Taha'a, French Polynesia
Taha'a, known for its fragrant vanilla, makes an enchanting and exotic spot for boutique small-ship cruise lines (including Windstar Cruises and Paul Gauguin Cruises call here). Ships anchor in the island's sparkling blue bay waters, which serve as your playground during your stay.
What We Love
Lagoon Living: Step away from your ship's sports deck and take a kayaking or stand-up-paddleboarding journey around the lagoon. You also can arrange a dive excursion that departs from the back of the ship — gear included. And your views around the bay — sandy shores, cloud-shrouded mountain peaks, and those gorgeous blue-hued waters — while on board are splendid.
Motu Mahana: If you cruise with Paul Gauguin, you and your fellow passengers get to be castaways for the day on the line's private island. Crew bring over refreshments and a barbecue lunch, including a floating bar, and you simply bask in the remoteness far away from any worldly concerns. Play in the waters, stroll the tiny island, or relax in a lounger under coconut-filled trees.
Best Known For
Vanilla Production: Head ashore to tour a vanilla plantation and learn the fascinating process that gives Taha'a the name "Vanilla Island" for its especially flavorful and fragrant spice.
Pearl Farms: This industry has surpassed commercial fishing in the region, and several family-operated Tahitian pearl farms dot the waters around the island. Watch free divers head 20 feet below to check on the oysters that produce the famed cultured black pearls.
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Who It's Best For
Those Seeking a Real Escape: This is another planet, right? You are worlds away from your daily routine, and you love it. Sunshine, beaches, blue waters, and the weather that is almost always ideal — no wonder the residents you meet are always smiling.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Not for the Budget-Conscious: Traveling around paradise can be very expensive. The cruises are all on luxury ships, and airfare is costly, too.
John Roberts is a New Jersey-based writer for ShermansCruise who worked at The Virginian-Pilot.