19386
Pacific Islands/Tahiti/French Polynesia
French Polynesia Below the Surface: The Society Islands & Tuamotus
Discover French Polynesia's unique culture as you snorkel your way through the islands of Tahiti and Tuamotu and meet local members of the community.
Rating (4.67)
Program No. 19386RJ
Length
15 days
Starts at
7,995
Special Offer
Flights start at
FREE
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15 days
14 nights
39 meals
13 B 13 L 13 D
Getting There
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DAY
1
Flight to Tahiti/Arrive Papeete/Hotel Check In
Tahiti
Le Meridien Tahiti Hotel

Afternoon: US afternoon flights for Tahiti, French Polynesia. A snack and a meal are typically included on board flight; however subject to change dependent on airline policy.

Evening: Arrive Papeete, Tahiti. Transfer to hotel and check in.

DAY
2
Introductions & Orientation/Intro to French Polynesia/Snorkeling Refresher
Tahiti
B,L,D
Le Meridien Tahiti Hotel

Breakfast: International Buffet Breakfast - Restaurant La Plantation, ground level.

Morning: Formal Introductions and Orientation to French Polynesia. Class: Introduction to French Polynesia

Lunch: Restaurant Le Carre

Afternoon: Snorkeling Refresher - outdoor pool and/or off the beach in front of the hotel property

Dinner: Restaurant La Plantation

Evening: Free Evening

DAY
3
Circle Tahiti Field Trip
Tahiti
B,L,D
Le Meridien Tahiti Hotel

Breakfast: International Buffet Breakfast - Restaurant La Plantation

Morning: Board an air-conditioned bus for a field trip circling Tahiti Nui. Depart Papeete and pass through many districts and villages. Notice how each area’s mayor tries to out do the others with enormous town halls. Passing Faaa Airport, notice that land for its runways was reclaimed from the lagoon. It was not until 1961 that modern jets were able to land here. Stop at the ancient Arahurahu marae which has been restored to its former grandeur. Next visit the Maraa Grotto, a beautiful garden and cave area, and continue on past the golf course which was once a huge cotton plantation worked by coolie labor from China. It was planted to fulfill the shortage of cotton in Europe caused by the American Civil War. A short distance further on, visit the Vaipahi Garden with its beautiful waterfall before stopping at restaurant Musee Gauguin for a buffet lunch. After lunch, drive a short distance to the Gauguin Museum located in Mataiea Village where Gauguin lived. While not many originals of Gauguin’s work are in the museum, it is fascinating and details his life and his work.

Lunch: Buffet lunch at a local restaurant

Afternoon: Continue on and pass through beautiful Papeari Village and along the inlet (Phaeton Bay) which has a number of fish traps; then cross the Isthmus of Taravao, pass the base where the military have been located since 1844. The ships of Antoine de Bougainville, anchored near the two small offshore islands in Hitiaa in 1786. At Mahaena, Tahitians fought an armed rebellion for three years against the annexation of Tahiti by France. Next stops will include Arahoho Blowhole, Fa`aurumai Waterfall, and Point Venus and Matavai Bay. Captains Wallis, Cook and Bligh anchored in the Matavai Bay area. Located here is a memorial to the arrival of the first Christian missionaries in 1797 and a lighthouse constructed in 1868, despite its 1867 date. Continue on to Pirae and pass One Tree Hill called Taharaa today.

Dinner: Restaurant La Plantation

DAY
4
Museum of Tahiti/Papeete Open Market/Board Ship/Sail for Huahine
Tahiti
B,L,D
MS Paul Gauguin

Activity note: Some walking on level ground during field trip and excursion; stairs to board the ship

Breakfast: International Buffet Breakfast - Restaurant La Plantation

Morning: Field Trip: Visit to the Musee de Tahiti et des Iles (Museum of Tahiti and Her Islands) for a fascinating exhibit of all that makes up French Polynesia - the geographic and oceanographic explanation of the islands, life in the sea and on land, progressive stages of its history, pre-European artifacts, a collection of memorabilia of political, cultural and social leaders. Return to hotel and check out before departing for the Papeete Open Market

Lunch: Lunch at the Papeete Open Market

Afternoon: Excursion: A walking tour of the Papeete Open Market to see the native fruits, vegetables and crafts of Tahiti. After field trip, depart for Port of Papeete. Board MS Paul Gauguin, Board, locate stateroom, get settled. Free time to explore the ship and pick up snorkel gear available at the Marina on Deck 3.

