15 Jul The Islands of French Polynesia
If it’s unparalleled beauty, translucent turquoise waters, stretches of sandy beaches and a culture synonymous with paradise, look no further than the islands of French Polynesia.
The first stop on your quest for rest and relaxation is the idyllic island of Bora Bora. Located in the center of a lagoon, this “Pearl of the Pacific” nirvana is filled with a variety of activities on land and sea. Enjoy its world-renowned beauty through the lens of the Glass-Bottomed Boat tour where fish, dolphins, sharks, manta rays and turtles are just a few of the marine life that call these coral-filled water gardens home. Shark and Ray Watching are also popular as you can catch a rare glimpse of black-tipped and lemon sharks and swim and experience up-close-and personal encounters with peaceful stingrays.
Take a tour of the island via an open-air vehicle known as “Le Truck” and immerse yourself in the laid-back lifestyle of the island. See the culture through the local’s eyes as you visit the district of Fa’anui, learn how a pareo is made, taste locally grown fruits, buy handmade crafts and see a piece of history with the relics left behind by the US military during World War II.
A sail on a Catamaran provides another way to take in the splendor of the sea. Cruising the lagoon that surrounds Bora Bora, views of coves and the overwater resort bungalows (an iconic fixture on the waters), snorkeling, sunbathing and swimming goes hand in hand. And with the majestic Mount Otemanu as a backdrop (one of two rare extinct volcanoes on the island), have your camera poised and ready.
The second largest island of French Polynesia, Raiatea offers a lush landscape filled with waterfalls, pineapple and vanilla plantations, lagoons and mountains and feeds all of the senses. The Sacred Island Le Truck is one of the best ways to take in panoramic vistas of the coastline and spectacular views of the island’s highest point of Mount Temehani. The village of Fetuna offers a glimpse of daily Polynesian life followed by a visit to the open-air temple known as Marae of Tainuu.
A cruise on the Faaroa River and Motu by Canoe features views of flora and fauna such as wild hibiscus, bamboo groves, ginger flowers and chestnut trees along with fantastic waterfalls and mountains as a scenic backdrop. A stop on a “motu” (a white-sand islet) provides a chance to swim and sunbathe on the beach. Raitea is also home to one of the world’s rarest flowers, fragrant flower of beauty known as tiare apetahi.
A tour to Raiatea’s sister island Taha’a offers another island adventure. The Taha’a Cultural Experience will take visitors via a motorized catamaran to a vanilla farm where climbing orchids are plentiful. Known as “vanilla island,” Taha’a is both fragrant and beautiful. And no trip to the islands would be complete without a visit to one of French Polynesia’s biggest exports, a pearl farm and shop. The Motu Pearl Village cultivates exotic black pearls and like vanilla, is one of the backbones of the Tahaa economy.
To experience all that French Polynesia has to offer, embark on Celestial South Pacific aboard Seven Seas Mariner® from Papeete to Auckland and visit the exotic ports of Bora Bora, Raiatea, Pago Pago and Suva along the way.