The 5 Islands in the South Pacific You Need to Visit Now


The South Pacific is a vast region of the Pacific Ocean that stretches from the east coast of Australia to the west coast of South America and has no shortage of pristine beaches and kaleidoscopic reefs rife with fish and coral. But it’s the islands within French Polynesia and the neighbouring Cook Islands that are among the world’s top escapes. The best way to explore them? On a small vessel like m/s Paul Gauguin which can manoeuvre through the area’s shallow lagoons and has 25 years of experience sailing through these waters. So, set sail to experience these unique slices of heaven. 

Pedal through pineapple plantations on magical Mo'orea 

Pontat tahiti

Located 18 kilometres from Tahiti is the volcanic island of Mo'orea. Travel here onboard m/s Paul Gauguin – an 154-metre ship with 165 cabins and suites, many boasting views of the water and rooms that combine the region's spirit with French refinery. When on land, discover eight verdant mountains, an idyllic lagoon, colourful reef, sandy beaches and a pineapple plantation on an e-bike guided tour. Head up to the Belvedere Lookout and take in panoramic views of the extinct volcano, Mount Rotui, and symmetrical bays Opunohu and Cook's Bay. Stop at the Marae (archaeological sites) that include the stone remains of ancient Polynesian temples. And don’t miss the Aquablue Underwater Walk where you’ll walk 3.6 metres underwater (with a diving helmet) alongside butterfly fish, triggerfish, parrotfish and stingrays. 

Unwind in an exclusive paradise

Couple snorkeling

Travelling through the Society Islands means that you'll discover additional gems Huahine, Bora Bora and the private island Motu Mahana. Huahine is known as 'Garden Island' for its diverse plant life. Take a Sacred Sights and Legendary Places excursion while on your Paul Gauguin expedition to discover ancient Marae (archaeological sites) before feeding the island’s giant blue-eyed eels in the village of Faie. Make the most of an unforgettable stopover at Bora Bora with its world-famous lagoon, luxury bungalows, white-sand beaches and the volcano Mount Otemanu. Here you can walk through lush valleys filled with hibiscus and palms and take a sunset sail on a catamaran. The crown jewel of the archipelago is Motu Mahana: a private island exclusively reserved for Paul Gauguin guests. It’s found just off the coast of Taha’a where you can soak in the warm waters, snorkel with fish and enjoy an authentic Polynesian barbecue washed down with cocktails served in coconuts. 

Let Paul Gauguin Cruises lead the way to an unforgettable voyage around the islands of the South Pacific. To book your Paul Gauguin Cruises voyage contact your travel agent, call PONANT on 1800 878 671 or click here.

Snorkel in an enormous natural aquarium in the atolls of Tuamotu 

Snorkel in Tuamotu

There are 77 atolls (coral reef islands) making up the Tuamotu archipelago. Rangiroa and Fakarava are meccas for diving and snorkelling, making them perfect stops on a Paul Gauguin adventure. Snorkel the natural ‘aquarium’ at Motu Nui Nui, a coral islet located at the entrance of the Tiputa Pass, Rangiroa, where the reef wall breaks, allowing marine life – unicornfish, damselfish, manta rays, friendly reef sharks and dolphins – to stream in and out. Tiputa Pass is also famous for its shark dives for those who dare to “shoot the pass” among hundreds of grey reef, silky, white tips and great hammerhead sharks. Be sure to visit the Black Pearl Farm to learn about the cultivation of Rangiroa’s famous black pearls. The next destination on the voyage is Fakarava, with its UNESCO-classified reef that offers even more snorkelling opportunities. 

Follow ancient artistic paths in the Marquesas Islands

Ancient artistic paths

Travelling onboard the m/s Paul Gauguin – is one of the most luxurious ways to see the region. The ship boasts an idyllic pool, elevated dining options (including The Grill which serves Polynesian dishes in the open air) and The Algotherm spa that offers massages, facial and body scrubs. The vessel takes its name from the famous Painter, who was inspired by the Marquesas Island of Nuku Hiva, Hiva Oa and Fatu Hiva. It’s easy to see why when travelling through the ancient petroglyphs of Omoa, a peaceful fishing village on Fatu Hiva Island. From here you can go on a 4WD ride to Hanavave and make the most of the photo opportunities that present themselves over dramatic landscapes, coastline and deep gorges.

Experience a 4WD safari in the Cook Islands

Cook islands

Like the Society Islands, the Cook Islands are volcanic in origin. As the Paul Gauguin voyage heads south from Huahine, the first port of call is Aitutaki, a small 16-square-kilometre island with an enormous coral-fringed lagoon. A Lagoon Tour where you can cruise through the clear waters spotting turtles and rays is a must-do before stopping on One Foot Island for a lunch of fresh-caught tuna still sizzling from the barbeque. The next stop on the journey is Rarotonga, which is enveloped by reefs and has green summits including Te Manga peak. Explore the best of Rarotonga on a Raro Safari by 4WD, where an open-top safari truck takes you through lagoons, valleys and inland villages.

Let Paul Gauguin Cruises lead the way to an unforgettable voyage around the islands of the South Pacific. To book your Paul Gauguin Cruises voyage contact your travel agent, call PONANT on 1800 878 671 or click here.

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