Embark on an unforgettable adventure in a South Seas paradise, a corner of the world that has lured adventurers and romantics ever since Magellan first sailed these waters in 1521. This voyage aboard the 114-guest Caledonian Sky brings us from Easter Island, home to the famed moais of mysterious origin and visited by Captain Cook in 1774 on his second voyage of exploration, to the Pitcairn Islands, renowned as the final destination of the mutineers of the Bounty, to the enchanting isles of French Polynesia, including the remote and culturally-rich Marquesas Islands, beloved by the artist Paul Gauguin. All along the way, experience the traditional hospitality of friendly islanders in villages set amid the shade of breadfruit and coconut palms, snorkel the rich coral reefs and crystal-clear lagoons that shelter astounding marine life, from brilliantly-hued parrotfish to giant clams, and enjoy the expertise of a handpicked expedition team of naturalists, marine biologists, and ecologists who share their enthusiasm and knowledge during on-shore excursions and while aboard the ship.
Note: This cruise is not exclusive to, nor operated by, Wilderness Travel, who acts solely as agent in booking your reservation with the ship operator. The itinerary, lecturers, and all other arrangements are subject to change at the discretion of the cruise line.
Arrive this morning and transfer to your comfortable hotel for an overnight stay. Rooms have been pre-booked so you can check in on arrival this morning. Enjoy an afternoon at leisure to relax and explore independently.
Santiago to Easter Island
After breakfast at the hotel, transfer to the airport for the included flight to Easter Island. On arrival transfer to Hanga Roa Hotel (or similar) for an overnight stay. This afternoon, explore Rano Kau, the second oldest volcano on the island. Its huge Caldera (nearly a mile at its base) contains one of the island’s three fresh water lakes. From the look-out at the rim of Rano Kau we continue on to the ceremonial village of Orongo, best known for the birdman cult ceremonies. The site was restored in 1974 and within the village you will see 47 restored houses. Continue to Ahu Tahai, another restored ceremonial site and one of the oldest, dating back to the 6th century. Return to the hotel for dinner this evening.
Easter Island / Embark
Today, enjoy a full day tour, visiting many of the different areas where moais (statues) can be found. You will see the volcano of Rano Raraku, the site where 95% of all moais were carved and today you will find nearly 400 statues in various stages of completion. A hike to the top of the volcano’s crater will not only reveal many statues but also a beautiful fresh water lake. Continue the exploration of the island with Ahu Tongariki, the largest ceremonial site in Polynesia restored in 1996 and Ahu Akivi where you find seven maoi built around 1460 B.C and which face out to sea. Lunch will be a specially arranged barbecue on Anakena beach, home of Easter Island’s ancient paramount chiefs and one of the prettiest coves in the South Pacific. In the late afternoon, transfer to the Caledonian Sky and sail this evening.
Experience expedition cruising at its finest as you spend two days at sea en route to the Pitcairn Islands. Lectures from your onboard naturalists, historians, and anthropologists enhance your understanding of this fascinating realm.
Ducie Island, Pitcairn Islands
After a morning at sea you will experience expedition cruising at its finest as you land on one of nature’s wildlife sanctuaries. A remote coral atoll with superb snorkelling and birding, Ducie Island is so remote that no threats to its native wildlife exist, and it is one of the rare places in the world where wildlife is relatively unaffected by man’s presence. Your expedition team will lead a series of walks on the island.
Henderson Island, Pitcairn Islands
Arrive at Henderson Island at lunchtime. This upraised former coral atoll has fascinating eroded rock formations, with giant blowholes flinging up tremendous sea spray. Very rare birds inhabit the island, including the Henderson Island rail and Stephen’s Lori. Numerous underwater ravines and crevices support a great diversity of fish and while walking on the island, come across a profusion of coconut crabs.
Pitcairn Island, Pitcairn Islands
Arrive this morning on the island of Pitcairn, famous as the final destination of the Bounty in the late 18th century. Meet the Anglo-Tahitian descendants of the mutineers of the Bounty, who arrived here 200 years ago and see the ship’s anchor outside the courthouse. You will have time to explore this inspiring island setting and visit with islanders who display memorable stamps and handicrafts. Enjoy a Pitcairn welcome in the Town Hall before exploring the capital of Adamstown. The expedition team will also plan some walks to explore more of the island’s highlights.
