Arrive in Nadi, Fiji and transfer to Lautoka to board the National Geographic Orion. More than 300 islands make up the remote volcanic archipelago of Fiji. Take to the warm turquoise seas, sailing past idyllic white-sand beaches edged with jungle as your ship makes its way east. (D)
Your 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. Head inland to discover the waterfalls of Bouma National Heritage Park and admire a panoramic view from 3,920-foot Des Voeux Peak. Go diving or snorkelling, or take a birding walk along a coastal trail to see species such as orange fruit doves, endemic silktails, fantails, and parrots.
On Fiji’s outer islands, experience the local culture in remote villages. Then take advantage of a full day at sea to settle into the relaxed pace of life on board. Watch for marine life from the deck, study your ship's route on the navigational charts, and attend talks by onboard experts. (B,L,D, daily)
The ship winds its way through a maze of uplifted limestone islets as you arrive in the lesser-known Kingdom of Tonga. In Neiafu, the capital of the stunning Vava’u island group, venture into verdant hills to visit a vanilla plantation and browse the craft and produce markets at the wharf. Spend the afternoon on the water kayaking, snorkeling, diving, or taking a Zodiac into limestone caves along the coast.
The following day, anchor off Niuatoputapu and witness daily life on Tonga’s most remote islands. Enjoy an introduction to Tongan music and dance, and attend a kava ceremony. On Tafahi, a volcanic cone rising out of the sea, explore volcanic rocks and submerged canyons and tunnels while snorkeling or diving. (B,L,D)
With its spectacular beaches and aqua lagoons, hidden waterfalls and lava-sculpted landscapes, Samoa captures the essence of the South Pacific. During your time on these islands, 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. Then enjoy life aboard Orion as you spend two days sailing into the heart of Polynesia. (B,L,D)
The 15 Cook Islands are scattered across the Pacific. Captain Cook was the first to thoroughly explore the islands in the 1770’s. The northern islands feature low coral atolls with vast turquoise lagoons and are known for their black pearl farms. Explore the area ashore and at sea, visiting the island communities and discovering the aquatic world beneath the waves. (B,L,D)
A day at sea brings us to the Southern Line Islands, where you can snorkel or dive some of the most remote and pristine atolls 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 last healthy, undisturbed places in the ocean. Explore deeper via our ROV. Go ashore on Caroline Island, renamed Millennium Atoll after becoming one of the first places to see the sun of the new millennium rise. Navigate the intricate channels of its lagoon by Zodiac or kayak, seeing nesting boobies and tropicbirds on the shore, and swim above fields of giant clams. (B,L,D)
Gain a day as you cross the International Date Line and arrive in French Polynesia. Explore Rangiroa, 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. Pass between the islets and anchor near the village of Tiputa. Local musicians greet you and show you around the village. Visit the village, and kayak, snorkel, and scuba in the rich waters here, home to large schools of pelagic fish, manta rays, dolphins, sea turtles, and hammerheads. (B,L,D)
Approach the emerald crags of Tahiti’s volcanic peaks and disembark in French Polynesia’s capital city, Papeete. Check in to a day room and explore the city’s museums, markets, and black pearl shops before venturing off to the surrounding beaches. In the evening, transfer to the airport for your connecting flight home. (B, L)