Tahiti to Fiji: Reefs, Lagoons & Volcanic Isles

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The archipelagos of the South Pacific have defined our notion of “island paradise” since Robert Louis Stevenson told his tales and Paul Gauguin captured Polynesia in paint. As we sail from Tahiti’s lush volcanic crags to the sparkling white shores of Fiji, discover a fascinating geology and a stunning wealth of bird species and marine life. Dive or snorkel among underwater canyons and tunnels formed from lava. Meet island communities. And explore the far-flung reef systems of the extraordinary archipelagos of the South Pacific.


• Visit the marae complex of Marae Taputapuātea, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the most important cultural sites in Polynesia

• Snorkel, swim, or stand-up paddleboard in the clear, aqua lagoons and reefs of French Polynesia

• Spot rare and colorful birds and flowers on Fiji’s spectacular “Garden Island,” Taveuni, and in the rainforests of Samoa

• Visit remote island villages and discover rich cultural histories, including the tradition of fire-walking in Fiji


DAY 1: Papeete/Embark

Arrive in Papeete and join us for a tour before embarking National Geographic Orion in the late afternoon. (L,D)

DAY 2-4: Taha’a / Ra’iatea / At Sea

Spend the day acclimating to island time at beautiful Taha’a. Surrounded by a sparkling turquoise lagoon, make use of our private motu choose to snorkel, swim, kayak or just enjoy your surroundings from the white sandy beach. One of the most important cultural sites in the Polynesian world, Marae Taputapuatea was a center for Polynesian seafarers and the location from which they set out for Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Hawaii, and New Zealand. Spend the morning exploring this site on Ra’iatea, then refresh yourself with a swim in the island’s lagoon. Spend time on deck during a day at sea, mesmerized by deep, seablue water while scanning the horizon for marine mammals and seabirds. (B,L,D Daily)

DAY 5-7: Aitutaki, Cook Islands / At Sea

Known for its turquoise central lagoon, Aitutaki has been described as the perfect South Pacific island. Board Zodiacs to enter the lagoon via the pass on the western side of this “almost atoll.” Once ashore, you’ll step over sacred welcome stones to be greeted with a traditional Polynesian welcome. Explore the lagoon, walk palm-fringed beaches and finish with a swim in the warm, clear lagoon. Or, meet the friendly residents and experience traditional Polynesian food, culture and hospitality on a visit to an interior village. Then enjoy life aboard National Geographic Orion as we spend two days sailing west toward Samoa. (B,L,D Daily)

DAY 8-9: Samoa

With its spectacular beaches and dense green foliage, hidden waterfalls and lava-sculpted landscapes, Samoa captures the essence of the South Pacific. During our time on these islands, hike through rain forests vibrant with flowers and birds, take a dip in a swimming hole, go snorkeling or diving, and soak up the languid rhythms of island life that drew Robert Louis Stevenson to these shores. (B,L,D Daily)

DAY 10-11: Wallis and Futuna

Another of France’s South Pacific territories, the tiny island nation of Wallis and Futuna lies between Samoa and Fiji. In Wallis, we are greeted with local dancing and singing. Visit the beautiful crater lake Lalolalo and a cathedral built of blue volcanic stone, chiseled by hand. In Futuna, stop at a historic “cannibal oven” and learn of the history of these fascinating people, before a warrior dance performance in front of the Cathedral of Poi. (B,L,D Daily)

DAY 12-14: Exploring Fiji

Enter the island nation of Fiji with a stop at Taveuni, Fiji’s third largest island, known as “The Garden Island” for its rich vegetation—which includes several species found nowhere else in the world. Experience warm Fijian welcomes at the village of Waitabu, and snorkel in one of the Pacific’s most successful community marine parks. Explore the waterfalls of nearby Bouma National Heritage Park, and dive nearby reefs. Witness a dramatic firewalking ceremony, at Beqa Island. (B,L,D Daily)

DAY 15: Lautoka / Disembark / Home

Disembark in Lautoka this morning. Take a tour of western Viti Levu Island then transfer to the international airport at Nadi for flights home or choose to extend your stay and check in to our hotel. (B,L)

Please Note:

Itineraries are subject to change.


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.


• Voyage on board in selected cabin category
• All meals while on board
• Non alcoholic beverages
• Experienced expedition team and leader
• All excursions
• Zodiac and kayak exploration
• Snorkeling, including wetsuits, masks, fins & snorkel where relevant
• Lectures and presentations on board


• International and domestic flights unless otherwise stated
• Travel insurance
• Passport and visa costs if applicable
• Alcoholic beverages on board unless otherwise stated
• Gratuities unless otherwise stated
• Wifi on board
• Any items of a personal nature including laundry

WE – 2023

Images courtesy of Wild Earth Travel