Visiting French Polynesia’s Most Remote Islands

Visiting French Polynesia's Most Remote Islands

All Aboard! Windstar’s statuesque, 5 football field length yacht, the Star Breeze, prevails its stunning steel body on the dock of this Tahitian coastline. The tropical temperatures are surging in Papeete, as is the anticipation of the arriving 300 plus guest list.

Awaiting entry onto the whale of a ship’s multiple decks, I am greeted with the third polynesian lei I have received in my lifetime, this time to board my first ever cruise ship adventure. With the likes of travel enthusiasts, vacation thirsty professionals, and journalists, I feel a sense of unfamiliarity as I stand aloof in a school of strangers from all regions of the globe.

My First Cruise Ship Experience

My exhilaration is muted by the unbecoming thoughts I have about cruise ship life surrounded by vast horizons of open ocean and the unknown lands between them. As the pleasure seekers steer off into all compass directions, my better half and I are left alone to familiarize ourselves with our new home for the next 11 days. Little did I or any guest forecast our future destination’s turn of events.

marquesas islands at sunrise from windstar star breeze ship
Nuku Hiva, Marquesas Islands

Rising out of my luxurious bed, I swerve drastically to one foot’s balance remembering the vessel carrying us is cruising at 15 knots at open seas. Then opening our window curtains I see the monstrous oceans strength and size making our ship resemble a mere ant in a boundless forest.

The sun is out and the day of exploration begins, with hopes of beaches mirroring photos I recall from surf and travel magazines. Our navigation to the Archipelago of Tuamotu called for a full day at sea, so I was prepared to take my amateur sea legs up deck to start my morning with a Latte and a bow view from the Yacht Club.

marquesas islands most remote islands in french polynesia
Fatu Hiva, Marquesas Islands

Fakarava: A Pristine Atoll

The pristine atoll of Fakarava was on our itinerary and my eagerness was overflowing to step into the clear blue waters of French Polynesia. With no excursions planned, we boarded the tender boat with swimming attire and camera gear, sunscreened and water ready.

The long stretch of land looked to last about a few hours walking time, with unfamiliar beaches that curved in the far distance. The town was quiet, a main road along the beach with a couple of shops and restaurants near the dock.

Fakarava Atoll French Polynesia Tuamotus
Fakarava Atoll, French Polynesia

A quick stroll past the businesses led us to our first beach photo opportunity and a surprising visit from a local nurse shark. The water was turquoise green and at a tropically heated temperature, a pleasant introduction for a first time cruise ship guest stepping off the ship.

After a few hours exploring the beach sides of our first anchorage, we returned to the Star Breeze to lavish on the exquisite selection of cuisine on board.

Basking on the glamorous top deck, I ponder the thought of returning to the island to further our experience of Fakarava’s exotic simplicity. Knowing my prematurely sun exposed skin should not underestimate the Tahitian sun, I settle for some poolside shade and ice cold beverages.

Our trip is just beginning and tonight’s “Port Talk” will satisfy my excited hopes for tomorrow’s new island introduction. The Society Islands lie ahead, and my dreams to personally experience Bora Bora are inspired by my sister’s captivating honeymoon snapshots from the early 1990’s.

Embracing The Unforeseen

Settling into our seats for the port talk, our destination’s director greets the audience and with a switch of tone in his voice the word “Cyclone” is announced like an echo through a cave. Unknown to us, a category 1 cyclone forecast threatens the travel and safety of our ship and those habitating in the surrounding Society Islands.

An immediate cause for retraction of planned destinations was executed while Windstar’s officers and crew responded quickly to create a new itinerary that was not just suitable for substitution, but worthy of a monumental first-time experience for the guests aboard.

Unbelievably taken back by the loss, we were concurrently rewarded with the opportunity to visit the exclusive Marquesas Islands. Unfamiliar with these islands, I relied on my companion’s travel credentials and insights when explaining the magnitude of this double edged gift.

So off we sailed toward equator horizons, to one of the most remote group of islands in the world.

nuku hiva sunrise rainbow from windstar ship
We were greeted with the most beautiful rainbow at our first port in the Marquesas Islands.

Windstar’s Expertise in Navigating French Polynesia

Being a novice cruise ship traveler, I did not realize the depth of difficulty in the sudden change of itinerary plans. Aboard this grandeur ship of excellence, I didn’t have to worry about this cyclone, nor did I need to search for a private excursion that could fulfill my expectations of beauty and lifetime memories.

In the face of uncertainty, Windstar’s expertise shines. With over 35 years of sailing experience in French Polynesia, they prove to be the most knowledgeable cruise line, seamlessly connecting with the Marquesas Islands. The depth of their knowledge reassures us, turning each day into a unique adventure set to superior industry standards.

Our journey unfolds with 3 days in the Marquesas, followed by the iconic Bora Bora and concluding in Moorea.

hanakee lodge pool hiva oa marquesas islands
Hiva Oa, Marquesas Islands

The allure of these remote islands, combined with Windstar’s unparalleled expertise, transforms a potential setback into a voyage of extraordinary experiences, proving that outlying islands often hold the most unexpected and beautiful surprises.

Cruising The Marquesas Islands

Venturing into the heart of French Polynesia’s most remote islands offers a rare and immersive experience that transcends the ordinary.

hiva oa black sand beach marquesas islands
Hiva Oa, Marquesas Islands

Our journey unveiled not only rugged cliffs cascading into the Pacific, stunning black sand beaches and pristine bays, but also facilitated profound encounters with the local people in a region where ancestral culture continues to flourish to this day. Windstar organized cultural performances and immersive excursions, offering us a peek into the lives of the island’s residents.

nuku hiva beach marquesas islands
Nuku Hiva, Marquesas Islands

Windstar had initially planned their debut journey to the Marquesas Islands in July, making this exclusive itinerary accessible for future Windstar travelers. Adding to the attraction, their upcoming itineraries to the Marquesas include visits to Bora Bora, Moorea, Motu Mahaea, and Rangiroa — four of the most stunning islands in French Polynesia!

motu mahaea tahaa french polynesia windstar
Motu Mahaea, French Polynesia

See the full itinerary below and reach out to me or Windstar to plan and book your perfect luxury island cruise. Additionally, check out my comprehensive guide detailing what awaits you on their 7-Day Dreams of Tahiti cruise.

  • Papeete
  • At Sea
  • Fakarava
  • At Sea
  • Omoa, Fatu Hiva, Marquesas
  • Atuona, Hiva Oa, Marquesas
  • Taiohae, Nuku Hiva, Marquesas
  • At Sea
  • Rangiroa
  • At Sea
  • Motu Mahaea (Taha’a)
  • Bora Bora
  • Bora Bora
  • Moorea

As the Marquesas, Bora Bora, and Moorea fade in our wake, I find myself reflecting on the transformative nature of this voyage. My long awaited cruise line experience came with surprises that surpassed my imaginative expectations. In the midst of uncertainty, I experienced stewardship at its finest.

Windstar’s seamless adaptation to unforeseen challenges, coupled with their unparalleled expertise, turned what could have been a disappointment into a journey of a lifetime.

Read More:

The Best Overwater Bungalows in Bora Bora

South Pacific Cruise Packing List

The Safest Caribbean Islands + Where to Stay

The Best Islands to See in Hawaii

Island Hopping in Fiji’s Yasawa Islands

Plan Your Trip

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