A guest blog by Amy Pearson-Jensen of Smitten Honeymoons
Only 250,000 people visit the French Polynesia every year, a fraction of the nearly 10 million vacationers who fly to Hawaii or the 30 million who enjoy the Caribbean. In other words, the French Polynesia remains one of the most exclusive destinations, topping bucket list after bucket list for people around the world—mine included.
Thanks to an educational experience made possible by my host agency, Gifted Travel Network, I was able to cross the destination off my list in September alongside GTN president Meredith Hill and a small group of GTN-hosted travel advisors on a seven-night Paul Gauguin sailing through the French Polynesia’s Society Islands. While every minute was more magical than I could have ever dreamed, the following three things made my Paul Gauguin experience especially notable.
Most people who vacation in the French Polynesia opt to visit one or two islands. Paul Gauguin makes it easy to seamlessly explore three times that many in just one week, while avoiding the hassle of unpacking and repacking or wasting vacation hours getting from one island to the next.
For our Society Islands and Tahiti Iti itinerary, we embarked in Tahiti, which serves as the entry point to the French Polynesia for all international travelers. In the next eight days, we sailed to Tahiti Iti, Huahine, Taha’a, Bora Bora, Moorea and back to Tahiti.
What did we discover by island hopping? From Moorea’s jagged peaks to Bora Bora’s luxe resorts, each island casts a spell on travelers in unique ways—something we likely would have missed if we’d limited ourselves to just a couple islands. Gliding from one destination to the next—most often overnight to maximize our time at each island—gifted us a chance to immerse ourselves in the French Polynesia and understand what makes each island so, so special. And we got to do it all while enjoying luxe accommodations and impeccable service aboard the Paul Gauguin.
Speaking of service…
From the moment we checked in to when we waved goodbye, every interaction we had felt like we were being welcomed with open arms. This is true not just of the Paul Gauguin staff, but also of essentially every person we encountered in the French Polynesia.
As Maya Angelou is often quoted…“people will never forget how you made them feel.” Thank you to the Paul Gauguin staff and so many locals who made sure that we’d forever smile when looking back on our time in the French Polynesia.
Life aboard the Paul Gauguin is a dream. Life ashore is equally surreal, thanks to the caliber and variety of excursions available. Whether you prefer to explore via land or water, there is something for every type of traveler at every port. Seriously.
Want to learn about Polynesian flora and fauna on a relaxing garden tour of Tahiti Iti? No problem.
Prefer to get your blood pumping by circling Bora Bora on a wave runner or riding ATVs in the shadow of the island’s iconic Mount Otemanu? Paul Gauguin has you covered.
Does lounging in the sun on a private island sound ideal? Consider it done.
Is exploring on your own more your style? Just take a tender into town.
The options for immersive, authentic, professional and downright fun excursions are seemingly endless when sailing with Paul Gauguin. Indeed, there are two activities that I still can’t stop thinking about: Snorkeling with sharks and sting rays in Bora Bora’s turquoise lagoons and climbing Moorea’s majestic mountains on an off-road safari.