A Polynesian legend tells that the gods created the Marquesas Islands to be the roof of French Polynesia. Onboard the Aranui 5, travelers are taken to the heart of Polynesian culture and traditions, to islands that have remained untouched and where time seems to have stopped. In this 13-day classic Marquesas cruise, be fully immersed in all things Polynesian — from the warmth of its people to the richness of its history and culture, to the sights and sounds of its majestic islands. Explore the enchanting islands, dive into French Polynesia’s largest atoll of Tuamotu, indulge in the delectable Marquesan cuisine, and bask in the pristine beach of Bora Bora on this trip of a lifetime!
Explore Fakavara - a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve
Enjoy swimming in the world's famous lagoon of Bora Bora
Dive and snorkel in Tuamotu atoll, the largest in French Polynesia
Snorkel in the translucent lagoon of Rangiroa
Taste local Marquesan cuisine such as breadfruit and fei
Take a stroll in the numerous villages in Marquesas Islands
Arrive in Fakarava this morning. Designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and the second largest atoll in French Polynesia, discover the small village of Rotoava where their church is built of corals, local arts and crafts. Enjoy a refreshing swim and snorkel in the translucent lagoon among the colorful ballet of tropical fish. Optional excursions such as snorkeling or diving in the various passes or an outing to an islet for bird watching are available at an additional cost. Return to the vessel for lunch.
Enjoy this day to unwind and relax on Aranui 5's sun decks or in the comfort of the air-conditioned lounge. Enjoy the views of the endless South Pacific Ocean as the vessel makes its way to the captivating Marquesas Islands. Lectures on Marquesan culture and history will send you back in time and give you full insight into this ancient civilization. During the cruise, you will also get the opportunity to learn how to move your hips like a true Tahitian!
The Aranui 5 will anchor in Taipivai Bay in this morning. After having breakfast, disembark to ride on the awaiting 4X4’s that will take you on the day’s excursion. Be aware, this will be a wet landing at the beach.
The first stop will be a visit to the archaeological site of Mea’e Kamuihei with its giant banyans and petroglyphs. Hike to the nearby Paeke site featuring paepae immense stone platforms where the Taipi built their houses. This will include a performance of the traditional Marquesan Pig Dance.
The first introduction to traditional Marquesan cuisine will be served for lunch. Here, the specialty is the “Umu”, an underground oven where food is cooked for hours. Be entertained with the local music as you savor and taste the delicious meal.
In the small village of Hatiheu, visit a museum that displays copies of petroglyphs from unexplored valleys.
The excursion will continue south to Taiohae with its spectacular bay, a giant volcanic amphitheater dominated by towering cliffs streaked with waterfalls.
As the Aranui 5 unloads, explore Taiohae, the tiny administrative capital of the Marquesas. Taiohae Bay is where Herman Melville, then a 23 year-old sailor, and a buddy jumped a whaling ship in 1842. Visit the cathedral or go the market for arts & crafts shopping. There are banks, boutiques and an internet café around the village. Return to the vessel on foot or by car.
In this early morning light, the Aranui 5 will arrive in Ua Huka. This is one arrival not-to-be-missed! The maneuver entering the small bay and positioning the vessel for departure is truly impressive.
On the dry lands of Ua Huka, visit the small museum of Vaiapee located in the island’s city hall gardens. The museum features exquisite replicas of Marquesan art and the guides will immerse you in this ancient civilization.
Back on board in your 4WD, explore the island. Stop for stunning views of the Pacific. Visit the arboretum and botanical garden born from the passion of the island’s former mayor, before reaching the beautiful village of Hane. Lunch will be served at a local family restaurant.
Ua Huka is also the perfect place for arts and crafts shopping. Wood carvings, as well as engraved coconut shells, are some of the island’s specialties. Horseback riding activity will be available too (sign-up is required and an additional cost applies). Travelers choosing the horseback riding option will meet the rest of the group at the restaurant.
After lunch, continue discovering the island in the fishing village of Hokatu or hike up to one of Hane’s viewpoints escorted by the ship’s guides. You may also choose to just relax on the beach.
Back on board, be sure to be out on the deck for more stunning views as the Aranui 5 sails along the coast of Ua Huka.
To end a perfect day, a sumptuous buffet dinner will be served on deck for your Polynesian evening under the stars.
From the decks, observe the soaring mountain spires of Ua Pou.
