South Pacific Expedition: Papeete to Lautoka

Aboard the Silver Explorer

Note: Cruise rate includes roundtrip economy class air.

Overview

The shimmering isles of the South Pacific are some of the world’s hardest to reach destinations. Yet all those who make the voyage there are richly rewarded: on this voyage, discover island communities that live as they have always done, swim in frothy blue seas alive with kaleidoscopic sea life, and learn about the fascinating ecosystems that thrive in these remote archipelagos in the company of biologists and botanists. But most of all, you will be seduced by the sheer beauty that French Polynesia, Tonga, Fiji, and the Cook Islands offer—you won’t be disappointed.

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.

Itinerary

Day 1
Papeete, Tahiti / Embark

Papeete is the center of the tropical paradise of French Polynesia, where islands fringed with gorgeous beaches and turquoise ocean await to soothe the soul. This spirited city is the capital of French Polynesia, and serves as a superb base for onward exploration of Tahiti, an island of breathtaking landscapes and oceanic vistas. A wonderful lagoon of crisp, clear water begs to be snorkeled, stunning black beaches and blowholes pay tribute to the island's volcanic heritage, and lush green mountains beckon you inland on adventures as you explore extraordinary Tahiti. Embark on the Silver Explorer and depart in the early evening. Relax and settle into the intoxicating rhythm of life in this Polynesian paradise.

Day 2
Raiatea

Known as the "Sacred Island," Raiatea is a fascinating haunt for archaeologists and historians as it's one of the islands in the Pacific where Polynesian culture can trace its roots. Many of the older Polynesian structures are still in place, and they are fascinating places to explore. In the 16th century, Raiatea developed a powerful cult dedicated to Oro, the God of War, and built a large meeting ground, the dramatic and well-maintained Taputaputea Marae, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As Raiatea was considered to be the religious center of Polynesia, this marae site is quite significant, with many associated legends involving both the sacred and magical. Marae Taputapuatea is an open-air temple comprised of 7 marae (cleared, sacred spaces) that are constructed of stones and coral, and is one of the largest ancient temples in French Polynesia. It is from this temple that migrations throughout the South Pacific started. After exploring the site, board your “Le Truck” transportation and head toward the town of Uturoa. During your island tour, you will also discover a wealth of tropical plants, flowers, and trees that all contribute to the stunning beauty of the island. Please note that Le Truck is a casual, open-air vehicle resembling a windowless bus and has bench-style seating. Commentary during the driving portion of your tour is limited due to noise from the truck's operation.

In the afternoon, enjoy a tour of Motu Iriru, a small islet off Raiatea, where you can admire the clear turquoise waters.

Please note: This tour involves a moderate amount of walking and some driving on bumpy roads, and is not suggested for guests with back or neck issues, limited mobility, or those who use a wheelchair (you must be able to climb in and out of the touring vehicles). Guests are recommended to wear comfortable clothing and can expect to get a little bit wet from sea spray.

Day 3
Bora Bora, Society Islands

No superlatives can adequately describe Bora Bora's spectacular beauty of emerald-green hills and tranquil sapphire-blue lagoons. Excursions include the following:

Discover Bora Bora in Local Truck
On this excursion, take a leisurely, fun ride on the open-air "Le Truck," a colorful truck that takes you on a scenic tour of Bora Bora. Enjoy the sights as you pass by groves of coconut palms and tiny villages hugging the shoreline. Learn about the interesting history, traditions, and cultures of the Tahitians on your narrated drive along the 22-mile road that circles this legendary island. Discover the villages of Farepiti, Faanui, and Anau with their mysterious Marae, the ancient stone temples. You will also pass the Faanui Protestant Church as well as scenic lookout points with spectacular vistas of the lagoon and distant islands, old WWII remains, and popular Matira Beach. Return to the ship.

Tapuna 4WD Safari
Board a 4WD vehicle to discover the wild interior of Bora Bora, its World War II remains, and the unforgettable, spectacular panoramic views over the lagoon's exquisite shades of blue. In addition to the main sites of the island, this tour brings you to a pareo workshop in the valley of Faanui, where patterns are hand-painted on fabrics with a paintbrush, a technique allowing to create a large variety of beautiful designs. The tour also stops at beautiful Matira Beach, an essential place to visit on Bora Bora main island. Make your way to the ship after this delightful morning of discovering this side of Bora Bora.

