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Lagoon of Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Pearls of the Pacific: Exploring the Society and Tuamotu Islands

Example 10 Day Cruise aboard National Geographic Orion
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From snorkeling with sea turtles and sharks to swimming into a hidden grotto and dining on a privatemotu, this South Pacific expedition is an adventure in paradise. Begin with bucket-list underwater explorations in the Tuamotu Archipelago and Fakarava, whose flora and fauna are so diverse that its breathtaking reefs and other habitats are protected by UNESCO. Makatea’s sheer volcanic cliffs, Bora Bora’s jagged Mount Otemanu, and the tall green peaks of Mo'orea create indelible memories and complement the underwater Gardens of Eden that surround these remarkable remote tropical islands.
Moorea is stunningWoman snorkeling in clear water in Bora BoraReady for a day exploring MooreaSaying goodbye to Taha'aLagoon of Bora Bora, French Polynesia
Highlights
  • Swim into an otherworldly grotto on Makatea.
  • Learn about Polynesian history and culture at Ra'iatea’s Marae Taputapuatea.
  • Visit on the small island of Anaa and in its biodiverse lagoon.
  • See iconic and awe-inspiring landscapes like Mount Otemanu.
Places Visited
  • South Pacific
  • Tahiti
  • Bora Bora
  • Fakarava
  • French Polynesia
  • Makatea
  • Moorea
  • Oceania
  • Papeete
  • Polynesia
  • Raiatea
  • Society Islands
  • Taha'a
  • Tuamotu Islands
Trip Type:
  • Small Ship
Activity Level: Relaxed
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Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia | Embark

Arrive in Tahiti and proceed directly to National Geographic Orion for embarkation. While in port this morning, take some time to freshen up and settle into your cabin as we prepare to depart. Alternatively, choose to walk around downtown Papeete and visit the central market where vendors sell fresh fruit, pareos, artwork, and coveted black pearls. Join us for lunch aboard and be on deck as we set sail from Tahiti toward the Tuamotu Archipelago. This afternoon meet the expedition team and your fellow travelers and settle into island time

Day 2-3: 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,” a corner of Polynesia that is as rich with marine life as it is vast. With crystalline lagoons fringed by white beaches and lush coconut groves, the Tuamotus are a tropical dream, both in the water and ashore. Meet the locals on sparsely inhabited Anaa and learn of their unique traditions. Discover the abundant marine life on a snorkel or dive or learn to stand up paddleboard in the calm lagoon of one of the many pristine atolls in the archipelago.

Day 4-5: Fakarava

  • Ship
  • 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Today we arrive at Fakarava, one of the largest atolls in French Polynesia and part of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. This coral atoll is home to many rare species of birds, plants, and crustaceans, and we have the opportunity to snorkel its protected reefs and ride the current into the lagoon on a world-famous drift dive. Spend time exploring Rotoava, the main village on Fakarava. Take a leisurely bike ride, visit a pearl shop or stroll along the turquoise waterfront with a fresh coconut.

Day 6: Makatea

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
An uplifted coral atoll, the island of Makatea is one of the most unique landforms in the Pacific. A makatea is a raised coral atoll that is tilted due to plate tectonics and appears much different than the other islands in the region, containing spectacular, vertical cliffs. This specific island of Makatea gives its name to all other uplifted coral atolls worldwide. Spend the day exploring the island’s limestone caves and grottos with your expedition team and local guides, or search for endemic fruit doves and myriad seabirds.

Day 7: Taha’a | Bora Bora

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Arrive in picture-postcard Taha’a and spend the morning snorkeling alongside black-tipped reef sharks. Or, choose to go ashore and visit a family run vanilla farm. Enjoy lunch aboard as we sail to nearby Bora Bora and be on deck as the iconic crags of Mount Otemanu come into focus. This afternoon, explore Bora Bora either on land or in the water and join us for a barbecue dinner and music on a private motu this evening.

Day 8: Bora Bora | Ra'iatea

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Take in the sunrise on deck as we sail to Ra'iatea in the early morning light. This morning we visit one of the most important cultural sites in the Polynesian world, Marae Taputapuatea. A center for Polynesian seafarers and the location from which they set out for Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Hawai’i and New Zealand, we visit the marae and learn of its significance in Polynesian history. Join us for a scenic lagoon cruise around the island as we sail toward the village of Uturoa. Taste local Polynesian specialties over lunch at a local beachside restaurant, and spend the afternoon swimming, snorkeling or stand up paddle boarding from the beach in Ra'iatea’s calm lagoon waters.

Day 9: Mo'orea

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Wake up to views of Moorea’s tall, green cliffs as we anchor in stunning Opunohu Bay. Spend the morning discovering all that the island has to offer: hike through a pineapple plantation, explore the island’s interior on horseback, or choose to snorkel in the island’s crystalline lagoon. Have lunch on deck and take in views of the island as we cruise toward Cook’s Bay, where we’ll spend the rest of the day. Join us on an afternoon excursion to Moorea’s newest museum and enjoy the golden light of the late afternoon from ashore.