As the crew unloads supplies, from cement to sugar, and loads sacks of copra (dried coconut meat), explore the tiny town of Hakahau. Check on the church which features a hand-carved wood dais. Get a chance to meet the island's talented woodcarvers and artists. Hike uphill to the Cross for breathtaking views of the mountains, the lush valleys, and the main village.
Enjoy another Marquesan lunch: breadfruit, a Marquesan staple, along with curried goat (one of the Marquesas Islands’ specialties), poisson cru (raw fish marinated in lime juice and coconut milk), taro and sweet red bananas. Enjoy an excellent dance performance including the Bird Dance, traditional to Ua Pou.
Aranui 5 will arrive in Hiva Oa in this morning. Explore Atuona, the second largest village in Marquesas. This is where Paul Gauguin lived and created some of his best work. A colonial store where he shopped as well as a replica of his infamous “House of Pleasure” and the adjoining museum are worth a visit too. Walk up the hill to the cemetery for a sweeping views of the harbor. Beneath a huge frangipani tree is a tombstone with the simple words: Paul Gauguin 1903. Also nearby is the grave of another famous European who also was seduced by Hiva Oa: Belgian singer-composer Jacques Brel, who died in 1978.
In this afternoon, the ship will anchor in the small leaf-shaped island of Tahuata and delight in the fragrance of Tiare, Frangipani, and history.
In the year 1595, Spanish explorers landed in the village of Vaitahu and opened fire on a crowd of curious islanders, killing about 200. The island is also the site of the first French settlement in the Marquesas in 1842.
Beautiful Marquesan carvings and a stunning stained glass window can also be seen in the large church built by the Vatican. Tahuata is also famous for its exquisite bone and helmet shell carvings.
In Puamau, travel by 4WD to the most incredible archaeological site for “tikis” (ancient, human-like religious stone sculptures) outside of Easter Island. Once you reach Mea’e Iipona, your knowledgeable guides will tell you the stories of these haunting statues of ancient times. Surrounded by beautifully lush grounds, the site is overwhelming and has a lot of what Polynesians call “mana” (spiritual power). Only a small part of the site has been restored and most of it is still buried under massive trees and rocks.
After lunch on board, Aranui 5 will set sail for Tahuata, where you can enjoy a lazy afternoon relaxing at the beach or taking a refreshing dip in the Pacific Ocean.
This is the lushest and remote island of the Marquesas. The only access is by sea since there is no airport on Fatu Hiva. It is also the island of the traditional cloth called “tapa.”
In the tranquil village of Omoa, women are pounding mulberry, banyan or breadfruit tree bark on logs. The bark is then dried and used as a canvas where the locals will paint ancient Marquesan designs. Fatu Hiva is also well-known for its hand-painted pareos (sarongs) and monoi, coconut oil infused with “Tiare Tahiti” blossoms, vanilla or sandalwood. Meet the skilled woodcarvers in the village at the large handicraft center. This will be another great opportunity to purchase Marquesan arts and souvenirs.
Before lunch, the Aranui 5 will sail to the other side of the island, the jaw-dropping Hanavave Bay, also known as the Bay of Virgins. Athletic passengers may choose to make the trip on foot. A memorable ten-mile hike will take you to the beautiful landscape of towering cliffs and majestic waterfalls. For hikers, a delicious lunch will be served at the top of a mountain. (Scale of difficulty 8/10)
For a moment of pure bliss, enjoy the romantic sunset in Hanavave Bay.
From the decks, watch your approach and arrival to French Polynesia’s largest atoll and the second largest in the world. Playful dolphins can be seen greeting the ship as it enters Tiputa Pass, one of Rangiroa’s two channels.
Snorkeling and scuba diving excursions will be available (sign-up is required and an additional cost applies). Scuba diving in Rangiroa is rated as one of the best in the world (all levels welcome).
The Tuamotu atolls have a pristine environment and pure waters which are the ideal conditions for pearl farming. This will be an opportunity to visit a working pearl farm and learn how Tahiti’s famed jewel of the sea is produced. And if your dream is to bring one home, the small on-site store features a nice selection of loose and set pearls.
Should you decide not to go on any tours, enjoy Rangiroa’s white sand beach and translucent lagoon. The local “mamas” will have an excellent display of shell necklaces, key chains, and other small souvenirs for sale on the beach.
The Aranui 5 will depart in this afternoon and sail to the mythical island of Bora Bora.