Scenic Lagoon Helicopter Ride
An optional excursion (at additional cost) features a magical and unforgettable helicopter flight over Polynesia's most lovely landscapes. This tour is a rare opportunity get a bird's-eye view of the sparkling white beaches and calm turquoise waters that make Bora Bora a worldwide destination. Be welcomed by your pilot, an enthusiast who is your guide throughout the flight. After a safety briefing, get set up with a headset with microphones so that you can communicate and listen to his explanations. Enjoy your flight to discover one of the most beautiful lagoons in the world. Return to the ship. Please note: This tour is not recommended for individuals with limited mobility. Wheelchairs and walkers are not allowed on the helicopter for safety reasons, and there is a very high step to get into the helicopter.

Day 4
At Sea

Days at sea are the perfect opportunity to relax, unwind, and catch up with what you’ve been meaning to do. So whether that's going to the gym, visiting the spa, whale watching, catching up on your reading, or simply topping up your tan, these blue sea days are the perfect balance to busy days spent exploring shore side.

Day 5
Rarotonga, Cook Islands

Arrive in Rarotonga, the essence of Polynesia with its warmth, vibrant tropical plants, and some of the happiest and friendliest people on Earth. The island was settled about 1,500 years ago by traditional sailing canoes as part of the great Polynesian expansion. Cook Islanders are proud of their culture and happy to demonstrate their traditional skills. Mesmerizing dances incorporate energetic posturing of warrior men and seductive gyrations of grass skirts on the hips of women, along with graceful hand movements. An ancient eroded volcano bedecked in rainforest dominates the island. Skirting the mountain is a flat coastal strip where most people live. The island is fringed by white coral sand beaches and a shallow coastal lagoon stretching to a protective outer ring of coral reefs. The decaying volcano on Rarotonga produces fertile soil and captures rain, ensuring lush dark green vegetation. Bird life is headlined by the Cook Islands Fruit Dove, and the Kakerori (Rarotongan Flycatcher). Kakerori were critically endangered with only 29 birds in the Takitumu Conservation Area in 1989. A dedicated conservation program has enabled a recovery of over 500 birds. Today's excursions include the following options:

Takitumu Conservation Nature Trek
Explore the conservation efforts on the island of Rarotonga during this panoramic excursion to the Takitumu Conservation Reserve. Depart the pier for the short drive along the scenic coastal road of Rarotonga en route to the Takitumu Conservation Reserve. Upon arrival, begin your approximately 1.24-mile-long nature trek through the Takitumu Conservation Reserve. This tour has been instrumental in spreading the word about the conservation efforts involving the indigenous Kakerori flycatcher, a bird found only on Rarotonga. Over the years, the bird's numbers have dwindled as a result of an increase in the number of natural predators. The Takitumum Conservation Reserve is also a tropical rainforest, with many types of medicinal plants. During your nature trek, examine the methods used in the harvesting of these plants. At the conclusion of your visit, re-board your bus and drive back to the pier. Please note: This tour is recommended for guests in good physical condition. It involves an extensive amount of walking for approximately 0.93 miles-1.24 miles, at times over uneven, natural, and slippery surfaces and inclines, with a few steps to negotiate to get on/off the bus. This tour is not suitable for children, pregnant guests, guests with neck and/or back problems, guests with heart and/or respiratory conditions, guests with a fear of heights, guests with limited mobility, and guests who use a wheelchair. Guests are advised to wear lightweight, comfortable clothing with flat, closed-toe and sturdy hiking shoes, and bring sun protection, insect repellent, binoculars and bottled water from the ship. Space on this tour is very limited; we suggest you book in advance to avoid disappointment.

Rarotonga Island & Cultural Experience
Discover the culture, history and traditions of Rarotonga during this scenic and informative half-day island excursion. Depart the pier for a leisurely, approximately 21-mile, drive that completely encircles Rarotonga, a volcanic island paradise abounding with lush vegetation, rugged, tropical terrain, and breathtaking panoramic viewpoints. Your tour begins with a drive through Avarua Town, the central business district of Rarotonga. Along the way, pass by the Museum, Cultural Centre, and Cook Islands Christian Church, built in 1842 of coral and limestone. Afterward, a photo stop is made Arai Te Tonga Marae, Ara Metua (Road of Toi), a historical back road built in 1050. Next, visit the Ngatangiia Harbour, the departure point of the Polynesian migration to New Zealand in 1350, and the crystal-clear Muri Lagoon. This stretch of beach is a popular tourist spot, and the Muri Lagoon is ideal for sailing and soft water sports. Upon arrival, enjoy a coconut demonstration followed by refreshments and a cultural dance performance. Following your visit, re-board your bus and continue driving along the winding roads that traverse the coastal and inland areas. En route, pass by lush vegetation and fruit plantations while your guides share stories and legends of the Cook Islands. Following a photo stop at Black Rock, re-board your coach for a short drive back to the pier. Please note: This tour involves a minimal amount of walking for approximately 120 yards, at times over uneven, natural, and slippery surfaces and inclines, with a few steps to negotiate to get on/off the coach. This tour is recommended for guests with limited mobility, and guests who use a wheelchair. The tour sequence may vary.

