The expedition saw islands of the Tuamotu group on the following March 22, on April 2 saw the peak of Mehetea and famously visited the island of Otaheite shortly after and narrowly missed becoming their discoverer, unaware of a previous visit, and claim, by Samuel Wallis in HMS Dolphin less than a year previously. Bougainville claimed the island for France and named it New Cythera.
They left Tahiti and sailed westward to southern Samoa and the New Hebrides, then on sighting Espiritu Santo turned west still looking for the "Southern Continent". On June 4 he almost ran into heavy breakers and had to change course to the north and east. He had almost found the Great Barrier Reef. He sailed through what is now know as the Solomon Islands that, due of the hostility of the people there, he avoided. Bougainville named them Bougainville Island for himself. The expedition was attacked by people from New Ireland so they made for the Moluccas. At Batavia they received news of Wallis and Carteret who had preceded Bougainville.
On 16 March 1769 the expedition completed its circumnavigation and arrived at St Malo, with the loss of only seven out of upwards of 200 men, an extremely low level of casualty, and a credit to the enlightened management of the expedition by Bougainville.