Immersive Learning in the South Pacific

Self-proclaimed nature lover Amy Goetsch and her husband, Nick, turned a three-week South Pacific vacation into the educational opportunity of a lifetime for their two young sons. With guidance from Cedar Falls-based Virtuoso travel advisor Annie Humble-Gougler, the family explored deserted motus, toured a vanilla plantation and black pearl farm, and caught a glimpse of the sacred blue-eyed eel during a freshwater river excursion.

“This photo [above] shows our 6-year-old son, Andrew, drift-snorkeling in a coral garden in Taha’a,” explains Amy. “Snorkeling in French Polynesia isn’t for the faint of heart, and he was quite nervous at first,” she adds, “but once Andrew got the hang of it, he told us he felt like a sea turtle riding the current with his friends.”


The family flew to Tahiti, ferried to Moorea to stay, flew to Huahine, then chartered a yacht explore Huahine, Raiatea, Taha’a, and Bora Bora. They stayed in Bora Bora before flying home.

“Sharing this experience as a family was at the top of our list,” says Amy, along with these other highlights:

  • “Snorkeling with stingrays and manta rays, plus millions of colorful fish like barracuda, reef sharks, and lemon sharks.
  • Hiking, sailing, swimming, kayaking, and paddle boarding.
  • The spa at the St. Regis Bora Bora.
  • Polynesian dancing, music, and fire shows – plus traditional Polynesian buffet dinners.
  • The warm, crystal clear, and completely calm lagoon water – we had never experienced water like this before and would come back for it.”

Tips for Families

“Talk to your travel advisor for suggestions based on your family’s interests,” says Amy. “Check out books from the library and research the destination together online. Use everyone’s input to create the itinerary. Have your kids start a travel journal, where they can log everything they learned and experienced. They’ll love sharing it with their classmates – plus, it’s a way to sneak in extra writing and spelling practice.”

Where Next?

Topping the list for these underwater adventurers are Turks and Caicos, Hawaii, and Fiji – all trips they’ll call on their advisor to craft, says Amy. “Annie’s insight, guidance, and professional service are excellent. I find myself sharing her business card as often as I share our travel stories!” The family has worked with their advisor for more than five years. “I will never book on my own or with anyone else ever again,” Amy adds. “Annie offers the best service and pricing.”