Muri Lagoon Snorkeling
Experience the beauty of the Muri Lagoon from above and below sea level during this picturesque, half-day snorkeling excursion via glass-bottom boat. Depart the pier for the short drive to the Muri Lagoon. Upon arrival, embark your awaiting glass-bottom boat for the cruise to a marine reserve and snorkel spot in the Muri Lagoon. En route, marvel at the underwater views of the lagoon's prolific marine life, including the rainbow-colored tropical fish as they glide around intricate coral heads, while your guides share stories, myths, and legends of the coconut tree. At the snorkeling spot, look for the tropical fish, starfish, resident moray eels, and other marine life that inhabit the coral beds. From the snorkel area, cruise back across Muri Lagoon to Koromiri Island for a short guided stroll through the motu. Enjoy a Coconut Tree Climbing and husking performance followed by light fruit refreshments, then relax and soak up the tropical sun, and/or go swimming and snorkeling in the crystal-clear waters. Afterward, embark the boat for the short ride back across the lagoon. Upon arrival, re-board your bus and drive back to the pier. Please note: This tour involves a moderate amount of walking for approximately 191 yards, at times over uneven, natural, and sandy surfaces, with a few steps to negotiate to get on/off the coach, embark/disembark the boat and maneuver in/out of the boat. This tour is recommended for guests who are in good physical condition, and can swim in water too deep to stand. This tour is not suitable for pregnant guests, guest with neck and/or back problems, guests with heart and/or respiratory conditions, guests prone to seasickness, guests with limited mobility, and guests who use a wheelchair. Guests are advised to wear a swimsuit under a cover-up with beach or water shoes, and bring sun protection, a towel, and bottled water from the ship. Guests are invited to bring their own snorkeling equipment (though snorkeling equipment is provided); wetsuits are available for rent. Waterproof cameras are highly recommended; GoPro cameras are available for rent. The boat is covered, and has a water-access ladder. There are no restrooms or changing facilities on board the boat. Although frequently encountered on this type of tour, fish and marine life sightings are not guaranteed. Guests may not snorkel if they have consumed alcohol. A signed waiver is required to participate on this tour. Operation of this tour is subject to weather conditions. The tour sequence may vary.

4x4 Island Exploration
Experience a side of Rarotonga not typically seen by most visitors to the island during this picturesque, off-road sightseeing excursion. Depart the pier in a Jeep with your guide for the scenic drive up toward the Avatiu Valley. En route, receive a safety and tour briefing, and take in stunning vistas of the valleys, lush tropical lagoons, inland villages, and secluded areas. At a height of approximately 984 feet above sea level, a breathtaking panoramic view of the rainforest unfolds. Next, traverse the rugged, steep back roads, and stop off at the top of a hill for more stunning views. From here, ride back down the hill toward the west side of the island. En route, travel inland to Wigmore's Waterfall and stop for photos before making a comfort stop at Papaaroa Beach. Your drive continues on toward Seven Rocks and the vaka-canoe departure point. Afterward, proceed for a photo stop at Avana, then turn inland to Arai Te Tonga. Here, see and learn about maraes, and take in spectacular views of your surroundings. Following your visit, re-board your coach and drive 35 minutes back to the pier. Please note: This tour involves an extensive amount of off-road travel and a moderate amount of walking over bumpy, uneven terrain, with four steps to negotiate to get on/off the jeep. This tour is not suitable for guests requiring a wheelchair, those with back and/or neck problems, limited mobility, or pregnant women. Lightweight, comfortable clothing, sturdy, closed-toe walking shoes, sunscreen, and hat are recommended. Please be advised that a minimum number of participants is required for this tour to operate.

