On this South Pacific Odyssey, you’ll discover the isle of Huahine, renowned for its spectacular rain forests. Then experience the unique majesty of the Cook Islands. Arid Aitutaki is virtually flat-so much so that you can spot the ocean from nearly any point on the island, sitting in sharp contrast to sister island Rarotonga’s jagged peaks and deep valleys. Rarotonga’s fertile slopes of red earth and sparkling aquamarine lagoon call to mind the classic Victorian ideal of paradise, which the island was called by its first European explorers. Return to the Society Islands for days in alluring Bora Bora, Taha’a, Moorea, and Papeete.
Day 1 Papeete/Embark the m/s Paul Gauguin
Embark the m/s Paul Gauguin in the afternoon and have time to settle into your cabin before dinner onboard later in the evening. The ship will set sail later that night.
Day 2 Huahine
Huahine is actually two islands, Huahine Iti and Huahine Nui, and the ship anchors between the two in Maroe Bay. This strikingly beautiful pair of islands boasts a crystalline lagoon, colorful villages, and a wealth of Polynesian archaeological sites. Rising 2,200 feet above the sea, Mount Turi is the islands’ high point and provides a dramatic backdrop. While you’re here, you can cruise the lagoon, explore the island’s culture, or picnic on the beach. More vigorous pursuits including a hill trek and SCUBA diving are also available.
Day 3 At Sea
Take a day to enjoy shipboard life: relax poolside, watch the South Pacific pass by, play some table tennis, or read up on our next port at the Reading Gallery.
Day 4 Aitutaki, Cook Islands
Aitutaki’s coral reefs enclose a particularly large and beautiful lagoon. Uninhabited, palm-clad islets (motus) dot the reef, and even the main island is only eight square miles in area. Bask in the sun and enjoy breath-taking views of the shimmering lagoon during a lagoon cruise and beach visit. Or venture to a nearby marine reserve for some snorkeling. Arutanga village is the island’s town, home to the oldest church in the Cooks, which dates from 1829.
Day 5 Rarotonga, Cook Islands
Call today at Rarotonga, capital of the Cook Islands and the most mountainous of the group. Although this is one of the most beautiful places in the world to do nothing, you have a plethora of options for getting as active as you want. Snorkel in the crystalline waters of Muri Lagoon, or encounter the lushness of tropical nature in the Takitumu Conservation Area. Take an easy ride all the way around the island, or make a rugged hike into its lush interior with Pa,, a local naturalist.
Day 6 At Sea
Spend another day experiencing Paul Gauguin’s Polynesian ambience: casual, leisurely, and graceful. Take in a lecture on local wildlife or history, and relax this evening over classic French cuisine.
Day 7 Bora Bora, Society Islands
Pulitzer Prize-winning author James Michener described Bora Bora as The most beautiful island in the world., You might wish to explore the island with a number of activities, such as a tour of the island paradise that affords breathtaking island views. Or, glide over crystalline waters on a glass bottom boat to see the island’s famous marine life without getting wet, take a thrilling helicopter ride over the ship and island, or simply spend a few hours lolling on the island’s beautiful beach.
Day 8 Bora Bora
Bora’s lagoon is constantly replenished with ocean water from the swells that crash between sandy motus and over the lagoon’s fringing reef. Perhaps today you will discover its charms while swimming, snorkeling, or via an outrigger canoe.
Day 9 Taha’a (Motu Mahana)
Motu Mahana, an islet adjacent to Taha’a, is our very own South Seas paradise featuring white sand beaches with swaying palms, crystal-clear waters and gentle breezes. As an exclusive Paul Gauguin event, guests will spend a full day exploring this idyllic, isolated island, and relaxing with a delicious barbecue lunch and Polynesian entertainment featuring strolling musicians and singers.
Day 10 Moorea
Covered in an abundance of fresh fruits and flowers, spectacular mountain peaks, peaceful multi-hued lagoons and palm-fringed beaches, Moorea’s awesome beauty is unsurpassed. White-sand beaches lapped by the translucent shimmering lagoon water and shaded by palm, coconut, and ironwood groves stretch for miles. Moorea is another haven for humpback whales at this time of year, and during your visit, you might wish to take an optional whale-watching cruise. Or embark on an optional air-conditioned coach ride around the island to admire the stunning views.
Day 11 Moorea/Papeete, Tahiti
Perhaps today you will try an optional SCUBA diving excursion among the sea turtles and the staggering number of fish species that call Moorea’s waters home. Or simply relax and revel in the island’s natural splendor.
Day 12 Disembark in Papeete
In the morning you’ll have brunch aboard ship, then disembark in the spot where you began your trip of a lifetime.