Daily Expedition Reports

Daily reports from our days in the field


  • Tuamotu Archipelago, French Polynesia

    Our extraordinary voyage through the Society and Tuamotu Islands of French Polynesia comes to a close with a final day of water-related activities. Travelling north overnight from Toau, National Geographic Orion entered the lagoon of Rangiroa before breakfast to investigate the conditions inside. Several successive days of moderate winds and rain gave us less than desirable snorkeling conditions. We found a sheltered corner of the island for this morning’s excursions, and promptly the team onboard decided this new site on the northwest side of Rangiroa would be a great option.

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  • Fakarava and Toau Atolls

    Just after sunrise, we entered the huge atoll of Fakarava.  We made our way in through the pass and on towards the small town of Rotoava.  Here we explored by bicycle on foot.  For many of us, a certain highlight were the sharks that came to eat the scraps from the fishermen.  Such an incredible experience!

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  • Makatea, French Polynesia

    Makatea Atoll has an amazing geological history which fascinated us today and made for a lovely adventure. Makatea is a raised or uplifted atoll, and so we spent the whole day walking on top of ancient coral reefs overgrown with jungle, or swimming underneath an ancient reef. The approach to the landing was quite wavy and rainy, suggesting we were really in for an adventure in the morning. Once ashore, we loaded up on trucks up the hill, and some of us hiked to the top of the island where we had a fantastic view at the Belvedere lookout! We could see the spectacular limestone cliffs raised above the sea. Then, we walked down across the ancient lagoon, now a forest, down to a cave system, where we swam into a stunning grotto. We could see the bottom of ancient coral and how dissolved coral then became stalactites and stalagmites. In the afternoon we snorkeled in the clear and rich waters off the northern end, with very healthy coral, and some of us even saw black-tipped and white-tipped reef sharks!

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  • Huahine, French Polynesia

    Huahine is a quiet, heavily forested island visited by only a few travelers each year. The people who make their homes there are very much a part of the modern Polynesian world, but still maintain a close connection to the traditional ways of their ancestors. In the morning we toured the island by “Le Truck” or 4x4 jeeps and visited a wonderful variety of local attractions including the important archeological site of Maeva Village. The afternoon, of course, was spent back in the water, enjoying the beautiful fish and corals of Huahine’s lagoon.

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  • Ra’iatea and Taha’a

    The morning began with clear skies and awaiting islands to explore. After breakfast our guests set out to explore Taha’a, where vanilla plantations and snorkel opportunities awaited. Thoroughly, the lesson was delivered on how vanilla was grown and processed on the island. Afterwards, our guests set out to explore the underwater landscape, snorkeling with enthusiasm as a myriad of fish species danced around them. A highlight was two unexpected lionfish, just off the beach. Close enough for guests to simply sit on a sandy slope, stick their head in and witness one of the most beautiful fish within our planet’s salt water ecosystems.

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  • Bora Bora, Society Islands

    We started the first day of our expedition at sunrise with the view of our first visit: Bora Bora.

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  • Makatea, Tuamotu Archipelago

    Unique among the islands of French Polynesia, Makatea is an uplifted atoll where historic coral reefs stand almost 100 meters above the ocean surface. At one time rich with deposits of phosphate ore, intensive mining activity over several decades has shaped the story of this community; rusting relics from the railroad, harbor, and mine support infrastructure remain visible through the now-dense forest. We explored the island on foot and by truck, transiting the abrupt coastal heights, through the village, and across the atoll’s former lagoon to reach an overlook with spectacular views.

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  • Niau, Tuamotos

    The excitement on the bridge early this morning was palpable as all on board National Geographic Orion were excited to make a landing on an island that literally none of us had ever set foot upon! Very few people, other than the 250 or so inhabitants of the Island of Niau, have ever done so! Dear reader, have you ever heard of Niau? Here’s a hint; it lies in the Tuamotus of French Polynesia!

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  • Tahanea and Motutunga

    After a day at sea, it was pleasant to wake up in sight of a coral atoll with a ring of palm trees and the azure waters of Tahanea Atoll.  For the morning we put all the “toys” in the water and explored most aspects of this gem.  SCUBA diving, snorkeling, kayaking, paddleboarding, walking, and even the glass bottom Zodiac were all offered today.  Additionally, I took a group of intrepid bird enthusiasts on a Zodiac ride across the entire atoll.  Our goal:  Tuamotu sandpiper, a small bird that is endemic to the Tuamotu Archipelago.  We landed on a small, pristine, sandy motu, and soon were getting close views of this curious sandpiper.  These birds, like many others here in French Polynesia, are endangered and also quite tame, allowing for amazing views.  We watched various birds for nearly an hour before returning across the atoll.

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  • At Sea to the Tuamotus

    The guests aboard National Geographic Orion woke up slowly this morning, gently rocked by a mellow sea. With fair winds, riding with the swell, the ship was on a long journey from the Marquesas Islands back to the Tuamotus.

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