Easter Island to Papeete Expedition Cruise

Easter Island to Tahiti aboard the Silver Explorer

Note: Cruise rate includes roundtrip economy air and transfers


Legendary explorers have navigated their way across the Pacific Ocean for centuries to reach what is now known as French Polynesia, a picturesque realm of lush islands and rich marine waters. Starting on Easter Island, embark on a journey to all four of the Pitcairn Islands before heading over to the Gambier and Austral Islands, finally reaching Bora Bora and Tahiti. Birders will love the opportunity to see rare endemic species as well as large seabird colonies, while snorkelers get to discover a dazzling array of life beneath the water. Explore white-sand beaches, clear blue seas, and islands that are every bit as gorgeous as the images conjured up by the names themselves. Throughout the voyage, learn about the history, geology, wildlife, and botany of this spectacular area from onboard presentations given by your knowledgeable Expedition Team.

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.


Day 1, Nov 17, 2020
Easter Island, Chile

Discovered (by the Western world) on Easter Sunday, 1722, Easter Island is one of the most isolated places on the face of the Earth, some 2,300 miles from the Chilean mainland. Although more Polynesian than South American in character, the 64-square mile island was annexed by Chile in 1888, and is now famous as the world’s largest ‘open air museum’ on account of the Moai, or human-like stone statues, that can be found on the island. The island’s national park has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Moai remain very much a mystery, which archaeologists are still trying to unlock. The ancient language of the Rapa Nui is one of the keys to understanding this culture. One of the other mysteries are the texts written on the so called ‘rongo rongo tablets’. The island owes its origin to three volcanoes: Poike and Rano Kau had erupted first and were later connected with Maunga Terevaka‘s eruption.

It is not known when or how the island was first populated, but the most credible theory suggests that the Rapa Nui people came from other Pacific islands. Scientists debate as to when this occurred, the earliest claim sees this happening in the 4th century AD. In addition to the cultural and archaeological interest, there are two beautiful beaches, transparent waters, and a few coral reefs as might be expected of a Pacific Island.

Days 2-3, Nov 18-19, 2020
At Sea

The ship sails west for 2 days into the Pacifc Ocean from Easter Island. Read, whale-watch, and enjoy the Silver Explorer’s restaurants, lounges, and spa on these two relaxing days at sea.

Day 4, Nov 20, 2020
Ducie Island

Discovered in 1606 by Pedro Fernandez de Quiros on his way to the Solomon Islands, Ducie is a small isolated atoll and is the easternmost of the Pitcairn Islands. The island’s most prominent bit of history is the 1881 wreckage of the ship Acadia, which ran aground on the island when the lookout mistook the island for a cloud due to its white beaches. Ducie is a mere speck in the surrounding expanse of ocean, uninhabited except for the estimated 500,000 nesting seabirds that reside among the two plant species (Beach Heliotrope and at least one specimen of Pemphis) that grow over seventy percent of the island. Bird species that visitors may be able to see include Murphy's Petrels, White Terns, Great Frigatebirds and Masked Boobies. Under good conditions the wreck of the Acadia or the atoll’s lagoon waters offer interesting snorkel opportunities.

Day 5, Nov 21, 2020
Henderson Island, Pitcairn Islands

On this remote and uninhabited piece of land—a raised coral island virtually untouched by man—you will get a true sense of what it feels like to be isolated from the rest of the world. The landscape has been left unchanged for more than 500 years, permitting an understanding of how natural selection has resulted in Henderson’s primary attraction: four endemic land birds. To protect the rare, natural state of Henderson Island, UNESCO designated it as a World Heritage Site in 1988.

Day 6, Nov 22, 2020
Adamstown, Pitcairn Island

With a total of around 50 residents on the island, Adamstown is the capital of the Pitcairn Islands and the only populated settlement, as all of the other Pitcairn Islands are uninhabited (although Henderson was populated by Polynesians in the 11th through 15th centuries). Halfway between Peru and New Zealand, Pitcairn was the perfect hiding spot for the famed HMS Bounty mutineers and their Tahitian wives. Not only had the island been misplaced on early maps of the region, but it can also be very difficult to come ashore as large breakers tend to build up just in front of the small harbour of Bounty Bay. On shore, visit the local museum that houses the HMS Bounty Bible, the historic Adamstown Church, view Fletcher Christian’s cave, or keep an eye out for the Pitcairn Reed Warbler.

