vibrant green pacific island atop turquoise water and blue sky above
spiny red nudibranch on a white sandy ocean floor with turquoise water around it in french polynesia, pacific islands
school of white and yellow fish with deep blue water behind them on the French Polynesia beyond the postcard small ship cruise
scuba diver taking a picture of a large fish with a high tech camera setup in french polynesia pacific islands
coconut on the ground with other coconuts behind it, and palm trees beyond all of them in the pacific islands
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Asia / Pacific Pacific Islands Cruise

French Polynesia: Beyond the Postcard

On this 10-day cruise aboard the 102-guest National Geographic Orion, venture to the heart of Polynesian culture and wildness. Options abound on this highly immersive French Polynesia vacation. Choose to kayak, stand-up paddleboard, or take a bike ride for independent exploration and to connect with the people and islands on a personal level. Explore the historic ceremonial site, called a marae, on Raiatea where Polynesian seafarers would begin their bold expeditions sailing into the unknown—expeditions that would eventually lead to populating Hawaii and New Zealand. Sail among some of the 80 atolls of the Tuamotu Archipelago, a string of tiny islands in an azure sea that hides thriving reefs to be explored while scuba diving and snorkeling.

Highlights of this expedition include visiting one of the most important cultural sites in the Polynesian world and a recently named UNESCO World Heritage site, Marae Taputapuatea; snorkeling or diving some of the healthiest reefs of the Pacific in the Tuamotu Archipelago; stand-up paddleboarding in gorgeous turquoise lagoons; and watching on deck as the ship navigates Tiputa Pass into the lagoon at Rangiroa, one of the largest atolls in the world.

The 102-guest Nat Geo Orion acts as floating basecamp during the voyage. This small expedition ship is technologically advanced and equipped with a full set of exploration tools, including an ROV and enough kayaks, stand-up paddleboards and Zodiacs to send all guests out exploring at the same time. Additionally, select cabins offer private balconies for special moments taking in the awe-inspiring wilderness. The National Geographic Orion features a nearly 1:1 guest-to-crew ratio, ensuring that your trip to paradise comes with attentive service.

Read on for details about this trip, or view all of AdventureSmith’s Pacific Island cruises.



Itinerary

Main French Polynesia: Beyond the Postcard Itinerary

The main French Polynesia: Beyond the Postcard cruise operates round-trip from Papeete, Tahiti, concluding with a charter flight from the atoll of Rangiroa to Papeete.

Route map of French Polynesia: Beyond the Postcard Pacific Islands small ship cruise, operating round-trip from Papeete, Tahiti with visits to Bora Bora, Ra'iatea, Taha'a, Huahine, Fakarava, Makatea & Rangiroa.
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Day 1
Fly to Tahiti

Depart on an overnight flight to Tahiti. Savor the anticipation of traveling to a place with infinite shades of azure, secluded atolls and the sultry perfume of Tiare Tahiti (gardenia). Expert National Geographic guides will soon guide you through the Pearl of the Pacifica tropical paradise.

Accommodations

n/a

Meals

n/a

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Day 2
Arrive Papeete, Tahiti & Embark

Arrive in Papeete, Tahiti early this morning, check into dayrooms and take a brief tour before embarking National Geographic Orion.

Accommodations

National Geographic Orion

Meals

lunch, dinner

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Day 3
Bora Bora

Begin the voyage with a view of one of the South Pacific’s most iconic images, the angular crags of Bora Bora’s Mount Otemanu. Explore the island’s interior by 4WD for unparalleled views of the island’s turquoise lagoon, then snorkel, dive, kayak, and stand-up paddleboard from one of the motus on the outer reef.

Accommodations

National Geographic Orion

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 4
Ra'iatea & Taha'a

Encircled by a single fringing reef and sharing a common lagoon, Ra’iatea and Taha’a are islands well worth exploring. 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), Hawai’i and New Zealand. Watch from on deck as the ship navigates lagoon channels en route to Taha’a. Then go ashore for a visit to a small, family-run vanilla plantation.

Accommodations

National Geographic Orion

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 5
Huahine

Huahine is one of Polynesia’s best-kept secrets. Once the home of Tahitian royalty, Huahine maintains the highest density of ancient marae in French Polynesia. Visit these sites with cultural experts and archaeologists who bring them to life. Explore the verdant shoreline by kayak, stand-up paddleboard or Zodiac. Finish the day with a swim in the island’s crystal-clear lagoon.

Accommodations

National Geographic Orion

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Days 6 - 7
Tuamotu Archipelago: Fakarava & Makatea

Spend two days exploring some of the nearly 80 islands and atolls in the Dangerous Archipelago. Fakarava is one of the largest atolls in French Polynesia and part of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Snorkel the protected reefs or ride the current into the lagoon on a world famous drift dive. An uplifted coral atoll, the island of Makatea is one of the most unique landforms in the Pacific. Spend the day exploring limestone caves and grottos with your expedition team and local guides, or search for endemic fruit doves and myriad seabirds.

Accommodations

National Geographic Orion

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 8
Rangiroa

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. The ship passes between the islets to anchor inside the lagoon near the village of Tiputa with its local musician greeters. 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.

Accommodations

National Geographic Orion

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Days 9 - 10
Disembark Rangiroa & Fly to Papeete

Disembark this morning and take a short flight back to Papeete, where you’ll connect to your international overnight flight home.

