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Snorkel with sea turtles

Marquesas, Tuamotu & Society Islands

Example 13 Day Cruise aboard Aranui 5
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Board the Aranui 5 for a 13-day South Pacific cruise where you are immersed in intriguing Polynesian culture. You'll visit the Tuamotu Islands, swim at the local black sand beaches, and savor the delicious aroma of frangipani on the island of Vaitahu. Other stops feature snorkeling, hiking, and historic tours through the Marquesas & idyllic Society Islands.
Women wearing traditional dress of the South Pacific.Polynesian rhythms and dancersSail the crystal waters of the South Pacific reef systemPolynesian womenSnorkel with sea turtles
Highlights
  • Taste local Marquesan cuisine such as breadfruit and fei
  • Explore Makatea, the second-largest raised atoll in French Polynesia
  • Tour the cathedral in Taiohae
  • Hike from Omoa to Hanavave for spectacular views
  • Explore the mysterious ruins of Puamau
Places Visited
  • South Pacific
  • Tahiti
  • Atuona
  • Bora Bora
  • Fakarava
  • Fatu Hiva
  • French Polynesia
  • Hiva 'Oa
  • Makatea
  • Marquesas Islands
  • Nuku Hiva
  • Oceania
  • Papeete
  • Polynesia
  • Puamau
  • Society Islands
  • Tahuata
  • Taiohae
  • Tuamotu Islands
  • Ua Huka
Trip Type:
  • Small Ship
Activity Level: Relaxed
0

Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Papeete, Tahiti | Embark

Depart from Papeete in the morning, receive a warm welcome onboard from our crew and sail to Fakarava atoll in the Tuamotu archipelago.

Day 2: Fakarava, Tuamotu Archipelago

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve for the preservation of rare species and the second largest atoll in French Polynesia, Fakarava has remained virtually untouched. From its stunning lagoon and glistening white sand beaches to its rich ecosystem, it is home to unique birds, plants and marine life. You will have time to discover the small village of Rotoava, the church built of coral and the local arts and crafts. Bicycle rentals are available if you wish to venture to the old lighthouse at the airport or enjoy a day of relaxation in the, swimming and snorkelling among colourful tropical fish.

Day 3: At Sea

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Enjoy time to explore the ship. After a relaxed breakfast, sunbathe on the deck or by the pool, or read or chat in the comfortable lounge. There is plenty of time to meet and talk with the lecturers and guides and encounter fellow passengers from around the world.

Day 4: The Marquesas Islands: Hiva Oa (Puamau) – Tahuata (Vaitahu)

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
A morning drive by 4WD takes you to Puamau to visit the most important local archeological site for tikis in French Polynesia. Our guides will show you through the mysterious ruins at Mea’e Iipona and share stories of these haunting statues and an ancient civilisation.

In the afternoon, you will visit the impressive church of Tahuata which was built by the Vatican and decorated with beautiful carvings and a stained glass window featuring the Marquesan cross. Though the smallest of the inhabited Marquesan islands, it is historically one of the richest. Tahuata has experienced it all — it was the first island in the archipelago to be discovered by Spanish explorers, who opened fire on a crowd of curious islanders in 1595, saw the arrival of missionaries in 1797 and then became the first French settlement in the Marquesas in 1842. The locals carve exquisite tikis, sea creatures, bracelets, necklaces and more from horse and cow bone, fossilised bone, tusks and pink helmet shell.

Day 5: Hiva Oa (Atuona) – Tahuata (Kokuu)

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Atuona, principal village of Hiva Oa and the second largest in the Marquesas, was once the capital of this archipelago. Sweeping views of the harbour can be seen after a walk up the hill to the cemetery where Paul Gauguin and Jacques Brel are buried. Explore the Gauguin Museum, a replica of his “House of Pleasure”, and the Brel Museum, which showcases his plane JoJo, which was often used for medical emergencies. After lunch onboard, enjoy a lazy afternoon on a beautiful white sand beach or take a refreshing dip in the Pacific Ocean.

Day 6: Fatu Hiva (Omoa – Hanavave)

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Fatu Hiva is the most lush and remote island in the archipelago, and is also a centre of Marquesan crafts. In the village of Omoa, women will demonstrate the making of tapa by hammering mulberry, banyan or breadfruit bark on a log. It is then dried and painted with traditional designs. Another demonstration will show the making of the kumuhei, a bouquet used by the local women to perfume their hair. The adjacent craft centre offers tapa, carvings, hand-dyed pareo and some of the finest monoi coconut oil found in these islands.

Following the visit of the village, active passengers may choose to hike from Omoa to Hanavave, a 16 km hike offering spectacular views of towering cliffs. A picnic lunch will be served at the summit. Non-hikers will sail on the Aranui to Hanavave’s Bay of Virgins, considered one of the most beautiful bays in the world. Go ashore for a visit of the village and to welcome the hikers.

