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. PG is the longest-running luxury cruise ship in the region and specifically designed for Tahiti’s shallow, secluded lagoons.
By cruising Tahiti on the Paul Gauguin, 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.
The Paul Gauguin provides an up-close, authentic experience of the South Seas and offers an elegant yet casual ambiance with luxurious accommodations, gourmet dining in three venues, Polynesian hospitality, private beach retreats, and extraordinary all-inclusive value.
Cruised/Written June 2012. Update Oct. 17, 2018:
The 2019 itineraries include the tropical wonderland of Fiji on two voyages that also feature Tonga, the Cook Islands, and the Society Islands. The 13-night voyage departs Papeete, Tahiti, on September 7, 2019, and visits: Moorea, Society Islands; Taha’a (Motu Mahana), Society Islands; Bora Bora, Society Islands; At Sea; Aitutaki, Cook Islands; At Sea (2 days); Vava’u, Tonga; At Sea; Savusavu, Vanua Levu, Fiji; Suva, Viti Levu, Fiji; Beqa Island, Fiji; and Lautoka, Viti Levu, Fiji. The 12-night reverse itinerary departs September 21, 2019, and calls at the same ports except Beqa Island, Fiji.
The 2019 sailing schedule also features its signature voyages, which showcase a host of exquisite islands with white-sand beaches, aqua lagoons, mist-laden mountains, and warm Polynesian culture. Itineraries include: 7-night Tahiti & the Society Islands; 7-night Society Islands & Tahiti Iti; 10-night Society Islands & Tuamotus; 11-night Cook Islands & Society Islands; and 14-night Marquesas, Tuamotus & Society Islands.
Paul Gaugin Cruises was honoured in the 31st annual Condé Nast Traveler 2018 Readers’ Choice Awards as a finalist in the “Top Small Cruise Lines” category.
The Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards are one of the most prestigious recognitions of excellence in the travel industry, and are commonly known as “the best of the best of travel.” In the annual poll, more than 429,000 readers ranked the best cities, islands, hotels, resorts, cruise lines, airlines, and airports in the world.
PG Cruises is the longest, continually sailing luxury cruise ship in the South Pacific with the m/s Paul Gauguin, and also won the “Best Tahiti and French Polynesia Cruise Line” in the 2018 AFAR Travelers’ Choice Awards. This is the second consecutive year Paul Gauguin Cruises has won this award. This year, AFAR readers cast close to 100,000 votes to recognize their favourite cruises.
Photos: Paul Gauguin Cruises
For more information or reservations contact a travel agent, call 800-848-6172 or visit www.pgcruises.com.