Dinner: Welcome Dinner- L'Etoile Restaurant: Deck 5, Aft Enjoy cuisine amid the classic furnishings and fluted shell lighting reminiscent of one of the refined dining establishments in Paris. Here delectable cuisine is artfully presented and guests receive the most diligent attention. L'Etoile is only open for dinner (7:00 - 9:30 pm).

Evening: Cast off for our adventure as the Paul Gauguin departs Papeete for our first stop in the Society Islands -Huahine. Just over a hundred miles from Tahiti, Huahine is actually composed of two islands - Huahine Nui and Huahine Iti ("Big Huahine" and "Little Huahine") - and is surrounded by a deep lagoon encircled by a coral necklace. The most traditional and undeveloped island in French Polynesia, Huahine exudes a laid- back small-town atmosphere.

DAY
5
Huahine Snorkeling/Afternoon Class/Sail for Bora Bora
Huahine
B,L,D
MS Paul Gauguin

Activity note: Drift snorkeling off boat in lagoon. Must be able to swim and to climb ladders to get on and off boat.

Breakfast: The ship provides a couple of dining venues for breakfast. (Room service is available as well) La Veranda: Deck 6, Aft This restaurant offers breakfast (7:30 -10:00 am), in a setting whose ambience might recall leisurely dining on a yacht club terrace on the Cote d'Azur. Le Grill: Deck 8, Mid Greet the sun with a buffet breakfast at Le Grill (7:00 - 9:30 am)

Morning: Arrive in Huahine about approximately 8 am. Field Trip: Exploration and Snorkeling in Huahine. We’ll explore Huahine Iti aboard a comfortable motorized outrigger canoe, as you learn about the island's history, its sacred legends and insight into daily island life. There will be an opportunity for drift snorkeling at a beautiful coral garden and a stop at a beautiful white sand beach.

Lunch: Onboard ship at leisure. Lunch is offered daily at Le Grill and La Veranda.

Afternoon: Class: Topic Instructor's Choice followed by free time to enjoy the ship's various amenities and activities. The MS Gauguin daily offers a variety of cultural and educational classes and opportunities. A schedule, called the "Ia Orana" will be delivered daily to your stateroom and inform you of that day's activities. Ship sets sail for Bora Bora at 5 pm.

Dinner: La Veranda - This restaurant becomes a reservations-only French Bistro at dinner (7:00 - 9:00 pm).

Evening: Optional Activity: Enjoy the nightly performance offered by the ship in the Le Grand Salon on Deck 5, forward. Watch spectacular performances, such as an electrifying Polynesian show featuring the arts of the islands in the main lounge. One night it might be the soaring acappella harmonies of himene songs. Another might feature a thrilling performance of otea - a complex line dance accompanied by drums telling the ancestral legends of the Polynesian people.

DAY
6
Lagoon Exploration/Bora Bora Excursion/Overnight in Bora Bora
Bora Bora
B,L,D
MS Paul Gauguin

Activity note: Snorkeling off boat in lagoon. Must be able to swim and to climb ladders to get on and off boat

Breakfast: Onboard Ship at leisure - Choice of La Veranda, Le Grill or room service

Morning: Excursion: Motu and Lagoon Exploration - An opportunity to snorkel in Bora Bora's beautiful lagoon as well as to visit a scenic private motu

Lunch: Picnic lunch on the private motu

Afternoon: Continuation of snorkeling trip. Upon your return, you will have a free Afternoon to enjoy shipboard activities or venture on your own to Bora Bora for independent exploration. The Paul Gauguin will run tenders ashore to Vaitape, Bora Bora's main town.

Dinner: Dinner at leisure on your own aboard ship.

Evening: Optional Activity: You may wish to take tenders directly to the famous “Bloody Mary” Bar and Restaurant. This bar features sandy floors and is very popular with visitors.

DAY
7
Overview of Bora Bora/Free Time/Sail for Rangiroa
Bora Bora
B,L,D
MS Paul Gauguin

Activity note: Must be able to climb aboard 4X4 vehicles.