You will stay overnight or if weather permits will sail to Oeno Atoll, three uninhabited islands situated around 75 nautical miles from Pitcairn, and spend a morning. It is an important bird area due to the colony of 12,500 pairs of Murphys petrels that nest here alongside sooty tern and brown noddy. (Please note that access to the Pitcairn Islands is very weather dependent).
Mangareva, Gambier Islands / At Sea
Mountainous Mangareva is capital of the Gambier group of islands and home to the remarkable St Michael’s cathedral with a stunning mother-of-pearl altar. During your afternoon call, you will have the chance to join island nature walks, take an energetic hike up the 1,400-foot Mount Duff, named after the first European vessel to visit the island in 1797, or you can simply wander around the small village.
On Day 11, you have a day at sea to enjoy the continuing lecture program or find a spot on deck to relax.
Puka Rua, Tuamotus
Located on the outer fringes of French Polynesia, Pukarua faces thousands of miles of open ocean. Onshore, its small population lives in a spirit of cooperation and friendship, living largely on coconuts and the bounty of the sea. Arriving in the morning, visit the small community where you are enthusiastically greeted with genuine friendliness and lively music. You will have the chance to walk through the village or enjoy a swim in the lagoon before enjoying an afternoon at sea.
This morning, you will visit Pukapuka. To honor you and fellow guests, the islanders proudly decorate their tidy village with green palm fronds and flowers, and welcome you with a fragrant flower lei and entrancing dances. Sample traditional coconut treats and watch a demonstration of how copra – the dried meat of the coconut – is prepared for its various uses. Plan to travel to the inland lagoon where you can swim or snorkel to discover a bounty of vibrant corals and iridescent reef fishes in the warm waters. Relax on deck in the afternoon as you sail to your next island.
Fatu Hiva, Marquesas Islands
After a morning at sea, arrive in the Marquesas Islands far removed from the rest of the South Pacific in everything from language and culture to geology. With a landscape of spectacular pinnacles towering over the cobalt Bay of Virgins, Fatu Hiva is one of the most floral and pristine islands. Villagers will perform their traditional dances and demonstrate their handicrafts of wood carvings and tapa making. Afterwards your expedition team will run a series of nature walks either climbing to the view point, searching for birds with our ornithologist, or a nature walk to the waterfall. Meanwhile later in the afternoon a snorkel platform will be set up for those who wish to swim.
Hiva Oa, Marquesas Islands
At first light, arrive at volcanic Hiva Oa. You will anchor off Atohuna where if you are lucky you may find mantarays before going ashore. Your morning will be dedicated to Gauguin, the iconic artist of the South Pacific. You will visit his museum and make a pilgrimage to his final resting place, soaking up the landscape that inspired him to leave it all behind and go native. This afternoon, travel by ship to Puamau and visit the Oipona me’ae temple, one of the best preserved archaeological sites in French Polynesia and home to the eight foot tall Tiki Takali. On your return to the ship you may wish to enjoy a swim from the beach.
Nuku Hiva / At Sea
Your last day in the Marquesas will be at Nuka Hiva, the largest of the Islands and the island group’s economic capital. Today immerse yourself in local culture and geography. Traditional Marquesan dancers welcome you to their village. You will visit the archaeological centres at Kamuihei and Hikoku’a and see the temples, petroglyphs and tiki. Meanwhile a series of island walks will investigate the nature of the island while there will also be a chance to swim from the beaches. Spend Day 17 at sea to the Tuamotu Islands.
After a morning at sea, arrive back in the Tuamotus. On the atoll of Takapoto, you will be welcomed by the people of the Tuamotus. Enjoy walks with your expedition team and see the local church and swim in the lake. For those who prefer the underwater world a snorkeling platform will be set up with Zodiacs.
Rangiroa, Tuamotu Islands
As one of the world’s largest coral atolls, Rangiroa has a magnificent lagoon surrounded by small islets or motus, stretching as far as the eye can see. Today, a variety of activities await. There will be a chance to tour a black pearl farm, enjoy free time in the enchanting local village of Avatoru or have a last chance to snorkel or swim.
Papeete, Tahiti / Depart
Disembark and transfer to the airport in Papeete, Tahiti for the return indirect scheduled flights home.