Day 6
Aitutaki, Cook Islands

There are simply not enough superlatives to describe quite how amazing Aitutaki is. While Europeans missionaries eventually settled on the island in the 19th century, the island’s Polynesian history dates to around 900AD. Traditional songs and dances from this period still exist (although Christian hymns, known as “imene metua,” are also popular), and are performed by islanders with gusto and much pride. The island is part of the Cook Islands, one of the most secluded and romantic archipelagos in the world. With its powdery white sand, warm turquoise waters, and sense of casual luxury, it is easy to see why the island has earned itself the moniker of honeymooner’s island. However, there is much more to Aitutaki than just fun in the sun. With a reef that completely encompasses a large turquoise lagoon, Aitutaki is considered one of the most spectacular diving and snorkeling destinations in the world. Added to the tropical excitement is that when entering the main village via Zodiac along a narrow channel, travelers will be greeted by a traditional and customary warrior challenge.

Kia Orana Aitutaki
Experience the color, rhythms, and rituals of a lively island festival as you arrive on the sandy shores of the utterly unspoiled Cook Islands. A spectacular South Pacific paradise of intense color and heavenly seascapes, there is a lot to celebrate here. Enjoy festivities showcasing the local dance, culture, and heritage, try the island's freshly prepared dishes while also relishing time to soak in the stunning surroundings. The gleaming white sands and glowing azure seas are the idyllic setting for this day of island celebrations, on what's said to be the most beautiful lagoon in the world. Please note: This tour involves a minimal amount of walking and is suitable for guests with limited mobility. Lightweight clothing, protection from the sun, comfortable shoes, and insect repellent are recommended. Advanced reservations are not required. The duration of the festival is 5 hours and and all guests can join in anytime.

Day 7
Palmerston Island, Cook Islands

One of the most remote destinations in the world, the low-lying atoll of Palmerston is one of a small grouping of coral islets connected by a coral reef and encircling a beautiful lagoon. Captain James Cook (for whom the islands are named) set foot on Palmerston in1774, and the island was named after Lord Palmerston of the British Admiralty. The island's original, ancient name was Avarau, meaning “200 harbors.” The islet is inhabited by three families, all descendants of William Marsters (1831-1899). Members of the community are known to greet visitors and guide small boats and Zodiacs into the lagoon through a maze of coral reef to reach the only inhabited islet, commonly called “Home”. Once ashore, the whole community generally turns out to meet visitors, as it is a rare occurrence. The island’s highlights include a church, the oldest house, the cemetery, the school, the underground gardens and “Duke’s Pool,” inviting for a swim or snorkel. In the lagoon’s waters it is possible to find colorful reef-fish, sea cucumbers, rays, and sea turtles. Overhead there is birdlife including tropicbirds, boobies, noddies, frigatebirds, and terns. Enjoy a day of cultural exchange and relaxation on Palmerston. Arrive for a welcome ceremony led by the mayor that also includes a performance of local school children. Then tour the island and enjoy a guided walking tour, as well as free time to swim, snorkel, explore the island, shop local handicrafts, or just relax on the beach. Return to the ship. Please note: This tour requires minimal activity and is suitable for those with limited mobility. Casual dress and swimsuit are recommended.

Days 8-9
At Sea / Alofi, Niue Island / Lose a Day / International Date Line

After a day at sea, arrive at Alofi, the capital of Niue island, or “The Rock” as it is known to its inhabitants. The island has a population of only around 600 inhabitants, giving it the modest title of being the second smallest capital “city” in the world. The island does boast an international airport but despite this, tourism is not as rife here as in some of the other, better known Polynesian idylls. Niue has a distinctive beauty all of its own. Think less of the sweeping, romantic beaches for which Polynesia is famous and more sheltered rocky coves, jewel-like reef pools, headlands, tropical forest, coconut plantations, and neat, colorful villages scattered throughout the island’s 100 sq.mi. The crystal clear waters and limestone caves of beautiful Alofi Bay offer spectacular snorkeling opportunities. The island is sometimes referred to as its ancient name of Savage Island. Niueans’ nature of worship was in the past joyful and ecstatic. Islanders would receive the power of the divine by dancing around a campfire. These ceremonies, called tugi e mama (lighting the fires) were especially used before going to war, when a priest or shaman would light a fire and call out to the gods to come to the aid of the troops who were about to enter into battle. As one of Polynesia’s poorer islands, today Niue has no organized religion, although islanders are incredibly spiritual. Thus, there are no real places of worship but rather areas of land—known as taugas—marked out and reserved solely for the breeding of birds and crabs.

