Join us for a journey that reverses part of the odyssey of the mutineers of the Bounty when they were looking for a new home in what today is French Polynesia. Starting on Easter Island we will get to see all four of the Pitcairn Islands before heading over to the Gambier and Austral Islands, finally reaching Bora Bora and Tahiti. Birders will love the opportunity to see rare endemics as well as large seabird colonies, while snorkelers get to see what is hidden to most when visiting the Pitcairn and Austral Islands. Go to islands on the fringes of Polynesia and see sites that have made it into literature and films and still be one of the few privileged that have managed to get there.
Throughout the voyage, learn about the history, geology, wildlife and botany of this spectacular area from lecture presentations offered by your knowledgeable onboard Expedition Team.
Easter Island, Chile –
Easter Island’s National Park Rapa Nui is one of Chile’s most famous sites. The many mysteries and histories surrounding the settling of the island and the hundreds of stone statues known as moai make this island a dream for archaeologically interested visitors.
Ducie Atoll, Pitcairn Islands, UK –
Ducie, the easternmost of the Pitcairn Islands, is a small isolated atoll, uninhabited except for thousands of nesting seabirds that reside among the two plant species (beach heliotrope and at least one specimen of Pemphis) that grow over seventy percent of the island. Bird species normally seen include Murphy's Petrels, Common White Terns, Great Frigatebirds and Masked Boobies.
Henderson, Pitcairn Islands, UK –
This remote and uninhabited raised coral island was inhabited by Polynesians a few hundred years ago. Henderson’s isolation has led to its primary attraction: four endemic land birds: the flightless Henderson Rail, Stephen’s (or Henderson) Lorikeet, the Henderson Fruit Dove, and the Henderson Reed Warbler. The island is also known to have ten endemic species of plant life. To protect the rare, natural state of Henderson Island, UNESCO designated it as a World Heritage Site in 1988.
Pitcairn, Pitcairn Islands, UK –
Halfway between Peru and New Zealand, Pitcairn was the perfect hiding spot for the HMAV Bounty mutineers and their Tahitian wives. Not only had the island been misplaced on early maps of the region, but large breakers tend to build up just in front of the small harbour of Bounty Bay. Highlights on Pitcairn Island, apart from meeting the descendants of the Bounty mutineers, is a visit to the museum, the cemetery, the school and a hike towards Fletcher Christian’s cave. Birders should be on the lookout for the endemic Pitcairn Reed Warbler, while stamp collectors will certainly want to purchase a few of the coveted Pitcairn Island stamps to keep as reminders of their visit to this remote island. Pitcairn Island cook books, hand-carved replicas of the Bounty, walking canes, and other souvenirs will be set up at Adamstown’s meeting ground next to the church and post office.
Mangareva, Gambier Islands, French Polynesia –
Mangareva is the main island of the Gambier Islands and together with several smaller islands is the visible part of an old volcano. Before the large lagoon had been used for black pearl farming, local divers brought up black-lip pearl oysters for their mother-of-pearl and used them for trade. Mangareva is known as the cradle of Catholicism in French Polynesia and in the mid-19th century St. Michael’s Cathedral was built using large amounts of mother-of-pearl shells to decorate the altar. The building has recently been renovated and shows the excellent workmanship of the locals. Pearl farms dot the lagoon and the church is still involved in teaching students how to engrave mother-of-pearl shells.
Rurutu, Austral Islands, French Polynesia –
Rurutu’s rugged, mountainous landscape is carpeted in lush vegetation and rimmed with a barrier reef. It is not only the remains of an extinct volcano, but was also uplifted when it had been in the state of becoming an atoll and is now considered a makatea. The main village of Moerai has one of the few passes leading ashore. Ana Aeo, believed to be a dwelling place of early Polynesians, is an enormous limestone cave with a dramatic background of stalactites and stalagmites.
Bora Bora, French Polynesia –
Discover why Bora Bora is French Polynesia’s most famous island. The spectacular beauty of Bora Bora's emerald-green hills and tranquil sapphire-blue lagoon is just one part of the island’s attraction. There are underwater wonders, and the many islets circling the main island make you wish to stay and relax. Interesting sites include the remains of ancient marae (stone temples), the Faanui Protestant Church, scenic lookout points with spectacular vistas of the lagoon and distant islands, and old WWII remnants.
- Visit Pitcairn Island, speak to the descendants of the Bounty mutineers and see the spot where Fletcher Christian hid from his fellow outlaws.
- See Mangareva’s St. Michael’s Cathedral and marvel at the craftsmanship of the Polynesian artists creating the altar.
- Get to see island life away from French Polynesia’s capital Papeete.
Wildlife Watch List:
- Dolphins: common and bottlenose dolphins
- Seabirds: Masked and Brown Boobies, Sooty Terns, Herald and Henderson Petrels, Great Frigatebirds, Red-tailed and White-tailed Tropicbirds
- Land and water birds: Pitcairn and Henderson Reed Warblers, Henderson Fruit Doves, Henderson Rails, Henderson Lorikeets , Pacific Reef Egrets
Expedition highlights and wildlife listed here are possible experiences only and cannot be guaranteed. Your Expedition Leader and Captain will work together to ensure opportunities for adventure and exploration are the best possible, taking into account the prevailing weather and wildlife activity. Expedition Team members scheduled for this voyage are subject to change or cancellation.
Not sure what to wear while onboard? Visit our shop and gear up. We've got layers to keep you dry and warm, breezy wear to keep you covered and cool, and accessories to keep everything packed up and ready to go. So, no matter the weather, you'll be better prepared for your expedition.
Our Gear Shop has an expert outfitting staff and features all the essentials: