Tahiti & French Polynesia

Travel with the Columbia Alumni Association (CAA) from February 5 - 15, 2019, for a nine-night land and sea sojourn, exploring the Society Islands—an exotic and colorful land that has beckoned explorers, travelers, artists, and writers for centuries.

Tahiti The evolution of ancient volcanic activity beneath the sea, sculpted by waves and wind over millennia, created the idyllic islands of Tahiti, Huahine, Ra’iatea, Taha’a, Bora Bora, and Mo’orea. What better way to experience this unspoiled earthly paradise—majestic peaks rising up from emerald green jungles, chalk white atolls, pristine beaches, and turquoise lagoons—than under the billowing white sails of an elegant yacht? Travel with the Columbia Alumni Association (CAA) from February 5 - 15, 2019, for a nine-night land and sea sojourn, exploring the Society Islands—an exotic and colorful land that has beckoned explorers, travelers, artists, and writers for centuries. Enjoy colorful Pape’ete, Tahiti, and seven nights sailing aboard the Five-Star WIND SPIRIT, specifically designed to cruise the aquamarine waters of the South Pacific.

Cultural enrichment abounds in the captivating natural environment of French Polynesia. During your stay in Tahiti, visit ancient marae, tour a vanilla plantation, and learn more about Polynesia’s unique history, environment, and culture. You can observe—and even snorkel or swim with—extraordinary marine life and breathe in the fresh fragrances of vanilla, gardenia, and jasmine that delicately permeate the island air.
    The intimate, 73-Stateroom WIND SPIRIT provides an unmatched small sailing ship experience amidst the beauty of the Society Islands. During the cruise, enjoy complimentary features, including all shipboard gratuities; complimentary alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages served throughout the ship, at every lunch and dinner and replenished in your Stateroom throughout the cruise; complimentary water-sports; and a specially arranged excursion included on every island.
    Join alumni, friends, and travelers from cosponsoring associations for this splendid opportunity.  Featuring round-trip air included from Los Angeles  (Low Air Add-Ons from select U.S. cities), this is the perfect time of year to enjoy the Wind Spirit sailing its home waters amidst the mysterious, far-off islands of the South Pacific.

    Please contact the Travel Study Program office for more details and to confirm your trip while  early booking savings and choice accommodations are available!

Dates and Prices:

Trip Dates: February 5 - 15, 2019
Prices: from $6,995 per person based upon double occupancy (taxes are an additional $240 per person subject to change)


February 5, 2019 - Depart the U.S. or Canada

Fly overnight to Papeete, Tahiti

February 6, 2019 - Arrive Papeete, Tahiti, Society Islands

Arrive this morning and transfer to the 5-star Intercontinental Resort Tahiti. Enjoy time at leisureto explore Papeete.

This evening, join fellow travelers for a welcome reception in the hotel. (B,R)

Ferbuary 7, 2019 - Papeete/Embark WIND SPIRIT

Today, travel along Tahit’s west coast, and tour the Museum of Tahiti and her Islands to view significant archeological finds and learn more about the island’s geology, flora, fauna, culture and customs. Visit the beautifully landscaped Spring Garden of Vaipahi, a haven of tranquility, waterfalls and walking paths and home to 75 different species of plants, including precious mape (chestnut), pine woods and tropical flowers.  Embark the Wind Spirit this afternoon and attend the Captain’s Welcome Reception on board this evening. (B,R,D)

February 8, 2019 - Opunohu Bay, Moorea

The heart shaped island of Mo’orea is the remnant of a long-extinct volcano. Once a sanctuary for vanquished warriors from Tahiti, it was visited by Captain Cook in 1777 and by American novelist Herman MElville in 1842. it also inspired James. A. Michener to write his unforgettable Tale from the South Pacific. A scenic drive to Belvedere Point reveals an unforgettable panoramic view of the island’s lushly forested volcanic peaks, including impressive Mount Rotui, and the crystalline waters of Cook and Opunohu Bays. Visit the Agricultural School for a sampling of fresh fruits and local jams. (B,L,D)

