The Gauguin Experience: Island Adventures

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The Gauguin Experience: Island Adventures

July 31, 2018

The opportunity to experience French Polynesia in the most authentic, in-depth, and meaningful way is at the very essence of Paul Gauguin Cruises. Sailing aboard our luxury vessel, the m/s Paul Gauguin, you’ll find a wide array of opportunities to discover the dramatic beauty, rich history, and unique culture of these islands up close, by land and sea.

For many guests, the South Pacific has been on their bucket list for years. As we cruise from one tropical paradise to another, you’ll wake to discover a new and exciting port. The shimmering turquoise lagoon in Bora Bora will leave you speechless. The majestic mountain peaks of Moorea will have you reaching for your camera. Do as little or as much as you wish. 

Paul Gauguin Cruises offers a variety of shore excursions by land and sea including options for those captivated by island discovery, love water activities, seek adventure, enjoy lagoon luxuries, and are traveling with family. SCUBA diving programs along with kayaking and paddleboarding from the ship’s watersports marina and destination beaches are also offered for those interested in active pursuits.

Four snorkelers swimming over a coral garden in a crystal blue lagoon.

Explore Polynesian heritage on a land tour. Pamper yourself with a resort visit. Be bold and swim with sharks. Each island is different from the last one and surrounded by pristine bays in a stunning rainbow of blues. We are proud to be infused into these local communities and to offer our guests the experiences they’ve been dreaming of. All beckon with the same call: “come explore!”

If you are an Island Discovery type, who is interested in rainforest-covered hills, nature walks, ancient temples, pineapple fields, and pearl farms, here are some excursion suggestions for you.

Bora Bora Island Tour by Le Truck (Bora Bora, Society Islands): Explore the island paradise of Bora Bora by Le Truck! Along your route lie small villages and fields, an ancient ceremonial site, and stunning views of the island’s turquoise lagoon. Don’t miss photo opportunities of Mounts Otemanu and Pahia.

A cannon at a scenic point in Bora Bora and the luxurious m/s Paul Gauguin in the lagoon in the distance under a blue sky.

Atuona to Taaoa (Atuona, Marquesas): Discover the ancient tribes of the Taaoa Valley during this memorable journey to their archaeological ruins. The Tiu, ancestors of most of the Hivaoan tribes, and several other tribes once lived in the Taaoa Valley. Their archaeological ruins can be reached by off-road vehicle or on foot. During your ride, you will visit the Upeke Ceremonial Center, which comprises house platforms, a tohua (tribal ceremonial center), public and sacred marae (archaeological ruins), and storage pits of breadfruit paste for feasts.  

Island Exploration by Pirogue & Safari Truck (Huahine, Society Islands):  Your tour will depart the pier by off-road vehicle and cross the bridge to Huahine Nui (big Huahine). Head around the majestic bay where the m/s Paul Gauguin is anchored, then ascend the island's steepest road for a spectacular panoramic view over Maroe Bay and take a photo with the ship in the background. After, a stop will be made to see the sacred giant blue-eyed eels that live in the stream running through the village of Faie. Then, take a short Polynesian outrigger canoe trip to visit "Huahine Pearl Farm and Pottery,” where you will learn the secrets of the black pearl and see unique blue pottery made with a glaze found at the bottom of the lagoon while pearl farming. Cruise the lagoon for a short trip to Motu Murimahora and a snorkel stop. Enjoy the turquoise lagoon and tropical fish with your experienced local guide. 

The luxurious m/s Paul Gauguin in the lagoon at the island of Huahine with a palm tree in the forefront.

Island Drive & Belvedere (Moorea, Society Islands): Explore Moorea's exquisite beauty and day-to-day Polynesian lifestyle during this scenic orientation drive around the island. You will ride past pineapple fields and visit an ancient Tahitian stone temple, or marae, en route to Belvedere. At the summit, take in magnificent views of Cook's Bay, Opunohu Bay, and Mt. Rotui. The drive continues on through the village of Papetoai and past the nearby tombs of the first missionaries.

