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National Geographic Orion
Papeete to Hiva Oa
Follow in the path of early Polynesian navigators on this epic voyage. From the aquamarine atolls of the Tuamotu Islands to the lush volcanic peaks of the mysterious Marquesas, you’ll visit some of the most remote and compelling sites in the far reaches of French Polynesia. You’ll have the option to continue onboard with us on a relaxing seven-day sea voyage, as we trace the path of master Polynesian navigators and make our way across the equator to Hawai’i.
Arrive in Papeete, Tahiti early this morning and check into your room at the tropical InterContinental Tahiti Resort & Spa. Spend the day adjusting to island time and enjoying the resort’s many amenities, or join us for a leisurely afternoon excursion. This evening, connect with your fellow travelers for a welcome cocktail party.
Today, join an island tour and have lunch at a local restaurant before embarking National Geographic Orion. (B,L,D)
Spend two days exploring this idyllic archipelago. Experience with all your senses while learning the geological distinction between volcanic islands and atolls. 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. Visit the village, and kayak, snorkel, and scuba dive in the rich waters here, home to large schools of pelagic fish, manta rays, dolphins, and sea turtles. Snorkelers will revel in the protected reefs of gorgeous Fakarava, one of the largest atolls in French Polynesia and part of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Conditions permitting, ride the current into the vast lagoon on a world-famous drift dive or snorkel. (B,L,D)
A relaxing day at sea brings us to one of the most remote and historic island groups on Earth, the Marquesas. One never forgets the first sight of lovely Hanavave Bay, fronting one of the world’s most soul-stirringly beautiful islands-Fatu Hiva. Be sure you’re on deck and camera-armed as we arrive at one of the most storied shorelines in the entire Pacific. Enjoy a warm Polynesian welcome on a visit to a remote village where you’ll see displays of well-made, uniquely Marquesan arts and crafts. Choose a challenging hike through landscapes studded with sculptural granite and stunning flora to a remote waterfall, or Zodiac to the next bay where local transport takes you birdwatching deep in the Omoa Valley. (B,L,D)
If you read Herman Melville’s Typee in prep for your voyage, you’ll thrill doubly to the green-mantled, rugged silhouette of Nuku Hiva, the largest and most imposing of the Marquesas. Visit ancient petroglyphs and witness a spectacular dance performance at a Marquesan me’ae, or hike up the valley with the naturalists and local guides in search of rare birds and spectacular views. Later, sample local foods in the village, and peruse unique arts and crafts. (B,L,D)
At Hiva Oa, we plan to land at Atuona. We’ll visit the village of Puamau to explore a well-maintained Marquesan sacred site, a me’ae Iipona. Accompanied by our team and knowledgeable local guides, we’ll learn about religious rites, and photograph one of the largest, most arresting ancient tikis in Polynesia. Choose to end your Polynesia adventure here, and fly back to Papeete, where you’ll connect to your flight home. Or continue: spend seven relaxing days at sea following in the wake of the great Polynesian explorers north to Hawai’i. (Day 8: B,L,D)
All day-by-day breakdowns are a sampling of the places we intend to visit, conditions permitting.
National Geographic Orion
Vessel Type: Luxury Expedition Length: 103 metres Passenger Capacity: 102 (in 53 cabins) Built: 2003 / Refurbished 2014 Engineered for maximum comfort and safety, Orion is equipped with the latest technology including large retractable stabilizers, sonar, radar, and an ice-strengthened hull. A shallow draft plus bow and stern thrusters provide the convenience of being able to maneuver close to shore. 14 Zodiacs ensure quick disembarkation and offer the ideal transport for up-close exploration. National Geographic Orion meets strict specifications for environmental protection and the on board waste management systems meet the stringent Antarctic operational standards enabling us to travel to the most pristine environments. A host of advanced design features and technology ensures sustainable marine environmental practices. National Geographic Orion accommodates 102 guests in 53 cabins, including several with balconies. She is spacious and modern, with a variety of public rooms that offer panoramic views of the passing landscape. Friendly and informal, Orion fosters a welcoming atmosphere where like-minded guests share in exceptional experiences and enrichment. Her public rooms include a dramatic window-lined main lounge, as well as an observation lounge and library perched at the very top of the ship, with plentiful observation decks. The spacious lounge is the heart of our expedition community, and is suited for spirited cocktail hours, informative presentations and our nightly tradition of Recap. In addition, a dedicated theater provides a unique setting for specialist presentations or films and slideshows. Both the main dining room and outside buffet easily accommodate all guests at once for open seating dining. On selected nights, weather permitting, our dining room menu is also available on the outside deck. While Orion interiors are elegant, life aboard is always casual, with no need for formal clothing. And you’ll find shipboard services like laundry, in-room cabled internet, and public-area wifi.
• Venture into the lush tropical forest and discover ancient Polynesian sacred sites on the verdant island of Hiva Oa. • Snorkel or dive in the Tuamotus, and see abundant fish and thriving coral reef ecosystems. • Learn stand-up paddleboarding in gorgeous turquoise lagoons. • Watch on deck as National Geographic Orion navigates into dramatic Hanavave Bay.