Day 7, Nov 23, 2020
Oeno Island

Named after the whaling ship Oeno, Oeno Island is a small (0.5 square kilometer) islet part of the coral atoll by the same name and the westernmost of the Pitcairn Islands. This beautiful island is low-lying and rarely visited, with the exception of nearby Pitcairners formerly arriving on their annual holidays. The little island is surrounded by white sandy beaches inside a stunning blue lagoon studded with vegetation. A sand bar, which is constantly undergoing change, is currently unattached to the island. Oeno has been designated as an Important Bird Area by Birdlife International, as it is home to a number of seabirds such as Murphy's Petrels (with one of the largest colonies of this bird in the world), Sooty Terns and Brown Noddies. The island is as storied as it is tiny, with a history of at least four separate shipwrecks and the eradication of Polynesian rats some twenty years ago (the eradication of the rats allowed for the birds to have a higher chance of survival). Access to the island is quite limited, as the currents close to the channel leading to the island can be quite strong and one has to carefully navigate around the many coral heads.

Day 8, Nov 24, 2020
Mangareva, Gambier Islands

In the Gambier Islands of French Polynesia, Mangareva is the largest island with a population of over 1,200 people. Most live in Rikitea, the largest village on the island. A high central ridge runs the length of Mangareva peaking with Mt. Duff, which rises over 440 meters from the sea on the island's south coast. The island has a large lagoon sprinkled with coral reefs whose tropical fish and the black-lip oysters have helped islanders survive much more successfully than on other nearby islands. Small ships are able to enter the lagoon of Mangareva. Ashore visitors can walk through the town, see the remains of the massive stone and coral buildings dating back to the 19th century or climb up Mt. Duff. The highlights in town include the cathedral with its mother-of-pearl shell altar and objects designed and built in the 1830s and 1840s and partially restored by the students of Rikitea’s school just a few years ago.

Days 9-10, Nov 25-26, 2020
At Sea

Visit the fitness center and spa, and relax and unwind on these blue days at sea as the ship sails west.

Day 11, Nov 27, 2020
Mahanatoa / Raivavae, Austral Islands

Raivavae has been described as a smaller and laid-back version of Bora Bora—without the tourists. In addition to strolling the white sand beach of Mahanatoa on one of Raivavae Island’s motu (a local name for a reef islet), it is possible to circumnavigate the island by road to view a marae and lush greenery. All this is the quintessence South Sea with its crystal clear waters and the casuarina and coconut palm tree fringes. Snorkelers may enjoy seeing the reef fish at one of the motu while tropicbirds, reef herons, and noddies glide overhead.

Day 12, Nov 28, 2020
Avera Bay / Rurutu, Austral Islands

Rurutu is well known for her caves and cave dwellers of old. Rurutu is an uplifted coral island and the shorelines of steep cliffs are spectacular. The people of Rurutu welcome infrequent visitors. Invigorating welcome ceremonies include dancing while drums are being beaten and families are singing. An adventure to Ana Ae’o cave may involve a convoy of the famous “Le Truck” and four-wheel drive vehicles not to mention bamboo-lit flares and native warriors chanting from high in the caves. The island also holds Marae Tararoa, the sacred worship ground of the High chief of Rurutu, and a lovely handicraft market.

Day 13, Nov 29, 2020
At Sea

Relax on the ship as it continues on to Bora Bora.

Day 14, Nov 30, 2020
Bora Bora, Society Islands

Simply saying the name Bora Bora is usually enough to induce gasps of jealousy, as images of milky blue water, sparkling white beaches and casually leaning palm trees immediately spring to mind. The imagination doesn't lie, either, and if you visit, you’ll soon realize this island is every bit as gorgeous as you ever imagined. Thatched wooden huts stand out over shallow, sparkling seawater, with vivid fish swirling just below. Soak up the sun and relax on Matira Beach. If blissful inactivity doesn't appeal, then get active, and hike the greenery of the sharp Mount Pahia, circle the island by “Le Truck” or go snorkeling with rays and sharks.

Day 15, Dec 1, 2020
Papeete, Tahiti

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. Relax and settle in to the intoxicating rhythm of life in this Polynesian paradise.



Explore the mysterious stone statues of Easter Island's Rapa Nui National Park
Look for thousands of nesting birds on Ducie including Murphy's Petrels, Great Frigatebirds, and Masked Boobies
Visit Henderson Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its rare endemic land birds and ten endemic species of plant life
Meet the descendants of the Bounty mutineers on Pitcairn Island
Discover Rurutu's rugged, mountainous landscape carpeted in lush vegetation with a rimmed barrier reef
Find out why Bora Bora is the most famous of French Polynesia's islands with its towering green hills, underwater wonders, and sapphire-blue lagoon


Length: 15 days
Cost From: $16,020  
Arrive: Hanga Roa, Easter Island
Depart: Papeete, Tahiti
Lodging: 14 nights aboard a 132-passenger vessel, 1 night hotel
Meals: All meals included aboard ship and with the group ashore
Activity: Archaeology, Cultural Adventures, Snorkeling, Photography, Small Ship Cruising
Trip Level:

15-day cruise, cultural explorations and walking tours, snorkeling