Take in the spectacular surroundings of French Polynesia, one of the most beautiful regions in the world during a 15-day Expedition Cruise with National Geographic and PONANT. Set sail to idyllic islands and atolls hemmed by stunning clear-water lagoons and surrounded by an extraordinary coral reef. Explore the spectacular surroundings of the Marquesas Islands that are dotted throughout the crystal-clear waters of the Pacific Ocean and home to the dense forests of Nuku Hiva where magical waterfalls can be found. You’ll furthermore have the time to explore Tuamotu Islands, where you will spend time in the wonderful Rangiroa atoll that offers breathtaking underwater scenery is most known for the cultivation of its famous black pearls. Before disembarking in Papeete, feast your eyes on the incomparable beauty of Raiatea, a picture-postcard of paradise, and Moorea, its hillsides covered with pineapple plantations and luxurious peaks.

This Expedition Cruise is onboard Ponant’s Le Soléal ship, part of the Sisterships fleet. View full details including deck plans and features onboard here.

Trip highlights

Discover some of the most beautiful and pristine islands in the world during a 15-day expedition around Polynesia’s treasures.

Explore the wonderful landscapes of volcanic ranges and peaks of the Marquesas Islands.

Enjoy photo safaris through rich valleys, visit pineapple plantations and experience the traditional Polynesian way of life.

Possibility of diving (PADI Advanced Open Water Diver or equivalent) with an experienced instructor on board and of snorkelling with your expedition team.

Itinerary - 15 Days

1 Papeete, Tahiti Island

Begin your expedition cruise in Papeete, the capital city of French Polynesia. Before embarkation, take some time to explore the local area which offers cultural landmarks such as the colonial cathedral and the Maison de la Reine Marau, natural wonders such as the Vaipahi public gardens and an eclectic offering of cafes, bars and restaurants where you can soak up the authentic Polynesian culture.

2 Makatea, Tuamotu Islands

Explore the upraised coral island of Makatea, Tuamotu Islands.

3 Manihi Atoll, Tuamotu Islands

Manihi is a relatively large elongated atoll, with an oval-shaped lagoon 27km long and 8km wide. It is well known for its beautiful marine fauna and white sand beaches. The first recorded Europeans to arrive to Manihi were Dutch explorers Jacob le Maire and Willem Schouten on their 1615–1616 Pacific journey. They called this atoll "Waterland Island". British explorer John Byron, who reached Manihi in June 1765, called the atoll "Prince of Wales Island". Two ceremonial platforms made of blocks of coral, called marae, can still be found on the island. Today’s economy is based on the pearl industry and is the original home of the highly prized Polynesian black pearls.

4 At Sea

Spend the day at sea and make the most of the amenities on board Le Soléal. Enjoy a relaxing massage in the onboard spa whilst gazing out to sea or take a dip in the swimming pool. You may be able to catch up with our onboard National Geographic Experts and Photographers as they give greater insight into the destination via communal workshops. Alternatively, venture to the upper deck to enjoy the spectacular scenery and you may be lucky enough to observe marine wildlife in the waters below.

5 Omoa, Fatu & Hanavave (Bay of Virgins), Fatu Hiva Island

Fatu Hiva is the most lush and remote of the Marquesas islands. You will arrive in the peaceful fishing village of Omoa that sits at the head of a bay of the same name. Venture into the valley where you may be lucky enough to spot tohua, former sacred sites, as well as the many burial caves lost in the island’s abundant tropical forest.

Explore the Maison Grelet museum a small private museum founded by a 19th-century Swiss immigrant to this island. Exhibits include war clubs and spears, adzes, tikis, stone pestles, and carved wood koka’a bowls. Fatu Hiva is renowned for its handicrafts, especially tapa (decorated beaten bark cloth). You may see artists at work on tapa and other crafts, including hand-painted pareos and monoi, a scented coconut oil. The area around Omoa Village also features many ancient petroglyphs, or rock art. Among them is one of the largest in the Marquesas: that of the famous paoa, which looks like a huge tuna fish carved into the rock.

Continue your journey to Hanavave Bay, known as the Bay of Virgins, considered one of the most beautiful bays in the world. Take the time to wander around the village and enjoy a unique performance of ukulele music and traditional songs. Take in the breath-taking scenery and enjoy tasting the local citrus fruits that grow on the island

6 Atuona, Marquesas Islands & Hapatoni, Tahuata Island

Continue your exploration Marquesas as we make a stop at Hiva Oa, considered to be the “garden of the Marquesas Islands” and was the inspiration for Jacques Brel’s final album. Boasting black sand beaches and the backdrop of Mount Temetiu. Discover Atuona, home to the tombs of Jacques Brel and Paul Gauguin, as well as a cultural centre devoted to the memory of the famous French painter.

