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.
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
Immerse yourself in the wildness and cultures—ancient and modern—of the far-flung islands of the Marquesas and Tuamotu archipelago. Walk the pristine shores of seldom-seen isles, venture to remote villages for a chance to acquire unique art and handicrafts, and encounter stunningly healthy reefs in shallow waters that are perfect for snorkeling. Our hallmark is flexibility—allowing us to take advantage of events, like wildlife sightings, as they occur to give you the richest, most dimensional experience. Here is a representation of the activities you’ll engage in as you travel to the Marquesas.
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Dates, Rates & Cabins
Travel on this itinerary from $16,870 per person
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Transport yourself to one of Bora Bora’s tranquil and picturesque outer motus and fall into island time at the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa. Check into a stunning overwater villa, surrounded by turquoise waters and lush tropical gardens, and explore as much (or as little) as you choose during this two-day stay. Discover the resort’s pristine beaches, browse the treatment menu in the resort’s renowned spa, or luxuriate in the comfort of your own private villa, all while taking in the incredible views of Bora Bora’s Mount Otemanu.
Sunrise saw us off Tahiti, with dramatic clouds above the stunning landscape. After a series of incredible days in the Marquesas and Tuamotus, we were now reentering the “real world” by tucking into Moorea. Moorea is not really the real world, as the scenery is nothing short of surreal. What a gorgeous ending to our French Polynesian voyage!
Today was the first time
National Geographic Orion
visited the Anaa atoll, and it turned out to be quite a special place. We had half a day there, most of which was spent as visitors in the main village, which has a population of about 400 people. Everyone we met greeted us with a smile and a warm welcome. We enjoyed music, a demonstration of local competitive sports, fresh coconut water, bike rides, and a dip in a picture-perfect lagoon. Mostly, we cherished the opportunities to interact with adorable local children and make fast friends with members of the community. Based on our wonderful time there, this will surely not be the last time
National Geographic Orion
visits this lovely little island paradise.
National Geographic Orion
returned to the blue lagoons of the Tuamotus. Joyed to be back among coral reefs (while also missing the beauty of the high islands of the Marquesas and Marquesan culture) we dawned mask and snorkel and returned to the underwater world.
The Tahanea atoll is massive, spanning 30 miles long and 9 miles wide. It enters the lagoon through one of the three navigable passes near where we dropped the anchor for morning and midday activities. While some were out snorkeling in the morning, others surveyed the underwater expanse through the glass bottom boat. After lunch we dropped the kayaks and paddleboards. Those hungry for inland adventure took to exploring one of Tuamotus’ 70+ “motus,” or islands, that surround this lagoon.
One of the great discoveries of the day was a shell midden of discarded mollusk shells (
) that produce the smallest pearl in the world, a tiny golden gem known as poe pipi. While not the buried treasure left behind on the atoll by pirates in the 1700s, it was a discovery that helped paint the picture of some of the valuable resources of the Tuamotus. Exploring along the shore adjacent to the pass, we found piles of rocks stacked like cairns which we assumed was a product of the popular anchorage and sailors leaving their mark on the land. The day was made complete with a bar on the beach upon our return from the day’s adventures.
Today is one that guests and expedition staff very much looked forward to after five busy and fabulous days in the Marquesas Islands. A whole day at sea! Only surrounded by deep blue waters. The green hills of the “Land of Men,” the indigenous name of the Marquesas, are already a hundred miles behind us, but the laughter of the children in Hapatoni village are still ringing in our ears, their smiling faces engraved in our memories—and most importantly in our SIM cards.
To make the best of these pictures, David Cothran gave choice advice in his presentation about photo post-processing.
Shortly after, Chris Cook shed light on the incredible creatures which are part animal, part plant, and part rock at the same time: corals!
After lunchtime the outdoor café became quiet, the lounge and library deserted, empty hallways everywhere. (Siesta time.) The swell and waves of Moana Nui, the Pacific Ocean, rocked the guests gently into sweet midday dreams.
And suddenly the most magical of phrases from our hotel manager came out from the PA system to wake the entire vessel: ICE CREAM! It wasn’t long before a crowd stood in line for the favorite flavors of the day: vanilla and pistachio, of course sprinkled with chocolate chips and almonds. With these goodies in our bellies, we listened to our naturalist Elise who told the story of the infamous Captain William Bligh. After the mutiny on the
eight Englishmen under the command of Fletcher Christian kidnapped 12 Tahitian women and 6 Tahitian men. They sailed away in the hopes of finding a hiding place. Lonely Pitcairn Island was found and settled. Still today, 50 descendants of these mutineers and their Tahitian consorts are living on this tiny and remote speck of land.
Our Tahitian guest dancers presented the importance of dance and chants in French Polynesia. Graceful Poemoana started with a beautiful Aparima, and Mareikura showed clips from the most important festival in Tahiti, the Heiva.
The Pristine Seas Cocktail Party followed with a briefing on tomorrow’s affairs. This interesting and most relaxing day ended with a highlight: the famous Orion Crew Show. An evening of song, dance, and general merriment. A big MAURUURU to our crew from the Philippines. Without them, our tour wouldn’t even exist!
There was so much to share from our adventure today. Some of us went on long hikes, some focused on taking photos, while others were quick to immerse themselves within the local Polynesian culture. I would like to share with you pictures of the local marine inhabitants, the octopus being our uncontested highlight.