French Polynesia: Beyond the Postcard

French Polynesia: Beyond the Postcard

From AUD $10,450


Venture to the heart of Polynesian culture and wildness on this highly immersive French Polynesia vacation where options abound. Choose to kayak, stand-up paddleboard, or take a bike ride for independent exploration and to connect with these 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 we’ll explore while scuba diving and snorkeling.

Trip Name
French Polynesia: Beyond the Postcard
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.


Day 1 - DAY 1: Papeete, French Polynesia/Embark
Arrive in Papeete, Tahiti early this morning, check into dayrooms and take a brief tour of the island before embarking National Geographic Orion. (L,D)
Day 2 - DAY 2: Bora Bora, Society Islands
Begin your 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. (B,L,D)
Day 3 - DAY 3: Raiatea/Tahaa
Encircled by a single fringing reef, and sharing a common lagoon, Raiatea 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), Hawaii and New Zealand. Spend the morning exploring this site on Raiatea, then refresh yourself with a swim in warm turquoise seas. Watch from on deck as we navigate lagoon channels en route to Taha’a, then go ashore for a visit to a small, family-run vanilla plantation. (B,L,D)
Day 4 - DAY 4: Huahine
One of Polynesia’s best-kept secrets, Huahine is well off the beaten path. 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. Venture into the lush interior of the island on a bicycle, then explore the verdant shoreline by kayak, stand-up paddleboard or Zodiac. Finish the day with a swim in the island’s crystal-clear lagoon. (B,L,D)
Day 5 - DAY 5-6: Tuamotu Archipelago
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, then snorkel and dive among clouds of colorful fish on the nearby reef.
Day 6 - DAY 7: 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. Our ship passes between the islets to anchor inside the lagoon near the village of Tiputa, where local musicians greet us. Visit the village, and kayak, snorkel, and scuba dive in the rich waters here, home to large schools of pelagic fish, manta rays, dolphins, sea turtles, and hammerheads. (B,L,D)
Day 7 - DAY 8: Rangiroa/Disembark/Papeete/Home
Disembark this morning and take a short flight back to Papeete, where you’ll connect to international flights home. (B)
Day 8 - Please Note:
Please note: All day-by-day breakdowns are a sampling of the places we intend to visit, conditions permitting.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
15-04-202023-04-2020AUD $10,450Category 1
15-04-202023-04-2020AUD $12,720Category 2
15-04-202023-04-2020AUD $14,930Category 3
15-04-202023-04-2020AUD $15,680Category 1 Solo
15-04-202023-04-2020AUD $16,270Category 4
15-04-202023-04-2020AUD $19,680Category 5
15-04-202023-04-2020AUD $22,380Category 3 Solo
15-04-202023-04-2020AUD $22,870Category 6
06-05-202014-05-2020AUD $14,930Category 3
06-05-202014-05-2020AUD $15,680Category 1 Solo
06-05-202014-05-2020AUD $16,270Category 4
06-05-202014-05-2020AUD $19,680Category 5
06-05-202014-05-2020AUD $22,380Category 3 Solo
06-05-202014-05-2020AUD $22,870Category 6
06-05-202014-05-2020AUD $10,450Category 1
06-05-202014-05-2020AUD $12,720Category 2
13-05-202021-05-2020AUD $10,450Category 1
13-05-202021-05-2020AUD $12,720Category 2
13-05-202021-05-2020AUD $14,930Category 3
13-05-202021-05-2020AUD $15,680Category 1 Solo
13-05-202021-05-2020AUD $16,270Category 4
13-05-202021-05-2020AUD $19,680Category 5
13-05-202021-05-2020AUD $22,380Category 3 Solo
13-05-202021-05-2020AUD $22,870Category 6
12-04-202120-04-2021AUD $10,620Category 1
12-04-202120-04-2021AUD $12,900Category 2
12-04-202120-04-2021AUD $14,990Category 3
12-04-202120-04-2021AUD $15,870Category 1 Solo
12-04-202120-04-2021AUD $16,500Category 4
12-04-202120-04-2021AUD $19,870Category 5
12-04-202120-04-2021AUD $22,490Category 3 Solo
12-04-202120-04-2021AUD $23,020Category 6
03-05-202111-05-2021AUD $10,620Category 1
03-05-202111-05-2021AUD $12,900Category 2
03-05-202111-05-2021AUD $14,990Category 3
03-05-202111-05-2021AUD $15,870Category 1 Solo
03-05-202111-05-2021AUD $16,500Category 4
03-05-202111-05-2021AUD $19,870Category 5
03-05-202111-05-2021AUD $22,490Category 3 Solo
03-05-202111-05-2021AUD $23,020Category 6
10-05-202118-05-2021AUD $10,620Category 1
10-05-202118-05-2021AUD $12,900Category 2
10-05-202118-05-2021AUD $14,990Category 3
10-05-202118-05-2021AUD $15,870Category 1 Solo
10-05-202118-05-2021AUD $16,500Category 4
10-05-202118-05-2021AUD $19,870Category 5
10-05-202118-05-2021AUD $22,490Category 3 Solo
10-05-202118-05-2021AUD $23,020Category 6


    • Visit one of the most important cultural sites in the Polynesian world, Marae Taputapuatea on Raiatea.
    • Snorkel or dive some of the healthiest reefs of the Pacific in the Tuamotu Archipelago.
    • Learn stand-up paddle boarding in gorgeous turquoise lagoons.
    • Watch on deck as National Geographic Orion navigates Tiputa Pass into the lagoon at Rangiroa, one of the largest atolls in the world.