Day 10-11: Mo'orea | Papeete | Disembark

  • Ship
  • 2 Breakfasts, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
This morning, choose to stretch your legs with an early walk into Mo'orea’s caldera interior or opt to discover marine life beneath the surface of the lagoon on a leisurely snorkel excursion. Join us onboard for lunch as we cast off for Tahiti. In the afternoon, disembark in Papeete and check into a hotel room for the afternoon. In the late evening, transfer to the airport for flights home.

Ship/Hotel

National Geographic Orion

Keep in shape in the exercise room aboard the National Geographic Orion
The National Geographic Orion is sleek and at your service
The lovely National Geographic Orion

Dates & Prices

My Preferred Start Date

Per person starting at
$12,110
National Geographic Orion's Category 1 Cabin.
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Category 1
Cat 1 #316, 318-321. Cabins feature a luminous oval window and configurable beds: two single beds, two beds converted to a queen-size bed, or a queen size bed. An armchair, reading lamps, a flat screen TV, and climate controls complete the amenities. Marble bathrooms are generously sized and include a spacious shower stall with a glass door.
Your  Category B Stateroom on the National Geographic Orion
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Category 1 Single
Cat 1S #301, 322, 323. These solo cabins feature a window or two portholes, a queen-size bed, except for #301 which has a double bed, writing desk and chair, climate controls, reading lamps, and a TV. Marble bathrooms are generously sized and include a roomy shower stall with a glass door.
A Category A Stateroom on the National Geographic Orion
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Category 2
Cat 2 #302-312, 314, 315, 317. Cabins feature a luminous oval window and configurable beds: two single beds, two beds converted to a queen-size bed, or a queen size bed. An armchair, reading lamps, a flat screen TV, and climate controls complete the amenities. Marble bathrooms are generously sized, and include a spacious shower stall with a glass door.
A lovely category 3 suite on the National Geographic Oion
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Category 3
Cat 3 Suite with Window #401-412, 414-419. These suites feature a sitting area with a large window, a sofa–except slightly smaller #401 & #402–an armchair or two, writing/laptop desk, reading lamps, flat screen TV, & climate controls. Beds are configurable (call for details). Marble bathrooms include a spacious shower stall with a glass door.
National Geographic Orion's Category 3 Cabin.
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Category 3 Single
Cat 3S Suite with Window #512. This solo suite features two beds and two large windows, plus two armchairs and small table, reading lamps, a flat screen TV, and climate controls. The marble bathroom is generously sized and includes a spacious shower stall with a glass door.
National Geographic Orion's Category 4 Cabin.
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Category 4
Cat 4 Deluxe Suite with Window #511, 515. These two suites feature separate sleeping and sitting areas, with a chair and armchair and a two-cushion sofa facing an expansive window. Beds are configurable (call for details). Ample storage, reading lamps, a flat screen TV, and climate controls complete the amenities.
National Geographic Orion's Category 5 Cabin.
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Category 5
Cat 5 Suite with French Balcony #501, 503-506, 508. These spacious suites feature open living areas and sliding glass doors opening to a shared French balcony. Beds are configurable (call for details.) A sitting area with arm chairs and a sofa, a writing/laptop desk, well-placed reading lamps, a flat screen TV, and climate controls complete the decor.
National Geographic Orion's Category 6 Cabin.
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Category 6
Cat 6 Owner’s Suite with French Balcony #502, 507, 509*, 510. These large, elegant suites feature a French balcony, with the exception of #509 which has double windows. Each provides a separate living area with a sofa and two arm chairs, except for #502, which uniquely offers a 'soaking tub with a view' in addition to a shower stall and expansive vanity.

Notes

*Rates are capacity controlled and are subject to change without notice.

Cruise fares are per person and include the following:
  • All meals while on board the ship 
  • Captain’s welcome cocktail and gala dinner
  • Gratuities to onboard crew, local guides and drivers
  • “Open Bar” (pouring wines, house champagne, alcohol except premium brands...list available upon request)
  • Evening entertainment and events
  • 24h room service (special selection)
  • English-speaking lecturer 
  • Water sports activities (except scuba diving) using the ship’s equipment, when permitted by local authorities and confirmed by ship Master according to safety and sea conditions onsite
  • Highly experienced bilingual (French-English) Expedition team 
  • Park entry fees into protected areas
  • Free and unlimited Wi-Fi (Internet access may be slower or in some situations interrupted, depending on certain geographic locations or other circumstances beyond our control).
Cruise fares do not include:
  • Any ground services before and/or after the cruise other than the ones mentioned
  • Pre or post cruise programs, overland programs or shore excursions mentioned
  • Visa expenses and/or immigration reciprocity taxes if applicable
  • Luggage handling
  • Optional Spa package to be booked prior to your departure
  • Beverages other than the ones mentioned
  • Laundry services, hair salon, and à la carte Spa treatments
  • Personal expenses, on board medical consultations and drug prescriptions
  • Cancellation/luggage/assistance/repatriation/medical insurance(s)

Map

When to Go

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Dec
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The trip was terrific with great planning on your part. Most of the adventures were not mainstream and somewhat off the beaten path which made it especially enjoyable!! We felt taken care of and you all were readily available to respond to questions and issues. I would highly recommend your company and friends have already expressed interest based on our pictures and excitement.
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