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More Beautiful than Hawaii?

JIMinNC

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I know that many of us on the Marriott TUG board love Maui Ocean Club, Waiohai, and the other MVC Hawaii resorts. My wife and I have long considered Hawaii our "Happy Place" and consider it one of the most amazing spots we have ever visited on the planet. Well, after our just-completed visit to French Polynesia, with a seven-night cruise on the m/s Paul Gauguin and a post-cruise stay at the Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort, Hawaii has some competition.

We still think Hawaii wins out on the variety of activities, the great restaurants, the golf, and the great resorts, but nothing we've ever seen compares to French Polynesia for sheer beauty. Bora Bora's lagoon is the most incredible place I've ever seen - I snorkeled alongside blacktip reef sharks and lemon sharks, interacted one-on-one with affectionate stingrays, and snorkeled with so many fish it felt like I was inside an aquarium - and that lagoon water has such an incredible variety of colors of blue.

I post this because I know so many Marriott owners love Hawaii, and I think you all would also love French Polynesia. Below is a link to a review I posted in CruiseCritic (the TUG for cruising).

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/topic/2673306-our-june-8-paul-gauguin-cruise/

A lot of people call French Polynesia "Hawaii Unplugged" and that title fits. It's sort of what people who have never been to Hawaii probably picture Hawaii to be, and what Hawaii probably was like 80-100 years ago.

We'll continue to go to Hawaii at least every other year, but we're probably going to have to figure out how to work Tahiti and Bora Bora into our rotation at least once more as well. Maybe a week or two in Hawaii followed by another Paul Gauguin cruise.

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DaveNV

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Tahiti has been on my bucket list since I was a little kid. I want to do exactly what you did. Sounds like a fantastic trip. :)

Dave
 

mjm1

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Thanks for sharing. Hawaii is our happy place too. Your experience in Tahiti and Bora Bora sounds great and something we will have to consider in the future.

Best regards.

Mike
 

Sandy VDH

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Did a week on tradewinds in FP, then sent some time at some other islands, and a few days at an overwater in Bora Bora. It was stunning.

I am off to Fiji in September for a comparison.
 

JIMinNC

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Did a week on tradewinds in FP, then sent some time at some other islands, and a few days at an overwater in Bora Bora. It was stunning.

I am off to Fiji in September for a comparison.
We did the overwater bungalow post-cruise on Moorea at the Hilton. We wanted to do one on Bora Bora like you did, but it was much easier to just hop the ferry from Tahiti, 30 minutes over to Moorea versus a fairly expensive inter-island flight to Bora Bora. You are so right, it is stunning.

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Sandy VDH

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view from my bed at sunrise.
 

Sandy VDH

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don't know why it won't post picture in first post. strange.
 

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Sandy VDH

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Tikehau beach unit was great too. (never had this much problem with picture before, maybe I am posting before it is fully loaded). Weird.
 

Sandy VDH

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upload_2019-6-21_23-55-48.png
 

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Steve Fatula

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The world is big, there are many great spots other than Hawaii. We loved Thailand, and Fiji. The Momi Bay resort in Fiji was very very nice and the people the nicest we have seen anywhere. A different sort of adventure was Iguasu Falls, that was a great trip too but no ocean. I am sure there are many others. Hawaii is not on the top of our list at least but is nice of course. I would love to hit French Polynesia but only so much time! Our next overseas is likely Kenya.
 

pedro47

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Awesome Cruise Critics review on both cruise ships. Loved it.
 

Theiggy

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We went to FP on our honeymoon and just fell in love with it. The beauty is unreal. I’ve yet to go to Hawaii! I don’t love all the travel time from NY. Great review.


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mav

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Bavaria in the summer is my paradise here on earth. I can't get enough of it!! It haunts my dreams and when the plane is heading there for my summer heaven trip I feel like the mountains are singing "She's on her way, Willkommen, Maria". We have been waiting for you. :)
 

Theiggy

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How were the mosquitos when you were there? When we went we found them relentless despite the bug spray and oil the locals gave us, especially on Bora Bora.


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coachBoris

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We used to live in Hawaii and have gone back to visit the last two years. My wife loves it there, I on the other hand want to experience FP and Bora Bora. Great info here and on the CC site. 20th anniversary in 2021, so on the list of destinations.
 

klpca

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As soon as I read the title, I hoped that it would be a thread about French Polynesia. We also went on a Tradewinds FP cruise last Nov and tacked on 3 days in Moorea. I had the same reaction as you. While both are beautiful, it really isn't close (and I am a Hawaii cheerleader). Moorea is simply stunning - the closest thing to it is the north shore of Kauai, but Moorea is like Kauai on steroids. Add on a lack of traffic and development in general and it is heaven on earth. Even Tahiti had a lot to offer once you got out of Papeete.

You may have been on the cruise with my husbands co-worker. She mentioned that one of the Gauguin ships had something mechanically wrong and that while some of the passengers were given cabins on the other ship, others had to stay on the ship in port. How very disappointing!
 

ljmiii

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I read the thread title and thought, "There is only one place on earth more beautiful...oh good, he *did* go to French Polynesia."
 

BocaBoy

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I am off to Fiji in September for a comparison.
I will be very interested to see what you think of Fiji. We were there only once (in 2005) while on a 2-month Pacific cruise, but we did not find it all appealing. It was OK, but not especially beautiful and also very hot when we were there (late November). Perhaps other parts of Fiji are better and perhaps we hit a day when the trade winds were not blowing, but it also was not nearly as green and lush as we expected.

The French Polynesia cruise has been on our bucket list for years.
 

WinniWoman

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So beautiful! I doubt we will ever get there, but love seeing the pics!
 

