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Cabanas silhouette  on a Bora Bora cruise

French Polynesia: Beyond the Postcard

French Polynesia - Example 8 Day Cruise aboard National Geographic Orion
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Venture to the heart of Polynesian culture and wildness on this highly immersive expedition where options abound. Choose to kayak, stand-up paddleboard, or take a bike ride for independent exploration and to connect with the people and islands on a personal level. Explore the historic ceremonial site, called a marae, on Raiatea where Polynesian seafarers would begin their bold expeditions sailing into the unknown—expeditions that would eventually lead to populating Hawaii and New Zealand. Sail among some of the 80 atolls of the Tuamotu Archipelago, a string of tiny islands in an azure sea that hides thriving reefs you can explore while scuba diving and snorkeling. 

Day-by-Day Summary

Day 1 : Papeete, French Polynesia | Embark
Day 2 : Bora Bora, Society Islands
Day 3 : Raiatea | Tahaa
Day 4 : Huahine
Days 5-6 : Tuamotu Archipelago
Day 7 : Rangiroa
Day 8 : Rangiroa | Disembark | Papeete |Home

Highlights

  • Visit one of the most important cultural sites, Marae Taputapuatea
  • Snorkel or dive some of the healthiest reefs of the Pacific in Tuamotu
  • Learn stand-up paddle boarding in gorgeous turquoise lagoons
  • Navigate Tiputa Pass into the lagoon at Rangiroa, one of the largest atolls

Ship

National Geographic Orion

Places Visited

  • South Pacific
  • Bora Bora
  • Fakarava
  • Huahine
  • Papeete
  • Raiatea
  • Rangiroa
  • Society Islands
  • Tahiti
  • Tuamotu Islands

Activities

Trip Type

  • Small Ship

Activity Level

Relaxed

Trip Snapshots

Cabanas silhouette  on a Bora Bora cruise Clownfish spotted on snorkeling trip Beautiful landscapes Snorkeling girl Snorkel the clear waters of Tahiti

Day 1 Papeete, French Polynesia | Embark

  • Ship
  • 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Arrive in Papeete, Tahiti early this morning, check into dayrooms and take a brief tour of the island before embarking National Geographic Orion. (L,D)

Day 2 Bora Bora, Society Islands

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Begin your voyage with a view of one of the South Pacific’s most iconic images, the angular crags of Bora Bora’s Mount Otemanu. Explore the island’s interior by 4WD, for unparalleled views of the island’s turquoise lagoon, then snorkel, dive, kayak, and stand-up paddleboard from one of the motus on the outer reef. 

Day 3 Raiatea | Tahaa

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Encircled by a single fringing reef, and sharing a common lagoon, Raiatea and Taha’a are islands well worth exploring. One of the most important cultural sites in the Polynesian world, Marae Taputapuatea was a center for Polynesian seafarers and the location from which they set out for Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Hawaii and New Zealand. Spend the morning on Raiatea exploring this recently named UNESCO World Heritage site, then refresh yourself with a 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 4 Huahine

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
One of Polynesia’s best-kept secrets, Huahine is well off the beaten path. Once the 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.

Day 5-6 Tuamotu Archipelago

  • Ship
  • 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
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. Spend the day exploring 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 clouds of colorful fish on the nearby reef. 

Day 7 Rangiroa

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
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 islets to anchor inside the lagoon near the village of Tiputa, where local musicians greet us. Visit the village, and kayak, snorkel, and scuba dive in the rich waters here, home to large schools of pelagic fish, manta rays, dolphins, sea turtles, and hammerheads. 

Day 8 Rangiroa | Disembark | Papeete |Home

  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch
Disembark this morning and take a short flight back to Papeete, where you’ll connect to the international overnight flight home. 

National Geographic Orion

Deals

Complimentary Bar Tab & Gratuities
Complimentary Bar tab and gratuities included on this voyage. Contact us for details.
Valid on all 2018/2019 departures.

Per person starting at
$7,960
National Geographic Orion's Category 1 Cabin.
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National Geographic Orion's Category 1 Cabin.
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Main deck with window
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Upper and veranda decks with window
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Upper deck with balcony
National Geographic Orion's Category 6 Cabin.
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Category 6
Veranda deck - suite

Notes

Single supplement varies by itinerary. A solo traveler matching program may be available but is subject to availability.

Cost Includes:
  • Accommodations
  • Meals indicated
  • Excursions
  • Services of Lindblad Expeditions’ Leader, Naturalist staff and expert guides
  • Use of kayaks
  • Entrance fees
  • All port charges and service taxes
Not Included:
  • Immigration fees 
  • Air transportation
  • personal items such as alcoholic beverages, emails, laundry, voyage DVD etc.
  • Gratuities to ship’s crew at your discretion
Payment & Cancellation Policies
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Our guide and driver were very good with their knowledge and were very helpful with our questions. It was a very pleasant visit that would have been impossible to do on our own. Hotels and restaurants were fantastic. The special places we got to go to, like the kitchens, were great. Enjoyed the entire trip!
Meyer Smolen

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