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French Polynesia

The stunning South Sea islands of French Polynesia are heaven on Earth  – the perfect dream locaion for a sublime honeymoon

No honeymoon could possibly have more WOW factor than a South Pacific cruise of French Polynesia aboard the luxury cruise ship m/s Paul Gauguin, taking in stunning islands including Tahiti and Bora Bora!

The world-class honeymoon experience begins in the port of Papeete, Tahiti in French Polynesia, where your luxury liner awaits to waft you across the shimmering blue waters of the South Pacific to some of the most breathtaking islands on the planet.

On the down side, Tahiti is a long way from British shores, on the upside, it’s a long way from the usual well trodden honeymoon path, so you can be sure of a truly unique experience if you are looking for a once-in-a-lifetime honeymoon escape.

The m/s Paul Gauguin is a luxurious cruise ship which offers something distinctly more personal and intimate than the usual super-sized ships that cruise passengers have come to expect – the ones where you are just one of thousands of passengers vying for privacy and space. With just 332 passengers being served by 217 attentive crew (one of the highest guest/crew ratios of any luxury cruise ship), an all-inclusive cruise aboard the Paul Gauguin makes you feel like a guest aboard a Billionaire’s private yacht. 

 Passengers embark in Tahiti, to the sounds of the ukulele, accompanied by traditional Polynesian dancers – a sight which becomes increasingly familiar during the seven-day cruise of the Leeward Group of Society Islands.  They are shown to their spacious suites and staterooms, then go through the emergency drills, book excursions and sample delicious cuisine in a choice of three restaurants before the ship pulls away from its moorings at around midnight en-route to Huahine, the first stop-over.

 Facilities onboard include the excellent dining offering – A La Carte in the main restaurant and reservation dining in La Veranda, featuring French Cuisine from chef Jean-Pierre Vigato from the world-renowned Michelin-starred Apicius in Paris, and Le Grill, for a casual dining experience with a hint of Asia.  There’s also a piano, pool and La Palette bar; theatre; casino; Fitness Centre; spa, marina, plus a pool deck for simply chilling.

DAY 2

HUAHINE

The day begins bright and early for most passengers, many from the USA, who have travelled west and are still getting used to the jet lag factor of being at least five hours behind. The stunning sight of French Polynesia that beholds them starts the day on a high, and represents the taste of things to come. Turquoise sea and white powder sand become familiar sights on this cruise, and Huahine is the first of these gorgeous Society Islands. Once the home of Tahitian royalty, Huahine is the oldest settlement in the group of 14 islands that make up French Polynesia and is a lush tropical jungle thriving with coconut plantations, vanilla orchards and banana groves.  It is also a culturally preserved sanctuary with sacred temples hidden throughout dense vegetation.

What to do & see

The ship’s excursions take passengers in an open-air tram to view the restored temples, the stone fish traps and ancient villages of Maeva, an archaeological site. Surfing, diving and snorkeling are also offered on the offshore coral reefs. Visit a vanilla plantation or take a Jeep ride into the interior, taking in a visit to watch the feeding of the sacred blue-eyed eels in a freshwater lake.

Brides Abroad tip

Alternatively, we suggest you did as our editor did and take the traditional mode of transport, Le Truck – a shuttle bus to the beaches, and spend the day relaxing in the sunshine by a palm-fringed beach.

 

DAY 3

TAHA’A – MOTU MAHANA

Enclosed in a lagoon and accessible only by boat, Taha’a is the only island in the Society Islands that can be completely circled by ship inside the protected lagoon. With its many deep bays and small deserted islets on the reef, Taha’a is an ideal island to escape the 21st century. Motu Mahana, one of the islets neighboring Taha’a, is Paul Gauguin Cruises’ own private island, featuring white sand beaches, swaying palm trees, crystal-clear waters and gentle breezes – once you land on this islet you really will think you have been wafted to paradise!

What to do & see

In Taha’a you can explore the reef and discover the beauty of its multicolored lagoon or ride a four-wheel-drive in the mountains and through the vanilla plantations. Alternatively you can spend the day at the ultimate beach BBQ! As an exclusive event during Paul Gauguin’s Tahiti voyages, passengers can take the ship’s tender service throughout the day to Motu Mahana island, crossing waters so turquoise that the sight will take your breath away. You will disembark on the jetty whilst being serenaded by Polynesian musicians and dancers, then spend a full day partying, or chilling and relaxing under the palms with a delicious BBQ feast served all day along with cooling cocktails from the floating bar.

Brides Abroad tip

Take our editor’s advice at Paul Gauguin’s island BBQ, and stand in the warm, crystal clear ocean and chatter with ‘new friends’ whilst sipping a chilling glass of bubbly, whilst enjoying the world’s best beach party! 