Conan

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JIMinNC

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As soon as I read the title, I hoped that it would be a thread about French Polynesia. We also went on a Tradewinds FP cruise last Nov and tacked on 3 days in Moorea. I had the same reaction as you. While both are beautiful, it really isn't close (and I am a Hawaii cheerleader). Moorea is simply stunning - the closest thing to it is the north shore of Kauai, but Moorea is like Kauai on steroids. Add on a lack of traffic and development in general and it is heaven on earth. Even Tahiti had a lot to offer once you got out of Papeete.

You may have been on the cruise with my husbands co-worker. She mentioned that one of the Gauguin ships had something mechanically wrong and that while some of the passengers were given cabins on the other ship, others had to stay on the ship in port. How very disappointing!
I agree with your assessment of Moorea. The landscape is more visually stunning than even Bora Bora - Kauai on steroids is a good description - but what makes Bora Bora so amazing is the lagoon. The water is so much bluer than anywhere I have ever seen, and when contrasted with Mt Otemanu, it's gorgeous.

It sounds like your husband's co-worker was on our same cruise. What actually happened was one of Windstar's ships, the Wind Spirit, had a problem and was docked right beside us in Papeete on embarkation day, June 8. So, Windstar apparently paid for some of their passengers to take any empty cabins on the Paul Gauguin. Windstar is actually a competitor of Paul Gauguin, as Paul Gauguin only has the one ship. That actually shows how competitors can sometimes work together to solve problems for their customers. I had wondered if there were some of the Windstar passengers who could not be accommodated onboard the Gauguin, so your post indicates there were. That would be so bad to go that far only to have that happen, but if Windstar was willing to send some passengers to a competitor, I suspect they are compensating those left behind with a free cruise or something significant.
 

JIMinNC

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How were the mosquitos when you were there? When we went we found them relentless despite the bug spray and oil the locals gave us, especially on Bora Bora.


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No problem with mosquitos at all, but we didn't do any hiking or off-road tours. The cruise line advised people hiking or off-roading to take mosquito repellent. The three land tours we took pretty much stayed on the paved roads. There were no mosquitos on the beaches or motus we visited, and obviously none in the snorkeling spots in the lagoon. The cruise ships don't dock at any of the islands, but use tenders to shuttle people to the small docks in the villages, so in the evening we were out of range of any mosquitos. When we got to our post-cruise stay on Moorea, we were at the Hilton right on the lagoon and our bungalow was a hundred yards or more out over the lagoon, so we dined outside every night with no pests at all.

What time of the year were you there? June through September is the French Polynesian winter, so it's not as hot and humid as their summer season from November through April. I suspect their summer has more mosquitos.
 

Theiggy

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No problem with mosquitos at all, but we didn't do any hiking or off-road tours. The cruise line advised people hiking or off-roading to take mosquito repellent. The three land tours we took pretty much stayed on the paved roads. There were no mosquitos on the beaches or motus we visited, and obviously none in the snorkeling spots in the lagoon. The cruise ships don't dock at any of the islands, but use tenders to shuttle people to the small docks in the villages, so in the evening we were out of range of any mosquitos. When we got to our post-cruise stay on Moorea, we were at the Hilton right on the lagoon and our bungalow was a hundred yards or more out over the lagoon, so we dined outside every night with no pests at all.

What time of the year were you there? June through September is the French Polynesian winter, so it's not as hot and humid as their summer season from November through April. I suspect their summer has more mosquitos.
We were there in July, the weather was beautiful. We encountered the most mosquitos while hiking (Jeep tour) in Moorea and then at the resorts too! We stayed in an overwater bungalow in Moorea, so not a problem, and then we were supposed to stay in a Beach bungalow with a plunge pool in Bora Bora but the mosquitos were so bad they upgraded us to an overwater at check in at their suggestion. I remember checking into that overwater unit and finding a 2 foot can of Raid type bug spray in the closet. My husband and I wondered what that was for. Well a few days in I moved one of my small suitcases that was on the floor and found out! To this day I’m not sure what it was but it ran fast! Of course all this is minor compared to the beautiful views, stingrays, snorkeling, hiking etc we did. Of course I didn’t get off the boat on the shark excursion!!! But I did come home very bitten up despite diligent use of sprays and oils. We also were on land for the Heiva Festival. It was very exciting to be there at the time of a cultural Festival and see traditional shows. I’m guessing it was a once in a lifetime trip for us. But maybe someday when the kids are grown...


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JIMinNC

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We were there in July, the weather was beautiful. We encountered the most mosquitos while hiking (Jeep tour) in Moorea and then at the resorts too! We stayed in an overwater bungalow in Moorea, so not a problem, and then we were supposed to stay in a Beach bungalow with a plunge pool in Bora Bora but the mosquitos were so bad they upgraded us to an overwater at check in at their suggestion. I remember checking into that overwater unit and finding a 2 foot can of Raid type bug spray in the closet. My husband and I wondered what that was for. Well a few days in I moved one of my small suitcases that was on the floor and found out! To this day I’m not sure what it was but it ran fast! Of course all this is minor compared to the beautiful views, stingrays, snorkeling, hiking etc we did. Of course I didn’t get off the boat on the shark excursion!!! But I did come home very bitten up despite diligent use of sprays and oils. We also were on land for the Heiva Festival. It was very exciting to be there at the time of a cultural Festival and see traditional shows. I’m guessing it was a once in a lifetime trip for us. But maybe someday when the kids are grown...


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We heard a lot about the upcoming Heiva Festival and would love to go back some time in July for that. Sounds exciting.

The sharks look imposing, but they don't seem to bother people. During the snorkeling with sharks, I felt more threatened by the other snorkelers not paying attention to where they were going!

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