unknown—voyages that would eventually lead to populating Hawaii and New Zealand. Sail among some of the 80 or so atolls of the Tuamotu Archipelago, and dive or snorkel the thriving reefs along this string of tiny islands.

Trip Highlights

  • Watch the National Geographic Orion navigate the Tiputa Pass into the lagoon at Rangiroa, one of the largest atolls in the world.
  • Go ashore at the seldom-visited isle of Huahine, former residence of Tahitian royalty, and visit ancient sites with an archaeologist.
  • Grab one of our ship’s stand-up paddleboards or kayaks and glide across serene turquoise lagoons.
  • Take in spectacular views over Bora Bora from one of its emerald crags, and then snorkel or dive from a private motu—an islet on the outer reef.

Itinerary - 10 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 into dayrooms, and take a brief tour of the island before embarking the National Geographic Orion.

Day 3 — Bora-Bora, Society Islands

Jutting out from an aquamarine lagoon ringed with tiny islets, Bora Bora’s angular volcanic crags are a spectacular sight. Explore the island’s slopes and shores by 4x4 and enjoy unparalleled views of the island’s turquoise lagoon. Then snorkel, dive, kayak, and stand-up paddleboard from one of the motus, or islets on the outer reef.

Day 4 — Raiatea/Taha'a

Encircled by a single fringing reef and sharing a common lagoon, Raiatea and Taha'a offer plenty to explore. One of the most important cultural sites in the Polynesian world, Marae Taputapuatea served as the starting point for Polynesian seafarers heading for Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Hawaii, and New Zealand. Spend the morning exploring this site on Raiatea, then enjoy a refreshing swim in warm turquoise seas. Watch from on deck as we navigate lagoon channels en route to Taha'a, then go ashore for a visit to a small, family-run vanilla plantation

Day 5 — Huahine

One of Polynesia’s best-kept secrets and the former home of Tahitian royalty, Huahine maintains the highest density of ancient marae in French Polynesia. Visit these sites with cultural experts and archaeologists who bring them to life. Venture into the lush interior of the island on a bicycle, then explore the verdant shoreline by kayak, stand-up paddleboard, or Zodiac. Finish the day with a swim in the island’s crystal-clear lagoon.

Days 6 & 7 — Tuamotu Archipelago

Spend two days exploring some of the nearly 80 islands and atolls in the “Dangerous Archipelago.” Fakarava is one of the largest atolls in French Polynesia and part of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Snorkel the protected reefs or ride the current into the lagoon on a world-famous drift dive. An uplifted coral atoll, the island of Makatea is one of the most unique landforms in the Pacific. Navigate 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 colorful fish on the nearby reef.

Day 8 — Rangiroa

The atoll of Rangiroa is a ring of slender islands known for some of the best diving and snorkeling in French Polynesia. The turquoise lagoon at its center is the second-largest in the world. Our ship passes between the palm-fringed islets to anchor inside the lagoon near the village of Tiputa, where local musicians greet us. Visit the tranquil village and spend time with its friendly residents. Kayak, snorkel, and scuba dive in the waters here, home to large schools of pelagic fish, manta rays, dolphins, sea turtles, and hammerheads.

Days 9 & 10 — Rangiroa/Papeete/U.S.

Disembark this morning and take a short flight back to Papeete, where you’ll connect to your overnight flight home.
(Day 9: B, L)

Related Trips

Special Offer

Complimentary Airfare and Amenities

Book by July 31, 2018 and receive complimentary round-trip international airfare between Los Angeles and Papeete. 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.

Half Off the Expedition Cost for Kids

Book the July 12, 19, or 26, 2018 departures and receive 50% off the expedition cost for kids (ages 17 and under) when you book two adults at the full fare.

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.

Andy Mann

Andy MannFor over a decade Andy Mann has been a forerunner in the world of adventure film and conservation photography. His work is helping to tell the story of our rapidly changing planet, focusing heavily on ocean conservation and water issues on all seven continents for National Geographic magazine and National Geographic’s Pristine Seas, Sea Legacy, Wildlife Conservation Society, and more. His imagery is remarkably memorable, reminding us how the emotion of an image can touch our spirit. Andy is the co-founder of 3 Strings Productions, a commercial and documentary film studio he co-founded with Keith Ladzinski, as well as a founding member of the Sea Legacy Collective with Paul Nicklen and Cristina Mittermeier. He is also an experienced climber, diver, arctic explorer, and workshop leader. Andy has worked extensively in Fiji, including a shark diving expedition with the Waitt Foundation in 2014. In 2015, he established a first ascent in the Marquesas Islands–of a 3,000-foot-tall jungle rock tower on Ua Pou Island–with a National Geographic Adventurer of the Year, Mike Libecki. French Polynesia is one of his most cherished places, and he looks forward to sharing it with travelers. Andy’s images are represented by Nat Geo Creative.

Andy will join the following departures:

May 09 - 18, 2019
May 16 - 25, 2019


Lindblad/National Geographic Logo

This trip is offered in association with Lindblad Expeditions.


  • Apr 26 - May 05, 2018
  • Jun 07 - 16, 2018
  • Jul 05 - 14, 2018
  • Jul 12 - 21, 2018
  • Jul 19 - 28, 2018
  • Jul 26 - Aug 04, 2018
  • Aug 02 - 11, 2018
  • Apr 18 - 27, 2019
  • May 09 - 18, 2019
  • May 16 - 25, 2019

Expedition Cost


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Category 1 Solo


Category 3 Solo



Prices are per person, double occupancy, except those marked solo, which are based on single occupancy.

Airfare to/from Papeete and between Rangiroa and Papeete is not included in the expedition cost. The group flight between Rangiroa and Papeete is $250 (subject to change.

Activity Level

Light or Moderate

Travelers can choose between a light or moderate activity level. For a light level of activity, they 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 on bumpy roads, or easy hikes.

For a moderate level, travelers should be prepared for multiple hours of physical activity (e.g. hiking, kayaking, biking) each day.

Click here for a description of all activity levels.