Located on Tahuata, explore Hapatoni, the smallest of the inhabited Marquesas Islands. Explore the village cathedral and craft centre presenting various classic Marquesan art of sculptures and engravings in bone or wood. Enjoy a special performance of traditional singing and dancing from the local community, to welcome you to the area.

7 Hatiheu, Nuka Hiva Island & Sailing in Anaho Bay, Nuku Hiva Island

Reach Hatiheu Bay, where you will quickly see the statue of the Virgin, which stands more than 300 metres high, overlooking the beautiful village. Situated just north of the Nuku Hiva Island, this area is dominated by the impressive basalt pitons. Due to concern over tsunamis and attacks from other clans, many of the tribes settled within the valleys, resulting in many archaeological sites remaining preserved which can still be explored today.

Later on, sail to Anaho Bay, which offers a unique sailing experience within a spectacular setting. Pass grandiose mountains covered with lush vegetation and edged by a long sweep of white sand where the crystal-clear waters are teeming with exotic marine wildlife. This area is furthermore famed for having the only reef platform in the Marquesas Islands.

8 Taiohae, Nuka Hiva Island

Dropping anchor a few kilometres from the black sandy beaches, take the time to explore this intriguing island nestled between majestic valleys.

Either set off on foot or head out in an all-terrain vehicle. Reach the top of the hill of Mount Muake, and enjoy a breathtaking panorama that allows you to identify the rocky islands that emerge on either side of the bay. Head to Piki Vehine where you can see its tikis, sacred statues used for religious practices. In addition, do not miss the Notre Dame des Marquises cathedral. Its distinguishing feature is that is was built using stone taken from the six Marquesa Islands.

9 Hakahau, Ua Pou Island

Hakahau is Ua Pou’s largest settlement and home to some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. With black sand beaches and lively waves it is a popular spot for relaxing and surfing.

10 At Sea

Spend the day at sea and make the most of the amenities on board Le Soléal. Enjoy a relaxing massage in the onboard spa whilst gazing out to sea or take a dip in the swimming pool. You may be able to catch up with our onboard National Geographic Experts and Photographers as they give greater insight into the destination via communal workshops. Alternatively, venture to the upper deck to enjoy the spectacular scenery and you may be lucky enough to observe marine wildlife in the waters below.

11 Rangiroa, Tuamotu Islands

Rangiroa is a secluded atoll in the Tuamotu Archipelago and one of the biggest atolls in the world. Admire the transparent waters, rose-white beaches and famous “Blue Lagoon” seated in the middle of the large lagoon and witness the exotic and thriving world of marine wildlife that lives beneath the crystal-clear waters. Rangiroa is furthermore the high seat of Polynesian pearl culture.

12 At Sea

Spend the day at sea and make the most of the amenities on board Le Soléal. Enjoy a relaxing massage in the onboard spa whilst gazing out to sea or take a dip in the swimming pool. You may be able to catch up with our onboard National Geographic Experts and Photographers as they give greater insight into the destination via communal workshops. Alternatively, venture to the upper deck to enjoy the spectacular scenery and you may be lucky enough to observe marine wildlife in the waters below.

13 Sailing Around Tahaa Island & Raiatea, Society Islands

Tahaa Island is a tranquil retreat in the heart of the Society Islands. Famed for the Tahitian vanilla orchid, this area produces 80% of all vanilla in French Polynesia and is often referred to as "Vanilla Island" and produces pearls of exceptional quality.

Raiatea is a volcanic island situated halfway between Huahine and Bora-Bora. Admire several sites that bear witness to this past, including the first Polynesian holy site and the marae Taputapuatea, aceremonial platform made of stone and coral. Although beaches are rare on Raiatea, here nature is captivating, and the coral islets offer myriads of ravishing creeks.

14 Moorea Island & Papeete, Tahiti Island

Referred to as the heartbeat of The Islands of Tahiti, Moorea is full of rich history, beautiful landscapes and pristine beaches. Bask on its heavenly beaches, enjoy a dip in the turquoise waters of its lagoon, and soak up its luscious vegetation and the heady flowers that carpet the inland areas. Get the most out of this natural gem with a trip to the Moorea Belvedere. Exceptional views of Mount Rotui unfurl before your eyes, with the Opunohu Bay and its valley to the left, and the famous Cook's Bay, surrounded by notched, cathedral-style peaks, to the right.

Make your way to Papeete for the last day of your expedition cruise.

15 Papeete, Tahiti Island

On the last day of your expedition, enjoy the city of Papeete disembark the ship and spend some time in the city before continuing your journey home.

Show More

You are leaving this Website and being directed to an External Website.

Please read the privacy policy of the External Website to understand how your personal information will be treated.

GO NOW

You are leaving this Website and being directed to an External Website.

Please read the privacy policy of the External Website to understand how your personal information will be treated.

GO NOW