From the dense forests of Rarotonga and numerous bird species that make Aitutaki their home to Bora Bora’s brilliant turquoise lagoons, the Cook and Society Islands are a haven for curious young people—and an ideal destination for those looking for their next family getaway. A natural outdoor laboratory, French Polynesia puts on quite a show and offers a seemingly endless array of sites and activities that will thrill (and educate) your whole crew.
But where to start? During this 11-night journey through the Cook and Society Islands on the m/s Paul Gauguin, you’ll discover interactive learning and eye-opening inspiration at every port, including snorkeling with reef sharks and village visits. What’s more, the hands-on Moana Explorer Program, offered on select sailings in partnership with Te mana o te moana, a South Pacific marine education and conservation foundation, provides special programming for children and teens (ages 7-15) every day of the voyage. Whether the awe of stargazing and conducting water experiments that engage multiple senses or going on stimulating treasure hunts and naturalist-led beach excursions, guests of every age will leave with a stronger appreciation for French Polynesia’s natural wonders. Read on for more experiences that are nothing short of epic.
ItineraryPLAN YOUR TRIP
Day 1Welcome to Tahiti
Once it’s time to depart, board The Gauguin, your home for the next 11 days. Equipped with a watersports marina for complimentary kayaking and paddleboarding, this small stylish ship travels to intimate ports that are inaccessible to larger vessels, making island exploration, shopping at local markets, hiking, and expertly curated excursions possible. At the end of each day, gather to share lifelong memories and completely relax thanks to attentive service at one of three onboard restaurants, such as Le Grill, where you can savor Polynesian flavors alfresco surrounded by the sprawling ocean.
Days 2 and 3Discover Culture on Huahine and at Sea
Your third day of vacation will be spent at sea—but that doesn’t mean the fun has to end. In the afternoon, take a refreshing dip in the ship’s outdoor pool between leisurely spells of sunbathing on its expansive wooden deck, enjoy a game of table tennis, or perhaps listen to a fascinating lecture from one of the special guests on board during your sailing. Later, spend the evening in Le Grand Salon watching a program of spectacular family-friendly entertainment that may range from Broadway tunes to magic to a local troupe of Polynesian dancers whose dynamic performance is always a guest favorite.
Day 4Immerse Yourself in Nature on Aitutaki
Day 5 and 6Uncover Pure Polynesia on Rarotonga and at Sea
When you meet your onboard hosts, Les Gauguins and Les Gauguines, you’ll enjoy the enriching experience of getting to know the destination’s fascinating culture more deeply. And your second full day at sea is a great chance to do it. The Tahitian troupe of hosts and entertainers share their Polynesian culture through Tahitian dance lessons, demonstrations of local handicrafts, and retellings of ancestral legends. There’s truly something for all ages.
Days 7 and 8 Dive into Bora Bora
Fans of marine life will also have the option of attending a shark and stingray encounter. Cruise by the ancient crater rim of Motu Toopua before dropping anchor on a shallow sandbank where your guide will hand feed stingrays as they gracefully glide past you. Next, snorkel in a coral garden where you’ll come face-to-face with an abundance of parrotfish, butterflyfish, and harmless reef sharks.
Day 9Embrace the Robinson Crusoe Lifestyle on Motu Mahana
If you’re craving more than an idyllic beach day on Motu Mahana, consider venturing over to Taha’a for a wave runner and snorkeling adventure. On your way to explore an incredibly beautiful coral garden, your guide will occasionally stop at key sites and explain why Taha’a is called the Vanilla Island and how its pearl farm is its most important business for an enlightening experience along with the pleasure of being out on and in the water.
Days 10 and 11Explore Moorea’s wild side
Afterwards, embark on a scenic drive through pineapple fields to Belvedere Lookout where you can take in panoramic views of Cook’s Bay, Opunohu Bay, and Mt. Rotui from the summit. Tomorrow, you’ll return to Tahiti for some final shopping and sightseeing. Until next time!