Join us for a journey that reverses part of the odyssey of the mutineers of the Bounty when they were looking for a new home in what today is French Polynesia. Starting on Easter Island we will get to see all four of the Pitcairn Islands before heading over to the Austral Islands, finally reaching Tahiti. Birders will love the opportunity to see rare endemics and as well as large seabird colonies, while snorkelers get to see what is hidden to most when visiting the Pitcairn and Austral Islands. Go to islands on the fringes of Polynesia and see sites that have made it into literature and films and still be one of the few privileged that have managed to get there.
Throughout the voyage, learn about the history, geology, wildlife and botany of this spectacular area from lecture presentations offered by your knowledgeable onboard Expedition Team.
- Discover Easter Island, Ducie Atoll, Henderson, Pitcairn, Rapa, Raivavae
- Visit Pitcairn Island, speak to the descendants of the Bounty mutineers and see the spot where Fletcher Christian hid from his fellow outlaws
- Get to see island life away from French Polynesia’s capital Papeete
- Wildlife Watch List: Dolphins: common and bottlenose dolphins, Seabirds: Masked and Brown Boobies, Sooty Terns, Herald and Henderson Petrels, Great Frigatebirds, Red-tailed and White-tailed Tropicbirds
- Land and water birds: Pitcairn and Henderson Reed Warblers, Henderson Fruit Doves, Henderson Rails, Henderson Lorikeets , Pacific Reef Egrets
Day 1 EASTER ISLAND
Discovered (by the Western world) on Easter Sunday, 1722, Easter Island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most isolated places on the face of the Earth, some 2,300 miles from the Chilean mainland. Although more Polynesian than South American in character, the 64-square mile island was annexed by Chile in 1888, and is now famous as the world’s largest ‘open air museum’ on account of the Moai, or human-like stone statues, that can be found on the island.
Days 2 – 3 AT SEA
Days at sea are the perfect opportunity to relax, unwind and catch up with what you’ve been meaning to do. So whether that is whale watching from the Observatory Lounge, writing home to your loved ones or simply topping up your tan by the pool, these blue sea days are the perfect balance to busy days spent exploring shore side.
Day 4 DUCIE ISLAND
Discovered in 1606 by a Portuguese explorer, Ducie is a small isolated atoll and is the easternmost of the Pitcairn Islands. The island’s most prominent bit of history is the 1881 wreckage of the mail ship Acadia, which ran aground on the island when the lookout mistook the island for a cloud due to its white beaches. Ducie is a mere speck in the surrounding expanse of ocean, uninhabited except for the estimated 500,000 nesting seabirds that reside among the two plant species (Beach Heliotrope and at least one specimen of Pemphis) that grow over seventy percent of the island.
Day 5 HENDERSON ISLAND (PITCAIRN ISLANDS)
On this remote and uninhabited piece of land – a raised coral island virtually untouched by man – you will get a true sense of how the landscape has appeared for endless years, while gaining an understanding of how natural selection has resulted in Henderson’s primary attraction: four endemic land birds. To protect the rare, natural state of Henderson Island, UNESCO designated it as a World Heritage Site in 1988.
Day 6 ADAMSTOWN (PITCAIRN ISLAND)
With a total of 56 residents on the island, Adamstown is the capital of the Pitcairn Islands and the only populated settlement, as all of the other Pitcairn Islands are uninhabited (although were populated by Polynesians in the 11th through 15th centuries). Halfway between Peru and New Zealand, Pitcairn was the perfect hiding spot for the famed HMS Bounty mutineers and their Tahitian wives. Not only had the island been misplaced on early maps of the region, but it can also be very difficult to come ashore as large breakers tend to build up just in front of the small harbour of Bounty Bay.
Day 7 OENO ISLAND
Named after whaling ship Eno, Oeno Island is a small (0.5 square kilometer) coral atoll and the westernmost of the Pitcairn Islands. This beautiful island is low-lying and rarely visited, with the exception of nearby Pitcairners arriving on their annual holidays. The little island is surrounded by white sandy beaches inside a stunning blue lagoon studded with vegetation. A sand bar, which is constantly undergoing change, is currently unattached to the island.
Days 8 – 9 AT SEA
Day 10 MAROTIRI ISLAND
Some 75 kilometres southeast of Rapa are the four uninhabited rocks that make up the Bass Group, known as Marotiri to the Polynesians. According to stories from Rapa, these rocks were used on occasions to exile unwanted Rapans. The rocks are an important breeding site for seabirds and fish are abundant. Pending permission by the French Polynesian authorities we will take our Zodiacs to cruise around the four rocks and look for the seabird colonies on French Polynesia’s most remote possession.
Day 11 – 12 RAPA AUSTRAL ISLANDS
The island of Rapa (or Rapa Iti) is the southernmost inhabited island of French Polynesia. It has a protected central bay and is surrounded by a ring of mountains; the island appears to be a sinking volcano with the bay as the caldera. There are with two villages located on the island: the main village of Ahurei and the smaller village of ‘Area. Within Ahurei there are 28 ridgetop fortresses, the best example of which is the fortress of Morunga Uta.
Day 13 MAHANATOA RAIVAVAE (AUSTRAL ISLANDS)
Raivavae has been described as a smaller and laid-back version of Bora Bora –without the tourists. In addition to strolling the white sand beach of Mahanatoa on one of Raivavae Island’s motu (a local name for a reef islet), it is possible to circumnavigate the island by road to view a marae and lush greenery. All this is surrounded by the quintessence South Sea with its crystal clear waters and coconut palm tree fringes. Snorkelers may enjoy seeing the reef fish at one of the motu while tropicbirds, reef herons, and noddies glide overhead.
Day 14 DAY AT SEA
Day 15 PAPEETE (TAHITI)
Papeete will be your gateway to the tropical paradise of French Polynesia, where islands fringed with gorgeous beaches and turquoise ocean await to soothe the soul. This spirited city is the capital of French Polynesia, and serves as a superb base for onward exploration of Tahiti – an island of breathtaking landscapes and oceanic vistas. Wonderful lagoons of crisp, clear water beg to be snorkelled, stunning black beaches and blowholes pay tribute to the island’s volcanic heritage, and lush green mountains beckon you inland on adventures, as you explore extraordinary Tahiti.
Please Note: Expedition highlights and itinerary listed here are possible experiences only and cannot be guaranteed. Your Expedition Leader and Captain will work together to ensure opportunities for adventure and exploration are the best possible, taking into account the prevailing weather and wildlife activity. Expedition Team members scheduled for this voyage are subject to change or cancellation.