Remote and enigmatic, the Marquesas are islands that belong to the past. Some of them virtually untouched since the era of European exploration, their isolation has given way to a proud people whose unique Marquesan dialect is a direct link to the ancient Polynesian language of Maohi. Indeed, it is believed locally that the spirits of the ancient Maohi live among the islands’ saw-toothed peaks and lush, verdant valleys, and the limestone caves and grottos that we’ll explore. Herman Melville penned his indulgent novel Typee based on his time on Nuku Hiva and established himself as the "man who lived among the cannibals,” and Robert Louis Stevenson landed here aboard his yacht Casco in the late 19th century. At sea we’ll encounter cetaceans, potentially the rare melon-headed whales, and we’ll dive among manta rays.
• In-depth exploration of the Marquesas, one of the most remote and culturally unique island groups on Earth, both on land and by sea.
• See ancient stone sculptures, including one of the largest tikis in Polynesia, on Hiva Oa.
• Hike to a remote waterfall and search for rare birds on far-flung Fatu Hiva.
• Dive or snorkel the stunning reefs of Fakarava, part of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
Arrive in Papeete, Tahiti early this morning, check in to dayrooms at the Intercontinental Tahiti, and take a brief tour before embarking National Geographic Orion. (L,D)
We begin our exploration of the “Dangerous Archipelago” at Fakarava, one of the largest atolls in French Polynesia and part of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. After a festive welcome with traditional dancers, learn about the island’s pearl industry, and walk its pristine beaches. Snorkel the protected reefs or ride the current into the lagoon on a world famous drift dive. Continue to Raroia, one of the easternmost atolls in this chain, and the site where Thor Heyerdahl’s famous Kon-Tiki raft made landfall in 1947. (B,L,D)
A day at sea brings us to one of the most remote island groups on earth, the Marquesas Islands. We begin our exploration of this archipelago at Hatiheu Bay, on the north shore of Nuku Hiva Island. Visit ancient petroglyphs and witness a spectacular dance performance at a Marquesan me'ae, or hike up the valley with the naturalists and local guides in search of rare birds and spectacular views. Later, sample local foods in the village, and peruse unique arts and crafts. (B,L,D)
At Hiva Oa, go ashore at the village of Puamau to visit the stunning Marquesan me’ae, Iipona, and photograph one of the largest tikis in Polynesia. Stop for a fresh-baked French baguette before a short visit to Calvary Cemetery and the gravesites of French artists Paul Gauguin and Jacques Brel. (B,L,D)
Be sure you’re on deck this morning to photograph the volcanic pillars of Hanavave Bay, as Orion approaches one of the most storied shorelines in the entire Pacific. Visit a remote village where you’ll see displays of uniquely Marquesan arts and crafts. Choose a challenging hike to a remote waterfall, or take Zodiacs to the next bay where local transport takes you on a birdwatching foray deep into the Omoa Valley. (B,L,D)
Our last two days in the Marquesas are open for exploration. Scuba dive with manta rays, search for rare cetaceans with your naturalists and marvel at the rugged volcanic silhouettes of these legendary islands from the Zodiacs and kayaks. (B,L,D)
We let nature be our guide for these days, as we explore some of the more than 80 islands and atolls that make up this seldom-visited archipelago. Snorkel or dive stunning healthy reefs, kayak and stand-up paddleboard on turquoise lagoons, and walk pristine beaches beneath coconut palms. (B,L,D)
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. (B,L,D)
Disembark in Papeete this morning and tour Tahiti before flights home. (B,L)
All day-by-day breakdowns are a sampling of the places we intend to visit, conditions permitting.
These cabins feature an oval window and two single beds, two beds that can be converted to a queen-size bed, or a queen size bed (call for details). You'll find an armchair, climate controls, reading lamps, and a TV. Bathrooms are also generously sized with a roomy glass-walled shower stall.
These roomy cabins feature an oval window and two single beds, two beds that can be converted to a queen-size bed, or a queen size bed (call for details). You'll find an armchair, climate controls, reading lamps, and a TV. Bathrooms are also generously sized with a roomy glass-walled shower stall.
Cat 3 Suite with Window #401-412, 414-419 These suites have a comfortable sofa in the sitting area with a large window and plenty of storage. They have a variety of bed configurations (call for details) plus a writing desk and chair, climate controls, reading lamps, and a TV. Modern bathrooms are generously sized with roomy glass-walled shower stall.
These solo cabins feature a window or two portholes, a queen-size bed, writing desk and chair, climate controls, reading lamps, and a TV.
Bathrooms are also generously sized with a roomy glass-walled shower stall
Cat 4 Deluxe suite with Window #511, 515 - These two suites feature separate sleeping and sitting areas, with a two-seater sofa that looks out a large rectangular window. Beds are configurable. You'll find storage, climate controls, reading lamps, a TV. Modern bathrooms are generously sized with roomy glass-walled shower stall.
Cat 5 Suite with Balcony #501, 503-506, 508 - These spacious suites feature open living areas and sliding glass doors that open to a private French balcony. Beds are configurable, and you'll find sitting chairs or a couch, a writing desk, climate controls, reading lamps, and a TV. The bathroom is spacious and has a glass-walled shower.
Cat 3S Suite with Window #512 - This solo suite features two beds and a large window, plus a bucket chair and small table, climate controls, reading lamps, and a TV. The bathroom is spacious and has a glass-walled shower.
Cat 6 Owner’s suite with Balcony #502, 507, 509*, 510 - These large, owner's suites feature a balcony (Cabin 509 does not have a balcony), a spacious bathroom with a large shower and separate soaking tub with a window, and a large separate living area with a couch and two bucket chairs, plus climate controls, reading lamps, and a TV.
National Geographic Orion
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.
Free Bar Tab & Crew Tips Included on Voyages aboard NG Explorer or NG Orion
We will cover your bar tab and all tips for the crew on all National Geographic Explorer and National Geographic Orion voyages.
Terms and Conditions apply, special offer is subject to availability, please contact us for more details.