Bora Bora Motu
Motu Mahana Private Beach
Wading Waiter with Guests
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South Pacific Destinations - Society Islands
The Society Islands have been described as "Paradise on Earth" by many travellers. They were explored by Captains Cook and Bligh, but it was the artist, Paul Gauguin that made them truly famous. Author James A. Michener, who wrote more than a dozen works describing life in various pacific cultures, noted that the Society Islands are "so stunning, there are really no adequate words to describe it".
The chain of islands is divided into the Windward Islands, and the Leeward Islands. Captain James Cook named the islands in 1769, after England's Royal Society - and Royal islands they certainly are. These islands are mostly of volcanic origin, with a few small coral atolls mixed in. Of these, the most recognizable names are the legendary islands of Bora Bora, Raiatea, Huahine, Moorea and Tahiti.
The Society Islands are the centrepiece of every Paul Gauguin cruise - these islands are her home, and there is no ship better positioned to help you immerse yourself in their beauty and culture.
Raiatea is the cultural, religious, Royal and political heart of the Society Islands and home to some of the islands' most significant archeological sites. It is only slightly smaller than Tahiti, making it the second largest Island in the Archipelago, and the largest of the "Leewards."
The beauty of Bora Bora is beyond superlatives - the "Pearl of the Pacific". It is probably the best known of the Leeward Islands and is, to many people, the quintessential tropical paradise. The coral reef includes a string of islets and gorgeous white sand beaches surrounding the main island. It has an unforgettable turquoise lagoon which is considered by many to be the most beautiful in the world. You can observe multi-coloured aquatic fauna such as sting & manta rays, sharks and tropical fish from outrigger canoe or diving trips and the varying depths of the lagoon, plus the different kinds of seabed, together with the play of light and wind across the surface, make for an ever changing and beautiful display of colours, from the deepest of azure blue to the most delicate pastel turquoises.
Huahine is, arguably, one of the most picturesque of all the French Polynesian islands. Steep mountains descend into protected bays of turquoise, azure blue and emerald green waters. The island, also known as "The Garden Island" is one of the more geographically diverse of the Society Group due to its abundance of lush green tropical foliage and wild jungle-like scenery. Huahine itself is actually 2 islands known as Huahine-Nui and Huahine-Iti interconnected by a bridge. Both islands can be easily explored in a day or two and are blessed with some of the best beaches in French Polynesia, making this a travel destination you will never forget.
Moorea is Polynesia's second-most popular island after Tahiti. It is a triangular shaped island encircled by a lagoon of translucent green, fringed by an azure blue Polynesian sea. It has high and scenically dramatic interior mountains and is unique among the Society Islands in having magnificent expanses of both white and black sand beaches which can be rated among the worlds finest. Moorea is one of the most fascinating and completely relaxing places you could dream of visiting and is reputed to be the inspiration for James Mitchener's mythical island of Bali Hai. The island is an excellent place to see humpback whales in the winter months from July to October, when they can often be observed blowing or breaching off the edge of the reef.
Tahiti is French Polynesia's largest and most glamorous tropical island with a mountainous interior adorned with deep valleys, clear streams, and high waterfalls. Papeete, meaning "water basket" was once a meeting place where Tahitians would come to replenish their calabashes with fresh water. It is now the vibrant capital of Tahiti and features world-class resorts and spas, fine dining restaurants, and a variety of nightclubs, busy markets and boutiques.
Aita pea pea - no worries! That's the attitude in Papeete, where ms Paul Gauguin's Society Island itineraries begin and end. Wander the stands at Le Marché, a cacophonous market selling everything from fresh produce to brightly coloured pareos, monoi oils and shell necklaces. Sip a cappuccino at a chic sidewalk café, or visit the home of James Norman Hall, the famed co-author of Mutiny on the Bounty.
Taha'a (Motu Mahana) is an uninhabited islet off the coast of Taha'a and is ms Paul Gauguin's exclusive private retreat. Here you are free to do as you please - relax in the shade of a palm tree on the white-sand beach, unwind to the songs of the Gauguines, or snorkel the motu's incandescent lagoons, working up an appetite for a delectable al fresco barbecue feast.