Zodiac Cruise
Explore by Zodiac this beautiful coast and its limestone caves. Please note: Activity level and duration of this activity are approximate. More specific information and logistical details will be communicated by the Expedition Leader on board. This activity is not suitable for guests with limited mobility, back/neck/hip problems, those who are pregnant, or guests who use a wheelchair. Although no walking is required, guests must be able to maneuver in and out of the Zodiac. Participants must be a minimum of 6 years of age. Children under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Lifejackets are provided. Child lifejackets are available. Dress according to the climate, and please ensure you wear shoes that may get wet, such as Tevas or Wet Shoes (no flip-flop or similar). You may be splashed. It is recommended to have electronic equipment sealed in waterproof bags, in case of rain or spray. Please also ensure you apply ample sunscreen to protect yourself from sunburn.

Hiking Excursion
Follow your Expedition Guide on a minimal activity walk to the natural Matapa Chasm, noted for its expansive face and historical importance as a reserved bathing place for Niue's traditional kings. Be amazed by the breathtaking view where freshwater meets salt water and perhaps even take a dip in the sparkling waters. Afterwards, make your way to the Palaha Cave. The cave is a short walk from the main road over the natural stones where you will get the first glimpse of the cave and the reef. The cave consists of amazing natural formation of limestone and fossilized corals. Another possibility is to go to Togo. The village is reached by a track starting about 2.5 miles north of Hakupu. After leaving the bush, the track descends through a mass of jagged coral pinnacles to a grassy flat where a passage leads off the edge of a chasm. At the foot of the chasm there is a beach of fine golden sand from which some coconut trees rise, almost reaching to the rim of the chasm. Please note: Activity level and duration of this activity are approximate. More specific information and logistic details will be communicated by the Expedition Leader on board. This activity is not suitable for guests with limited mobility or guests who use a wheelchair. Guests with balance limitations (even slight) are advised to bring along walking poles to assist on slippery and uneven surfaces while hiking. Hikes will be offered in various degrees of difficulty and in order to avoid injury guests are advised to be honest with themselves regarding their abilities when deciding which hikes to participate in. Hikes will go through different types of terrains that may be wet, muddy, rocky, sandy, or icy. Hike will take place in different types of weather conditions and therefore guests must be ready with appropriate clothing and footwear. We recommend you bring your filled drinking bottle to remain hydrated during the outing, as well as your daypack to carry your essential items. It is recommended to have electronic equipment sealed in waterproof bags, in case of rain or spray.

Note: You will be crossing the International Date Line. Planet Earth is divided into 24 different time zones and regardless of where you are on the planet, the time and date always changes at midnight. So, for those who travel westwards, time moves seemingly “slower” over the time zones gaining one hour per time zone crossed, but you suddenly find yourself one day older when crossing the date line from the Western to the Eastern Hemisphere since you have to adjust for the time “gained”! Just to confuse matters even further, the IDL (International Date Line) is arbitrary, and countries can request to move it as they please! For two hours of every day (between 10 am and 12 pm GMT), the world has three different dates, meaning that when it is 11.30 pm on Sunday in American Samoa (GMT-11), it will be 6.30 am on Monday in New York City (GMT-4) and 12.30 am on Tuesday in Kiritimati, Line Islands (GMT+14)!

Day 10
Neiafu, Vava’u Group / Eueiki Island

With a population of 6,000, Neiafu is the capital of the Vava’u Group and the second largest municipality in the Polynesian nation of Tonga, a 169-island archipelago in the South Pacific. The city is situated next to a deep-water harbor (Port of Refuge) on the south coast of Vava’u, the main island of the Vava’u archipelago in northern Tonga. The waters of this region are known for their clarity and beauty, and the area attracts many humpback whales between June and November. Today you have a choice of five different excursions:

Ene'io Botanical Garden
Explore the Ene'io Botanical Garden, a bird sanctuary that promotes the survival of exotic and native bird species as well as supports and conserves a diverse array of plant life. You'll also get a flavor for the island's city life, which is a must to experience. Please note: This tour requires moderate activity (though most walking is optional), including walking on sometimes uneven ground and negotiating some steps, making it less suitable for those with limited mobility. Casual dress and walking shoes are recommended.

Vanilla Plantation & Cultural Experience
The vanilla crop is an important source of income for the island of Neiafu. Take an excursion to a vanilla plantation to observe either beans being harvested, beans being dried, or flowers being pollinated, depending on the timing of the season. There are also finished, processed vanilla along with a story board on the story of Vanilla and Heilala Vanilla. After your visit to the plantation, board the bus heading to Talihau to take part in a cultural demonstration. Learn firsthand the art of tapa making, see locally made handicrafts, and also watch a floor show and dancing as you enjoy a fruit refreshment. Make the 25-minute return to the ship. Please note: This tour requires only moderate activity and is suitable for those with limited mobility. Casual dress and comfortable walking shoes are recommended, along with sun protection and sunglasses.

