Big Adventure: Dive Right In
ONE TO WATCH When Jacques Cousteau studied the Polynesian atolls in the 1980s, he declared Tikehau, in the Tuamotu Islands, a diver's paradise. Because of the flat topography and remote location (it's an hour by plane from the Society Islands), Tikehau has some of the most varied species of fish—as well as some of the region's best beaches. Just over two years ago Pearl Resorts opened 30 bungalows here on a small islet 15 minutes from the village. The spacious thatched cottages with partially open-air bathrooms are a simpler version of their resort in Tahaa and blend in perfectly in these less developed surroundings. The staff is very accommodating, particularly the unflappable general manager, Jacques Constant. Don't miss the dance show put on by the villagers, which may be much less polished than other such shows in the more popular islands but is genuinely charming as a result. Rooms, $360-$570; 689-50-84-54; www.pearlresorts.com.
Boats To Book: Sailing the South Seas
THE SHIP WE LOVE Everything about M/S Paul Gauguin is first-rate: The cabins are spacious and handsome; the restaurants varied and delicious. There's a range of watersports and a full Carita spa; and the staff is particularly accommodating. The seven-day Society Islands cruise is the standard, but a 14-day trip to the remote Marquesas launches at the end of the year. Rates, $6,990-$23,190 for two; 877-505-5370; www.rssc.com.
Be Sure To Pack
Hermès' portable leather backgammon set, for long afternoons by the lagoon. $1,800; 800-441-4488.
Hotel rates range from the lowest-priced double to the highest-priced suite in high season. In most cases VAT is not included.