February 9, 2019 - Ra’iatea

in the pre-colonial era, Ra’iatea served as the political and spiritual center of the Society Islands and was beloved by Captain Cook, who called here on each of his 3 voyages of discovery. It was the hub for the colonization of Hawaii, the Marquesas and New Zealand, and according to local legend, it was the birthplace of Oro, the god of war and fertility. On a panoramic tour, visit Marae Taputapuetea, a temple constructed of coral and black volcanic rock and one of the best-preserved marae complexes in Polynesia. Aboard a motorized va’a (outrigger canoe), cruise along Ra'iatea’s tranquil Fa’aroa River, the only navigable river in Polynesia, as it threads its way through a world of wild hibiscus, bamboo and Tahitian chestnut trees. Your afternoon is at leisure. (B,L,D)

February 10, 2019 - Taha’a 

Taha’a is dominated by the profile of Mount Ohiri, named for Hiro, the Polynesian god of sailors and thieves. Today, two exotic enterprises provide the islanders’ livlihoods – the harvesting of the world’s most flavorful vanilla beans and the farming of lustrous black pearls. Gain a deeper understanding of the Polynesian people and their traditional agriculture when you tour the lush grounds of a vanilla plantation and visit a farm that meticulously cultivates the region’s distinctive black pearl oysters. Enjoy a traditional Polynesian feast on a private motu (islet), where you can swim, snorkel or kayak. (B,L,D)

February 11, 2019 - Bora Bora

Bora Bora, the proverbial vision of the South Seas paradise, was described as “the most beautiful island in the world” by James Michener. On a panoramic tour, view its distinctive black basalt peak cloaked in lush tropical forest and silhouetted against turquoise lagoon waters. Alongside glittering Fa’anui Bay, see the ceremonial site of the Fare Opu marae adorned with carved pertroglyphs of turtles – a sacred creature in ancient Polynesia – and bunkers constructed by American soldiers during World War II. Bora Bora was settled by adventurous Polynesian mariners in the 10th Century, and since then, the islanders have preserved the ways of their forebears and still wear the traditional colorful hand-dyed pareo (sarong). In Bora Bora’s forested interior, villagers cultivate breadfruit, coconuts and taro; preserve the ancient ruins of stone marae; and respect the legacy of ancestral Polynesian deities. Learn about the art of dyeing the traditional Polynesian pareo and taste some of the island’s abundant cultivated fruits. From a look-out point admire spectacular views of Mount Otemanu, Bora Bora’s highest peak. Then enjoy time at leisure to explore the island. (B,L,D)

February 12, 2019 - Huahine

Set across an azure lagoon to the south of Taha’a, idyllic Huahine is distinguished by soaring peaks, lush rain-forests, dazzling white beaches and ancient shrines. This untouched paradise is actually two islands – Huahine-Nui (big) and Huahine-Iti (small) – separated by a deep blue bay and ringed by a coral atol. Stroll through the picturesque port of Fare, nestled between the sea and a woodland of towering mape trees draped with sweet vanilla vines. Visit the nearby settlement of Maeva, the ancient religious center of Huahine-Nui, and see 10 marae built in the 16th century of locally quarried stone and dedicated to Polynesian deities Tane and Oro. Your afternoon is at leisure. (B,L,D)

February 13, 2019 - Cooks Bay, Moorea

Impressive temples evoke Mo’orea’s Polynesian heritage, while European churches underscore its role as the center for 19th-century missionary activity in the Society islands. Contemporary islanders continue the ways of their predecessors, farming pineapples and papayas, and crafting fine works of art from seashells and indigenous wood. On board the ship, enjoy an enriching lecture by naturalist Frank Murphy of the Richard B. Gump Research Station. Afterward, visit the Atitia Outreach Center at Gump Station to learn more about the ecosystem of French Polynesia. Enjoy a demonstration of tapa (barkcloth) making. This evening, attend the Captain’s Farewell Reception aboard the ship. (B,L,R, D)

February 14, 2018 - Papeete/Disembark ship/Depart for the U.S. or Canada

Disembark the ship this morning and explore the east coast of Tahiti. Visit the home of American author James Norman Hall, best know for co-authoring Mutiny on the Bounty. Admire the island of Tahiti’s only lighthouse at Point Venus, named for an observatory Captain Cook established here in 1769. Day-room accommodations have been reserved at the Intercontinental Resort Tahiti. This evening, transfer to the airport for your flights home, or continue on to Bora Bora for the optional post-cruise extension. (B,L)

February 15, 2018 - Arrive in the U.S.

