Day 2-14 The Tuamotus | Marquesas
- 13 Breakfasts, 13 Lunches, 13 Dinners
em>These are expedition itineraries covering remote regions. Your Captain and Expedition Team may make changes to the daily schedule when necessary to maximise the guest experience. Below are the highlight destinations of your voyage.
The Tuamotus: Rangiroa, Manihi, Takapoto, Tikehau & Makatea Atolls
Begin your exploration of the Tuamotus at Rangiroa Atoll, the largest of the Tuamotu atolls and one of the world’s greatest destinations for scuba diving. Rangiroa, meaning ‘immense sky’ in Tahitian is made up of hundreds of tiny islets, or motus, strung around a deep lagoon. Famous for its manta rays, Rangiroa also attracts schools of dolphins, turtled, humphead wrasse, and hammerheads. Today we will be welcomed to a local village where we will see the fine shell jewelry produced here. A pearl farm offers the chance to learn about the pearl cultivation and see the stunning shades of black pearls produced here. Then, enter the endless lagoon to snorkel or swim. There is even a vineyard on Rangiroa, Dominique Auroy Estate, and we may have to opportunity for a wine-tasting.
Next, Manihi or the island of pearls will welcome you. This secluded atoll, with white sand beaches and swaying palm trees, is very peaceful. During our half-day here, we will learn about the natural cultivation of the black pearl oyster, enjoy kayaking or snorkeling over the lagoon, and discover an ancient marae, constructed from blocks of coral.
As we return from the Marquesas towards Tahiti, stop at the pristine Takapoto Atoll. The closed lagoon is an untouched haven, and black pearls are naturally produced here by the Pinctada margaritifera oyster. Spend time on the beach and discovering the fish parks made from coral stone.
The atoll of Tikehau, known for its pink sand, is a graceful crown of white beaches and motus around the shimmering lagoon. Home to only 500 Tahitians, the atoll is rich with marine life. Jacques Cousteau, who undertook a scientific expedition here in 1987, said it had the richest marine life in the South Pacific Here, we will visit the local village and enjoy a breathtaking moment as we snorkel with manta rays at La Ferme aux Mantas, a cleaning station where manta rays gather.
The final stop in the Tuamotus is the uplifted coral atoll of Makatea. This geologically unique atoll is surrounded by high cliffs, peppered with limestone caves and grottos. It had a prosperous phosphate mining industry 100 years ago, but now is home to less than 100 people, although the remnants of mining are still visible. Here we will explore the abandoned mining village, and explore the underground grottos for a swim in extraordinary surroundings.
Marquesas: Ua Pou, Nuka Hiva, Ua Huka, Hiva Oa, Tahuata & Fatu Hiva
Be privileged to spend six days in the remarkable Marquesas Islands. Sight the remarkable basalt spires of Ua Pou soaring to over 3,500 feet, our first vision of the Marquesas. Ua Pou, ‘the entrance pillars to God’s house’, is named after legendary warriors and overlooks the village of Hakahau Bay, where we go ashore. Feel the magic and mystery of the place, as we are welcomed by traditional dancing, including the birds dance, and have the opportunity to hike for a magnificent view. Visit the artisan’s center and take in the moment.
Nuka Hiva, the ‘beams of God’s house’, is a marvelous island characterized by forested volcanic peaks, a high plain from which waterfalls tumble, and a remarkable archaeological heritage. Here, we will explore Taipivai Valley, where the author Herman Melville hid for three weeks and was inspired to write the novel Typee. Enjoy nature hikes with naturalists to bird-watch or admire the sweeping views, explore the ancient center of Tohua Kamuihei and Hikoku’a to see the immense ruins, petroglyphs, and tiki. In the village, enjoy local cuisine, see traditional dances, and visit the Cathedral of Notre Dame, famous for its stonework and sculptures.
Ua Hika, a secluded and largely arid island, is home to herds of wild horses and goats roaming the high plains. It is the least inhabited of the Marquesas, and the ancestors are still intrinsic to the islander’s everyday life. Home to the pati’oti’o and pihiti, two endemic birds only found here, Ua Hika offers a unique experience from the moment we cruise into the remarkable narrow Invisible Bay. We will visit a cultural center and petroglyph museum to learn about the history of the island, before enjoying a hiking option.
Hiva Oa, a lush garden-like island, is the last resting place of the painter Paul Gauguin who spent the last 5 years of his life here. The island’s rugged landscape is arrestingly green and verdant, scattered with archaeological sites and the largest tiki statues in French Polynesia. Black sand beaches and sharp cliffs add to the dramatic landscape. Here we will discover the tohua, the restored site where chieftains would sit, and walk to the grave-sites of Paul Gauguin and Jacques Brel. Accompanied by expert guides, learn about the religious significance of the ancient site of me’ ae lipoma at Puamau.
A half-day in Tahuata reveals the smallest island of the inhabited Marquesas. Tahuata is rich with art and culture, with exquisite carvings of tikis and other symbols produced. Have the opportunity to purchase these works from their makers and visit the impressive church which is decorated with carvings and stained glass. There may be time to relax on the white sand beach or swim.
The final stop in the Marquesas is Fatu Hiva, ‘the roof of God’s house’. Fatu Hiva is lush and spectacular, and it is also a place of remarkable traditional craftsmanship. Our arrival into the stunning Bay of Virgins will coincide with sunset, as the volcanic peaks bordering the bay will be illuminated by the setting sun. A warm Polynesian welcome will lead us into the village of Omoa, and here we will have the opportunity to see the creation of tapa cloth, made by hammering bark from breadfruit trees, which is then dried and painted. Birdwatching walks are available or hike through a dramatic landscape marked by granite boulders to an isolated waterfall.