After an early morning arrival in Fiji, check in to your day room and enjoy a morning at your leisure before lunch. In the afternoon, set out to explore the island. Visit the Vei Sei Sei village, and make a stop for magnificent island views at Vudu Lookout. In the city of Lautoka on the western “sunshine coast” of Viti Levu, Fiji’s largest island, embark the Caledonian Sky.
The Fiji Islands, considered part of Melanesia, cover an area of 386,000 square miles. Of the 325 islands large enough for habitation, only 106 have permanent residents. The third largest, Taveuni, is a dazzling emerald known as “the garden island,” and you have several excursions to choose from here. Hikers enjoy a visit to beautiful waterfalls in Bouma National Park, while birders explore the lush forests, keeping a lookout for collared lories, Fiji orange doves, and blue-crested flycatchers. A cultural tour highlights traditional Fijian village life, a kava ceremony, and demonstrations of cooking, tapa-cloth production, and basket weaving. Snorkelers and divers investigate the submerged wonders of the sea including Fiji’s famed soft corals and an incredible diversity of fish.
Though linked through French colonialism, the language, customs, culture, and artistic traditions of Wallis and Futuna are distinctly different. While Wallis has ancestral ties with Tonga, Futuna traces its roots to Samoa. Be on deck as the ship approaches Futuna, whose verdant slopes ascend into the clouds. Stunning beaches fringe the east coast and Mt. Puke, the island’s largest volcano, soars to nearly 2,500 feet. In a traditional village visit the impressive shrine to the South Pacific’s only saint, Pierre Chanel; the interior is covered in elaborately-decorated tapa cloth. Birders keep an eye out for red-footed boobies, white-collared kingfishers, and blue-crowned lorikeets. Lunch on board is followed by snorkeling or diving in the clear waters to view longnose filefish, anemonefish, and colorful corals.
Tour the regional capital, Mata Utu, to visit its distinctive stone cathedral, then drive to one of the island’s beautiful crater lakes. Stroll through the interesting remains of a 14th-century fort, and browse local handicrafts.
Lovely, lesser-visited Savaii Island is the largest of the Samoan Islands chain. Step ashore to discover palm-fringed beaches backed by lushly forested slopes and plunging waterfalls. On nature walks search for 73 species of birdlife including 10 that are endemic to Samoa. Or, slip into the warm, inviting waters for a swim, or to explore healthy coral reefs during snorkel and dive excursions.
Consisting of three tiny coral atolls, Tokelau’s combined land area consists of a mere four square miles. Go ashore on the “Chiefly Island” of Fakaofo to view the traditional village hall and meet with welcoming locals. With no industry and few motorized boats, the clear waters of Tokelau support a variety of healthy corals teeming with brilliant tropical fish.
Cross the International Date Line and spend the day at sea attending lectures on Polynesia’s fascinating natural history, geology, and cultures.
Warm welcomes await on Pukapuka, where friendly locals share their unique customs and give you a glimpse of daily life on this most remote of the Cook Islands. In the afternoon, slip into the inviting, crystal-clear waters to swim, snorkel, or dive.
Join naturalists on deck to witness clouds of seabirds—red-tailed tropicbirds, sooty terns, and frigatebirds to name a few. In 1978 this pristine island was set aside as a National Park of the Cook Islands due to the plentiful marine and bird life it supports. Permission pending, go ashore to meet the caretaker and learn about important ongoing environmental conservation efforts. The large lagoon offers excellent snorkeling while divers explore the outer reef.
Relax on board as you sail.
Like a miniature Bora Bora, Aitutaki’s central peak rises above a reef-encircled lagoon, and we are welcomed by villagers performing some of the Pacific’s finest dances. Local guides accompany us on an island tour highlighting the natural and cultural attributes of the island. After lunch on the ship, enjoy snorkeling or diving off a remote motu in the crystal clear waters dotted with coral heads.
Relax on board as you sail.
Be on deck early in the morning as the ship enters the dazzling sapphire-hued lagoon of Bora Bora surrounded by soaring cloud-wreathed peaks. Tour this lush island, driving along roads lined with fragrant frangipani. Then venture to the large lagoon to snorkel or dive, watching for graceful stingrays and colorful fish such as fairy basslets and teardrop butterflyfish. Birders seek out chattering kingfishers and gray-green fruit doves.
After breakfast, disembark the Caledonian Sky and set out to explore this beautiful island. Visit the superb Museum of Tahiti and Her Islands, dedicated to the history and culture of the people of Polynesia, and drive along the stunning coast. After a stop at the Gauguin Museum, the former home of the artist from 1891–1893, continue to your hotel and check in to your day room. The afternoon is at your leisure to enjoy the hotel and to rest before your independent travels home.