Tahiti and the Society Islands

Cruising the South Seas aboard the Paul Gauguin


Step on board the Paul Gauguin and sail the waters of French Polynesia for an unparalleled, comprehensive view of the real Tahiti, with its wild coastline, ancient petroglyphs, marae (temples), and pockets of authentic Polynesian culture. Big discoveries await you in Tahiti Iti (“Little Tahiti”), the smaller of the two landmasses that comprise the island of Tahiti, and this exciting itinerary also features Bora Bora, Moorea, Huahine, and a private island paradise off the coast of Taha’a. Roundtrip airfare from Los Angeles is included.

Note: This cruise is not exclusive to, nor operated by, Wilderness Travel, who acts solely as agent in booking your reservation with the ship operator. The itinerary, lecturers, and all other arrangements are subject to change at the discretion of the cruise line.


Day 1
Papeete / Embark

A gorgeous collection of volcanic islands strewn across the blue Pacific, Polynesia paints a stunning picture. And, as the capital city on the largest of all 118 islands, Papeete offers endless opportunities for exploration and relaxation. Dynamic dining, nightlife, and shopping can be found around every corner, and Papeete serves as a departure and arrival port for most cruises in the South Pacific. Embark on the Paul Gauguin in the mid-afternoon and cruise overnight to Huahine.

Day 2

Huahine is known as “The Garden Island” for its beautiful rainforests, dramatic terrain, and enchanting lagoon. Travelers will find something new to explore around every bend, from sacred sites and archeological landmarks that are among the best preserved in French Polynesia to the colorful sea life that can be experienced on a SCUBA or snorkeling expedition. Optional excursions include exploring the island by 4x4 vehicle, a cultural tour including Maeva, one of Polynesia’s most important archaeological sites, and snorkeling above a coral garden while on a private boat tour around the island.

Day 3

Enclosed in a common lagoon with Raiatea and accessible only by boat, Taha’a is an ideal island for a relaxing getaway. A sleepy island that boasts only a handful of guesthouses and small hotels, Taha’a maintains an authentic Polynesian flavor. And speaking of flavors, it produces about 80% of French Polynesia’s world-renowned vanilla, a must-buy during a visit to the island. Taha’a is also home to Motu Mahana, a private island. Guests are welcomed with traditional music performed by Les Gauguines, a beachside barbecue, and ample opportunities for watersports, swimming, and relaxation. Other optional activities are available, including a sail by catamaran.

Days 4-5
Bora Bora

The dream destination of Bora Bora just begs to have its picture taken, with lush peaks, white sand beaches, and romantic lagoons. But perhaps Bora Bora’s most iconic image that of Mount Otemanu, with its jagged, emerald-hued peaks rising high above the shoreline. With only 4,225 inhabitants and a laid-back, island vibe, visitors to this beautiful corner of the world can’t help but just relax and take it all in. You'll have two days to explore here, with optional activities ranging from a relaxing day at the beach or a glass-bottom boat ride to more adventurous options such as circling the island by waverunner or an “aquasafari”—an underwater walk along the sandy bottom of the lagoon.

Day 6

Moorea, often likened to James Michener's mythical island of Bali Hai, is worth a visit just to experience its spectacular vistas. Volcanic peaks, reflected in the waters of Cook's Bay and Opunohu Bay, rise like a shark's jaw above palm tree-lined beaches. The underwater world is just as enchanting, with sharks, tuna, dolphins, and tropical fish—no wonder it’s a popular destination for divers. Options here include a dolphin watching expedition and a catamaran sail and snorkel.

Day 7
Tahiti Iti

Possessing a wild beauty of rugged cliffs, caves, waterfalls, crystal-clear seas, and beautiful beaches, Tahiti Iti—like other Polynesian islands—has fired the artistic imagination. Novelist Zane Grey found adventure deep-sea fishing in its waters, and Robert Louis Stevenson penned The Master of Ballantrae during his stay here. Sparsely populated and renowned for its exceptional (though dangerous) surfing, Tahiti Iti complements Tahiti’s livelier side and is best experienced with an expert who can reveal its many facets. Explore the island by electric bike, play a round of golf, or snorkel through a beautiful coral garden with colorful marine life—the choice is yours! The ship arrives back in Papeete in the evening.

Day 8
Papeete / Depart

Disembark in Papeete after breakfast and fly home.



Get off the beaten path with Tahiti Iti, a sparsely populated island with feats of bravery by local daredevil surfers thanks to the world famous wave of Teahupo'o
Spend a relaxing day on Motu Mahana, a private islet complete with white-sand beaches, swaying palm trees, a barbecue lunch, drinks served in coconuts, and a floating lagoon bar
Explore Bora Bora your way—visit an exclusive white-sand beach with volleyball, snorkeling, kayaking, or paddleboarding, or opt for an optional four-wheel-drive safari, aquabike excursion, or glass bottom boat ride


Length: 8 days
Cost From: $4830  
Arrive: Papeete, Tahiti
Depart: Papeete, Tahiti
Lodging: 7 nights aboard a 332-guest vessel
Meals: All meals aboard ship, with beverages included
Activity: Sea Kayaking, Snorkeling, Wildlife and Natural History, Photography, Diving, Small Ship Cruising, Cultural Adventures
Trip Level:

8-day cruise, nature walks and cultural explorations, snorkeling, optional excursions