Breakfast: Onboard Ship at leisure - Choice of La Veranda, Le Grill or room service

Morning: Field Trip: Overview of Bora Bora, including WWII American military history and relics. Bora Bora was a U.S. supply base during World War II; naval gun sites can still be seen. Don't forget your camera as you will witness amazing vistas overlooking this breathtaking lagoon.

Lunch: Onboard ship at leisure. Lunch is offered daily at Le Grill and La Veranda.

Afternoon: Free afternoon to explore Bora Bora or relax. Ship sets sail for Rangiroa at 4pm.

Dinner: L'Etoile Restaurant

Evening: Optional Activity: Tonight's Performance - Le Grand Salon. Check your daily "Iorana" for a list of this evening's performance as well as other activities available. Sail to Rangiroa at 4 pm.

DAY
8
Morning Class/Snorkel Rangiroa Aquarium/Evening Sail for Fakarava
Tuamotu Islands - Rangiroa
B,L,D
MS Paul Gauguin

Activity note: Snorkeling off boat in deep water. Must be able to swim and to climb ladders to get on and off boat.

Breakfast: Onboard Ship at leisure - Choice of La Veranda, Le Grill or room service

Morning: Class: Topic Instructor's Choice

Lunch: Onboard ship at leisure. Lunch is offered daily at Le Grill and La Veranda

Afternoon: Ship arrives at Rangiroa at 12 pm. Rangiroa, in the Tuamotu Archipelago, is the second-biggest atoll in the world (behind Kwajalein in Micronesia). With its string of coral encircling a turquoise and jade-green lagoon, it is also one of the world's greatest dive destinations. There are 240 tiny islets, or motu, each no more than three feet in elevation, completely encircling the deep lagoon for more than 110 miles. The lagoon is more like a vast inland sea. The motu separate two legendary bodies of water, Moana-tea (Peaceful Ocean) and Moana-uri (Wild Ocean). Field Trip: Snorkel Rangiroa's Aquarium. Depart the pier via local boat for the ride to Motu Nui Nui, a natural, open-water aquarium renowned for its marine life. Along the way, you will observe an abundance of colorful fish, coral and marine life.

Dinner: L`Etoile Restaurant

Evening: Ship sets sail for Fakarava at 5:30 pm Optional Activity: Tonight's Performance - Le Grand Salon

DAY
9
Fakarava Exploration/Sail for Tahaa
Tuamotu Islands - Fakarava
B,L,D
MS Paul Gauguin

Breakfast: Onboard Ship at leisure - Choice of La Veranda, Le Grill or room service

Morning: Ship arrives Fakarava in the Tuamotu Archipelago at 8 am. Fakarava is an untouched world where nesting birds and marine life live in harmony with the land and water. So pure is the environment here that Fakarava is now classified a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) biosphere reserve.

Lunch: Onboard ship at leisure. Lunch is offered daily at Le Grill and La Veranda.

Afternoon: Free time to explore Fakarava on your own or enjoy the ship. Shore excursions are available through the ship for an extra fee.

Dinner: Dinner on your own aboard ship at your favorite dining spot.

Evening: Set sail at 5:30 pm for Tahaa. Tahaa is the only island in the Society Islands that can be completely circled by a ship inside a lagoon. Tahaa also produces 80% of all the vanilla in French Polynesia. Optional Activity: Tonight's Performance - Le Grand Salon. Check your daily "Iorana" for a list of this evening's performance as well as other activities available.

DAY
10
At Sea/Class/Free Afternoon
At Sea
B,L,D
MS Paul Gauguin

Breakfast: Onboard Ship at leisure - Choice of La Veranda, Le Grill or room service

Morning: Class: Topic Instructor's Choice

Lunch: Onboard ship at leisure. Lunch is offered daily at Le Grill and La Veranda.

Afternoon: Free Afternoon to enjoy shipboard activities.

Dinner: Le Grill - At night Le Grill is transformed into a cozy indoor/outdoor restaurant serving grilled specialties in a more casual atmosphere.

Evening: Optional Activity: Tonight's Performance - Le Grand Salon. Check your daily "Iorana" for a list of this evening's performance as well as other activities available.

