Ia Orana, or welcome to the islands of Raiatea and Tahaa in French Polynesia.

Today, National Geographic Orion made its way through the passage of Raiatea at 6:30 a.m. Expedition staff and early risers readied themselves for a day of activity.

Our first excursion was to the sacred marae of Taputapuatea. This very spiritual place is hailed as the most sacred cultural and traditional place of worship in all of Polynesia. As expedition staff led guests through this UNESCO World Heritage Site, they were in awe of its spiritual significance to the people of Polynesia.

Lunch was enjoyed on board the ship as she sailed inside the lagoon of Raiatea, which connects to the lagoon of Taha’a. Close views of shoreside homes were spectacular in the afternoon sunshine.

In the afternoon, some guests visited a vanilla farm on Taha’a Island, known as the Vanilla Island of French Polynesia. The rest of the guests were set free on a private island where they bathed in the glory of the turquoise blue lagoon. Rains showers didn’t dampen the spirits of anyone. In fact, the rain was welcomed by guests. They enjoyed a rinsing in fresh water as they took Zodiacs back to the ship.

A great Captain’s farewell dinner was held on the back deck as the sun set over Taha’a. It was a beautiful way to end a very special day for all.