On this two-week South Pacific cruise, first call at the breathtaking isle of Bora Bora. Then it's on to the Tuamotus, specifically Fakarava, an atoll known for its pristine beaches, rare wildlife, and exceptional diving. Next, explore the mist-covered Marquesas, where you discover the islands of Fatu Hiva, Hiva Oa, Ua Huka, and Nuku Hiva. On these wild islands find waterfalls, wild stallions, tiki sculptures, and an arboretum, among other delights. More enjoyment awaits on Taha'a (Motu Mahana), your own private motu, and a day at spectacular Moorea.
Visit Fakarava, the remote island sanctuary for rare birds and plants
Explore the island of Hiva Oa, the burial place of artist Paul Gauguin
Search for humpback whales in the warm waters of the South Pacific
Spend time snorkeling, kayaking, or paddleboarding in Bora Bora
The islands of Polynesia are a gorgeous collection of volcanic atolls strewn across the grand Pacific Ocean, and the island of Tahiti is the largest of all 118. Explore the dynamic dining, nightlife, and shopping in the capital city of Papeete before embarking on The Gauguin.
Spend the day enjoying the Paul Gauguin's Polynesian ambience: casual, leisurely, and graceful. Perhaps take in a lecture on local wildlife or history, then dine in the evening over classic French cuisine at L'Etoile.
Before modern navigation, this region was known as the “Dangerous Archipelago” for its shallow passages. Today, that same characteristic makes Fakarava a diver’s paradise. Those who prefer to stay on dry land can explore charming villages, ancient temples, and a 19th-century coral church.
The southernmost island in the Marquesas, Fatu Hiva may also be the most beautiful. This remote paradise has no airstrip, only one road, and just 500 residents. A century ago, the island was known as a haven for sailors looking to avoid the attention of the authorities. Today, it's known for the production and sale of tapa, beaten bark cloth decorated in ink with traditional Polynesian artwork.
Above the steady rumble of the Pacific surge, the sharply sculpted mountains of Hiva Oa hide their summits in the mists of rain-filled clouds. The largest and most fertile island in the southern group of the Marquesas, Hiva Oa has deep valleys, lush plateaus, and thickly wooded forests. The main town of Atuona is a favorite port of call for yachters, who dock within Traitors Bay. And, Paul Gauguin himself called the town home and is buried on the island.
Its name means “sunrise” in Marquesan, and this tiny, 19-square-mile island in the Marquesas archipelago is just as beautiful as the name suggests. Visitors arrive via the charming seafront village of Hapatoni, with tamanu trees shading an ancient paved royal walkway and the air smelling of tiare and frangipani. The island’s beauty extends to its architecture too, especially its huge Catholic church, which was built by the Vatican and decorated with stunning stained-glass windows and beautiful local carvings.
A charming seafront village, Taiohae is the administrative, economic, educational, and health center of the Marquesas Islands and the gateway to the island of Nuku Hiva’s natural beauty. Visitors are enchanted by lush valleys, impossibly blue bays, sky-high waterfalls, and ancient ruins—it’s no wonder Nuku Hiva is called “Mystic Island.” Witness Mother Nature at her best with an optional 4x4 excursion through the Taipivai Valley.
The next two days are at sea, which affords you plenty of time to relax and enjoy the amenities and entertainment onboard The Gauguin, like the award-winning spa, casino, and lectures by onboard experts.
Huahine is known as “The Garden Island” for its beautiful rainforests, dramatic terrain, and enchanting lagoon. Explore some of the abundant archaeological treasures – ancient homes, buildings, and marae (stone platforms that served as places of worship) – excavated and preserved throughout the island. Or dive in Huahine’s crystalline lagoon, which teems with over 450 species of fish.
The dream destination of Bora Bora just begs to have its picture taken, with lush peaks, white sand beaches, and romantic lagoons. But perhaps Bora Bora’s most iconic image that of Mount Otemanu, with its jagged, emerald-hued peaks rising high above the shoreline. With only 4,225 inhabitants and a laid-back, island vibe, visitors to this beautiful corner of the world can’t help but just relax and take it all in.
Embark on your choice of exciting shore excursions today, or spend your whole day relaxing on Motu Mahana, a private islet. Enjoy swimming, snorkeling, and kayaking, or simply lounge on the beach with a chilled beverage from the floating bar. Musical entertainment is provided and traditional Polynesian crafts are demonstrated. A delicious barbecue lunch is provided.
Vibrant colors abound on Moorea, in everything from fresh fruits and flowers to multi-hued lagoons, and from spectacular mountain peaks to palm-fringed beaches. Shop for local handicrafts, embark on an optional dolphin-watching expedition with a marine biologist, and sample the local pineapples, said to be the most delicious in all of French Polynesia.
Day 15: Disembark in Papeete, Tahiti
Tahiti’s capital city of Papeete welcomes you back with emerald hillsides, sapphire waters, and warm breezes. If you’re not ready for your South Pacific vacation to end, spend a few days here experiencing resorts, spas, restaurants, nightlife, and shopping.
The trip might have been the absolute best of our lifetime (thus far). We particularly want to commend our guide Peter in the Guilin area-he was so incredibly attentive, energetic, enthusiastic-and absolutely dedicated to ensuring that our meals were 100% vegetarian.