A red hibiscus flower in Moorea with marae (ancient stone temples).

For the Water Fiends who enjoy coral reefs, lagoon cruises, endless motus, sharks, rays, turtles, and other marine life, here is a list of favorites.

Aquasafari - Underwater Walk (Bora Bora, Society Islands): Discover why Bora Bora’s spectacular lagoon is considered to be among the most beautiful in the world during this unique underwater adventure. As you walk along the sandy bottom past exotic coral formations, you will see an abundance of iridescently colored tropical fish.     

Guests on the Aquasafari Underwater Walk excursion with tropical fish swimming by.

Dolphin Watching Expedition (Moorea, Society Islands): Join American marine biologist Dr. Michael Poole, a dolphin and whale specialist in French Polynesia since 1987, or his assistant for this combination eco-tour and research expedition focusing on wild, free-ranging dolphins. Spinner dolphins, rough-tooth dolphins, and pilot whales can be seen around Moorea, with spinner dolphins regularly swimming inside the lagoon. Dolphins are found on 95% of the tours, but the engaging narrative and sheer magnificence of Moorea's coastline will ensure a rewarding time in any event. Guests visiting between July and early November may also have an opportunity to view humpback whales performing their annual mating and calving rituals. While viewing Moorea's dramatic beauty from the sea, you will also learn about French Polynesia's geology. Following your tour and time permitting, you may have an opportunity to go swimming or snorkeling directly from the boat before returning to the pier.

Dolphins in the waters off Moorea on the Dolphin Watching Expedition.

Coral Garden Drift Snorkeling (Taha’a, Society Islands): Depart the ship by covered motorized boat for a 15-minute ride along the west coast of Taha'a. Upon arrival, you will disembark the boat for a guided walk across an uninhabited islet, or motu, located just off the coast. After reaching the other side of the motu, you will commence your snorkeling session. Your guide will lead you as the current carries you through the shallow lagoon on the way back to the boat. The drift can be moderate to strenuous depending on the strength of the current. The drift is done in a single line with one snorkeling guide leading the 12 snorkelers spaced 10 feet apart and one snorkeling guide closing up on the group. This area abounds with a spectacular variety of tropical fish and amazing coral.

A guest snorkeling on the Garden Drift Snorkeling excursion swimming above vibrant marine life.

Sharks and Stingrays Encounter (Bora Bora, Society Islands): Explore the exquisite beauty and undersea denizens of Bora Bora’s lagoon during this stingray ballet and snorkeling safari aboard a covered snorkeling boat. Drop anchor on a shallow sandbank to discover the elegant, yet harmless stingrays. Watch in amazement as the stingrays glide effortlessly around you. Admire an abundance of tropical and multi-colored fish, including parrotfish and butterflyfish.

Three snorkelers and a paddle boarder viewing black-tip reef sharks and rays in light green waters.

For Adventure Seekers who enjoy mountain peaks, coral atolls, rugged hikes, waterfalls, and surf breaks, here are some thrilling options for you.  

Lagoon Excursion with Maohi Nui (Bora Bora, Society Islands): Enjoy a lagoon tour of Bora Bora by traditional outrigger canoe (motorized), with ukulele animation and narration on the culture, history, and nature of Bora Bora by guides with long and rich experience as boat captains, guides, and musicians. Leaves and flowers decorate the canoe and protect you from the sun. The lagoon tour includes three snorkeling stops. The first one is for snorkeling in a coral garden, where you can discover many different colorful fish, corals, and other inhabitants of a wonderful natural ecosystem. The second stop is to visit stingrays in shallow water. The last stop is on the ocean side, for the observation of blacktip reef sharks.

ATV Guided Tour (Moorea, Society Islands): Moorea's spectacular valleys, bays, and vistas are yours to discover during this guided ATV tour through the island. Your guide will lead you along the road to Belvedere lookout for magnificent views and photo opportunities over Cook's Bay, Opunohu Bay, and Mt. Rotui. You will also venture across the valley, through a river, and past pineapple fields, and stop at an ancient open-air temple, or marae, to learn about the Polynesian culture.

