Lautoka to Papeete (Tahiti)
13 days with Silversea Rating:
Day 1 Lautoka
Departure 6:00 PM
It doesn’t get much sweeter than arriving on the sun-soaked shores of the Sugar City. Fiji’s second-biggest settlement opens up a world of blissful beaches and turquoise seascapes, while its dense jungle lures the adventurous deep into its embrace. Step ashore where the first Fijians landed, and you'll understand instantly why they chose to make this island paradise their heavenly home. Experience rich Fijian life, and see dramatic displays like warrior dances, and remarkable local practices like firewalks, which kick up burning embers into the night's sky. Legend says the city took its name after two chiefs faced each other in a duel. A spear pierced one of the chiefs, leading to the shout of 'lau-toka!' or 'spear hit!' Sugar is Lautoka’s main trade, but its botanical gardens are a sweet insight into the tropical plant life that thrives here - from pearl white lilies to tall, fragrant orchids. Explore temples, charming cafes and mills - or barter for some of the juiciest mangoes you’ll ever taste at the city’s lively market. You'll only be able to resist the beaches for so long, and it doesn’t get much more stunning than the Blue Lagoon - a heavenly blend of woven together turquoise shades. Remote, wild and unspoiled, these are some of the best tropical beaches in the world. There's more rejuvenating relaxation at the mineral-rich mud pools and spas, fuelled by the volcanic activity below. Savala Island is a teardrop of sand offshore, and another beautiful place to wander with the soft powder between your toes - along sandy spits that peter out into the water. Or swim and snorkel among its envied reefs, thronging with fish life.
Day 2 Levuka Ovalau; Leleuvia Island
Levuka highlights both the historical and natural aspects of Fiji. The small island of Ovalau is located off the east coast of Viti Levu. The quaint town of Levuka has the honour of having been Fiji’s very first capital where King Cakobau reigned and where the deed of cession to Queen Victoria was signed in 1874. Many of the old buildings in the town have remained nearly unchanged since the late 1800s. Here one can find Fiji’s first government school, the popular Ovalau Club, and the “Cession Stone” commemorating the signing of the Deed of Cession. Just outside the city, it is possible to hike through pristine rainforest and take in the magnificent natural beauty of the surrounding area.
Leleuvia is a small low-lying island southeast of Ovalau with a length of barely 500 meters. Situated between the chiefly island of Bau, Moturiki and Ovalau, almost equidistant from Ovalau and the Central Eastern coast of Viti Levu, this lush, green island hosts a small resort. An easily accessible reef with many colorful reef fish 10 meters off of Leleuvia’s western beach invites to be explored. Resident sea kraits are often seen resting ashore north of the small pier. Despite its small size and the resort on its southern side, the island still has quite an extensive forest of tamanu (Alexandrian laurel), lantern trees, fish-poison trees and beach gardenia. There are also local clusters of beach hibiscus, beach heliotrope and Pacific rosewood where Sacred Kingfishers, Orange-breasted Honeyeaters, and Pacific Swallows have been recorded.
Day 3 Vanua Balavu, Lau Islands
East of Vanua Levu and Viti Levu, Vanua Balavu, the third largest of the Lau Islands, is part of Fiji’s Eastern Division. The island is protected by a barrier reef of some 130 kilometres in length. The enclosed lagoon area promises excellent snorkelling while the reef keeps larger ships at bay. Vanua Balavu has a special geological set-up: it has a volcanic part in the south and uplifted coral in the north, even hot springs and limestone caves exist. 17 villages with a total of roughly 1200 inhabitants are found along the shore of the island. Lomaloma is the island’s main village with schools, a post office, police station and a small hospital. As the Lau Group was once under Tongan rule, with the Tongan chief Ma’afu residing in the village of Lomaloma, folkloric presentations feature Fijian and Tongan music and dance and have formed a special union. There still are some 400 Tongans living in the village of Sawana, the southern part of Lomaloma.
Day 4 Fulanga
As part of the Southern Lau Group, Fulanga is one of Fiji’s easternmost islands. Fulanga has a large central lagoon with a 50-meter wide pass to the ocean on its northeastern side. The crescent-shaped raised limestone island is famous for its numerous islands, mushroom-shaped islets and many sandy beaches in the calm lagoon. Some 400 residents live in three small villages. The two villages of Muana-i-rai and Muana-i-cake are quite close together on the southern exterior side with a very narrow passage allowing access to the ocean, while Naividamu, the third village, is on the interior, i.e. lagoon side. Muana-i-cake is the main village and hosts the kindergarten and primary school, a post office and first aid station. Old-style houses made of corrugated iron are predominant with limited solar power for the odd refrigerator and television set. Although many islanders have left Fulanga to look for work in Suva, traditional crafts are still practiced by men and women. The weavers and carvers producing pandanus mats and wooden bowls for kava ceremonies are not only valued on Fulanga. Their products can leave on the monthly supply vessel and is highly sought after in Suva.