***Makatea will replace Rangiroa as the second stop in the Tuamotu on select departures.
Arriving in Bora Bora’s world-famous lagoon of opalescent blues and greens, you will be greeted by majestic Mount Otemanu, the island’s highest peak.
In this picture-perfect island paradise, enjoy a day at the beach and another delicious picnic, on a private “motu” islet surrounded by crystalline waters.
You may also choose from a variety of excursions at an additional cost: circle island tour by boat or bus, helicopter flight, 4WD off-road tour and one of the most popular for the bravest: shark and ray feeding!
Bora Bora was a US military outpost during World War II and remnants from the war such as cannons and bunkers can be seen on the 4WD tour.
In this evening, Aranui 5 will depart for Papeete, Tahiti.
Day 13: Papeete, Tahiti | Disembark
Disembark at Papeete, Tahiti in this morning for your continued journey home.
Apologies for the inconvenience. Prices for not yet published. Below per person rate based on previous season. Contact us to confirm upcoming season pricing.
Prices for are estimated based on inflation. Contact us to confirm pricing and availability for your desired departure date.
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100 sq. ft. (9 sq.m) of interior space with a porthole, a single bed, a bathroom with shower and hair dryer.
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Approx. 135 sq. ft. and 285 sq. ft. Dormitory style accommodations, with two lower and two upper berths or four lower and four upper berths, porthole, one or two private bathroom with shower, wardrobe, sitting area.
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Approx. 120 sq. ft. Exterior cabin with one double bed or two twin beds, one bathroom with a shower, desk, one flat screen TV, and safe.
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Regular Stateroom - Obstructed
120 sq. ft. (11 sq.m) of interior space and a picture window with an obstructed view, this exterior cabin offers either, a king size or two single beds, a bathroom with shower and hair dryer.
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Approx. 140 sq. ft. + 45 sq. ft. balcony. Exterior cabin with one double bed or two twin beds, one bathroom with a shower, make up table, desk, wardrobe, one flat screen TV, safe, under counter refrigerator, hair dryer.
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Approx. 160 sq. ft. + 45 sq. ft. balcony. Exterior cabin with one double bed or two twin beds, one bathroom with a shower, make up table, desk, wardrobe, one flat screen TV, safe, under counter refrigerator, hair dryer.
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Approx. 200 sq. ft. Exterior cabin with a double bed or two twin beds, two windows that cannot be opened, one bathroom with a shower, make up table, desk, wardrobe, one flat screen TV, sofa bed, safe, under counter refrigerator, hair dryer.
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Approx. 200 sq. ft. + 45 sq. ft. balcony. Exterior cabin with double bed or two twin beds, semi private day room with decorative screen and sofa bed, one bathroom with a shower, make up table, desk, wardrobe, flat screen TV, safe, under counter refrigerator, hair dryer.
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Approx. 240 sq. ft + 100 sq. ft. balcony. Exterior cabin with a double bed or two twin beds, living room with sofa bed, semi-private bedroom with decorative screen, wardrobe, one bathroom with a shower, make up table, one flat screen TV, safe, under counter refrigerator, hair dryer.
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Royal Suite - Obstructed
240 sq. ft. (22 sq.m) of interior space and a 100 sq. ft. (9 sq.m) private corner balcony, this exterior cabin offers a bedroom with a king size bed or twin beds and a sitting room with a sofa bed, divided by a decorative filigree screen, a bathroom with shower and hair dryer, refrigerator and safe. In this category, the view of the windows is obstructed.
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Approx. 440 sq. ft + 130 sq. ft. balcony. Exterior cabin with a double bed or two twin beds, living room with sofa bed, mini bar, walk-in closet, two bathrooms with a shower, make up table, desk, two flat screen TV, safe, under counter refrigerator, hair dryer.
Cruise fare includes:
12 nights accommodation in selected cabin type aboard the freighter/passenger ship Aranui 5
3 meals with complimentary wine on board
Meals on shore are either picnics or at local restaurants
Cruise fare does not include:
Port, cruise and tourist taxes. Total will vary by departure and cabin type selected (please contact us for rate schedule)
Optional excursions such as scuba diving, fishing, horseback riding, and helicopter tours
Everything was amazing! The planning with Adventure Life went smoothly. The actual trip was fantastic! One of the best trips I have experienced. The cruise staff members were knowledgeable and attentive. I will be writing more about this on the blog!