In January 2018, we traveled to French Polynesia to sail on the m/s Paul Gauguin for an 11 night voyage to the Cook and Society Islands. This series is a journal of our experiences and observations so that you, our reader, can see what it's like to experience Tahiti/French Polynesia. We hope this inspires you to travel to this and other destinations.
Day 1: Tahiti/Embarkation
Morning started with awakening with the sun peering in on us in our super comfy bed. We splurged and opted for the Motu Over-the-water Junior Suite at the Intercontinental Tahiti instead of the garden view room. Let me tell you… worth every penny. Even with the cloudy morning, and the fact that we were only in the room for the night and that we arrived after dark and didn’t get to see the sunset; it was worth every penny. We got the breakfast included package and went and had a delicious breakfast at the hotel restaurant. The buffet was varied and the food was super tasty (the sweetest pineapple I’ve ever had). Afterward, we decided to walk off our breakfast by discovering the resort and learning the lay of the land. A visit to the lagoonarium (on the resort property) convinced us that we needed to get in the water and get our trip started out the right way. Stepping down the stairs from our room right into the ocean was so wonderful. The water was very clear and the perfect temperature.
After our morning swim, we ventured out to do some sightseeing around the island. We visited the Museum of Tahiti and Her Islands. If you’re interested in anthropology, history, or the culture and the traditions of the pacific island people, this is a fantastic place to visit. The exhibits aren’t overwhelmingly extensive (we saw the entire museum in about 90 minutes) but they were very informative and well curated. If you have a green thumb at all or just appreciate nature, there are some fantastic gardens at the museum as well. Beware the falling mangoes! This gorgeous mango tree towers over the garden and it is full of the delicious fruit. I would recommend paying this museum a visit at some point in your stay in paradise.
Next, we decided to take a trip down into Pape'ete proper and visit the Black Pearl Museum (sorry, not related pirates or Jack Sparrow). The museum has some small exhibits regarding the history of pearl jewelry and how it was fished across the world over time. Also there are exhibits which provide background on how to judge pearl quality. Most prominently featured at this museum is the show room where you can purchase some amazingly beautiful Tahitian pearl jewelry.
We left the museum and decided to take a walk along the seaside promenade in Pape'ete along our walk to the Municipal Market. The seaside walk is lovely. Many shops and restaurants line the walkway and the marina is right on the other side of the street with Moorea looming in the background. We found the market but as it was early afternoon at around 2 PM the food market was mostly closed. The handicraft stores on the second floor, however were open and offered some unbelievably stunning wood carvings, jewelry, and other art works. From ornately carved oars to traditional spears, marine mammals recreated with local symbols in a truly breathtaking finished product, it was difficult to not buy it all. My wife did buy a locally styled dress and I got a couple flowery shirts to get into the spirit of things in French Polynesia.
It was finally time to board our ship, the m/s Paul Gauguin, and set sail on our voyage Polynesia and the Cook Islands. The boarding process was super simple and easy. A handsome Tahitian man (who was not wearing a shirt, much to the enjoyment of my wife) gathered our luggage and put the appropriate tags on them. We boarded through the gangway and were greeted with glasses of champagne and friendly, welcoming faces. Crew members lead us to Le Grand Salon, where we completed our check-in in a matter of minutes. From there we were led to our stateroom where our bags were delivered not 5 minutes after we arrived. Our room stewardess greeted me while Liz was in the cabin taking some photos of everything and she already knew my name (we had only been aboard for at most 10 minutes). I was sure at that point that the service on the Gauguin was going to be excellent.
Stay tuned for the next chapter in our voyage. Have any favorite memories of Tahiti, French Polynesia, or Paul Gauguin Cruises? Leave a comment and share your story. If you would like some additional information or to reserve your trip to French Polynesia, contact us here.