Day 5 Neiafu Vava'u Group
With a population of 6,000, Neiafu is the capital of the Vava’u Group and the second largest municipality in the Polynesian nation of Tonga (a 169-island archipelago in the South Pacific). The city is situated next to a deep- water harbor (Port of Refuge) on the south coast of Vava’u, the main island of the Vava’u archipelago in northern Tonga. The waters of this region are known for their clarity and beauty, and the area attracts many humpback whales between June and November. A popular destination in Neiafu is the ‘Ene’io Botanical Garden, a bird sanctuary that promotes the survival of exotic and native bird species as well as supports and conserves a diverse array of plant life.
Day 5 Date Line Gain A Day
Crossing the date line (theoretically the 180-degree line of longitude) from the Eastern to the Western Hemisphere seafaring guests will find themselves in the unusual situation of actually gaining a day and prolonging their holiday – at no extra cost! By crossing the (fictitious) line that dissects the planet exactly in half from Greenwich, you travel over time zones and find yourself with an extra day on board. The phenomenon was used by Jules Verne in his novel Around the World in 80 Days when his hero Phileas Fogg finds out he had returned home a full day earlier than calculated having always travelled towards the east. As some countries have decided to change to different time zones than allotted based on longitude, this phenomenon is not strictly linked to the 180-degree line of longitude any longer.
Day 5 Alofi
Alofi, the capital of Niue island, or “The Rock” as it is known to its inhabitants. The island has a population of only around 600 inhabitants, giving it the modest title of being the second smallest capital “city” in the world. The island does boast an international airport but despite this, tourism is not as rife here as in some of the other, better known Polynesian idylls. Niue has a distinctive beauty all of its own. Think less of the sweeping, romantic beaches for which Polynesia is famous and more sheltered rocky coves, jewel-like reef pools, headlands, tropical forest, coconut plantations and neat, colourful villages scattered throughout the island’s 100 sq.m. The crystal clear waters and limestone caves of beautiful Alofi Bay offer spectacular snorkelling opportunities. The island is sometimes referred to as its ancient name of Savage Island. Niueans’ nature of worship was in the past joyful and ecstatic. Islanders would receive the power of the divine by dancing around a campfire. These ceremonies, called tugi e mama (lighting the fires) were especially used before going to war, when a priest or shaman would light a fire and call out to the gods to come to the aid of the troops who were about to enter in battle. As one of Polynesia’s poorer islands, today Niue has no organised religion, although islanders are incredibly spiritual. Thus, there are no real places of worship but rather areas of land – known as taugas - marked out and reserved solely for the breeding of birds and crabs.
Day 6 Day At Sea
Days at sea are the perfect opportunity to relax, unwind and catch up with what you’ve been meaning to do. So whether that is going to the gym, visiting the spa, whale watching, catching up on your reading or simply topping up your tan, these blue sea days are the perfect balance to busy days spent exploring shore side.
Day 7 Palmerston Island
The low-lying atoll of Palmerston is inhabited by three families, all descendants of William Marsters (1831-1899). Members of the community are known to greet visitors and guide small boats and Zodiacs into the lagoon through a maze of coral reef to reach the only inhabited islet –commonly called “Home”. Once ashore, the whole community generally turns out to meet visitors as it is a rare occurrence. The island’s highlights include a church, the oldest house, the cemetery, the school, the underground gardens and “Duke’s Pool,” inviting for a swim or snorkel. In the lagoon’s waters it is possible to find colorful reef-fish, sea cucumbers, rays, and sea turtles. Overhead there is birdlife including tropicbirds, boobies, noddies, frigatebirds and terns.
