Polynesia & Easter Island – with Nat Geo


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    In partnership with National Geographic Expeditions

    PONANT invites you to enjoy an unforgettable experience with our team of naturalists, discovering atypical destinations in the heart of the Pacific. From Papeete to Hanga Roa, you will sail aboard Le Boréal for an exceptional 14-day expedition cruise.

    The first stop on this trip: Rangiroa, in the Tuamotus. This gigantic atoll with breath-taking underwater scenery is most known for the cultivation of its famous black pearls.  Far from the major maritime routes, the Gambier Islands are one of Polynesia’s most unspoiled destinations. Encircled by a large ring of coral, its multicoloured lagoons are each more beautiful than the next and will offer you a breath-taking show.

    Le Boréal will make a stop in the small village of Rikitea, where Saint Michael’s Cathedral stands proudly, built entirely of coral and wood. Clear waters, abundant flora and endemic fauna… you will sail to the Pitcairn Islands, an unspoiled subtropical environment whose capital, Adamstown, resembles a charming small village.

    Some 3,700 km away from the South American continent, you will reach the intriguing Easter Island. You will discover its famous wooden tablets called “Rongorongo” and the Moai, or “walking statues”, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

    Highlights

    • A cruise in partnership with National Geographic Expeditions offering enrichment with a National Geographic Photographer and an Expert onboard.
    • Presence on board of a team made up of an expedition leader and 10 naturalist-guides, who will accompany you on every outing, shore visit and activity.
    • From Hanga Roa, discover the impressive Ahu Tahai and its monumental statues listed as Archaeological Heritage by UNESCO.
    • From Aukena, visit a pearl farm.
    • In Rikitea, visit Saint Michel’s Cathedral.

    Itinerary

    Day 1 PAPEETE, TAHITI ISLAND
    Capital of French Polynesia, the city of Papeete is on the north-west coast of the island of Tahiti. You’ll find a relaxed atmosphere here, where urban buzz combines with the legendary laid-back Polynesian lifestyle. Culture is not lacking. You can enjoy sites narrating the history of the archipelago, including the colonial cathedral and the Maison de la reine Marau. The Vaipahi public gardens will win you over by their abundant plant-life. The large municipal market offers local specialities: fresh fruit, spices and all kinds of fish abound on their stalls.

    Day 2 RANGIROA, TUAMOTU ISLANDS
    A secluded atoll in the Tuamotu Archipelago, Rangiroa is a narrow ring of coral surrounding a splendid lagoon. You can admire its transparent waters, rose-white beaches and famous “Blue Lagoon” seated in the middle of the large lagoon. Fans of sea life will delight in the richness and clarity of the surrounding waters. Rangiroa is also the high seat of Polynesian pearl culture.

    Days 3 – 4 AT SEA
    During your day at sea, make the most of the many services and activities on board. Treat yourself to a moment of relaxation in the spa or stay in shape in the fitness centre. Depending on the season, let yourself be tempted by the swimming pool or a spot of sunbathing. This day without a port of call will also be an opportunity to enjoy the conferences or shows proposed on board, to do some shopping in the boutique or to meet the PONANT photographers in their dedicated space. As for lovers of the open sea, they will be able to visit the ship’s upper deck to admire the spectacle of the waves and perhaps be lucky enough to observe marine species. A truly enchanted interlude, combining comfort, rest and entertainment.

    Day 5 RIKITEA, GAMBIER ISLANDS
    Discover Mangareva, which means “floating mountain” in Polynesian. Located in the Gambier Islands, surrounded by a magnificent coral reef and blessed with generous vegetation, this island, a cradle of Catholicism, has exceptional cultural heritage, with many vestiges of religious buildings dating from the 19th century. Nestling in the heart of this historic site with idyllic landscapes, do not miss the small village of Rikitea, where one of Polynesia’s wonders, Saint Michael’s Cathedral, stands proudly, entirely built from coral and timber.

    Day 6 AUKENA, GAMBIER ISLANDS & SAILING AROUND TEMOE ATOLL
    Located 5 kilometres southeast of Mangareva, Aukena is today the 4th-largest of the Gambier Islands in French Polynesia, with a population of around thirty inhabitants. This port of call will be an opportunity for you to dive into the past, to the era when Aukena was discovered by the sailor James Wilson in 1797. There are several remnants of this missionary period, such as the watchtower serving as a landmark on the southwest of the island or the Church of St. Raphael, constructed in 1839. These buildings nestling in the forest lead to sumptuous white sand beaches and turquoise waters. Take the time to explore this island in the Gambier archipelago, and get a taste of French Polynesia’s gentle way of life. Sailing around the Temoe Atoll is breath-taking. Trapezoidal in shape, it is the most easterly atoll in French Polynesia. In administrative terms, it belongs to the Gambier Islands and has been uninhabited since 1838, when missionaries moved all the inhabitants to Mangareva. There are several ancient Polynesian remains and archaeologists are attempting to preserve the integrity of the former heritage of the atoll by faithfully rebuilding certain coral monuments. In the waters around the atoll, it is common to see shoals of tuna or sea bream following the coastlines: a unique and marvellous spectacle.

    Day 7 AT SEA

    Day 8 ADAMSTOWN, PITCAIRN ISLAND
    If you’ve got a taste for adventure and you love discovering wild, remote lands, you’ll definitely be won over by the Pitcairn islands. This tiny British territory is mainly composed of atolls right in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Rimmed by steep cliffs several hundreds of metres high, the volcanic Pitcairn Island is to be explored on foot. In Adamstown, the only village on this 5-square-kilometre land, you’ll meet the 50 sole inhabitants of the entire archipelago. The call to Pitcairn is subject to weather and sea conditions.

    Day 9 SAILING ALONG DUCIE ISLAND
    This lost atoll in the heart of the Pacific Ocean merits special attention. It was discovered by the British Captain Edward Edwards in 1791. He named it after Baron Francis Ducie, a captain in the British navy. Located around 500 kilometres from Pitcairn Island, it is one of the most remote islands in the world. Very few ships have approached it, and it has apparently never been permanently inhabited. Sailing away from this coral atoll, you will be able to admire from afar the volcanic island of Pitcairn, whose summit culminates at 330 metres and which has around fifty inhabitants.

    Days 10 – 11 AT SEA

    Days 12 – 14 HANGA ROA, EASTER ISLAND
    The main town of legendary Easter Island, Hanga Roa is also its only urban area. Bathed by the Pacific Ocean, this picturesque Chilean town is an excellent base for exploring the island’s spectacular treasures, particularly the moai, the famous enigmatic monumental statues. The Polynesian Hanga Roa culture and its traditional houses are a sheer delight. As evening approaches, wend your way to the charming fishing port where, weather permitting, you can admire the captivating light of the setting sun.

    Please Note: Itineraries are subject to change.

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