Count Louis Antoine de Bougainville was one of the outstanding Pacific explorers. He also established a precedent for later Pacific exploration by taking along qualified scientists, including a botanist and an astronomer. In 1766 Bougainville started on his circumnavigation of the world. He reached Tahiti only eight months after Wallis's departure and received a most cordial reception. The description published of this stay further strengthened the reputation of Tahiti as being the Garden of Eden.
In May, 1768, Bougainville discovered the Samoan Islands, and from there went on to the New Hebrides. He continued westward until he encountered the Great Barrier Reef, which caused him to alter his course without discovering the east coast of Australia. He turned northward and became entangled with the islands east of New Guinea and the Solomons. He mapped and named the Louisiade Archipelago, Choisel, Buka, and other islands in this area. Bougainville, the largest island of the Solomons that he mapped, was later named in his honor. He had intended further exploration in this area but, like Carteret, was forced to hurry to Batavia because of the toll that scurvy was taking of his crew.
James Cook ( 1728-1779) well deserves the title of the greatest explorer of the Pacific. Cook made a few original discoveries during his years of exploration, but when he started his work the Pacific charts were cluttered with non-existent or incorrectly located islands and a great non-existent continent was shown over a large section of the southern hemisphere. By the time of Cook's death on his third voyage, the main island groups were fixed in their correct positions and the southern continent was restricted to the approximate size of Antarctica. This was not by mere chance. Cook was a capable sailor, navigator, and cartographer.