Day 8 Rarotonga Island
Rarotonga is the essence of Polynesia with its warmth, vibrant tropical plants and some of the happiest and friendliest people on Earth. As the main island of the Cook Islands, Rarotonga supports most of the country’s people and services. The island was settled about 1500 years ago by traditional sailing canoes as part of the great Polynesian expansion. Cook Islanders are proud of their culture and happy to demonstrate their traditional skills. Mesmerising dances incorporate energetic posturing of warrior men and seductive gyrations of grass skirts on the hips of women, along with graceful hand movements. An ancient eroded volcano bedecked in rainforest dominates the island. Skirting the mountain is a flat coastal strip where most people live. The island is fringed by white coral sand beaches and a shallow coastal lagoon stretching to a protective outer ring of coral reefs. Rarotonga has many modern water and land activities for visitors, but without the tourism hype of more well-known Pacific islands. An easy escape from is to trek across the island’s interior past the Needle—an aptly named volcanic rock spire. The decaying volcano on Rarotonga produces fertile soil and captures rain, ensuring lush dark green vegetation. Bird life is headlined by the Cook Islands Fruit Dove, and the Kakerori (Rarotongan Flycatcher). Kakerori were critically endangered with only 29 birds in the Takitumu Conservation Area in 1989. A dedicated conservation program has enabled a recovery of over 500 birds.
Day 9 Aitutaki
When Lonely Planet co-founder describes somewhere as “the world’s most beautiful island” you can be sure that you are in for a treat. Incredible Aitutaki, inspiring Aitutaki, unbelievable, idyllic and unimaginable, there are simply not enough superlatives to describe quite how amazing Aitutaki is. Brought to light in 1779 by Captain Bligh, the Mutiny on the Bounty meant that Aitutaki has something of a bloodthirsty history. While Europeans missionaries eventually settled on the island in the 19th century (evidenced by the white, coral-encrusted walls of the many churches) the island’s Polynesian history dates to around 900AD. Traditional songs and dances from this period still exist (although Christian hymns, known as “imene metua” are also popular), and are performed by islanders with gusto and much pride. The island is part of the Cook Islands, one of the most secluded and romantic archipelagos in the world. With its powder white sand, warm turquoise waters and sense of casual luxury, it is easy to see why the island has earnt itself the moniker of honeymooner’s island. However, there is much more to Aitutaki than just fun in the sun. With a reef that completely encompasses a large turquoise lagoon, Aitutaki is considered one of the most spectacular diving and snorkelling destinations in the world. Added to the tropical excitement is that when entering the main village via Zodiac along a narrow channel – travellers will be greeted by a traditional and customary warrior challenge.
Day 10 Day At Sea
Day 11 Bora Bora (Society Islands)
If you have ever dreamt up your ideal island holiday, we suspect it goes something like this: Soapy blue seas? Check. Sparkling white beaches? Check. Thatched wooden huts, gently sloping palm trees and kaleidoscopic marine life? Check, check and check. And yet, even by ticking every box, first time viewing of Bora Bora still beggars belief. This tropical hideaway less than 12 m2 in the heart of the South Pacific has been toping travel wish lists for years. Long considered the realm of honeymooners – spectacularly romantic sunsets are a speciality – Bora Bora is not just for wandering with your love. If the prismatic shades of blue of the world’s most beautiful lagoon do not fill you up, then perhaps underwater scooters and aqua Safaris will charge your batteries. If exploring Bora Bora’s lush hinterland is more your glass of tequila sunrise, then trips around the island (often stopping off at the celebrity haunt Bloody Mary Restaurant & Bar) are a must. Bora Bora’s peaceful ambience has not always been the case. The island was a US supply base, known as “Operation Bobcat” during WWII. During this time, Bora Bora was home to nine ships, 20,000 tons of equipment and nearly 7,000 men. Eight massive 7-inch naval cannons were installed around the island, all but one of which is still in place. Although little is known of the history of the island, it is known that Bora Bora was called Vava’u in ancient times. This supports belief that the island was colonised by Tongans prior to French annex in 1888.
Day 12 Papeete (Tahiti)
Arrive 7:30 AM
Papeete is the center of the tropical paradise of French Polynesia, where islands fringed with gorgeous beaches and turquoise ocean await to soothe the soul. This spirited city is the capital of French Polynesia, and serves as a superb base for onward exploration of Tahiti – an island of breathtaking landscapes and oceanic vistas. A wonderful lagoon of crisp, clear water begs to be snorkelled, stunning black beaches and blowholes pay tribute to the island's volcanic heritage, and lush green mountains beckon you inland on adventures, as you explore extraordinary Tahiti. Visit to relax and settle into the intoxicating rhythm of life in this Polynesian paradise.
All This Included
Fiji, Tonga and the Cook Islands may not be classic holiday destinations, yet with miles of pristine coral reef, white sand encircled islets and blue lagoons a go-go, they should be. Underscored by magic, mystery and myth – legend has it that the Vava’u islands were fished from the bottom of the sea by the demi-god Maui - beauty permeates every coast. We believe that these isolated shores are perhaps the most beautiful on Earth, join us to find out for yourself.
Cruising: Cabin onboard Silver Explorer
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