Round-trip air is included from Los Angeles! 100% ocean-view accommodations!
The evolution of ancient volcanic activity beneath the sea, sculpted by waves and wind over millennia, created the idyllic islands of Tahiti, Huahine, Taha’a, Bora Bora and Moorea. 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 nights in colorful Papeete, Tahiti, and seven nights aboard the 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, Day 1 and Day 2
Depart the U.S. and arrive in lively, cosmopolitan Pape’ete. This breathtaking capital of French Polynesia and the gateway to the treasures of the South Pacific has extended a hospitable welcome to visitors since its founding as a missionary settlement in 1824. Located on a natural harbor cooled by trade winds, Pape’ete enjoys one of the finest natural settings in the South Pacific, set against a backdrop of verdant, forest-clad peaks. Its tropical ambiance is complemented by the charm and diversity of its inhabitants, a vibrant blend of native Tahitian, French and Chinese. Upon arrival, check into the ideally located, Five-Star INTERCONTINENTAL RESORT TAHITI. Wednesday afternoon, travel along Tahiti’s west coast, and tour the Museum of Tahiti and Her Islands to view significant archaeological finds and learn more about the island’s geology, flora, fauna, culture and customs. Walk through the sacred Arahurahu Marae, Polynesia’s only fully restored marae (temple). Visit the beautifully landscaped Spring Garden of Vaipahi, a haven of tranquility, waterfalls and walking paths and home to 75 different species of plants, including precious mape (chestnut), pine woods and tropical flowers. In the evening, enjoy the Welcome Reception in the hotel. (B,R)
Thursday, Day 3
Enjoy time at leisure before embarking the WIND SPIRIT. Attend the Captain’s Welcome Reception on board this evening. (B,R,D)
Opunohu Bay, Mo’orea
Friday, Day 4
The heart-shaped island of Mo’orea is the remnant of a long-extinct volcano. Once a sanctuary for vanquished warriors from Tahiti, it was visited by Captain Cook in 1777 and by the American novelist Herman Melville in 1842. It also inspired James A. Michener to write his unforgettable Tales from the South Pacific. A scenic drive to Belvedere Point reveals an unforgettable panoramic view of the island’s lushly forested volcanic peaks, including impressive Mount Rotui, and the crystalline waters of Cook and Opunohu Bays. Visit the Agricultural School for a sampling of fresh fruit and local jams. Enjoy an afternoon at leisure. (B,L,D)
Saturday, Day 5
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 of discovery. It was the hub for the colonization of Hawaii, the Marquesas and New Zealand, and according to local legend, it was the birthplace of Oro, the god of war and fertility. On a panoramic tour, visit Marae Taputapuatea, a temple constructed of coral and black volcanic rock and one of the best-preserved marae complexes in Polynesia. Aboard a motorized va’a (outrigger canoe), cruise along Ra’iatea’s tranquil Fa’aroa River, the only navigable river in Polynesia, as it threads its way through a world of wild hibiscus, bamboo and Tahitian chestnut trees. Your afternoon is at leisure. (B,L,D)
Sunday, Day 6
Taha’a is dominated by the profile of Mount Ohiri, named for Hiro, the Polynesian god of sailors and thieves. Today, two exotic enterprises provide the islanders’ livelihoods—the harvesting of the world’s most flavorful vanilla beans and the farming of lustrous black pearls. Gain a deeper understanding of the Polynesian people and their traditional agriculture when you tour the lush grounds of a vanilla plantation and visit a farm that meticulously cultivates the region’s distinctive black pearl oysters. Enjoy a traditional Polynesian feast on a private motu (islet), where you can swim, snorkel or kayak. (B,L,D)
Monday, Day 7
Bora Bora, the proverbial vision of a South Seas paradise, was described as “the most beautiful island in the world” by James Michener. On a panoramic tour, view its distinctive black basalt peak cloaked in a lush tropical forest and silhouetted against turquoise lagoon waters. Alongside glittering Fa’anui Bay, see the ceremonial site of the Fare Opu marae adorned with carved petroglyphs of turtles—a sacred creature in ancient Polynesia—and bunkers constructed by American soldiers during World War II. Bora Bora was settled by adventurous Polynesian mariners in the 10th century, and since then, the islanders have preserved the ways of their forebears and still wear the traditional colorfully hand-dyed pareo (sarong). In Bora Bora’s 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 these abundant cultivated fruits. From a lookout point, admire spectacular views of Mount Otemanu, Bora Bora’s highest peak, then enjoy time at leisure to explore the island. (B,L,D)
Tuesday, Day 8
Set across an azure lagoon to the south of Taha’a, idyllic Huahine is distinguished by soaring peaks, lush rain forests, dazzling white beaches and ancient shrines. This untouched paradise is actually two islands—Huahine-Nui (big) and Huahine-Iti (small)—separated by a deep blue bay and ringed by a coral atoll. Stroll through the picturesque port of Fare, nestled between the sea and a woodland of towering mape trees draped with sweet-scented vanilla vines. Visit the nearby settlement of Maeva, the ancient religious center of Huahine-Nui, and see 10 marae, built in the 16th century of locally quarried stone and dedicated to the Polynesian deities Tane and Oro. Your afternoon is at leisure. (B,L,D)
Cook’s Bay, Mo’orea
Wednesday, Day 9
Impressive temples evoke Mo’orea’s Polynesian heritage while European churches underscore its role as the center for 19th-century missionary activity in the Society Islands. Contemporary islanders continue the ways of their forefathers, farming pineapples and papayas and crafting fi ne works of art from seashells and indigenous wood. On board the ship, enjoy an enriching lecture by naturalist Frank Murphy of the Richard B. Gump Research Station. Afterward, visit the Atitia Outreach Center at Gump Station to learn more about the unique ecosystem of French Polynesia and enjoy a demonstration of traditional weaving and tapa (barkcloth) making This evening, attend the Captain’s Farewell Reception on board. (B,L,R,D)
Thursday, Day 10
Disembark the ship and explore the east coast of Tahiti. Visit the former home of American author James Norman Hall, best known for co-authoring Mutiny on the Bounty. Admire the island of 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 RESORT TAHITI. This evening, transfer to the airport to continue on to the Bora Bora Post-Program Option or board your flight home. (B)
Friday, Day 11
Arrive in the U.S.