If you had asked us about 1 tropical destination we both have wanted to go since childhood, that has to be Tahiti. Inspired by numerous travel shows we have seen growing up or reading about the amazing destinations to visit over the years, the beautiful islands of French Polynesia are nothing short of a bucket list. We had always been thinking about it , whether it be planning for our honeymoon or for anniversary, but haven’t been able to lock it. So we were really glad that we finally were able to experience the islands in May 2022 after years of fantasy.
French Polynesia is a group of islands and many travelers experience multiple islands (called motu in local language) during their stay. There is only 1 major international airport in the island of Papeete where we landed for our stay. United operates nonstop flights from LA and SFO and that’s usually the best connection if you are flying from USA as it’s a little over 8 hours flight( Just 2 hours more than Hawaii flight time wise, although Hawaii to Papeete is 4 hours flight). Luckily for those in Seattle, Air Tahiti Nui is also starting a non-stop service from Seattle to Papeete in 2022 which would be amazing for our future visits here. We stayed in Le Tahiti by Pearl Resorts for 1 Night since we arrived late at night and wanted to rest of.
French Polynesia is a lot like Maldives in its turquoise clean water, rich sea life and beautiful beaches, but unlike Maldives, there are limited number of properties/hotels on the different islands. Most of the properties although magnificent are a bit older or under redevelopment( many also closed during covid and are just recovering back), so we decided to take the cruise from Ponant, called The Paul Gauguin. This is a luxury cruise for 7 days that covers different islands of French Polynesia and provides amazing experiences onboard. The cruise has about 200 rooms and was just about the perfect size for us. The last cruise we had done was in the Amazon in Peru so we were quite excited about cruising again and Ponant didn’t disappoint!
After waking up we decided to explore the local market in Tahiti. There is big local market in the center very close to ferry terminal which has local artisans come and share their work. We were really amazed by the pearls and different shell based jewelry on the island & knew we had to buy them here. So we spent quite some time exploring different vendors and learning about pearls. After a delightful lunch at Urban Café & amazing drinks at Tahiti Smoothies, we headed to check in for the cruise.
Once we checked into the cruise, we were quickly provided information of the 7 days, emergency fire drills and asked to book the different excursions during the trip. Thanks to CuriocityHolidays , all of our excursions were already taken care of before the trip.
The first day the cruise just sailed to Huahin island which took almost 6-7 hours in the night when we slept. We woke up to a magnificent view of the island of Huahin which we could see from our breakfast table on the cruise. Post breakfast, we took the boat to get off to the island and were transferred by the cruise bus to the market where we explored the local town and spent time on the beach. You have to see the colors of the beach to believe it. It was just about the perfect day for us as we were still a bit jetlagged from our flight and looking forward to much needed sunshine from Seattle rains. We walked around the local market where you could find small shops full of handicraft and famous black pearls of Tahiti. After finishing the day, we got back on the ferry for evening program( including a special welcome from our captain) & the dinner.
Day 2 of the trip was arguably one that we were both looking forward to most. Today we were to visit Island of Taha’a which is a private island for the Ponant cruises and has a beautiful beach of its own. We started a bit late this day as the local crew took off in the morning to set the stage at the private island for an amazing afternoon of lunch/party & beach day.
The water was crystal clear and shallow and one could see different fishes and beautiful corals all along. We soaked in the sun and enjoyed our lunch , learning different activities like making a braid or wearing local sarong & learning many different things about the Polynesian culture.
Once back on the cruise, we had fun meeting other couples and travelers on the cruise. The cruise team helped organize different games/dancing lessons and also had a constant stream of entertainment with rooftop band/piano bar in the alley that played some great songs. Arguably our favorite place on the cruise was the rooftop where we could see the most amazing sunsets.
On day 3 and 4, we visited the islands of Bora Bora. Clearly noticeable from the Mount Otemanu, Bora Bora is arguably the most commercial as well as most visited island in French Polynesia. On our first day on this island, we woke up to heavy rains( it can happen quite randomly here on island) but the day cleared up quite nicely. In fact, the afternoons can be scorching hot and we got some really bad tan through the trip. We had planned a couple of activities during our stay in bora bora starting with dive with the sharks and stingrays! Yes, you heard that right!
We booked our expedition with CuriocityHolidays and were taken to a snorkeling site where we could see so many reef sharks and stingrays. This was a childhood dream for Yesha so she was super excited about jumping in the water and experiencing this. And if you have been reading our blogs, you know I would chicken out in name of sharks so I decided to stay on the boat and take pictures instead. However, we could see so many of the stingrays/Mantarays in the water, and it was a sight to behold.
In the afternoon of day 3, we decided to head to the private island in Bora Bora that was reserved just for Ponant cruises and it had the most amazing views of the Mount Otemanu. The cruise also offered a local photographer who would come with you into different activities so we got a couple of photos clicked at this romantic hideaway. Once back at cruise, we hanged out with our newly made friends on the cruise ( which kept on increasing btw!)
On day 4, we decided to explore Bora bora by both water and land. First starting with the ATV tour booked with CuriocityHolidays that took us to different points on the island as we learned about the local history & explored the island on road. In some places the road is very narrow , winding and rough but that added to the fun.
In the afternoon, we went on the JetSki to explore the island by sea. We circled the whole island on our JetSki & saw different properties with over water villa that are spread on the outer ring of the island. We also paid visit to a conservation center where the injured lemon sharks, turtles etc are treated. Our guide at the tour was amazing and also explained different things like coconut cultivation and extraction! Did you know there is a male coconut and female coconut?
Day 5 on the cruise, we came to the island of Moorea. This is very close to island of Papeete but still feels pretty remote . The best way to explore the island is on bike or by the car so we decided to rent a car for the day and explore the island on our own. The whole circle around the island probably takes like 90 mins but if you stop and stay, you can take almost the whole day and that’s what we did. Some of the viewpoints we suggest visiting are Balvedere Lookout, Magic mountain overlook, Ta’ahiamanu beach, Toatea lookout & town of Maharepa, Ha’apiti.
Day 6 of the cruise we decided to explore Moorea with water Biking which is a must do activity in the area. The water is surreal & you can see turtles and many reef fishes with naked eye. In the afternoon, we explored the different pearl shops which are in plenty on the island. We bought Pearls from two different shops & learned about the Pearl making process. By evening, we came back to the boat which now sailed to the island of Tahiti, but not before the amazing performances from the cruise staff with our favorite being the parody of Charlie Chaplin. 🙂
Our last day of the cruise we checked out in the morning & while it was hard to say goodbye to our newly met friends and friendly staff, we had another day to explore. Once again, we rented a car to explore the island of Tahiti which is slightly bigger than Moorea & has more points to cover. Some of the points on the island that we highly recommend are Lookout, Taharuu black sand beach, Teahupo’o for watching big waves, Les 3 cascades for 3 amazing waterfalls at short distance hike, Le Point Venus for old historic landmark, Trou du Souffleun(the blowhole), PK 18 beach sand for sunset, Grottes de Marra for 2 big ancient caves, Janadin botanical garden for nice gentle evening walk. We took the car around 11 AM and were back at the airport by around 8 PM for our evening flight back to Seattle.
Overall, we highly recommend French Polynesia as a vacation destination to all travelers and we also recommend that cruising might be a great way to experience the same. As always, please do contact CuriocityHolidays to plan your trip here.
Outfits from this trip:
@theurbanpitara – perfect collection of resort wear and pure cotton wear to keep you cool during the hot day
@desginformal– perfect for customized gowns which you can wear as evening wears for sundowners and cruise parties
@calzedonia – favorite swim wear