South Pacific Crossings: 5 Magical Destinations Beyond Tahiti

May 30, 2024

2025 Boutique Crossing Collection
Destination Highlights

With their idyllic blend of natural beauty, cultural richness, and tranquil ambience, the islands of French Polynesia have long captivated the imaginations of artists and authors, explorers and travelers. Yet beyond the rainforested beauty of the Marquesas that so enchanted painter Paul Gauguin, and the shores of Bora Bora whose beauty compelled James Michener to describe it as simply “the most beautiful island in the world,” the far-flung intrigue of archipelagos deep in the South Pacific tug on our curiosities with their own intriguing cultures, poignant histories, and catch-your-breath scenery.

Our 2025 Boutique Crossing Collection journeys deep into the realms of Melanesia and Indonesia on three unique 14- to 20-night voyages revealing the mysteries and wonders of these intriguing destinations. Here we share 5 of our favorite archipelagos:

Paul Gauguin Cruises | Bali, Indonesia | Locals in traditional wear perform cultural dance

The voyages in our Boutique Crossing Collection travel deep into the exotic waters of Melanesia and Indonesia. Welcomed by heartwarming smiles, ancient cultures, a thousand pagodas, and some dragons too, this will be a trip unlike any other. 


One of the world’s least explored countries, Papua New Guinea has been called the “Land of the Unexpected.” In 2022, Forbes ranked it as the ninth most beautiful country in the world, citing its rich culture (over 850 languages are spoken here—more than any country on the planet!), traditions, and extraordinary nature.

A call in Alotau serves as the gateway to Papua New Guinea’s southeastern shore. This tropical haven is adorned with pristine beaches, lush rainforests, and vibrant coral reefs. Here is a world where tradition and nature intertwine seamlessly, and local people proudly share their rich cultural heritage with warm hospitality. Crystal-clear waters offer opportunities to encounter majestic sea turtles, and a venture inland reveals cascading waterfalls amidst untouched wilderness, inviting you to immerse yourself in nature's grandeur.

Paul Gauguin Cruises | Papua New Guinea tribe member in traditional tribal dress and accessories

Deeply tied to their spirituality, traditional dance plays an important role in Papua New Guinea's cultural preservation; it is a way of sharing knowledge across generations.

Samarai Island, this once-thriving trading center holds echoes of history. Although evacuated and largely destroyed during World War II to prevent Japanese control of Papua New Guinea, the island has been lovingly rebuilt. Its serene pathways, spectacular marine life, and tranquil beaches provide a perfect blend of relaxation and exploration.

VANUATU (Melanesia)

Upon first seeing these islands in 1774, British explorer Captain James Cook promptly named them “New Hebrides” as their landscape reminded him of the Hebrides off the northwest coast of Scotland. In 1980, the archipelago became the independent Republic of Vanuatu within the Commonwealth.

Paul Gauguin Cruises  | White sand beaches, palm trees and aquamarine waters abound in Vanuatu

With the sway of palm trees, its pristine white sand beaches and aqua blue waters as far as the eyes can see, Vanuatu extends an invitation to enjoy its little pocket of paradise.  

Espiritu Santo enchants with its palm-lined beaches, spring-fed swimming holes, lush rainforests, and majestic mountains. The island’s role in World War II adds a layer of historical importance to its natural beauty; it was here that Michener was inspired to write his 1947 short-story collection Tales of the South Pacific while stationed as a lieutenant commander in the US Navy during the war.

On the island of Éfaté lies Port Vila, Vanuatu’s vibrant capital. This tropical paradise is renowned for its pristine beaches, turquoise waters, and verdant landscapes. The Mele Cascades, a stunning series of tiered waterfalls, offer a refreshing retreat, while the Erakor Rainforest, with its winding trails and abundant wildlife, invites exploration. Colorful parrots, elusive kingfishers, tree-dwelling geckos, and dazzling butterflies make this rainforest their home.


Komodo Island is a place where ancient legends come to life. Part of the Komodo National Park, this island is famous for its namesake dragons—enormous lizards that roam its grassy savannahs. The park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is celebrated for its incredible biodiversity. Here you can marvel at the park's stunning palette of colors, from verdant green landscapes to sparkling white beaches and deep blue waters filled with corals.

Paul Gauguin Cruises | Komodo Island and the komodo dragon in Indonesia

The unique topography of Komodo Island is the perfect complement to its singular namesake and official resident-inhabitants, Komodo dragons.

On Java, Surabaya and Semarang offer contrasting experiences. Surabaya’s rich colonial history and bustling modernity provide a fascinating blend of the old and new. Meanwhile, Semarang, the capital of Central Java, captures Indonesia’s cultural richness. Ancient temples and riverside promenades invite exploration, and the city serves as the gateway to the iconic Borobudur (the world’s largest Buddhist temple) and Prambanan (Hindu) temples.

Known as the “Island of the Gods,” Bali's timeless allure offers a rich tapestry of lush volcanic mountain slopes, rainforested jungles, and sublime beaches. In Ubud, you can explore temples, shrines, artisan workshops, galleries, and the Sacred Monkey Forest. Bali's beautiful beaches, lush landscapes, exotic culture, exquisite handicrafts, and captivating dance traditions have drawn travelers from around the world for decades.


One visits the Solomon Islands as much for its underwater spectacle that rivals its singular enchantments on land.

One quickly realizes that visits to the Solomon Islands are for its underwater spectacle that can rival, or even exceed, its enchantments on land.

The largest of the Solomon Islands, Guadalcanal is steeped in history. Known for the pivotal six-month battle between Allied and Japanese forces during World War II, the island brims with relics, monuments, and memorials. Beyond its historical significance, its tropical interior offers excellent birdwatching, and its waters are revered for superior snorkeling and diving.

FIJI (Melanesia)

Les Gauguine demonstrating palm leaf weaving.

From steep mountain hikes to leisurely strolls along white sand beaches, Fiji offers a rendezvous with nature in whichever elevation you like.  (Photo Credit: TahitiTourisme)

Among the 300+ islands of the Fijian archipelago, the island of Viti Levu beckons with its blend of natural beauty and rich culture. In Lautoka, known as “Sugar City” due to the surrounding sugarcane fields, visitors can stroll along palm-lined streets and experience everyday life in traditional villages. Koroyanitu National Heritage Park offers lush greenery and panoramic views, perfect for hiking and immersing in Fiji’s natural splendor. But more than anything, the volcanic islands here are revered for their pristine, white-sand beaches and mesmerizing waters.

Join us aboard the m/s Paul Gauguin for an extraordinary voyage where each destination offers a harmonious blend of history, culture, and natural beauty, creating memories that will last a lifetime. Book your voyage now and start exploring the many off beaten paths of the world and find yourself in the heart of a brand new paradise. 

m/s Paul Gauguin vessel sailing the ocean

The Gauguin is honored to be part of the rich tapestry of the South Pacific.



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