Accommodations

n/a

Meals

lunch and dinner (day 9); n/a (day 10)

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Details
Inclusions, Terms & Notes

Included

Accommodations; meals indicated; alcoholic beverages (except premium brands); excursions; services of expedition leader, naturalist staff and expert guides; use of kayaks; entrance fees; all port charges and service taxes; gratuities to ship’s crew.

Exclusions

Immigration fees; air transportation; one-way charter flight from Rangiroa to Papeete (from $390 per person, subject to change); insurance of any kind; personal items such as emails, laundry, voyage DVD etc.

Payment & Cancellation

In order to confirm this trip, a deposit of $1,000 is required per person at time of booking. The balance of the trip price is due 120 days before the departure date. Special holiday payment and cancellation terms may apply. Guests who must cancel their trip for any reason must do so in writing. Standard cancellations are subject to the following per-person penalties, based on number of days prior to departure:
180 or more days – $750 of deposit retained (may be applied to future trip by trip operator)
179 to 120 days – 100% of deposit
119 to 90 days – 25% of total trip cost
89 to 60 days – 50% of total trip cost
59 to 0 days – 100% of total trip cost

Terms & Conditions

This trip is subject to AdventureSmith Explorations Terms and Conditions. Please read this information carefully and call us if you have any questions. A Traveler Information Form, which includes a release of liability, must be completed and signed by all travelers. Your Adventure Specialist will send you a unique link to complete this form along with a packing list and extensive pre-departure and travel insurance information upon booking confirmation.

Arrival & Departure

The French Polynesia: Beyond the Postcard cruise begins and ends in Papeete, Tahiti (PPT). We highly recommend arriving one day prior to your trip start date in case of any flight delay, cancellation or lost luggage issues. Plan flights to arrive to Papeete prior to the 11:45am hotel lunch meeting on day 2 of the itinerary. Upon arrival in Papeete on day 10, guests will have lunch and a day room (true hotel room) before being transferred to the airport in the late evening (around 9:00pm) for the flight home. Plan flights to depart Papeete no earlier than 11:00pm on day 10. Group flights via Los Angeles have an included transfer upon arrival and departure. If you would like assistance with international flights, please visit our Booking Flights resource page.

Internal Flights

A group charter flight between Rangiroa and Papeete is required on this trip’s itinerary; see this trip’s Exclusions (Rates & Dates tab) and inquire with an Adventure Specialist for pricing. There is a strict luggage limit of 1 checked bag weighing up to 50 lbs (22 kg) and 1 carry-on bag weighing up to 11 lbs (5 kg).

Activities

Whether you are looking for light activity options or more challenging outdoor pursuits, the ship’s crew can tailor most any expedition to suit your skill level. Adventure activities may include snorkeling, diving (included), kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, inflatable boat/skiff excursions, land explorations by 4WD vehicle or bicycle, cultural and agricultural visits, land treks and wildlife observation.

Room Configuration

In addition to listed Solo cabin rates, select double-occupancy cabins may be available for single occupancy with a single supplement fee. If you would like to share accommodations with another guest of the same gender, we will be happy to try to accommodate you in select cabin categories. This program allows you to pay the per person double-occupancy rate whether or not a roommate is found. Contact AdventureSmith for further details and availability.

Families & Children

Children under the age of 18 are eligible for $500 off the double occupancy rate. Skilled staff members trained with National Geographic Education organize activities that inspire curiosity in young people of all ages. Programming for kids may include activities like photo workshops, journaling, scavenger hunts, Zodiac-driving lessons, hands-on nature and science programming and kid-friendly menu options.

Travel Insurance

Protect your travel investment with insurance. Our partners at Travelex Insurance offer a variety of plans and policies to fit every trip and budget. You must purchase your travel insurance policy within 15 or 21 days of booking (depending on plan) for it to cover pre-existing medical conditions; refer to plan details. Learn more about travel insurance or get a free quote.

Itinerary Notes

Use the itinerary as a guide only. Itineraries may be altered due to weather, wildlife, national park regulation or at the captain’s discretion. The ability to be flexible makes this type of small ship cruising unique.

Rates & Dates

Cruise Rates & Dates

Contact us for current rates and availability. See Deals section for details on flexible booking policies.

Accommodation

Learn About the Small Ship on Your Itinerary

Expedition Ship
National Geographic Orion

102-guest National Geographic Orion is one of the most sophisticated vessel in its class. Small ship cruises aboard the Orion offer a luxurious exploration of Antarctica, Chile, Tahiti and beyond.

Deals

Current Deals on This Trip

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Offer expires December 31st, 2020
Complimentary Flights On French Polynesia: Beyond the Postcard Cruises

Book your French Polynesia cruise and receive complimentary flights in this special deal.

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Offer expires December 31st, 2020
Flexible Cancellation Available Close To Departure on 2020 & 2021 National Geographic Expeditions

Book or re-book 2020 & 2021 travel aboard the National Geographic fleet of ships with confidence using these risk-free, flexible policy details.

Book with the confidence that comes from experience.

100+ combined years of experience, 7 continents explored, decades of expedition cruising around the world & here to help you find & book your dream trip.

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French Polynesia: Beyond the Postcard

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