Taha’a – French Polynesia’s secret island

This little island is tucked inside the protective reef of Raiatea.  Not much happens here apart from fishing and farming the large plantations of vanilla.  From the sea it looks like we are stepping into the movie set for Jurassic Park.  Incredibly dense jungle climbing up steep mountain slopes which seem to be slightly steaming in the hot humid midday heat.

So are we going to be doing an Indiana Jones in all of this jungly type scenery?  No siree.  Us folks are on the good old ship Paul Gauguin and we are some spoilt children.  Before we even think of taking the elevator down to deck 3 for the tender to our private Motu our trusty Paul Gauguin crew have been wending their way to and fro to set up a first class BBQ buffet for us poor starving cruisers.  Crates of champagne, vodka, gin, rum and who knows what else has been shaped up and shipped out.  The Motu’s coconut trees have been stripped bare of young nuts (no not the locals) in order to provide tropical style coconut drinks for them thar tourists.  Crikey – we are a spoilt bunch.

All we have to do now is get our flippers on and mask and snorkel securely fixed.  Now that’s no easy task.  Better to get yourself down to the water’s edge and plonk your butt down in the crunchy sand while you drag on flippers in preparation for your “Jacques Cousteau” moment.  Ouch – was that a conch??

Seriously though folks – the underwater scenery is just like being in your orthodontist’s aquarium.  It’s all there – well except for the little plastic diver with bubbles coming out of his helmet.  The colours are really incredible and there is just no way to describe the delight of weightlessly floating over this coral garden.  In fact it is particularly gratifying to feel weightless taking into consideration the calorie free chocolates I find on my pillow every night. 

If you have ever wondered what it feels like to be a star – then there is only one way to find out – sail with Paul Gauguin and you feel Hollywood every single minute.  Really darling – it’s true!

By Lesley Keyter

Lesley Keyter is the face of travel in the fast growing city of Calgary. Every week since 1997 she has has featured live on the Morning News Global TV.

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