Mount Talau Hiking
This excursion is a great way to, as the locals put it, “go to the mountain.” Mt. Talau is a high point in the Vava'u Island Group and offers spectacular views, especially at sunrise and sunset. This excursion is scheduled for midmorning, but you will still experience stunning vistas of the harbor and the amazing colors of the water that can be seen from this high vantage point. After a short drive up the mountain, hike up 177 cement stairs to the top (they are well-made stairs that have a sturdy handrail). The exception to this is the entry onto the viewing platforms, where there is no handrail. Guest are advised to take extra care as steps may be covered in brush. Return to the ship after your 90-minute round-trip hike. Please note: This tour requires significant activity, including a steep climb to the mountain and 177 steps to climb. Guests must take extra care on the steps as they may be covered in brush and have no handrails for getting onto the viewing platforms. Tour subject to cancellation in the event there is wet weather, as stairs would be too slippery. Guests are recommended to wear sturdy shoes for hiking and casual clothes, as well as sun protection and bug spray.

Snorkeling Excursion
Embark on a Zodiac and head to Swallow Cave. Located at the northern end of Kapa Island, this spectacular cave is home to numerous, white-rumped swiftlets and can only be reached by boat. Swim through the schools of bait fish while looking down into the clear waters of the cave.

In the mid-afternoon, visit the 48-acre island of Eueiki, which is privately owned, with a small resort. It is made of limestone laid down by marine life thousands of years ago and later uplifted. Take a walk from the island’s beach to the shade of the island’s interior and listen for birds. The names of the Polynesian triller and the Tongan whistler (a Vava’u endemic) give away their identity. The “coos” are made by fruit-eating Pacific pigeons or purple-capped fruit doves. Screeches identify Tongan (insular) flying foxes. Fascinating to watch, these large bats are sacred and protected by the King of Tonga. Coral reefs provide great snorkeling, with clear waters giving excellent views of the diverse corals and fish. Healthy corals are mostly green, brown, and occasionally blue due to the algae that lives in the flesh of the skeleton-making coral polyps. It is the texture and shapes of the coral that make them fascinating. Some are soft and some are hard. Growth forms include shrubby, finger, plate, massive (round domes), and branched. Small reef fish linger on the reef, none more so than the anemonefish. Small groups of these orange, white, and sometimes black, banded fish find protection among the tentacles of sea anemones. Anemonefish are nicknamed Nemos after the Finding Nemo movie.

Hiking Excursion
Hike through the forest to the southern end of the island. Reach the top of the island with views of the open ocean, stop at various lookout points, then reach a beach where you can see large slabs that have been cut and removed to make tombs. Learn about the histories and myths associated with the local indigenous tribes. Please note: the hike is only suited for the fit and agile. Total walk takes approximately 20-25 minutes each way, with some incline. Good walking/hiking shoes are recommended due to the nature of the trail.

Snorkeling Excursion
Snorkel from an anchored Zodiac along the reef wall. See schooling fish and many small reef fish including damsels, butterfly fish, blue-green chromis, parrot fish, and more

Days 11-12
At Sea / Somosomo, Taveuni, Fiji

After another day at sea, arrive at Somosomo, the largest village on Taveuni, which in turn is Fiji’s third largest island. The village has had and still has political importance as it is the headquarters for Taveuni’s highest chief, the Tui Cakau, and Fiji’s Great Council of Chiefs met in Somosomo until 2012. Somosomo and Naqara, its immediate neighboring village with a predominantly Indo-Fijian population, are the commercial center for Taveuni. Slightly west of Somosomo is the 180th meridian and a sign indicating the International Dateline (which has been moved east of Tonga by now) is about 2 miles to the southwest. Somosomo is also famous for the amount of soft coral in the Somosomo Strait, just west of Somosomo and Taveuni. The reefs along the Somosomo Strait are considered among the best in the South Pacific as tidal currents and constant year–round water temperature create the ideal environment for some 390 species of hard and soft corals and over 1,500 species of fish. Other attractions near Somosomo are the Bouma National Park with its waterfalls and Lake Tangimaucia. You have five different excursions from which to choose today.

