Writer and adventurer Jon Bowermaster’s sea kayak expedition took him to the South Pacific, 1,000 miles through the remote Tuamotu Archipelago north of Tahiti. The magazine account of the trip appeared in National Geographic Adventure in August 2003. A veteran of expeditions ranging from Antarctica to Kenya, Jon will sea kayak in each of the seven continents, plus Oceania, for his OCEANS 8 project—supported by a National Geographic grant.
Experience the French Polynesian islands in style aboard the luxurious ship Paul Gauguin, built specially to cruise in Polynesian waters. Visit Papeete, Raiatea, Taha’a, Bora Bora, and Moorea. Admire soaring volcanic peaks, crystal clear lagoons, ancient temples, and tropical forests abundant in pineapple and breadfruit. Learn about Polynesia’s culture and history, and snorkel, swim, and ride off-road to immerse yourself in this tropical paradise!
ITINERARY: 9 DAYS
October 1 Los Angeles/Papeete, Tahiti
Depart for Papeete, Tahiti, arriving the same day. Pass vendors of fruit and shells, and swaying palm trees en route to our home for the next seven nights—the elegant Paul Gauguin, a sleek and relaxing cruising vessel moored in Papeete’s picturesque harbor. This evening, gather for a welcome reception and dinner with National Geographic writer and adventurer Jon Bowermaster.
Paul Gauguin (D)
October 2 Raiatea
Once the religious and cultural center of Polynesia, Raiatea is believed to have been a staging area for ancient Polynesian mariners who first discovered and settled in Hawaii and New Zealand. In the company of local archaeologist Mark Eddowes, discover Raiatea’s numerous archaeological sites. At the legendary Marae Taputapuatea, the coral and sandstone temple dedicated to Oro, god of war and fertility, learn about the powerful deity whose cult spread throughout the islands and the human sacrifices once made at the temple.
October 3 Taha’a
Explore Taha’a, a small island enclosed within the same barrier reef as Raiatea, still untouched by modern life. A true tropical paradise, it is surrounded by azure and emerald green waters. Join Jon Bowermaster for a day of kayaking, snorkeling, and a mini-expedition amid the coral lagoons of Polynesia.
October 4 Bora Bora
Discover the steep terrain of Bora Bora’s lush, mountainous interior aboard open four-wheel-drive vehicles. Climb Pahonu Hill for spectacular views of the island’s rugged valleys and serene lagoons, discover the gun emplacements left by American forces stationed here during World War II, and stop at a traditional plantation set high in the mountains just below Mount Pahia. After lunch, relax aboard the Gauguin or swim and snorkel in Bora Bora’s lagoon.
October 5 Bora Bora
Today, enjoy time to kayak, windsurf, snorkel in the clear blue waters, or join Mark Eddowes on a special expedition to discover Polynesia’s fascinating past. This evening, we set sail for Moorea, “the sacred yellow lizard.” Enjoy the Gauguin’s many amenities as you cruise through turquoise seas and past emerald green islands.
October 6 Moorea
Once moored in Moorea, join a local marine biologist and his team in search of dolphins and whales. Learn about these intelligent mammals’ habits and environment. Look for pods of acrobatic spinner dolphins, rough-toothed dolphins, and pilot and humpback whales. Later, there’s time to take a swim in Moorea’s blue-green lagoon. This evening, gather for a farewell reception and dinner.
October 7 Moorea/Papeete
Join Mark Eddowes for a journey into the remote Oponohu Valley set in Moorea’s mountainous interior. Explore ancient temples, discover the history of the tribes who once lived here, and learn more about their natural lifestyle based upon the lush forest environment. Visit the landing place of Captain James Cook and see spectacular views of the sacred mountain of Rotui. Enjoy a final cruise as the Gauguin returns to Papeete where she remains docked overnight. This evening, enjoy the glittering lights of Papeete and dinner aboard the ship.
October 8 and 9 Papeete/Los Angeles
Visit the Museum of Tahiti and relax in day rooms. Depart Papeete for Los Angeles on an overnight flight. Arrive the next day and connect with your flight home.
French Polynesia: Pearls of the Pacific
ABOUT THE PAUL GAUGUIN
Paul Gauguin Known for her casually elegant atmosphere, exquisite service, and fine cuisine, the award-winning Gauguin has the feel of a private yacht. Choose a luxurious stateroom with sweeping ocean views, offering either a picture window or a private balcony. All 160 staterooms feature a sitting area, TV, VCR, safe, complimentary stocked mini-bar, international direct-dial phones, marble bathroom with bathtub, hair dryer, and cotton robes. Evenings feature the ship’s own Tahitian dance troupe, and dining in a choice of three restaurants. The marine sports platform offers opportunities for kayaking, snorkeling, windsurfing, and waterskiing.