Isles, Atolls, and Pristine Corals: Southern Line Islands

  • Trip Type: Expedition Cruise
  • 10 Days | Round-trip Papeete
  • Group Size: Max 102

Expedition Details


From Rangiroa's sparkling lagoon to the verdant peaks of Tahiti's neighbor, Moorea, immerse yourself in tropical paradise amid some of the planet's most vibrant underwater realms. This voyage features an incredible opportunity to snorkel or dive the far-flung reefs of Kiribati, chosen as part of National Geographic's Pristine Seas project.

Trip Highlights

  • Watch for dolphins and humpback whales from the decks of the National Geographic Orion, and anchor in Moorea’s Opunohu Bay, to hike in the tropical forest.
  • Spend three days exploring the Southern Line Islands, identified as one of the healthiest reef systems in the world by National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Enric Sala.
  • Ride Zodiacs through reef passes, snorkel over beds of giant clams, or dive the atolls’ outer reefs in the Southern Line Islands.
  • Examine ancient Polynesian sacred sites on Moorea with an archaeologist.

Itinerary - 10 Days

Day 1 — Depart U.S.

Depart the U.S. on an overnight flight to Tahiti.

Day 2 — Papeete/Rangiroa

Arrive in Papeete, Tahiti early this morning and take a short flight to Rangiroa. Embark our ship and settle into your cabin in the afternoon. Make your way to deck at sunset to take in views across the island’s glimmering lagoon. Keep an eye out for frolicking dolphins as we depart Rangiroa via the Passe de Tiputa.

Days 3, 4, & 5 — At Sea/Southern Line Islands, Kiribati

A day at sea brings us to the far-flung Southern Line Islands, where we’ll snorkel or dive some of the most remote and pristine coral reefs on Earth. Marine ecologist and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Enric Sala researched these islands as part of the Pristine Seas project and identified them as one of the only remaining healthy, undisturbed spots in the ocean. Enjoy plenty of time to explore these seldom-visited atolls: navigate the intricate channels of their lagoons by Zodiac or kayak, see nesting boobies and tropicbirds on shore, and swim above colorful tropical reefs.
(B, L,D daily)

Days 6 & 7 — Southern Line Islands/At Sea

On our final day in the Southern Line Islands, go ashore with our naturalists for a walk through coastal palm groves to seek out endangered coconut crabs, the largest land-dwelling invertebrates in the world. Or just relax on a sugar-white beach and listen to the sound of waves lapping against the shore. During a day at sea, bring your binoculars to the deck and join our naturalists in seeking out marine mammals and sea birds. Photographers will have plenty of opportunities to capture images of wildlife and the stunning waters, including flying fish skimming azure seas.
(B, L,D daily)

Day 8 — Moorea, French Polynesia

Approach the stunning isle of Moorea this morning, and seek out the playful dolphins and humpback whales that inhabit the surrounding waters. Encircled by a dazzling turquoise lagoon, the island’s peaks rise out of the water in a lush explosion of emerald-green splendor. We’ll anchor for the day in Opunohu Bay on the island’s north shore, and spend time hiking tropical forest trails or exploring ancient Polynesian sacred sites with an archaeologist. Take in stunning views over Opunohu and Cook’s bays from Belvedere Lookout, and pay a visit to the Lycée Agricole d’Opunohu to sample locally produced jam and sorbet.

Day 9 — Papeete/Home

Disembark in Papeete this morning and tour Tahiti before transferring to the airport to catch your flight home.

Related Trips

Special Offer

Complimentary Airfare

Book by March 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.

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.

David Doubilet and Jen Hayes

David Doubilet and Jen HayesUnderwater photographers David Doubilet and Jennifer Hayes are married partners who work together as a team to produce National Geographic stories from equatorial coral reefs to beneath the polar ice. David estimates he has spent nearly half his life in the sea since taking his first underwater photograph at the age of 12 with a Brownie Hawkeye camera sealed in a bag. Between them, Jennifer and David have photographed and explored the ocean depths in such places as New Zealand, Canada, Japan, Tasmania, Scotland, and Antarctica. David has photographed stingrays, sponges, and sleeping sharks in the Caribbean, as well as shipwrecks in the South Pacific, the Atlantic, and at Pearl Harbor. He has produced more than 70 stories for National Geographic magazine and several books, and has received the Explorers Club’s prestigious Lowell Thomas Award and the Lennart Nilsson Award in Photography.

David will join the following departure:

Apr 19 - 28, 2018


Lindblad/National Geographic Logo

This trip is offered in association with Lindblad Expeditions.


  • Apr 19 - 28, 2018
  • May 03 - 12, 2018
  • Jun 14 - 23, 2018
  • Aug 09 - 18, 2018

Expedition Cost

Category 1 $7,690
Category 2 $9,380
Category 3 $10,990
Category 4 $11,990
Category 5 $14,520
Category 6 $16,840
Solo Suite A $11,540
Solo Suite B $16,490

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

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

View Ship/Deck Plan

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.