DAY
11
Tahaa Field Trip/BBQ Beach Party/ Sail for Moorea
Tahaa
B,L,D
MS Paul Gauguin

Activity note: When taking a tender to Motu Mahana, it will be a wet landing, in which you will go down a ramp into knee-deep water and then wade ashore. Wear reef shoes or some other footwear that can get wet.

Breakfast: Onboard Ship at leisure - Choice of La Veranda, Le Grill or room service

Morning: Arrive Tahaa at approximately 9am. Disembark ship for field trip. Visit a private family pearl farm to see and learn about pearl cultivation, history & legends of the island. From there, journey to a vanilla farm to learn more about this important island industry. We’ll view other highlights of Tahaa along the way as we explore this beautiful island.

Lunch: Barbeque Beach Party on Motu Mahana. A "motu" refers to a reef islet formed by broken coral and sand surrounding a tropical island, lagoon, or atoll.

Afternoon: The afternoon is free to enjoy Motu Mahana, where the ship will be offering a barbeque lunch (weather permitting) and a Polynesian Show including music, dancing, and demonstrations. The ship will be running regular tenders to Motu Mahana, so feel free to catch any one when you're ready. The last tender back to the ship from Motu Mahana is approximately 4 pm. Ship sets sail for Moorea at approximately 5 pm.

Dinner: L'Étoile Restaurant

Evening: Optional Activity: Tonight's Performance - Le Grand Salon. Check your daily "Iorana" for a list of this evening's performance as well as other activities available.

DAY
12
Overview of Moorea/Overnight in Moorea
Moorea
B,L,D
MS Paul Gauguin

Activity note: Boarding busses, some walking.

Breakfast: Onboard Ship at leisure - Choice of La Veranda, Le Grill or room service.

Morning: Field Trip: Visit to Belvedere Viewpoint with beautiful vistas of the island, stop at a well preserved and rebuilt historical Marae, view a farming valley inland of Cook's Bay the University of California Berkeley's Richard B. Gump South Pacific Research Station & the Atitia Cultural Centre, where we will have a delicious lunch featuring local dishes and tour the garden and grounds.

Lunch: Polynesian lunch at Cultural Centre

Afternoon: Continuation of overview of Moorea field trip. Tender back to ship; Tender back to ship after field trip.

Dinner: La Veranda

Evening: Optional Activity: Tonight's Performance - Le Grand Salon. Check your daily "Iorana" for a list of this evening's performance as well as other activities available.

DAY
13
Morning Class/Dolphin Field Trip/Sail to Papeete, Tahiti
Moorea
B,L,D
MS Paul Gauguin

Activity note: Must be able to get on and off small boat

Breakfast: Onboard Ship at leisure - Choice of La Veranda, Le Grill or room service

Morning: Class: Topic Instructor's Choice

Lunch: Onboard ship at leisure. Lunch is offered daily at Le Grill and La Veranda.

Afternoon: Field Trip: Dolphins of French Polynesia – A boat-based Field Trip around Moorea to observe dolphins, hopefully including schools of acrobatic "Spinner Dolphins", and to learn of their remarkable lives at sea. Tender back to ship after field trip. sunset sail to Papeete, Tahiti.

Dinner: Le Grill

Evening: Arrive Papeete, Tahiti. Free Evening at pierside in Papeete Harbor or aboard ship. Pack and leave your luggage outside your door before you go to sleep so the crew can prepare to take it off the ship tomorrow morning. Make sure you have everything you need for tomorrow in an overnight-bag you'll keep with you.

DAY
14
Disembark Ship/Free Time/Late evening flight to Los Angeles
In Flight
B,L,D

Breakfast: Onboard Ship at leisure - Choice of La Veranda or room service. (Le Grill is not open for breakfast the day of disembarkation)

Morning: Disembark ship at 10 am and depart for Le Meridien Tahiti. Arrive Le Meridien hotel- check into day rooms Free Time to enjoy the property and explore, relax, swim, or snorkel before lunch.

Lunch: Restaurant La Plantation

Afternoon: Free afternoon to relax and prepare for tonight's departure. Social Hour in late afternoon before dinner.

Dinner: Farewell Dinner - Restaurant La Plantation

Evening: Late evening flight departure and arrive Los Angeles the following day

DAY
15
Arrive Los Angeles
Arrive Los Angeles