For more than a millennium before the era of European discovery, Polynesians occupied the remotest islands in the Pacific Ocean.

“Virtually everyone who has ever thought about the problem of Polynesia origins has been attracted to the subject by two different things: first, by the sheer wondrousness, the improbability, of these migrations—all those thousands of miles of open ocean, the landfalls so few and far between—and second, by the intellectual puzzle, the question of how such a story can ever really be known. For them, as for me, the appeal of this history is that it combines the romance of a great human adventure with a cool, cerebral awareness that it is only by sifting through volumes of evidence that we will ever get close to knowing what happened in the dim, unreachable, mesmerizing, endlessly entrancing past.”

These words, from Christina Thompson’s acclaimed book, Sea People: The Puzzle of Polynesia, hints at the rich history in store for the traveler interested in exploring Polynesia. In fact, if the above excerpt has whetted your historical appetite, aroused your curiosity, and tempted you to look beyond the dismissive ‘beach vacation’ label French Polynesia can unfairly get, reading this book will be an excellent place to begin your travel research.

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Through it you will understand the achievement of the Polynesian explorers, among the greatest navigators on earth, and the stature and richness of the Polynesian oral tradition and culture. It may very well convince you that an expedition to Polynesia, staffed by a cultural specialist as well as expert naturalists as Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic voyages are, will amply reward your desire for travel that broadens, and the curiosity that compels you to see, do and learn.

And then, of course, there is the legendary beauty of the islands. And the natural history: flora of unparalleled grace and lushness; and extraordinary geological forms, from the lagoons and atolls of the Tuamotus to the striking granite forms of high islands like the Marquesas, with opportunities to learn about the dynamic processes that created them.  There’s exceptional birding, with numerous endemic species to ‘list.’ Snorkeling or diving that dazzles you with marine diversity, and some of the healthiest coral habitats in the Pacific Ocean. Plus, opportunities for photography—with National Geographic photographers to assist you—or for simply taking retinal impressions of lyrical, seldom-seen sights. 

Combine all of that with the pleasures of shipboard life in Polynesia’s optimal climate—dining out on deck, daily swimming, hiking, exploring—and sunrises and sunsets of consummate splendor, and you may ultimately designate yourself among the “sea people,” too.

 

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