Day 7: Nuku Hiva (Taiohae – Hatiheu – Taipivai)

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
This island is the administrative centre of the Marquesas. The village of Taiohae stretches along the beach, which is like a magnificent amphitheatre created by the successive eruptions of three concentric volcanoes and dominated by towering cliffs streaked with waterfalls. In the small village, all of the government services and residences, the hospital, bank and schools, are close by.  A lovely handicraft centre is located on the beach road.

Your adventure in Nuku Hiva will include a tour of the Cathedral Notre Dame, famed for its stonework and wood sculptures. In Hatiheu, you will visit the archaeological site known as Tohua Kamuihei, where public festivities once took place. Here you will see the paepae, immense stone platforms on which houses were built, and huge boulders carved with enigmatic petroglyphs. Under a giant banyan tree, enjoy a performance of traditional songs and dances, including the “Pig Dance”, which originated in Nuku Hiva. For lunch, try a traditional “Umu”, a Marquesan specialty where food is cooked in an underground oven.

Day 8: Ua Huka (Vaipae’e – Hane – Hokatu)

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
This island, the least inhabited in the Marquesas, is largely arid and home to many wild horses, goats and pigs. It is also a refuge for two endemic birds: the pati’oti’o and the pihiti, which are only found here. In the early morning, the Aranui will execute a point-to-point 180-degree turn in the narrow mouth of Vaipaee’s Invisible Bay. With only metres to spare on either side, it is a skillful operation undertaken by the captain and the crew and is not to be missed. From the dock, travel by 4WD to the village of Hane.

Along the way, you will stop to explore the Botanical Garden, the cultural centre Te Tumu, featuring a small museum with exquisite replicas of Marquesan artifacts, and a petroglyph museum and local woodcarvers’ studios in the fishing village of Hokatu. Look for the unusual carved black and white coconuts. In Hane, where a Marquesan lunch will be served, visit the Marine Museum beforehand and in the afternoon, hike to view red tuff tikis overlooking the bay.

Day 9: Ua Pou (Hakahau)

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Legend refers to Ua Pou as the “pillars of the archipelago” and it is often called “The Cathedral Island”. These names become clear as the ship docks at Hakahau Bay surrounded by 12 basalt summits soaring as high as 1100 metres. Every island has its own special ambience and Ua Pou’s is one of mystery and magic. You are sure to see familiar looking faces as many of our crew members are from here.

Energetic early risers can hike up the hill to the Cross for breathtaking views of the valleys and village below. The artisans’ centre is a short stroll into town and the offerings include works featuring the unique flower stone and a variety of carvings and children’s clothes. Before enjoying a Marquesan lunch, take in an excellent dance show, including the Bird Dance, a traditional Ua Pou performance.

Day 10: At Sea

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Enjoy sun bathing on the deck and sipping exotic drinks while watching the crystal-blue waters en route to Makatea.

Day 11: Makatea

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Surrounded by spectacular cliffs, rising 260 feet above sea level, this second largest raised atoll in French Polynesia is a sharp contrast from the typical low-lying corral-reef formation with a lagoon in the middle. It is also the only atoll in the Tuamotu with potable water which comes from its underground caves. Once a thriving island due to phosphate mining in the first half of the 20th century, it was mostly abandoned with only a few families remaining to keep watch. Today, the fewer than 100 inhabitants live from the culture of copra, fishing and the trade of coconut crabs.

Day 12: Bora Bora, Society Islands

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
The best known of the Society Islands, Bora Bora is home to a stunning lagoon in myriad shades of blues and greens, set against the striking backdrop of Mt. Otemanu, which captured the attention of James Michener and everyone else who visits the island. This paradise island is surrounded by motus (small islets) and a ring of white beaches fringed by coconut trees.

An advanced base during World War II, a tour of the island visits the cannon emplacements. Or you can enjoy a day at the beach on a private motu while the crew prepares a delicious picnic lunch featuring Tahitian specialties. In the afternoon, you will have time at your leisure. You may also choose from a variety of optional excursions at an additional cost, such as a circle island tour by boat or bus, or one of the most popular, shark and ray feeding tours.

Day 13: Papeete, Tahiti | Disembark

  • 1 Breakfast
Disembark this morning for your continued journey home.

Ship/Hotel

Aranui 5

The Aranui 5
Aranui 5 Reception
Aranui 5 Veranda Bar

Dates & Prices

My Preferred Start Date

Per person starting at
$3,392
Select a Date
Single Stateroom
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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Class C
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.
Regular Stateroom aboard the Aranui 5
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Regular Stateroom
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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Deluxe
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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Superior Deluxe
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.
Junior Suite aboard the Aranui 5
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Junior Suite
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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Premium Suite
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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Royal Suite
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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Presidential Suite
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.

Notes

Cruise fare includes:
- 12 nights accommodation in selected cabin type aboard the freighter/passenger ship Aranui 5
- 3 meals with complimentary wine
- Picnic and meals on shore
- Guided tours and educational opportunities

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
- Any airfare
- Travel insurance
- Gratuities and personal expenses

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