Your flight will arrive mid-evening and you will be met by your guide at the airport and taken to your hotel for the night.
The Intercontinental Hotel chain in French Polynesia is the leader in green lodging. They are the only hotel group in the territory that has Green Globe status. This hotel sets the standard for luxury accomodations on Tahiti. It has a great location on the beach just near the airport, and has a well-deserved reputation for quality service and hospitality. Your Lagoon Room allows for a spectacular view out onto the hotel grounds and across the Sea of the Moon to the craggy ridges of Moorea.
After breakfast we gather for Trip Orientation and then head out by 4×4 to investigate the deep interior valley of Tahiti. Tahiti is the largest island of the five island groups that make up French Polynesia, and is certainly the best known, thanks in large part to the many artists who visited or made their homes here, including Herman Melville, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Paul Gauguin. Along the way we will talk about the Polynesian and European history of the island.
Day 3 – Moorea
Today we will hike up one of the most dramatic valleys in Tahiti to a massive waterfall. This will be a chance to stretch our legs and talk about plants and river systems along the way. We will picnic on the way and get back in the early afternoon in order to catch the ferry to Moorea and transfer to your hotel.
Day 4 – Moorea
Today will be spent exploring the lagoon, the coral reef, and reef islands of Moorea. In the morning, while the wind is still calm, we will set out to look for spinner dolphins and humpback whales that are often found in the lagoon and near-shore waters (whales are here late-July to early November). After this we will stop to snorkel in the lagoon in a spot where it is easy to observe fish, rays, and reef sharks. By mid-day we will find our way to a reef island (motu) where we will stop for a picnic. While here we will talk about how these beautiful little islands form and take some time to look at vegetation and birds as well as get some more snorkeling in. Then it is back to the hotel in time for happy hour.
Day 5 – Moorea
This morning we will head up into Opunohu Valley to investigate the remains of an ancient village and look for endemic birds. We will take in the spectacular view at the Belvedere and talk about the geology of the island before descending into the forest to look at archaeological sites. At the end of the morning we will visit the Kellum Gardens, meet Mari Mari Kellum, and hear her stories of growing up on Moorea. Then it will be time to go to the Atitia Cultural Center for a Tahitian Feast hosted by a local NGO. After lunch you will be free to talk more with our hosts or go shopping, or just relax on a beach.
Day 6 – Rangiroa
Kia Ora Resort
We will be moving this morning, first to the Moorea airport for a short flight to Papeete, and then a bit longer one to Rangiroa. We will check into our hotel, enjoy a lunch, and then head out onto the lagoon for some snorkeling. Rangiroa has a spectacular array of fish and sharks, and we will begin to meet them all this afternoon. Depending on the tide we may also be able to do a drift snorkel in the pass, sliding along at a few knots with as the huge lagoon fills with clear ocean water.
Days 7-9 – Rangiroa
Today we will set out across Rangiroa’s massive lagoon to some beautiful isolated motu on the far side. Here we will kayak and camp for three days, totally on our own and sleeping under the big southern sky. Along the way we will snorkel and fish, and explore the reef, and see the endemic ultramarine lorikeets swinging from palm fronds.
This is a basic tent camp using comfortable 2-3 person tropical tents, and sleeping pads. We pitch camp on small islets, on the beach facing into the wind to minimize mosquitos (usually very mild). We set up a camp kitchen, and shower, and pit toilet, and life just couldn’t be more simple or more comfortable.
Day 10 – Rangiroa
Kia Ora Resort
Today we will pack up and head to the Blue Lagoon for a morning of exploring this beautiful section of the atoll. A highlight of the day will be a visit to “shark city” where we will see, and swim with, a large representative group of local sharks – black tip, white tip, and lemon. After this we will head back to out hotel in the village of Tiputa.
Day 11 – Rangiroa
This morning we will catch a flight back to Tahiti. Here we will have day rooms at a hotel so that we can relax, or hit the town of Papeete for the last shopping spree. After dinner you will be taken to the airport for departure.