Paul Gauguin becomes first cruise line to chart Tahiti Iti's Vairao

A drop-off just outside the reef of Vairao’s bay offers scuba diving opportunities A drop-off just outside the reef of Vairao’s bay offers scuba diving opportunities (Photo: Paul Gauguin Cruises)

Paul Gauguin Cruises is debuting a seven-night 'Society Islands & Tahiti Iti' itinerary along with new shore and scuba diving excursions. The line claims to be the first to visit Vairao in Tahiti Iti, the smaller of two landmasses comprising the island of Tahiti.

The new destination offers a wild coastline, marae (temples), Polynesian culture and surfing fame. Tahiti Iti is scheduled on voyages that depart and return to Papeete, Tahiti, and also visit the Society Islands ports of Huahine, Motu Mahana (Taha’a), Bora Bora and Moorea.

2018 sailing dates are June 30, Aug. 25, Oct. 6, and Nov. 3. A special 10-night 'Society Islands & Tuamotus' voyage on Sept. 19 also calls at Tahiti Iti.

Shore excursions offered in Tahiti Iti include 'Bonjouir's Garden of Eden,' a nature sanctuary with a river winding through and freshwater swimming ponds throughout. Vestiges of marae Tapihoa and Pae Pae can be found there, and two guided tours are available: one about the flora and the other about legends of the Fenua Aihere (the wildest and most remote part of Tahiti Iti).

The 'Highlights of Tahiti Iti' excursion visits Teahupoo, a small village renowned for surfing and the setting for Billabong Pro Tahiti, one of the world's largest international surfing competitions. The journey continues to the northern coast of the peninsula to admire the volcanic shape of Tahiti and the isthmus of Taravao, and to Vaipahi Gardens with more than 75 species of vegetation.

'Tahiti Iti Lagoon & Teahupoo Surf Point Cruise' offers the opportunity to snorkel through stunning turquoise lagoons and among coral reefs before continuing to Teahupoo.

Other options include an exploration of Tahiti Iti by e-bike and golfing at Olivier Bréaud International Golf Course, an 18-hole course in a beautiful setting that was once a cotton plantation. The Open International de Tahiti is hosted there, part of the PGA and FPG circuit.

Scuba tours for certified experienced divers feature The Marado, a 90-foot/29-meter drop-off located just outside the reef of Vairao’s bay, providing the chance to observe reef fish, hard and soft corals, sea anemones and great visibility of the site's unique topography. Another dive site there, The Sea Fans, features French Polynesia's beautiful, rare sea fans.

Cruises are priced starting at $5,595 per person, double occupancy, for the seven-night 'Society Islands & Tahiti Iti' voyage and $6,045 for the 10-night 'Society Islands & Tuamotus' sailing. Shore excursions and scuba diving options range from $75 to $265. The Gauguin's all-inclusive fare includes round-trip air from Los Angeles. select wines and spirits, beer, soft drinks, bottled water and hot beverages served throughout the ship and on-board gratuities for room stewards and dining/bar staff.

Posted 20 March 2018

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Anne Kalosh

Editor, Seatrade Cruise News & Senior Associate Editor Seatrade Cruise Review