Arrive Papeete, Tahiti / EmbarkArrive in Papeete in the morning and transfer to your hotel, the Intercontinental Tahiti. The next day, take a guided tour of French Polynesia’s capital city, including the the Musée de Tahiti et des Îles and the Paul Gaugin Museum. Stroll the waterfront before boarding National Geographic Orion. (D)
Bora Bora, Society IslandsJutting 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 with the Expedition Team, or venture out to dive the island's fringing reef. If you're feeling energetic, you may choose to hike to the summit of Mt. Paihia, for unparalleled views. (B,L,D)
Mo'orea / At SeaJoin your ship's crew and fellow passengers on deck this morning, as you approach verdant Mo’orea. Playful dolphins and even humpback whales can be seen off the island’s northern coast, so be sure to bring your binoculars. Entering one of the narrow passes in the island’s fringing reef, sail into Cook’s Bay, arguably one of the most beautiful bays in the world. Spend your morning touring the island, with a stop at the famous “Belvedere” for a stunning view of Mt. Rotui and both Cook’s and Opunohu Bays. This afternoon, you have the opportunity to snorkel and swim, perhaps even with the resident Tahitian stingrays and blacktip reef sharks! (B,L,D)
Tuamotu Archipelago / At SeaBegin your 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 see its historic sites, including a 19th-century church built out of coral. Snorkel among the protected reefs or ride the current into the lagoon on a world-famous drift-dive. Navigate jewel-like reefs and islets during a day at sea on your way to Pukarua, where traditional dances greet you. Meet the friendly people of this remote atoll, and learn about their traditional lifestyle. (B,L,D)
Mangareva, Gambier Islands / At SeaFamous for its black pearls, Mangareva is the largest of the Gambier Islands. Venture underwater to snorkel or dive, meet islanders to learn about their culture and the missionaries who made their home here, and go on a hike with your ship's naturalists. Then spend a day at sea visiting the sauna or the gym, watching footage of the ocean with the onboard undersea specialist, or relaxing on deck. (B,L,D)
Pitcairn Islands / At Sea
Many of the mutineers of the legendary Bounty made their home on Pitcairn Island in the late 18th century, and about 50 of their descendants still live here today. Visit this last remnant of the British Empire and learn about its place in 18th-century exploration. Meet the locals and hear a few words of the unusual Pitkern dialec, a combination of English “sailor speak” and Polynesian phrases. Visit the gravesite of mutiny leader Fletcher Christian, and see the Bounty’s anchor, which was salvaged in 1957.
The next stop is the UNESCO World Heritage site of Henderson Island, an uplifted atoll that is uninhabited and virtually untouched by humans. On hikes and Zodiac excursions, discover the island’s four endemic bird species, rich flora and fauna, and fascinating geology.
Then spend a day on Ducie Atoll, watching for frigatebirds and boobies and snorkeling or diving among spectacular reefs. The Pitcairn Islands have been identified as one of the last unspoiled ocean environments on the planet by marine ecologist and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Enric Sala as part of the Pristine Seas project. Set out on your final leg east, listening to talks by onboard experts as the ship sails two days towards Easter Island. (B,L,D)
Disembark in Easter IslandDisembark on Easter Island and check into the Hotel Hangaroa for two nights. Explore volcanic calderas, jagged lava fields, and sweeping grasslands to discover the colossal moai statues, the astonishing legacy of a long-lost culture. Join archaeologists to examine these statues and discuss their meaning and creation; visit burial sites, quarries, and intricately carved ceremonial altars. (B,L,D)
Fly to Santiago, Chile / Return HomeOn your final morning, explore some more before flying to Santiago and continuing on your homeward flights.