The early bird got the worm this morning aboard National Geographic Orion. In the wee hours, we circumnavigated the active volcanic island of Tinakula. Arriving around 4:00 a.m., those willing to wake up early were greeted by the sounds of rocks plopping into the ocean, the gurgling of the lively mountain, and sights of red-hot magma piercing through the darkness. It was a fitting start to a true expeditionary day.

The afternoon brought us to the awe-inspiring Reef Island of Fenualoa. We were greeted by a few villagers who showed up for our arrival. Tradition is prominent in these off the beaten path villages, and our guests participated.

After a welcome from the chief, we enjoyed cultural performances from the villagers and the musical talents of a conglomerate of nearby tribes. It was a true site to behold and a cultural display that will certainly remain in the memory bank.

As the performances came to an end, the logical thing to do was refresh with a coconut and cool off in the waters off the beach. It was only right that all the kids joined in the fun. We had bonded with the tribe, and children were jumping off shoulders and playing games with everyone in the water. It was a truly sensational day. We capped off the evening with a Polynesian barbecue outside on our aft deck with decorations of palm fronds donated by the village.