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Setting sail from Papeete
If you are in search of paradise, don't expect it to be easy to get there! It's a long old haul to get to Papeete, the capital of French Polynesia. And once you are there, Papeete itself is by no means the most magical spot - you need to venture forth to see the other islands, and luxuriate in the turquoise lagoons, white sand beaches fringed with palm trees, rugged mountain peaks and coral reefs. Expensive and remote, these islands have maintained their uncommercial magic, with excellent hotels and a warm Polynesian welcome everywhere you go.
Don’t bother with local currency – all the local shops and markets will take US dollars. And take aqua shoes, impossible to walk in the sea otherwise.
French Polynesia: Raiatea
Raiatea, the second largest of the Society Islands, played a vital role in the development of Polynesian culture; it was from this island that settlers departed for Hawaii and New Zealand over a millennium ago. The island feels wilder than Tahiti, with steep, jungle-covered mountains, cascading waterfalls and ancient Polynesian temples.
Cook Islands: Rarotonga
Surrounded by kaleidoscopic reefs, white sand beaches and beautifully blue waters, Rarotonga is exactly what most of us picture when we think of the South Pacific. The lagoon is ideally suited to snorkelling and scuba diving, while the island itself is home to ancient sacred sites and pretty coral churches.
Cook Islands: Aitutaki
The sleepy island of Aitutaki is big on natural beauty, thanks to its stunning reef-enclosed lagoon. It’s also a deeply spiritual place: in the village of Arutanga you’ll find the oldest church in the Cook Islands, dating back to 1829, and services here are a spellbinding spectacle, with hymns featuring unaccompanied four-part harmonies.
Nuku’Alofa, the ‘Abode of Love’, is the capital of Tonga, the last surviving Polynesian monarchy. The city's main attraction is the Royal Palace, an attractive wooden building dating back to 1867, while the island of Tongatapu offers wild beaches, cute villages and intriguing archaeological sites.
The Vava’u group of islands is part of the Kingdom of Tonga, the last surviving Polynesian monarchy and the only South Pacific nation never to have been colonised by Europeans. Vava’u is idyllic but also authentic, and is one of the best places in the region to see humpback whales during their annual migration between May and October.
Lautoka is Fiji’s second largest city, known as the ‘Sugar City’ due to its important role in the local sugarcane industry. The waterfront area is pleasant enough, but we’d recommend using Lautoka as a jumping off point to visit some of the smaller surrounding islands, or the forests and waterfalls of the interior.
New Zealand: Bay of Islands
The beautiful Bay of Islands is scattered with some 150 undeveloped islands, an idyllic landscape of bright skies, secluded beaches and clear blue waters. The bay was also the site of the first permanent British settlement in New Zealand, and it was here that the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840 between the British Crown and the Maori chiefs.
Arriving in Auckland
Auckland offers a buzzing waterfront and a vibrant arts scene, and provides a fascinating introduction to New Zealand's proud cultural heritage. The centre is home to excellent shopping and a number of fantastic restaurants, while the north of the city has a distinctly more laid-back vibe, and to the west is the city's oldest wine region.
It’s not all about the city; there is stunning natural beauty within easy reach, including black sand beaches, islands and extinct volcanic cones.
Your home from home
Any one of Seabourn's lovely little trio of spacious and elegant sisters is the perfect choice for a combination of contemporary style and traditional expert hospitality.
What we love
When Seabourn built Odyssey, Sojourn and Quest, over a period of just three years, we were delighted. Not only because each one is beautiful, but also because their similarity means that they are interchangeable, enabling you to travel all over the world in a familiar environment.
|Crew||330 International Staff|
|Style||The contemporary décor appeals to a sophisticated and cosmopolitan crowd. With lots of outside space, you can enjoy an al fresco experience if you choose.|
|Odyssey 2009, Sojourn 2010, Quest 2011|
|Cruising Speed||19 knots|
Tailor-make your trip
Extend your stay in French Polynesia
For the ultimate eco-hotel experience, go for the Brando! Eye wateringly expensive, but a bit special.
Explore the islands
If you are visiting Bora Bora tour the island by open bus - Le Truck.
Where to stay in Auckland
There are some great luxury lodges within easy reach of the city. In the city itself we like the Langham.
About 3 hours north of the city is the Bay of Islands, an area of pristine islands and turquoise water as well as small towns of historic and cultural interest.