Nature Walk & Bird Watching at Bobby`s Farm
Embark on a half-day birding adventure on the garden island of Taveuni, home to many species of tropical birds, most of which are endemic. Your day begins early for optimal bird watching. Embark from the dock for the thirty-minute drive from Waiyevo for Nabouono. Meet Bobby, the best birder on Taveuni and a man committed to the preservation of Fiji's wild bird population. Witness rare native birds in their natural habitat and tick them off your life list. Experience the exceptional density of native species, attributable to the island's relatively inaccessible mountains, abundant food supply and absence of introduced mongoose. Well-known birders describe the experience here as one of their most memorable. Visit Bobby's farm and enjoy an herbal medicine tour. Refresh with homemade green coconut juice and seasonal fresh fruits. Return to the ship. Please note: Parts of this tour are not appropriate for guests with limited mobility due to some hiking in dense forest areas. Staying in the main compound is an option, however. Proper hiking shoes and protective, comfortable clothing are recommended. Please bring insect repellant, water, and camera.

Bouma National Heritage Park
Embark on a full-day (five-hour) adventure in Bouma National Heritage Park and hike through a wonderland full of flowers and plants of all kinds, incredible vistas, and stunning waterfalls. Enjoy a scenic bus ride from Waiyevo (an hour and forty-five minutes) along the coastal and tropical rainforest as you journey up to the first of the park's Tavoro Waterfalls. Take an easy ten-minute walk along a wide trail framed with flowers. Experience the first waterfall, complete with swimming hole. Soak in the beauty or climb up behind the falls and jump off the ten-foot ledge for a little extra excitement. Linger here or continue your hike uphill to a bure (thatch-roofed hut) and deck where you can enjoy astounding views of the ocean and rainforest around you. Choose to stay here, turn back with one of your guides, or challenge yourself with the hike up the trail to a third waterfall amid the Bouma forest. Upon your return, quench your thirst with a coconut drink and seasonal fruits made from the vegetation of Bouma. Then it's time to reboard your coach for the return trip to Waiyevo. Please note: The full excursion is not accessible for guests with limited mobility. It may be possible to reach the first waterfall with an easy walk of about ten minutes. Hiking shoes, sunscreen, insect repellant, bottled water, and a change of clothes are recommended. Air-conditioned coaches are not available on the island.

Lavena Coastal Walk & Wainibau Falls Hike
Experience a full day of scenic travel, hiking and swimming in the Bouma National Heritage Park. The Park, established in 1990, is aimed at conserving the rainforest of Taveuni and the Vanua Bouma (land of Bouma), and providing local villages with income. Depart from Waiyevo for the scenic drive (an hour and forty-five minutes). Leave from the village and take the one-hour hike along the flat coastal walk to arrive at Wainibau Falls. Take a refreshing swim on the cool waters to restore your energy and rejuvenate your body. Enjoy the pristine and verdant rainforest view. This is a photo opportunity you don't want to miss. Walk back to the village and enjoy a green coconut juice, seasonal fruits, and freshly squeezed juice. Return to the ship. Please note: This excursion is not suitable for guests with limited mobility. Proper hiking clothes and hiking shoes that can get wet are recommended. Guests are advised to bring insect repellant, a camera, and a change of clothing if swimming.

Somosomo Village & International Date Line
Experience Fijian village lifeways on this half-day (4.5 hours) excursion. From the dock, board your coach for the short, scenic drive to the village of Dreketi, Somosomo. Experience a warm welcome by villagers as they offer you a fresh coconut fruit drink. Take a tour of the village and see an authentic kava ceremony and local demonstrations of traditional weaving. Enjoy the lively customary entertainment that portrays the Fijian way of life in this island paradise. As you watch on the village green, savor your morning tea that comes complete with a homemade pancake, steam buns in coconut cream, freshly made juice, and other Fijian fare. Next, visit the International Dateline where the day is divided and tomorrow waves goodbye to yesterday. Although Fiji adheres to the single time convention, the Dateline cuts straight through Taveuni to offer you a great photo opportunity as you step from one day into the next. Visit the Holy Cross Church in Wairiki, built in 1907 to honor a French missionary who successfully advised Taveuni's warriors on how to defeat invading Tongans in a major battle. Discover the imposing stone structure that is a mix of Roman style with stained-glass windows and Fijian style with floor mats for seating. Explore at your own pace the spectacular architecture and the amazing interior designs. Return to the ship. Please note: This excursion is suitable for guests with limited mobility if they can access coaches with minimal assistance. Please dress respectfully when visiting the church and village. Women are asked to wear clothing that covers shoulders and knees. Wearing hats in a Fijian village is forbidden.

