Explore some of the lesser-known islands of striking French Polynesia.
What better way to experience one of the world’s most stunning archipelagos than on a small ship cruise? This 12-day adventure around Tahiti, the Society Islands and Tuamotu showcases some of the most pristine parts of the world – from jungle, to coral reefs and everything in between. Learn about the fascinating cultures of the ancient French Polynesian people and take your pick of a wide range of optional activities each day of the trip. Couple that with an abundance of fresh tropical fruits and one beautiful beach after another and you’ve got yourself a holiday to remember.
- Go dolphin watching in Tiputa Pass and watch these playful mammals as they surf through the waves.
- Take a tour of a local fish farm in Tikehau, also known as the Pink Sand Island.
- Snorkel, swim and spot marine life in the Blue Lagoon in Rangiroa.
- Take a jungle hike in Mo’orea, the island that inspired the mythical Bali Hai from James Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific.
Day 1: Papeete, Tahiti
Ia Orana, welcome to Tahiti! This afternoon, you’ll make your way to your floating home for the next eight days – the Panorama II, which is docked in Papeete Port. Meet your fellow travellers, crew and local leaders and after a welcome briefing and safety drill you’ll set sail for Bora Bora. On this trip, all meals are included on the boat, so you will enjoy dinner at sea before rocking to sleep with the gentle waves. (D)
Day 2: Bora Bora
Arrive in Bora Bora first thing this morning. After enjoying breakfast with a view of Bora Bora lagoon and the famous Mount Otemanu in the backdrop, you’ll have a choice of a number of optional activities to fill both today and tomorrow. These include a cultural tour with a local guide in a 4×4, a snorkelling trip where you can keep an eye out for the sharks and sting rays or an open-air Lagoon Aquarium. Tonight, you will spend the night anchored n Bora Bora Lagoon. (B, L, D)
Day 3: Bora Bora – Taha’a
After lunch on board the boat you will cruise out of Bora Bora towards the island of Taha’a, which shares a magnificent lagoon with neighbouring Raiatea Island. This lush island is extremely fertile and is covered with banana, watermelon, vanilla orchid and coconut groves. Today you’ll have the chance to explore the beautiful island by 4×4 vehicle on an optional tour. The afternoon is free for swimming and snorkelling on the “motu”, or reef islet, or exploring the area around the reef on your own. Tonight, will be spent anchored in the lagoon. (B, L, D)
Day 4: Raiatea
First thing this morning you’ll sail across the lagoon to reach Raiatea, which is considered the homeland of the ancient Polynesians. While it was previously known as Havai’i, Raiatea translates to “faraway heaven” and “sky with soft light”. Today you’ll have the chance to take part in an optional speedboat ride down Faaroa River with an expert local guide leading the way. You’ll end up at the ancient marae (temple) at Taputapuatea, which was recently listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here, you’ll have the chance to learn about Taputapuatea’s history, before enjoying a picnic lunch of local fare. Later that afternoon there will be time to relax on the boat and you’ll spend the night anchored in the lagoon. (B, L, D)
Day 5: Raiatea – Huahine
This morning you’ll sail early to Huahine, a jungle paradise filled with tropical plantations including coconuts, vanilla orchids, banana groves, breadfruit trees and watermelon fields. Aside from blossoming with nature, Huahine is also known for its cultural significance – it was once home to Tahitian royalty and has many ancient temples known as Marae in French Polynesian culture. Some of these date back as far as 700 AD! Today you will have the choice of two optional tours; a half day or a full day tour. If neither of these day tours appeal, you can spend the day at your leisure – either relaxing on the boat or exploring the area around the lagoon. Tonight, after dinner on board you will spend the night sailing to Tetiaroa. (B, L, D)
Day 6: Tetiaroa
Tetiaroa was once the preferred holiday destination for Tahitian royalty – and with good reason, as this secluded isle is a sight to behold. So much so, that during the filming of Mutiny on the Bounty, the famous actor Marlon Brando fell in love with the island and bought it for himself. His aim was the preserve the environment here, and so he built an eco-resort which operates 100 per cent sustainably. You’ll spend the morning exploring the lagoon and snorkelling in the pristine waters before returning to our ship and sailing north towards the Tuamotus Islands. The night will be spent at sea. (B, L, D)
Day 7: Tikehau
This morning you’ll arrive at Tikehau, also known as the Pink Sand Island. The lagoon here is formed by a nearly circular stretch of coral and is home to rich marine life. Jacques Cousteau, the marine researcher says that this lagoon contains a higher concentration of fish than any other lagoon in French Polynesia. Today you can opt to take part in a walking tour to a local family-owned fish-farm, where different species of fish are kept in a maze of underwater fencing. This afternoon you’ll make your way to the islet of Tuherahera, one of the only inhabited parts of the island. Tuherahera is one of the prettiest villages in the Tuamotu Archipelago, as it’s covered with native colourful flowers like hibiscus and bougainvillea. This evening, you’ll return to the ship and set sail for Ahe. (B, L, D)
Day 8: Ahe
This morning you’ll explore Ahe, a favourite holiday destination of native Tahitians, due to its sheltered beaches, clear waters and colourful coral. This morning will be spent snorkelling among the shallow sandbanks sprinkled throughout the lagoon or lazing on the beach with a good book – the choice is yours. Lunch today will be a beach BBQ in a secluded “motu”, or reef islet. Later in the day, you’ll return to the ship for an overnight sail to Rangiroa. (B, L, D)
Day 9: Rangiroa
This morning you’ll arrive in Rangiroa, the largest island in the Tuamotu Archipelago and one of the largest in the world. Today you can choose to visit the Blue Lagoon, a natural pool formed by islands and reefs within the central lagoon. At less than five metres deep, the Blue Lagoon is an ideal location for swimming, snorkelling, and spotting the wide variety of sea life that live there. Lunch today will be a traditional Polynesian picnic at the lagoon, before returning to the ship late in the day to spend the night anchored. (B, L, D)
Day 10: Rangiroa
This morning you will have the chance to go on an optional dolphin watching excursion in Tiputa Pass, and see these incredible wild mammals playing together in the water. This area is known for its bottlenose dolphins, who love to show off, surfing on the waves and often curiously coming up towards any boats in the area to have a better look. After lunch aboard the Panorama II, you’ll leave Rangiroa and the Tuamotu Islands and sail south to Mo’orea and the Society Islands. The night will be spent at sea. (B, L, D)
Day 11: Mo’orea
You’ll reach Mo’orea first thing in the morning, which is easily spotted thanks to the eight huge mountain peaks that rise from its lagoon. This place is thought to have inspired the mythical Bali Hai from James Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific. Today the optional activity is a nature safari tour in a 4×4. Everyone will meet back on the ship later in the day and enjoy a farewell dinner together, before spending a night anchored in the lagoon. (B, L, D)
Day 12: Papeete, Tahiti
This morning you’ll set sail early for Tahiti, arriving in Papeete by 9am. From here, you will say farewell to your fellow travellers and the crew before disembarking the Panorama II. (B)
- Meals: 11 breakfasts, 10 lunches, 11 dinners
- Transport: Small Cruise Ship
- Accommodation: Small Cruise Ship 11 nights