Day 2-14 Society Islands: Huahine, Taha’a, Raiatea & Bora Bora
- 13 Breakfasts, 13 Lunches, 13 Dinners
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.
Society Islands: Huahine, Taha’a, Raiatea & Bora Bora
Huahine, one of Tahiti’s best-kept secrets, offers the slower pace of old Polynesia. Only eight villages are scattered across the island, but Huahine was once the home of Tahitian royalty and has the highest density of ancient temples, marae, hidden in the lush forests. Surrounded by a deep and clear lagoon, Huahine also boasts stunning white-sand beaches. Here we will explore the lush shoreline of the lagoon by snorkelling or kayaking, visit the archeological site at Maeva Village with local guides, or take a nature walk into the forest to encounter sacred blue-eyed eels.
The second largest of the Society Islands, Raiatea means ‘bright sky’ in Tahitian. Regarded as the centre of ancient Polynesia, it is likely that the organised migrations to Hawai’i and New Zealand started here. Raiatea is home to rare flora and fauna species such as the Tiare ‘apetahi’ flower, which is found nowhere else in the world. Here we will have the privilege of visiting the sacred site of Taputapuatea Marae, a UNESCO World Heritage site, where the world of the living intersected with the world of the gods. Considered the religious and central temple of Eastern Polynesia. The Marae was established over a thousand years ago as a place of learning where knowledge of navigation and the origins of the universe were shared. Human sacrifices were also performed here, and the chiefs of Ra’iatea were invested here. We will explore the site and learn about the ancient knowledge and religious practices of the Tahitian people, and how they voyaged from Raiatea to the far corners of the Polynesian islands. This afternoon cross to neighbouring Taha’a to visit a fragrant vanilla plantation and soak up the tranquil traditional lifestyle.
Bora Bora, in the Leeward Group, is a bucket list destination for many travellers. The iconic landscape of white beaches and sparkling turquoise lagoon, backed by the distinctive peak of Mt Otemanu is as beautiful as you imagined. Here you will have free time to enjoy the atmosphere of this remarkable place, or enjoy walking or hiking expeditions, a tour of the WWII historical sites and enjoy swimming and snorkelling amongst the tropical fish and reef sharks in the lagoon.
Cook Islands: Atiu, Aitutaki, & Palmerston Island
Atiu is known as the ‘land of the birds’. The island, which lies in the southern Cook Islands, is home to around 400 proud warrior people. A true expedition location, Atiu boasts untouched beaches, remarkable limestone caves, and a genuine insight into island living. Here we will disembark to a traditional welcome with the blowing of the Triton’s trumpet shell and warrior’s challenge. Enjoy birdwatching tours to spot the rare kakekori, Cook Islands fruit dove and Atiu swiftlet, which we find in the Anatakitaki Caves, where they nest and use echolocation clicks to navigate the darkness.
Aitutaki, known for a bright blue lagoon and beaches lined with palm trees, is one of the world’s most beautiful islands. Here, we will enter the lagoon by zodiac, and step over sacred stones to be greeted by a warm Polynesian welcome. Here, we will experience the traditional food and culture of the village – Cook Islanders are known for their gift of communal singing and dancing. We may also visit the oldest church in the Cook Islands at Arutanga. Later, you may relax or join a snorkel in the aquarium-like lagoon, teeming with tropical fish.
Palmerston Island, uninhabited when Cook discovered it in 1774, was settled by William Marsters in 1863, who arrived with Polynesian wives. The inhabitants of Palmerston Island are his descendants, and this is the only island in the Cook Islands where English is the native language. This fascinating history comes alive as we go ashore and meet the local people. Be welcomed by the leaders of the community before touring the village. Enjoy the taste of fresh coconut, and if time permits a swim and snorkel in the lagoon.
Niue: Arrive Pape’ete
Niue or ‘the Rock’, is one of the world’s largest ‘coral islands’. The centre of the island, a plateau rising 200 feet above sea level, is surrounded by cliffs and terraces with slopes down to the sea. Many limestone caves pepper the coastline. Here we will visit Alofi Village, the capital. The stamps here are the most sought after in the world, and you may purchase one at the Philatelic Bureau, before exploring the limestone caves and finding a remarkable swimming location at Matapa Chasm.
Kingdom of Tonga: Va’vau, Ha’apai & ‘Eua
Tonga, meaning ‘southwards’ is the southernmost group of the islands of central Polynesia. Not a tourist destination, Tonga in an authentic island kingdom where life progresses as its own pace. The Va’vau Group of islands is one of Tonga’s most popular destinations, particularly during the humpback whale migration of July to October. Here, it is believed that the demi-god Maui created the islands by pulling them up from the bottom of the sea with his magic hook. Here we will snorkel and dive over the brilliant reefs and explore the coastal limestone caves by zodiac or visit the charming village and nearby vanilla plantation.
In the Ha’apai group, we remember the history of the Bounty mutiny, which occurred near Tofua on 28 April 1789. The 62 islands in the Ha’apai group comprise of lagoons, barrier reefs, and active volcanoes. Here we will discover the history of the region, relax on the white sand of the beaches, and explore the coastline by snorkelling and zodiac.
‘Eua, often called the forgotten island of Tonga, is windswept and mountainous, perched on the edge of the deep underwater Tongan Trench. It is hilly, with hidden caves and cliff-top lookouts perfect for discovering on walks with our guides. ‘Eua (pronounced ‘a-wah’) is home to endemic plants and the koki or red shining parrot. Enjoy a taste of laid-back Tongan life on the small and little-visited island as you conclude your journey through Polynesia.