Round-trip air is included from Los Angeles!
Experience an earthly paradise—majestic volcanic peaks rising from emerald green jungles, chalk-white atolls, pristine beaches and turquoise Lagoons—that have beckoned travelers, artists and writers for centuries during this nine-night land/sea sojourn. Enjoy two 5 star nights in colorful Papeete, Tahiti, and seven nights aboard the 5 star Wind Spirit, specially designed to cruise the clear aquamarine waters of the South Pacific.
Complementary nonalcoholic beverages are included throughout the cruise!
The onboard naturalist’s talks highlight the unique flora and fauna of the South Pacific. Learn about local nature conservation, the art of pareo-tying and the history of va’a (canoe racing), Tahiti’s national sport.
Tuesday and Wednesday, February 5 and 6
Depart the U.S. for lively Pape’ete, the cosmopolitan capital of French Polynesia, located on a natural harbor cooled by trade winds and set against a backdrop of verdant, forest-clad peaks. This breathtaking gateway to the South Pacific is complemented by the cultures of its people, a vibrant blend of native Tahitian, French and Chinese. Upon arrival, check into the ideally located, Five‑Star InterContinental Tahiti Resort and Spa. Wednesday, explore Pape’ete on your own and return to the resort for the evening’s Welcome Reception. (b,r)
Thursday, February 7
Travel along Tahiti’s west coast, and tour the Museum of Tahiti and Her Islands, where significant archaeological finds trace the island’s ecology and customs. Walk through the sacred Arahurahu Marae, Polynesia’s only fully restored marae (temple), and the beautifully landscaped Spring Garden of Vaipahi. In this tranquil haven of 75 different plant species, a natural waterfall flows through gardens flanked by tropical flowers and canopied by a lush tangle of precious mape (chestnut) and pine wood vines. Embark the Wind Spirit and attend the Captain’s Welcome Reception on board this evening. (b,l,r,d)
Friday, February 8
James A. Michener once wrote that Mo’orea, the remnant of a long-extinct volcano, was a “monument to the prodigal beauty of nature”; the heart-shaped island inspired his unforgettable Tales from the South Pacific and stirred famous visitors including Captain Cook in 1777 and Herman Melville in 1842. Drive through a landscape of ancient volcanic peaks, and stop at Belvedere Point for an unforgettable panoramic view of the impressive Mount Rotui and the crystalline waters of Cook and Opunohu Bays. mpressive temples evoke Mo’orea’s Polynesian heritage while European churches underscore its role as a center for 19th-century missionary activity, and contemporary islanders continue the ways of their forefathers, farming pineapples and papayas and crafting fine art from seashells and indigenous wood. Learn more about the interplay between the culture and the ecosystem at the Richard B. Gump Pacific Research Station and Atitia Outreach Center. Following spectacular views of the lagoon at the Toatea Lookout, board the ship for an enriching lecture by naturalist Frank Murphy from the Research Station. Enjoy an afternoon at leisure for snorkling opportunities in Mo’orea turquoise lagoons. (b,l,d)
Saturday, February 9
In the pre-colonial era, Ra’iatea served as the political and spiritual center of the Society Islands and was beloved by Captain Cook, who called here on each of his three voyages. It was the hub for the colonization of Hawaii, the Marquesas and New Zealand, and according to local legend, the birthplace of Oro, god of war and fertility. Visit well‑preserved Marae Taputapuatea, constructed of coral and black volcanic rock. Aboard a motorized va’a (outrigger canoe), cruise upstream along Ra’iatea’s serene Fa’aroa River, the only navigable river in Polynesia, as it threads through a realm of wild hibiscus, bamboo and Tahitian chestnut trees. Gather on deck for a barbecue under the “ash-blue sky alive with stars,” as Henri Matisse described the Tahitian night. (b,l,d)
Sunday, February 10
Taha’a is dominated by the profile of Mount Ohiri, named for Hiro, the Polynesian god of sailors and thieves. Today, harvesting the world’s most flavorful vanilla beans and the region’s distinctive black pearl oysters provide the islanders’ livelihoods. Gain a deeper understanding of traditional Polynesian agriculture as you tour the fragrant grounds of a vanilla plantation. Visit a farm where lustrous black pearls are meticulously cultivated underwater. Savor a specially arranged barbecue on a private motu (islet), where you can also swim, snorkel or kayak. (b,l,d)
Monday and Tuesday, February 11 and 12
Bora Bora is the proverbial vision of a South Seas paradise—its black basalt peaks cloaked in a thick tropical forest and silhouetted against turquoise waters. Alongside glittering Fa’anui Bay, see the ceremonial site of the Fare Opu marae adorned with petroglyphs of turtles—a sacred creature in ancient Polynesia—and keep an eye out for bunkers constructed by American soldiers during World War II. The islanders of Bora Bora have preserved the ways of their forebears and still wear the colorfully hand‑dyed pareo (sarong). In the forested interior, villagers cultivate breadfruit, coconuts and taro; preserve the ancient ruins of stone marae; and respect the legacy of ancestral Polynesian deities. Learn about the art of dyeing the traditional Polynesian pareo and taste some of the island’s abundant fruits. From a lookout point, admire Bora Bora’s highest peak, Mount Otemanu, perched like a natural beacon over the “Pearl of the Pacific”; then enjoy time at leisure to explore the island. An optional excursion cruises the island’s iridescent lagoon to encounter graceful stringrays, black-tipped lagoon sharks and a coral garden where parrotfish, butterfly fish and triggerfish flourish. Dinner Monday night will be an authentic Polynesian feast on a private motu. (2b,2l,2d)
Idyllic Huahine consists of two islands—Huahine‑Nui (big) and Huahine-Iti (small)—separated by a deep blue bay and ringed by a coral atoll. Aboard an open‑air “Le Truck,” ride between the ocean and a woodland of towering mape trees draped with sweet‑scented vanilla vines to the settlement of Maeva, the ancient religious center of Huahine‑Nui and the densest concentration of archeological sites in Polynesia. See 10 marae, built in the 16th century of locally quarried stone. Here, the terrain is terraced by former homes and fortification walls, while the roots of a colossal banyan tree entwine one end of the ahu (altar). Enjoy a beautiful vista of the gleaming Bay of Maroe and lofty Mount Turi. Stop in the picturesque village of Fare, to see blue‑eyed river eels considered sacred by locals. After an afternoon at leisure, attend the Captain’s Farewell Reception. (b,l,r,d)
Thursday, February 14
Disembark the ship and explore the east coast of Tahiti. Visit the former home of American author James Norman Hall, best known for Mutiny on the Bounty, and admire Tahiti’s only lighthouse at Point Venus, named for the observatory Captain Cook established here in 1769. Day‑room accommodations have been reserved in the InterContinental Tahiti Resort and Spa. This evening, transfer to the airport to continue on to the Bora Bora Post‑Program Option or board your flight home. (b)
Friday, Day 15 – Arrive in the U.S.