Top 11 Photos from Our French Polynesian Paul Gauguin Cruise

Tahiti, Mo’orea, Bora Bora, Rangiroa….

For years I dreamed of traveling to these Polynesian islands but truly thought I wouldn’t get to visit them anytime soon. The thing that made them so alluring, how absolutely remote and beautiful they were, also made them seem unattainable for a backpacking traveler like myself. So I put them on the shelf as something for the future, toying with the idea of a trip now and then but always pushing aside for somewhere else.

When I told my dad about my plan to leave my job and travel the world, it sparked an idea to take a family trip to Tahiti. He and Karen had done the same trip in years past and had loved it. In December 2013 my dad turned 70 (he was actually with me in Chile for that too!) and
a couple months later in Feb he took us all on a 10 day Paul Gaugin Cruise around the French Polynesian islands to celebrate his 70th. Absolutely amazing!!

We spent the 10 days cruising around the Society Islands and the Tuamotus. Our stops included: Huahine, Bora Bora, Rangiroa, Fakarava, Mo’orea, Taha’a, and Tahiti, and one full day “at sea”. The ship held only 300 passengers so you avoided the feeling of offloading a small city onto an island at each port which was always my fear about taking a cruise. Here’s our boat’s path:

Paul Gauguin 10 Day Tahiti Cruise Itinerary

Days were spent exploring islands, snorkeling with manta rays and octopi, laying on beaches, dodging tropical downpours, testing the Drink of the Day poolside and one of my favorite experiences: scuba diving the passes at Rangiroa and Fakarava, considered two of the premiere dive sites in the world. To look over laterally and see two 8ft-wide manta rays just cruising along next to you is an incredible feeling! Then suddenly dolphins would be torpedoing past, swooping down and then back up and out of view again to breach the surface. It’s another world down there.

I have many photos that will come in separate posts, but here are my 11 favorites in no particular order!

1. Calm waters of French Polynesia at sunset. Anyone want to go in on a hut off Mo’orea with me?

Calm Tahitian waters at sunset

2. Dolphins playing alongside our boat at the cut on Fakarava. I love the spray from his tail:

Dolphins swimming in French Polynesia

3. Fiery sunset with stark contrast between the dark palm trees and the bright sky:

Fiery sunset skies over Tahiti

4. This guy is a Blue Footed Booby but I cropped his feet out. I love his eyes … and his hairline:

Closeup of the blue footed boobie

5. Mason and Dad on Dad and Karen’s balcony, their room was a few doors down from ours:

Black and White of Paul Gaugin boat blacony

6. Another of the sunset, the section of clouds was illuminated like it was glowing:

Stark contrast between palm trees and sky

7a. Bora Bora rainy day. Wait for it………..

Family portrait in Bora Bora

7b. One, two, three, JUMP!

Oltman family jumping in Bora Bora

8. A man fishing off the dock on Huahine, our first island stop. The colors of the sky and water were incredible:

Fisherman on a dock in Huahine, Society Islands

9. Polynesian dancers on Paul Gauguin:

Polynesian dancers on Paul Gaugin

10. A guy SUP-ing around the warm Polynesian waters while our boat made its way to our next island. Fun to have the bird’s eye perspective:

Stand Up Paddleboard off a Polynesian motu

11. Macro of the flower’s center on Bora Bora. So pink!

Pink flower on Bora Bora

More posts about specific islands to come later!