Faces of Polynesia: Fiji to Tahiti
Based on the expeditionary nature of our trips, there may be ongoing enhancements to this itinerary.
Below please find the day-by-day itinerary for this expedition. Unless otherwise noted, daily excursion options are included in the cost of the trip. We do our best to adhere to the scheduled itinerary, but in the spirit of our expeditionary style of travel we may deviate slightly to take full advantage of encounters with the destination and its people, culture, and wildlife.
Depart USA / En RouteOctober 15 — October 16
Board your independent overnight flight to Fiji. Cross the International Date Line en route losing a day.
Nadi, Fiji / Lautoka / Embark Caledonian SkyOctober 17
Arrive early today and check in to your dayroom at the Westin Denarau Island Resort & Spa with the morning at leisure before lunch. In the afternoon set out for an island exploration, including a visit to The Garden of the Sleeping Giant, showcasing more than 2,000 varieties of orchids. Then visit the Vei Sei Sei village, and make a stop for magnificent island views at Vudu Lookout. In the city of Lautoka on the western “sunshine coast,” embark the Caledonian Sky.
The Fiji Islands, considered part of Melanesia, cover an area of 386,000 square miles. Of the 325 islands large enough for habitation, only 106 have permanent residents. The third largest, Taveuni, is a dazzling emerald known as “the garden island,” and you have several excursions to choose from here. Hikers enjoy a visit to beautiful waterfalls in Bouma National Park, while birders explore the lush forests, keeping a lookout for collared lories, Fiji orange doves, and blue-crested flycatchers. A cultural tour highlights traditional Fijian village life, a kava ceremony, and demonstrations of cooking, tapa-cloth production, and basket weaving. Snorkelers and divers investigate Fiji's underwater wonders.
Futuna, Territory of Wallis & FutunaOctober 19
Though linked through French colonialism, the language, customs, culture, and artistic traditions of Wallis and Futuna are distinctly different. While Wallis has ancestral ties with Tonga, Futuna traces its roots to Samoa. Be on deck as the ship approaches Futuna, whose verdant slopes ascend into the clouds. Stunning beaches fringe the east coast and Mt. Puke, the island’s largest volcano, soars to nearly 2,500 feet. In a traditional village visit the impressive shrine to the South Pacific’s only saint, Pierre Chanel; the interior is covered in elaborately-decorated tapa cloth. Birders keep an eye out for red-footed boobies, white-collared kingfishers, and blue-crowned lorikeets. Lunch on board is followed by snorkeling or diving in the clear waters to view longnose filefish, anemonefish, and colorful corals.
Tour the regional capital, Mata Utu, to visit its distinctive stone cathedral, then drive to one of the island’s beautiful crater lakes. Stroll through the interesting remains of a 14th-century fort, and browse local handicrafts. In the afternoon enjoy snorkeling or diving off one of the many motus, low-lying islands, near Wallis.
Niuafo'ou, Kingdom of TongaOctober 21
Tonga’s northernmost island, Niuafo’ou, is the tip of an underwater volcano, and recent eruptions have left part of it covered in black lava. Step ashore to visit the island’s interior caldera lake where the Niuafo’ou megapode incubates its eggs in the warm volcanic ash until the chicks emerge fully fledged. Underwater, silvery fish sparkle like diamonds against a dramatic backdrop of extrusive lava that has turned into black basalt.
This remote and traditional island is rarely visited by outsiders. A short walk brings you to a grove of massive banyan trees where you may participate in a kava ceremony and observe traditional dances. At Hihifo Village, visit local homes and witness pandanus mat-weaving skills. Enjoy an afternoon snorkel or dive; or, explore a nearby island in search of brown noddies and delicate white terns.
Neiafu, Vava'u IslandsOctober 23
Locals welcome you ashore on Neiafu. Take a stroll through the small community and visit the colorful market. Then, cruise by Zodiac to a cavern hollowed out by wave action and spend the afternoon snorkeling or diving off one of Neiafu’s surrounding islands. This evening, cross the International Date Line and gain a day.
Alofi, NiueOctober 23
A saucer-shaped uplifted atoll—one of the world’s largest emerged coral atolls—Niue is endowed with some of the most extensive and dramatic limestone cave systems in the South Pacific. It is one of the world’s smallest self-governing states, with approximately 1,500 inhabitants. A hike to the sea caves takes you over a “pathway” of coral for spectacular views, including a huge arch rising from the aquamarine waters. In the afternoon, snorkelers and divers take in underwater wonders among the coral—including the chance to see the endemic sea snake—while birders may choose a rainforest walk to seek out the banded rail, masked lapwing, and blue-crowned lorikeet.
At SeaOctober 24
Savor a leisurely day on deck, watch for regional birds and marine life, and enjoy the continuing lecture series.
Palmerston, Cook IslandsOctober 25
About 60 people reside on Palmerston, all descendants of the eccentric William Marsters, who managed the island’s coconut plantations in the 1860s. Permission pending, go ashore to meet the friendly islanders and stroll through the village. The translucent waters reveal numerous healthy coral heads and marine life.
Like a miniature Bora Bora, Aitutaki’s central peak rises above a reef-encircled lagoon, and we are welcomed by villagers performing some of the Pacific’s finest dances. Local guides accompany us on an island tour highlighting the natural and cultural attributes of the island. After lunch on the ship, enjoy snorkeling or diving off a remote motu in the crystal clear waters dotted with coral heads.
This morning arrive at Atiu, whose shoreline is perforated with wave-sculpted caves. A tour will introduce you to the local culture with a village visit and a stop at a coffee plantation. Birders set out to look for the Raratonga monarch, Cook Island fruit dove, and nesting site of Kuhl’s lorikeet. Or, join a challenging hike to visit several natural caves. This afternoon snorkel or dive in the pristine surrounding waters.
At SeaOctober 28
Attend lectures today and join naturalists on deck to search for seabirds and marine life.
Bora Bora, Society Islands, French PolynesiaOctober 29
Be on deck early this morning as the ship enters the dazzling sapphire-hued lagoon of Bora Bora surrounded by soaring cloud-wreathed peaks. Tour this lush island, driving along roads lined with fragrant frangipani. Then venture to the large lagoon to snorkel or dive, watching for graceful stingrays and colorful fish such as fairy basslets and teardrop butterflyfish. Birders seek out chattering kingfishers and gray-green fruit doves.
Papeete, Tahiti / DisembarkOctober 30
After breakfast disembark the Caledonian Sky and set out to explore this beautiful island. Visit the superb Museum of Tahiti and Her Islands, dedicated to the history and culture of the people of Polynesia and take a drive along the stunning coast. Continue to the InterContinental Resort Tahiti for dinner and overnight.
Arrive in the USA and connect with homeward flights.