Discover welcoming people who still live by their ancestral traditions. Meet them
The exploration lore and legend of the South Pacific is among the world’s most romantic. As we sail from west to east we follow the routes of the bold people who populated these islands. One theory for their expansion across the Pacific is that they could venture east, into the prevailing winds for days on end to explore, always confident that they could turn back to catch the trade winds for a swift return home. Meet the welcoming islanders, hear their stories, and delve into fascinating South Pacific culture, history, art, and archeology.
As Epic Polynesia: Cook Islands to Fiji makes its way west you’ll start off exploring one of the most important cultural sites in the Polynesian world, Marae Taputapuatea in Raiatea. This ancient royal marae was recently inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, securing global recognition of the open-air place of worship that once attracted chiefs from afar who would come pledge allegiance to the kings. On arriving in Cook Islands you’ll meet the Aitutakians, who believe themselves to be descendants of Ru, a legendary seafaring warrior, and soak up their culture and hospitality on a visit to an interior village. Then marvel at elaborately decorated cathedrals in Wallis & Futuna, a tiny, seldom-seen Pacific Island nation, before ending up in Fiji where you’ll witness a kava ceremony. Similar to formal Japanese tea ceremonies, but featuring the native herbal drink kava, it is the customary way to welcome honored visitors to the island.
The most culture-packed of all our itineraries Azure Seas: From Tahiti to the Marquesas promises a multitude of unique experiences. On Hiva Oa at Me'ae Iipona, discover the highest concentration of tiki statues on the Marquesas, including one of the largest tikis in all of Polynesia. Known as Gaugin’s Island, Hiva Oa is also the final resting place of the prolific painter, as well as the singer Jacques Brel, and we’ll visit both their graves at the picturesque Cimetière du Calvaire. Polynesian culture is synonymous with seductive dances—on Nuku Hiva experience an electrifying, athletic performance, while in Tahiti see a more feminine form of dance, closely related to Hawaiian hula. In the Marquesas we will also have the opportunity to watch Tapa cloth being made. This native textile, which is formed by soaking and pounding bark and then adorning it with stylized ink designs, has both everyday and ceremonial uses and we’ll learn more about both.
French Polynesia: Beyond the Postcard also calls on Marae Taputapuatea as well as Huahine in the Society Islands which preserves the highest density of ancient marae in all of French Polynesia. You’ll visit many of them with cultural experts who will bring them to life. In the atoll of Rangiroa we’re treated to a performance by local musicians.
The islands and atolls of Easter Island to Tahiti: Tales of the Pacific have seen missionaries, mutineers, and intrepid explorers pass their way. On this expedition you’ll trace the legend of the ill-fated H.M.S. Bounty to Pitcairn Island, and then meet the descendants of some of the mutineers who still reside in this corner of paradise. Plus, learn the story of the Kon-Tiki and Thor Heyerdal’s bold expedition as a proof of his theory that these islands could have been populated from South America by people sailing traditional craft. Capping off this expedition, two days exploring Easter Island, one of the world’s most enigmatic sites, where you’ll see the monolithic, ancient carved stones, called moai, and seek answers to the island’s mysteries with your expert naturalists and historians.