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Setting sail from Papeete
If you are in search of paradise, don't expect it to be easy to get there! It's a long old haul to get to Papeete, the capital of French Polynesia. And once you are there, Papeete itself is by no means the most magical spot - you need to venture forth to see the other islands, and luxuriate in the turquoise lagoons, white sand beaches fringed with palm trees, rugged mountain peaks and coral reefs. Expensive and remote, these islands have maintained their uncommercial magic, with excellent hotels and a warm Polynesian welcome everywhere you go.
Don’t bother with local currency – all the local shops and markets will take US dollars. And take aqua shoes, impossible to walk in the sea otherwise.
French Polynesia: Raivavae
Raivavae is one of the Austral Islands, French Polynesia’s southernmost island group. Surrounded by a dreamy lagoon scattered with sandy islets known as ‘motu’, this little piece of paradise is one of the most beautiful spots in the South Pacific, and is also home to numerous seabirds.
French Polynesia: Rapa, Marotiri Island
French Polynesia: Mangareva
Mangareva is the largest of the Gambier Islands, over 1,000 miles to the south east of Tahiti, and is set on a beautiful lagoon used by the locals to farm black pearls. Don’t miss the 19th-century St Michael’s Cathedral, famous for its intricate altar decorated with mother of pearl shells.
Pitcairn Islands: Oeno Island
The flat, low-lying Oeno Island is part of a beautiful coral atoll, rarely visited except by Pitcairners on their holidays. As well as the unspoilt white sand beaches, the atoll is home to bird species including Murphy's petrels, sooty terns and brown noddies.
Pitcairn Islands: Pitcairn Island
The remote South Pacific island of Pitcairn was settled by a party of British sailors and Tahitians following the famous mutiny on the HMS Bounty in 1789, and their descendants still live on the island. The tiny capital, Adamstown, has a population of around 50 people.
31 October - 1 November
Pitcairn Islands: Henderson Island, Ducie Island
Chile: Hanga Roa (Easter Island)
The enigmatic moai statues of Rapa Nui (Easter Island) remain one of the world’s most intriguing archaeological mysteries. Descendants of the Polynesian settlers who carved them still live here, though these days the island belongs to Chile, despite being separated from the mainland by over 2,000 miles of Pacific Ocean.
Chile: Alexander Selkirk
Chile: Robinson Crusoe Island
Situated 400 miles off the coast of mainland Chile, Robinson Crusoe Island is part of the Juan Fernández archipelago, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. The sailor Alexander Selkirk was marooned here from 1704 to 1709, and his story is thought to have inspired Daniel Defoe’s famous novel.
Arriving in Valparaíso
Characterful, colourful and a little chaotic, the port city of Valparaíso enjoys a somewhat awkward setting, scattered across 45 vertiginous hills. Thanks to this difficult topography the city streets are punctuated by steep staircases and funicular elevators, and energetic explorers will be rewarded with wonderful views of the pastel hued buildings that hug the slopes. Valparaíso's most famous former resident was the great Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, and you can visit one of his former residences, La Sebastiana, which now houses a small museum.
Although there are museums and some great architecture, what you really mustn’t miss is the vibe of this quirky and characterful town, so take the time to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the views.
Your home from home
Thrilling, awe-inspiring and unforgettable – Silver Explorer takes just 144 privileged travellers on genuine adventures to some of the most remote regions of the planet.
What we love
The intimate Silver Explorer gives you a magical home from home as you visit places with no tourism infrastructure whatsoever. Without the ship, you simply wouldn't be able to get there. But as it is, you can travel like an intrepid Explorer, without any compromise on style or comfort.
|Crew||117 International Staff|
|Style||Cosy, welcoming, stimulating, exciting - this ship has it all! If you enjoy the finer things in life but have an adventurous spirit, you will find yourself in congenial company on board.|
Tailor-make your trip
Extend your stay in French Polynesia
For the ultimate eco-hotel experience, go for the Brando! Eye wateringly expensive, but a bit special.
Explore the islands
If you are visiting Bora Bora tour the island by open bus - Le Truck.
Where to stay in Valparaíso
The 23 room Palacio Astoreca comprises two buildings, including a completely restored national monument.
For contrast, visit clean and orderly Viña del Mar just up the coast.