Tahiti has a magical, mysterious atmosphere that is unlike any island destination in the world. Its haunting beauty has you hearing Bali Ha’l in the breeze, while being mesmerized at the dramatic scenery that suggests Jurassic Park.
But there’s no need to fear dinosaurs here – or even crowds of tourists. Tourism hasn’t spoiled this destination because it’s so expensive to stay on land that it has become even more exclusive than ever. So the best and most affordable way to see these intoxicating islands is on a cruise.
PG Cruises’ 332-passenger Paul Gauguin ship offers luxury and exceptional dining thanks to Chef Jean-Pierre Vigato of the Michelin-starred Restaurant Apicius, one of the finest restaurants in Paris. PG is the longest-running luxury cruise ship in the region and specifically designed for Tahiti’s shallow, secluded lagoons.
Several other cruise lines also visit Tahiti such as Windstar, Princess, Holland America, Regent, Royal Caribbean, Crystal, Silversea and more. A few focus on the islands, while others make it a port-of-call during a longer itinerary.
By cruising, you’ll be able to see and do a lot for free. On land, even the most casual restaurant charges $15 for a cheeseburger, and a Bloody Mary at Bloody Mary’s, the famous celebrity haunt on Bora Bora, is about $10. Since so much is imported from New Zealand, costs are high for everything.
So enjoy all the food and alcohol you want on the ship since it’s included in the cruise price. On the Paul Gauguin, you also won’t have to rent water-sports equipment on land – just use the ship’s own kayaks, windsurfers, banana boats and snorkel equipment from the drop-down marina that opens up at the stern.
Cruising from one island to the next offers constant wow factor.
Huahine is made up of two dramatic mountain ranges and 6,000 people live in the eight villages. It used to be the centre of Polynesian culture so has many rich archeological sites. In Maeva you will find about 30 maraes (ceremonial temples). Also fascinating are the sacred eels. They have bright blue eyes and range from one to two metres long. They are harmless so you can wade into the water and feed them.
Fakarava is the second largest atoll and the ancient capital is filled with numerous unexplored motus (islets). Protected by UNESCO charts, Fakarava is proud of its biosphere and rare crustaceans such as squills and sea cicadas. Visit a pearl farm on the water and you’ll appreciate this island as a mecca for diving.
Taha’a is often called the Vanilla Island for its numerous plantations of what the Tahitians call “black gold.” Taha’a is also considered a birthplace for fire-walking ceremonies. Enjoy this beautiful island on Motu Mahana where white sand, a delicious barbecue prepared by the PG chefs and floating bar await.
Explore Moorea by jeep, van or ATV and you’ll see pineapple, vanilla, banana and grapefruit plantations, visit ancient stone temples and stop at the Belvedere lookout to see the gorgeous Cook’s Bay. At the end of the day, feed stingrays at Motu Ono.
Bora Bora’s famous Mount Otemanu, remnants of an extinct volcano, is a symbol of Tahiti for its dramatic peak. Its velvet green slopes drop steeply to the blue lagoon below. This island had the first over-water bungalows and today, staying in one is an idyllic overnight shore excursion to experience that PG can arrange.
Just announced last week by PG, Canadian residents receive an additional savings of 10 per cent on all 2015 voyages on new bookings when reserved by Feb. 28, 2015. This special offer is in addition to the 50-per-cent savings off all-inclusive fares, as well as the round-trip airfare from Los Angeles that’s included.
Sailings on the Gauguin include seven-night Tahiti and the Society Islands; 10-night Society Islands and Tuamotus; 11-night Cook Islands and Society Islands; 14-night Marquesas, Tuamotus and Society Islands; 10-night round trip Fiji; and 12- and 13-night Fiji, Tonga, Cook and Society Islands. Call 800-848-6172 or visit pgcruises.com.
Paul Gauguin Cruises, operator of the luxury cruise ship in the South Pacific Paul Gauguin, has expanded its land-and-sea packages so that guests have a choice of combining two nights at the InterContinental Tahiti Resort & Spa or the InterContinental Moorea Resort & Spa with a 7-night Tahiti & the Society Islands voyage.
The package also includes roundtrip airfare between Los Angeles, Calif., and Papeete, Tahiti.
After arriving in Papeete, guests check into their lagoon-view room at the InterContinental Tahiti Resort & Spa or take a short ferry ride to the InterContinental Moorea Resort & Spa, where a lanai room awaits. Then, they enjoy two nights with daily breakfast at the property. Upgrades to an overwater lagoon bungalow are also available for an additional cost.
Following the luxury hotel stay, guests are transferred to The Gauguin for a 7-night roundtrip Tahiti & the Society Islands voyage. From Papeete, the ship sails to the scenic islands of Huahine, Bora Bora, and Moorea. A highlight of the cruise is a day spent at Motu Mahana, Paul Gauguin Cruises’ private islet off the coast of Taha’a, which features a barbecue feast, watersports, Polynesian activities, and cocktails from full-service and floating bars. Guests also enjoy exclusive access to a private white-sand beach in Bora Bora with stunning views of Mt. Otemanu.
The hotel-and-cruise package is perfect for anyone who is looking for a longer stay in French Polynesia at a great value and is available on selected dates.