There is a legend that after the gods created earth, they created the isles of the South Pacific and claimed it as their home.
Lush green mountain ranges filled with an abundance of flora and fauna, beautiful sand beaches, coral reefs and an occasional tiki monument have long been enticing visitors for years. A South Pacific cruise holiday opens up not just one destination but many in the chain of tropical paradises.
Some of the ports of call and things to do include:
Bora Bora was placed on the map by world renowned traveler James Michener who claimed was “the most beautiful spot on the planet”.
Matira Beach is the place to wind surf, scuba dive, swim, jet-ski or simply rest on the sands and soak up the sun. The shimmering lagoon provides great scuba diving opportunities with its many tropical fish and stunning coral reefs. If getting wet is out of the question, then go on a glass bottom boat to witness all the creatures that reside under the sea.
A stand out is the two enormous black-rock peaks that dominate the centre of the island. Go on a hiking excursion around the island or take a helicopter excursion for a tour of the terrain and peaks.
Moorea is definitely known as the place to relax with its many picturesque lagoons and mountains. Created from an erupting volcano thousands of years ago, this unique and beautiful heart shaped island has been featured in countless Hollywood films.
Belvedere Lookout at the summit of Mt. Rotui offers memorable views of Opunohu Bay and Cook’s Bay, which is shaped like two giant fingers. These lagoons offer boating, jet and water skiing, paragliding, scuba diving an even shark feeding.
Tiki Village Theatre is a cultural treat where one can view traditional dance performances and tour a pearl farm. Authentic carvings by native artisans, as well as weavings, leis and quilts are available for purchase.
Quench your thirst when visiting the Moorea Juice Factory. Sample a variety of island favourites including papaya, pineapple and coconut amongst others, along with fruit brandies and liqueurs. Moorea educates the visitor about the cultivation of vanilla and pineapples as well. Visiting the ruins of a Polynesian temple will finish the day in port.
Tahiti is the largest and arguably most famous island in the entire French Polynesia region. It has been a popular tourist attraction and has been attracting millions of people for almost 200 years.
The first visit to the islands was by the explorers and included Samuel Wallis in 1767 and James Cook in 1769. The explorers brought back tales of beautiful islands filled with natives that made the world interested in this area.
Papeete contains several interesting sights and gives a personal look into the Polynesian culture. Close to the waterfront esplanade is the yellow hue Cathedral of Notre Dame de Papeete. The cathedral is situated in the centre of town and is designed in a gothic style. It was consecrated in the late 19th century. Another sight is the colourful Protestant Temple de Paofai which was built in 1873. The exterior is pink, the timber filigree work is white and the steeple is green.
For some underwater fun, try diving along “The Wreck” to see colourful groups of fish as well as a long sunk shipwreck (hence the name) with a Catalina flying boat airplane.
However, the best place to get the ‘real’ feel of everyday life is Marche du Papeete. This main marketplace of Tahiti contains everything from fresh flowers to hand crafted gifts to locally caught fish.
Considered the most sacred of the Polynesian island, Raiatea contains many archaeological ruins in what is known as ‘maraes’. The most important one on the island is Taputapuatea which once was the central temple and religious centre of Polynesia.
When arriving in port, take note of Mount Temahani a volcano that once destroyed the island. Legend has it that Oro, the god of fertility and war, was born on Mount Temahani and controls the volcanic activity which has remained dormant for years. Locals believe by worshipping Oro, as they had for centuries, the volcano will never rage again. Explore the interior of the island with a 4WD safari and come across its canyons, trails and waterfalls.
Considered as a symbol of purity to the Polynesians, the black pearl hails from the island’s waters. On Raiatea, passengers can visit a pearl farm. Another commodity is vanilla and the Vanilla Plantation is in order for a visit.
The South Pacific Islands offer a treasure trove that is not found anywhere else. The chance to visit these South Pacific Islands from various ports can be found with Cunard, Crystal Cruises, Paul Gauguin, Holland America, Oceania Cruises, Princess Cruises, Silversea and Windstar Cruises. The cruises usually range from seven-day sailings all the way to being a segment on a world cruise.
Written by Veronica Shine