 

DAY 4 & 5

BORA BORA

If you have seen the movie Couples Retreat, starring Vince Vaughn, you will know to expect paradise in Bora Bora. And you won’t be disappointed! This island truly is incredible. So lovely that the ship stays in mooring here for two days to give everyone a chance to be immersed in the Bora Bora experience. Surrounded by sand-fringed motus (islets) and a turquoise lagoon protected by a coral reef, it’s known for its scuba diving. It’s also a popular luxury resort destination – you will see a number of gorgeous hotels, where some guest bungalows are perched Maldives-style over the water on stilts.  At the island’s centre rises the landmark Mt. Otemanu, a 727m dormant volcano.The sight of this gives Bora Bora its distinctive identity.

What to do & see

Most tourists wander the shops, sun on snow-white beaches or swim in the crystalline waters. The best way to see Bora Bora is by renting a jeep, moped or bicycle and traveling the single road that circles the island. Other options include spending the day at the Bora Bora Lagoon Resort or the Hotel Bora Bora, where snorkeling is offered. You can even go shark and ray watching by Glass Bottom Boat, or take a sunset cruise on an Outrigger Canoe. Be sure to shop for the local souvenirs, including gloriously colourful tie-dye wraps and black pear jewellery. If you get the chance, visit Bloody Mary’s restaurant – this famous restaurant lives off the name of a character in the movie South Pacific and offers stunning views. The ‘celebrities wall of fame’ is one of the main attractions at the entrance of the restaurant.

Brides Abroad tip

Two days gave our editor the opportunity to hire a taxi with another couple and spend the first day sightseeing and the next day simply doing nothing but soaking up the sun on an exquisite beach.

 

 

DAY 6 & 7 MOOREA

The last island stop-over is Moorea, where the ship anchors for two days in the bay, giving passengers plenty of time to explore this beautiful tropical island that rises magically out of the ocean, just eleven miles from Tahiti. Moorea is known for its jagged volcanic mountains as well as its sandy beaches.

What to do & see

A scenic drive around the island passes through pineapple fields and coconut palms to a lookout that reveals magnificent views of Cook’s Bay and Papetoai Bay. The island is a popular diving destination because of the frequent shark sightings during dives. Other options include a visit to a brandy distillery, Moorea Juice Factory or a cruise around the spectacular bay aboard a yacht.You could also hike Magic Mountain – this loop-hike can be steep, but the pay off of 360 degree views of the island’s blue waters and dramatic mountain peaks is worth the trip.

Brides Abroad tip

On the first day in Moorea, our editor decided to explore the island by private taxi, with the enthusiastic taxi driver acting as tour guide, taking in the stunning sights of the island, including the incredible view point.  Sadly, plans to find a beach and sunbathe on the second day were rained off – first rain in a week! This resulted in a day relaxing onboard the Paul Gauguin and enjoying its luxurious facilities before heading back to the port of Tahiti.  A good chance to reflect on the wonderful cruise around French Polynesia – and plan a return visit!

 

BLESSINGS ABOARD

During each cruise aboard m/s Paul Gauguin couples are invited to take part in a traditional sunset Wedding Blessing ceremony aboard ship. The truly romantic ceremony is open to a number of couples, that are either on honeymoon, or taking wedding anniversary cruises aboard.  The blessing ceremony begins with a Polynesian dancing display, then a poem is read out:

 Love Eternal

I have carved your name on a leaf

But the wind blew it away

I have carved your name on a tree

But a man cut it down

I have carved your name on the beach

But the sand erased it

So I have carved your name in my heart

Where it will stay forever

Love arises from a glance

And blossoms in a kiss

 The blessing ceremony ends with the couple being taken on deck and having traditional flower garlands placed in their hair, then wrapped together in a special ‘love blanket’ whilst photos are taken as the sun sets behind them. There can be few more romantic moments for a couple to share!

Book it!

Paul Gauguin cruise line offers a luxury cruise experience uniquely tailored to the wonders of the South Pacific. The 5 ½ star Paul Gauguin was christened after the Post-impressionist French painter who first arrived in Tahiti in 1891. Purpose-built for these waters, it sails year-round from Papeete and offers 7- to 14-day itineraries in the Society Islands, Cook Islands, Marquesas and Tuomotus. A handful of sailings venture out to New Zealand or Fiji. Speak to a Paul Gauguin Cruise Specialist on 0800-021-1739 or visit website: www.pgcruises.com

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"We always said that we would get married abroad but I didn’t necessairily want a traditional beach wedding. It is something that we had previously spoken about so once Qamar had proposed we knew that’s what would happen."

Lisa Tytler

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Are you planning a Wedding or Honeymoon in French Polynesia?

Speak to one of our experts today