Discover Moorea’s valleys, bays, and vistas on the guided ATV tour.

Circle Island by Waverunner (Bora Bora, Society Islands): Experience the unparalleled beauty of Bora Bora's lagoon in a fun-filled new way during this scenic and exciting waverunner excursion around the island. Your guide will lead you on a one-hour journey to the lagoon's most remote and idyllic spots. En route, your guide will select the best location to stop for a swim or explore a motu.

Two guests on the Circle Island by Waverunner excursion in Bora Bora with the award-winning m/s Paul Gauguin in the background.

Fast-Paced Belvedere by E-Bike (Moorea, Society Islands): Challenge yourself on this very active and fast-paced guided tour to the Belvedere lookout point. You will start your tour by getting acquainted with your Moustache Mountain E-Bike. The bikes are easy to use with multiple gears that allow you to fully enjoy the roads of Moorea. In addition, the electric motor will assist you when pedaling, and the different settings will make even the less active guests feel like they can win Le Tour de France.

E-bikes with a view of a mountain in the background for the Fast Paced Belvedere by E-bike excursion in Moorea.

Tahiti Iti Lagoon & Teahupo’o Surf Point Cruise (Vairao, Tahiti Iti): View stunning turquoise lagoons and snorkel among coral reefs on an exciting excursion that highlights the natural beauty of Tahiti Iti. Arrive at the Teava-Iti pass and snorkel through a beautiful coral garden with colorful marine life. Venture close to the world-famous Teahupo’o surfing wave—home to some of the most impressive surfing in the South Pacific, including the annual world championship, Billabong Pro. There are likely to be surfers enjoying this challenging wave, and you will have a front-row seat. The excursion continues along the rugged natural coast of Tahiti Iti, allowing you to discover the beauty of Tahiti Iti and its lagoon.

Tahiti Iti’s famous Teahupo’o wave of blue water cresting.

If you prefer Lagoon Luxuries such lounging on glittery white-sand beaches, Champagne at sunset, outdoor massages, and swaying in a hammock, here are some options for you.

Blue Lagoon Escapade (Bora Bora, Society Islands): Experience the very best of Bora Bora’s lagoon during this scenic and memorable private boat tour. Depart the pier on board a sporty 23-foot Jeanneau Cap Camarat 715WA motorized boat. Cruise around the island and stop to observe a stingray ballet. Snorkel in the majestic coral gardens. Visit the reef sharks, manta rays, and much more.

Guests on a private boat tour of Bora Bora on the Blue Lagoon Escapade.

Lagoon Excursion & Polynesian Feast (Bora Bora, Society Islands): Enjoy a lagoon tour of Bora Bora in a traditional outrigger canoe (motorized), with ukulele animation and narration on the culture, history, and nature of Bora Bora. The lagoon tour includes three snorkeling stops. The first one is for snorkeling in a coral garden, where you can discover many different colorful fish, corals, and other inhabitants of a wonderful natural ecosystem. The second stop is to visit stingrays in shallow water. The last stop is on the ocean side, for the observation of blacktip reef sharks. After your morning of snorkeling, enjoy a Polynesian feast on a private island. Your table, under an umbrella in the lagoon, is waiting for you!  

Cruise guests enjoying the Lagoon Excursion & Polynesian Feast in Bora Bora and cooling off in the water under umbrellas.

A Day at the Beach (Bora Bora, Society Islands): Welcome to luxury at the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa. Enjoy a day poolside or at the beach, swimming in the pristine azure lagoons. Complimentary use of a paddleboard, windsurfer, kayak, snorkeling equipment, and outrigger is included. Your excursion also includes a two-course lunch (a main course plus either appetizer or dessert), served at the poolside restaurant. Beverages, spa treatments, and certain activities can be purchased at the resort at an additional cost.

Two cruise guests enjoying A Day at the Beach excursion at the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa.