Waitabu Marine Park Snorkeling Adventure
Enjoy a half-day (four hours) of snorkeling, swimming, and village life on your visit to Waitabu Marine Park. Embark from the dock for the half-hour coach drive to the village of Waitabu. Once you have been briefed, experience an hour of snorkeling in the pristine marine preserve waters. Villagers initiated the Marine Park 1998 as a pilot project to protect their native fishing grounds from over-fishing. The project has shown real success. Delight in the colorful corals and diverse varieties of fish that now thrive here. Bask in the pleasure of swimming in the crystal-clear waters, where you might get a surprise visit from a familiar turtle that calls the Waitabu reef home or have an encounter with a gentle ray. Taste fresh coconut juice served with a platter of fresh seasonal fruits such as banana, melon, and pineapple. Explore the village, take photos, or shop for souvenirs of local crafts. Board your coach for the return trip to Waiyevo. Please note: This tour is not suitable for guests with limited mobility. Guests need to bring along a change of clothing that covers most parts of the body. Women are advised to wear clothing that covers knees and shoulders. Hats are forbidden in Fijian villages.

Day 13
Yasawa, Fiji

Nabukeru is the largest village on Yasawa, located within the grouping of the roughly 20 volcanic islands that make up the Yasawa Islands in Fiji. Until 1987 these islands were closed to land-based tourism and could only be viewed from aboard a vessel. With their clear, aquamarine waters and ecologically diverse tropical, mountainous landscapes, these islands were the location for the filming of the romantic adventure film The Blue Lagoon (both the 1949 and 1980 versions). Opposite Nabukeru is Sawa-i-Lau, an island famous for the limestone caves of the same name. The Sawa-i-Lau caves can only be accessed by climbing stairs from the beach, passing a small door, and then jumping into the larger cave’s pool. The second cave and pool can only be reached by swimming at low tide through an underwater tunnel. Nabukeru villagers assert that the cave is the heart of the Yasawas.

Snorkeling Excursion
Join your snorkel master and team to a blue lagoon limestone cave where you can have the experience of snorkeling in an enclosed environment. At the Sawa-i-lau caves is your chance to relive scenes from The Blue Lagoon movie. These caves are considered a “must” for visitors to the Yasawa Islands. These awesome and ancient limestone formations have been carved over eons of time by constant wave action and lie hidden within a small island. Only limited number of people are allowed entry at any one time. Please Note: Activity level and duration of this activity are approximate. More specific information and logistic details will be communicated by the Expedition Leader on board. This activity is recommended only for guests in good physical condition and good swimming skills; some snorkeling experience might be needed in certain areas. Snorkeling from the beach or Zodiac platforms will be decided depending on the conditions encountered on the day of the activity. Equipment is available for all guests or you are welcome to bring your own if you wish (full-face masks are prohibited).

Expedition Activities
Experience the warmth, friendliness, and traditions of the local Fijian people. Village life and family are central to the overall Fijian culture and this day transports you back in time to witness and experience customs that have remained in place for hundreds of years. Some villagers still live in traditional thatched roof bures or simple dwellings that provide shade, shelter, and protection to each family. Learn up close the extent to which these villagers still rely heavily on nature to sustain their daily food needs and comforts. Arrive in Nabukeru and receive a warm welcome. Take a guided village tour and enjoy a cultural presentation by some of the villagers. There is time to relax on the beach, swim, or snorkel before returning to the ship via Zodiac. Please note: This tour requires moderate walking (mostly at your discretion) and with the exception of some uneven ground is mostly suitable for guests with limited mobility. Casual dress and swimsuit are recommended, as well as walking shoes.

Day 14
Lautoka

Arrive in Lautoka in the early morning and disembark.

Highlights

Highlights

Enjoy nature walks, snorkeling excursions, cultural experiences, and more on the mesmerizing isles of the South Pacific
Explore Marae Taputapuatea, a UNESCO World Heritage Site on Raiatea, considered the religious center of Polynesia
Visit the low-lying atoll of Palmerston in the Cook Islands, inhabited by just three families
Experience the tremendous birdlife of the South Pacific in various conservation areas

Details

Length: 15 days
Cost From: $12,100  
Arrive: Papeete, Tahiti
Depart: Lautoka, Fiji
Lodging: 12 nights aboard a 132-passenger vessel, 1 night hotel
Meals: All meals aboard ship, including wine, beer, and soft drinks with lunch and dinner
Activity: Snorkeling, Walking, Wildlife and Natural History, Small Ship Cruising
Trip Level:

13-day cruise, cultural explorations, swimming, snorkeling, and walking tours