Arrive back in to the USA today and connect to domestic flights home.

Included Features:

In Pape'ete

  • Accommodations at the Intercontinental Resort Tahiti
  • Breakfast daily
  • Welcome reception at the hotel
  • Tour of Tahiti's west coast, featuring visits to the sacred Arahurahu Marae, Spring Gardens of Vaipahi and Museum of Tahiti and Her Islands
  • Day-room accommodations at the Intercontinental Resort Tahiti on February 22, 2018

On board the Small Ship  Wind Spirit

  • Seven-night round trip Pape'ete, Tahiti with port calls at the Society Islands of Huahine, Taha/a, Ra'itea, BoraBora, and Mo'orea.
  • Five-Star ocean-view accommodations, each with a private bathroom.
  • Captain's Welcome and Farewell Receptions.
  • Complimentary fresh fruit and flowers in your stateroom on arrival.
  • Complimentary alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are served throughout the cruise.
  • All  meals on board - full breakfast, lunch and dinner-served open seating style.
  • Complimentary kayaking in the prisitne waters and lagoons surrounding the Society Islands.
  • Complimentary sorkeling equipment.
  • Five-star service, amenities and facilities on board
  • 24-hour room service.
  • Tour of Mo'orea, the tropical paradise that is said to have inspired James Michener's mythical Bali Ha'i, including magnificent views from Belvedere Point.
  • Excursion on ra'iatea, a cradle of early Polynesian culture and a favorite destiantion of Captain Cook.
  • Visit to a vanilla plantation and black pearl farm on Taha'a, and a traditional Polynesian lunch on a private motu
  • Panoramic tour on idyllic Bora Bora, featuring the site of the island's largest temple, and American WWII Bunkers.
  • Demonstration of dyeing the traditional Polynesian pareo and tasting lcoal fruits on Bora Bora.
  • Excursion on Huahine to experience the cultural treasures of ancient Polynesians.
  • Visit to the Atitia Outreach Center to view traditional tapa making and to learn more about French Polynesia's unique ecosystem.
  • Expert guides to lead small group excursions.

Enhanced Travel Services

  • Transfers and luggage handling abroad for participants whose artival(s)ldeparture(s) coincide with the scheduled group transfer{s).
  • All excursions and visits , as outlined above, with experienced local guides.
  • Complimentary bottled water in the hotel, aboard the ship, and on all included excursions.
  • Gratuities to shipboard personnel, local guides, drivers and naturalists on included excursions and transfers.
  • The services of experienced Travel Directors throughout the program.
  • Hospitality desk aboard ship and in the hotel.
  • Travel document wallet, name badge and pre-departure information.
  • Optional Bora Bora Shark and Ray lagoon cruise excursion is available at an additional cost.

Not included:
Taxes; passport fees; visas and fees for obtaining visas; personal expenses such as laundry and telephone calls; accident/sickness, trip cancellation, and baggage insurance; gratuities to ship and hotel personnel; optional sightseeing excursions; excess baggage charges on aircraft; local departure air taxes; airfare and associated local taxes*, airport facility taxes and federal inspection fees not listed int he "included features" section of the program brochure; transfers and baggage handling to/from airport/hotel if you are arriving earlier or later and/or departing earlier or later that scheduled group transfer(s); meals and and alcoholic beverages not listed in the "Included Features" section of the program brochure; and all other services not specifically mentioned in the "Included Features" section of the program brochure.

Please call us toll-free at (866) 325-8664 or email us at travelstudy@columbia.edu for more details.