It might sound like a cliché, but the crystal blue waters, colourful coral and lush green islands of French Polynesia are anything but boring. Snorkelers and swimmers will be in their element, with abundant marine life, stunning lagoons and pristine coral reefs just begging to be explored. On dry land, learning about the fascinating ancient culture of the French Polynesian people is an experience, with temples and archaeological sites abound. From your base on the Panaroma II, a comfortable small ship and an expert crew to show you the way, you’ll embrace the island life in no time.
Countries Visited: French Polynesia
Accommodation: Small Cruise Ship 7 nights
Transportation: Small Cruise Ship
Meals: 7 dinners, 7 breakfasts
Group size: Minimum 1, Max 47
Snorkel with sting rays and sharks in beautiful Bora Bora.
Take a tour of a local pearl farm on the lush island of Taha'a.
Enjoy a kayak tour down Faaroa River in Raiatea.
Visit an ancient marae (temple) at Taputapuatea, which was recently listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Day 1: Papeete, Tahiti
Ia Orana, welcome to Tahiti! This afternoon, you’ll make your way to your floating home for the next eight days – the Panorama II, which is docked in Papeete Port. Meet your fellow travellers, crew and leaders between 2:30pm and 4:00pm and after a welcome briefing and safety drill you’ll set sail for Bora Bora. On this trip, all meals are included on the boat, so you will enjoy dinner at sea before rocking to sleep with the gentle waves.
Day 2: Bora Bora
Arrive in Bora Bora first thing this morning. After enjoying breakfast with a view of Bora Bora lagoon and the famous Mount Otemanu in the backdrop, you’ll have a choice of a number of optional activities to fill both today and tomorrow. These include a cultural tour with a local guide in a 4x4, a snorkeling trip where you can keep an eye out for the sharks and sting rays or an open-air Lagoon Aquarium. There may be a more optional activities available on your trip, so have a chat to your leader about the different options. Tonight, you will spend the night anchored n Bora Bora Lagoon.
Day 3: Bora Bora - Huahine
This morning you will have a chance to take part in the cultural tour in a 4x4 if you didn’t get the chance to do it yesterday. Then, after lunch on board the boat you will cruise out of Bora Bora towards Huahine. You may want to while away the afternoon on board making use of the sun beds on the top deck, chatting to your fellow travellers or curling up with a book in the lounge. You’ll arrive in Huahine late in the evening and spend the night anchored inside the lagoon.
Day 4: Huahine
Today you will be exploring the two main islands of Huahine, a jungle paradise filled with tropical plantations including coconuts, vanilla orchids, banana groves, breadfruit trees and watermelon fields. Aside from blossoming with nature, Huahine is also known for its cultural significance – it was once home to Tahitian royalty and has many ancient temples known as marae in French Polynesian culture. Some of these date back as far as 700 AD! Today you can join a tour where you will be driven around in 4x4 vehicles to visit the small villages of Fare, which is an archaeological site and Maeva, a vanilla plantation. If you choose this option, you will return to the boat for lunch. Or if you prefer, you can spend the day at your leisure – either relaxing on the boat or exploring the area around the lagoon. Tonight, after dinner on board you will spend the night anchored in the lagoon.
Day 5: Huahine – Taha'a
This morning you’ll leave Huahine early and set sail for the island of Taha'a, which shares a magnificent lagoon with neighbouring Raiatea Island. This lush island is extremely fertile and is covered with banana, watermelon, vanilla orchid and coconut groves. Today you’ll have the chance to explore the beautiful island by 4x4 vehicle in an optional tour. You’ll visit a pearl farm and a traditional vanilla plantation. It’s also the perfect opportunity to try some of the local fruits that are grown in the region and take in some of the incredible views of Ha'amene Bay. The afternoon is free for swimming and snorkeling on the “motu”, or reef islet, or exploring the area around the reef on your own. Tonight, will be spent anchored in the lagoon.
Day 6: Raiatea
First thing this morning you’ll sail across the lagoon to reach Raiatea, which is considered the homeland of the ancient Polynesians. While it was previously known as Havai’i, Raiatea translates to “faraway heaven” and “sky with soft light”. Today you’ll have the chance to take part in an optional excursion which will introduce you to the highlights of Raiatea. Meet your guide for an informative & intimate tour by minibus. Enjoy a panoramic drive through the main town of Uturoa, the cultural and administrative center of Raiatea. Shortly after leaving town, you will see Mount Temehani, endemic home to the Tiare Apetahi. Next stop is at the main ancient Marae (open-air temple) of Taputapuatea, which recently became a UNΕSCO protected site. Your guide will cover the origins and history of this famous land- mark. Here, you will learn about its Polynesian origins and historical relevance. In the afternoon you can join an optional kayak tour of the Faaroa River, French Polynesia's only navigable river, with an expert guide leading the way through Raiatea's verdant interior. Late in the evening sail to Mo'orea. Overnight at sea.
Day 7: Mo'orea
You’ll reach Mo'orea first thing in the morning, which is easily spotted thanks to the eight huge mountain peaks that rise from its lagoon. This place is thought to have inspired the mythical Bali Hai from James Michener's Tales of the South Pacific. Today the optional activities are a nature and cultural tour in a 4x4 and a snorkeling and Ray tour. Everyone will meet back on the ship later in the day and enjoy a farewell dinner together, before spending a night anchored in the lagoon.
Day 8: Papeete, Tahiti
This morning you’ll set sail early for Tahiti, arriving in Papeete by 9am. From here, you will say farewell to your fellow travellers and the crew before disembarking the Panorama II.
Swimming with Sharks
French Polynesia has the distinction of being the largest designated shark sanctuary in the world. Swimming with sharks and stingrays is a very popular activity enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. Snorkeling tours and snorkel safaris take place in shallow waters and often include encounters with many species: black tip reef sharks, stingrays and manta rays, sea turtles, and occasionally lemon sharks and dolphins! You can swim with sharks in Bora Bora, as well as many other islands including Moorea, Rangiroa, Fakarava and more. Swimming with whales is also possible during certain seasons (August-October). The Bora Bora lagoon is home to many coral gardens, shark species and tropical fish. It seems everyone comes here to relax in the crystal clear still waters!
There are more than 350 species of sharks known worldwide and that 19 of them can be observed in the waters of The Islands of Tahiti.
You can also enjoy shark diving to see larger species, such as hammerhead sharks and silvertip sharks. On the island of Fakarava, the second largest atoll in the Tuamotus and a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, you can dive in July during the annual grouper feeding and see the famed “wall of sharks” where more than 700 sharks flood into the south pass of the island to feed on grouper. As these hapless groupers feed the sharks divers watch from a distance entranced! A thrilling event for any experienced diver, but not for the faint of heart! Explore dive vacation packages.
Here is a list of the most common sharks and rays found in French Polynesian waters:
· blacktip sharks (carcharhinus melanopterus – Tahitian name: ma’o mauri)
· grey sharks (carcharhinus amblyrhynchos – Tahitian name: raira)
· lemon sharks (negaprion acutidens, Tahitian name: arava) and,
· hammerhead sharks (sphyrna lewini or sphyrna mokarran – Tahitian name: ma’o tuamata).
· stingrays (himantura fai – Tahitian name: fai i’u)
· eagle rays (aétobaus narinar – Tahitian name: faimanu)
· manta rays (manta birostris – Tahitian name: fafapiti)
See anything missing from this list? Great White sharks are not commonly spotted in any areas where people swim with sharks.
Source: Tahiti Tourism
8 days, from $2,765 per person
Airfare not included. Rates are subject to change until paid in full. Pricing subject to availability and date selection.
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