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Paradise for Pennies: Airfares, Packages & a Cruise Combo on Sale to the South Pacific

Since the Victorian era, when Paul Gauguin abandoned his life, wife, and children in Paris to paint this bit of paradise in the South Pacific, Tahiti has enjoyed a reputation as the ultimate escape from civilization. Though the island is now laced with commercial and suburban development, honeymooners still swoon here, and Europeans in droves travel halfway round the earth to bask on its bright white beaches, with placid, glass-clear lagoons ringed by coral reefs. Even more so than Tahiti, the remote islands of French Polynesia, such as Moorea, still deserve their reputation as the most beautiful in the world, with their lushly green volcanic peaks, jungle roads, waterfalls, wild orchids, and groves of bamboo and pineapple. And despite the fact that tourism is the top industry here, most of the islands -- even parts of Tahiti -- remain unsullied, thanks to the normally prohibitive cost of reaching this remote destination.

A handful of package deals from Los Angeles help bring this Eden closer to home. The best value is Journey Pacific's (tel. 800/704-7094; seven-night Tahiti-Moorea package for $1,599. You'll spend two nights in Tahiti, at the 3-star Hotel Tiare Tahiti on Papeete's waterfront, with mouthwatering views of your next destination, Moorea -- which Frommer's South Pacific dubs the most beautiful island on earth. You'll spend five nights there, at Hotel Les Tipaniers, in beach bungalows equipped with kitchens, to help you save money on meals -- if you can resist the savory mix of French and island cuisine served in restaurants. Additional taxes on this package are low, at $100 a person, and prices are good through December. During high season, from June to October, the base price goes up to $1,299.

If you don't require beachfront accommodations, you can get to Tahiti for even less via Journey Pacific. Round-trip air from Los Angeles and five nights in Tahiti are $1,199, through December, also at the Hotel Tiare Tahiti. High season prices on this also go up $100, to $1,299

Five nights on Bora Bora -- famous for its lagoon and central mountain, which protrudes like a tombstone over waters that range from yellow to vivid blue -- are $1,899, from Blue Pacific Vacations (tel. 800/798-0590; You'll stay in a garden room at LeMaitai Polynesia Hotel, a secluded, three-star beachfront resort. The price includes round-trip air, transfers, breakfasts, and a choice of either daily lunch or dinner. The special is valid for Monday departures from Los Angeles. Airport taxes and fees are an additional $125.

A little farther afield, go beyond French Polynesia to Fiji, where you can spend a full seven nights on the island of Nadi for $1,265 from Los Angeles, also through Journey Pacific. You'll stay in the Fiji Mocambo Hotel, near the airport, but set amid 42 acres of tropical gardens in the Namaka hills. The price is good for travel from April 26 to June 17 and from July 18 to August 26. The price doesn't include air taxes from $40 to $200 a person.

For those who want to explore the less touristed islands and book their own hotels, Travelocity (tel. 888/872-8356; is offering round-trip fares from Los Angeles to Papeete, Tahiti, for only $607. From the Travelocity home page, click flights, then "See all deals," then Air Tahiti Nui, under Featured Deals. You must book by March 31, for travel by May 31. (From New York, the price rises to $1,316 -- roughly the same differential that applies to the package deals.) From Papeete, ferry service covers the twelve miles to Moorea several times a day. The passenger ferry Ono Ono makes three excursions a week, for less than $100 round-trip, to Bora Bora as well as the leeward islands of Huahine, Raiatea, and Tahaa.

Air Pacific (tel. 800/227-4446; is selling two-for-one fares through April 15 to Nadi from LAX. How's that break down? Just $1,498 (or $749 per person!). Departure dates are good through June 10 with the latest return available through June 30. We say, jump on this now. Full details are available at The national carrier is also selling single fares starting from $850 per person; details found at

One packager has taken advantage of Air Pacific's twofer sale and combined the discounted airfares with a hotel and a cruise. Brendan Worldwide Vacations (tel. 800/257-4199; has put together a luxury package at a bargain price. From $1,378, the eight-day/five-night package includes round-trip airfare out of Los Angeles on Air Pacific, two nights at the Tokatoka Resort in Nadi, and a four-day/three-night cruise on the MV Yasawa Princess from Blue Lagoon Cruises. You'll have a main deck cabin and all meals are included while aboard ship. Typically, you would pay this much for either your airfare or the cruise alone. There are only four departure dates for this outing: April 3, 7, 21 and 24 and spaces are limited. Expect to pay around $110 extra per person on taxes and fees.

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