Lagoon Cruise with Beach Break (Aitutaki, Cook Islands): Aitutaki's deep-blue lagoon is considered to be one of the most beautiful lagoons in the world. Board your boat and cruise through the lagoon, visiting offshore motus. At One Foot Island, you'll stop for a lunch of barbecued fish, salads, and fresh fruit. After lunch, enjoy approximately 2 hours to relax or snorkel.

A view of an island and crystal waters on The Lagoon Cruise with Beach Break excursion in Aitutaki, Cook Islands.

French Polynesia is a dream destination for families to share activities, strengthen bonds, and create memories that last a lifetime. Our Family Friendly options include sandcastles in the sand, swimming with rays, jumping over waves, and hermit crab races.

Kids snorkeling on an excursion with a naturalist over a coral garden during the Stewards of Nature family program.

Paul Gauguin Cruises offers a way for families to explore this breathtaking part of the world together through a joint program with the Wildlife Conservation Society. During the summer months and holiday season, the Stewards of Nature program is offered aboard The Gauguin and invites guests to discover and value nature through hands-on, interactive learning for children and teens ages 7-17, as well as family members.

Every day of the voyage, there is a combination of naturalist-led island and/or beach excursions, science activities, crafts, games, and other adventures. Depending on their itinerary, your children might learn about underwater life during a snorkeling excursion, observe the ocean or the stars through binoculars or an onboard telescope, learn about different kinds of marine life and their habitats, reinforce their discoveries by playing Ocean Trivia or Oceanopoly, go on a dolphin-watching expedition, swim with sharks and rays, play beach games and race hermit crabs, enjoy a dance performance or a movie and a pizza party on board, and learn what it means to be a Steward of Nature.

For those interested in crystal-clear waters, multicolored tropical fish, coral gardens, giant clams, and swimming with rays, our SCUBA Diving options are a perfect fit.

The m/s Paul Gauguin in offers SCUBA diving programs and excursions in French Polynesia.

Float effortlessly over rainbow-colored coral reefs and pirouette with parrotfish, clownfish, giant clams, and sea turtles. View blacktip and whitetip reef sharks, parrotfish, tuna, snappers, jackfish, Napoleon fish, and more up close. Dive deeper to swim alongside colorful sea anemones, eagle rays, sharks, and octopi. Polynesia’s translucent, shimmering aqua lagoons are begging to be explored. And there’s no better place to do so than from The Gauguin’s watersports marina, where you can embark on an optional SCUBA adventure.

A tropical fish with yellow and blue coloring swimming in a lagoon in French Polynesia.

Even if you have never SCUBA dived before, as a guest aboard The Gauguin, you can come face to face with some of the most spectacular marine life at sea and swim among gracefully swaying coral reefs within a matter of hours. The Gauguin’s SCUBA diving excursions are designed for all levels of experience, and we offer PADI certification on board for novice divers, as well as refresher courses.

Paul Gauguin Cruises offers SCUBA diving programs and excursions and cruise guests aboard the m/s Paul Gauguin take a SCUBA diving class in the ship’s pool.

Have fun in the sun at our Watersports Marina.

The Gauguin’s specially designed watersports marina turns the ship into your headquarters for all kinds of adventures on the water. It’s as easy as descending to sea level and hopping aboard a paddleboard or launching a kayak.

Cruise guests getting ready to kayak from the watersports marina on the m/s Paul Gauguin.

Our watersports equipment is also available when we call on our private beach in Bora Bora and our private island, Motu Mahana. Plus, if you plan on snorkeling in multiple ports, you’re welcome to check out snorkeling gear from the marina for the duration of your cruise.

This is your dream trip—have the adventures of your life. The islands will enchant you. The neon lagoons will mesmerize you. The rich Tahitian culture will welcome you and embrace you. Make your Gauguin Experience your own. We’re proud to offer activities that spark conversations at dinner and leave lasting impressions in your heart.

Views of mountains, lush foliage, and a road, on the island of Huahine.

For a full list of shore excursions, click here.
For information on our SCUBA diving programs and excursions, click here.
To view our Stewards of Nature family program, click here.