A Polynesian legend says that the gods created the Marquesas Islands to be the roof of French Polynesia. Aboard 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. On this 12-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 sunbathe on the pristine beaches of Bora Bora on this trip of a lifetime!
Explore Makatea, the second-largest raised atoll in French Polynesia
Take a stroll in the numerous villages in Marquesas Islands
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
Fakarava, 488 km northeast of Tahiti, is a huge atoll that is part of a UNESCO “biosphere reserve” because of its rich ecosystem, with an abundance of rare flora and fauna. Kauehi, 40 km north-east of Fakarava, was uninhabited not so long ago. It was gradually populated for the exploitation of copra and for several years, pearl farming has also been developed. Recently opened to tourism, Kauehi will seduce you by its authenticity as well as by the surrealist hues of its lagoon, which you can enjoy as if you were alone in the world! You will have the possibility to snorkel in Kauehi and Fakarava (diving optional).
There are many ways to while away a day at sea on Aranui 5 from immersing in the Polynesian culture during workshops on weaving, dancing, cooking, wrapping a pareo, playing the ukulele, language, and even ‘tatau’ or relax on deck, in one of the bars, attend a lecture, browse the boutique, work out in the gym, be pampered In Aranui’s Polynesian spa, take a dip in the pool or just gaze out at the sea. When we arrive in the waters of the Marquesas, you will have to set your watches forward by half an hour.
This island is the administrative center of the Marquesas. The village of Taiohae stretches along the beach, which is like a magnificent amphitheater 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 center is located on 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.
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 unique flower stones 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.
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.
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 5 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.
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.
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. Atuona, main 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.
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.
Fatu Hiva is the lushest and most remote island in the archipelago and is also a center 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 center offers tapa, carvings, hand-dyed pareo, and some of the finest monoi coconut oil found on these islands.
Following the visit to 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 to the village and to welcome the hikers.
Rangiroa or “huge sky” is the largest atoll in French Polynesia and the second largest in the world. The seemingly endless blue lagoon attracts divers to snorkel, scuba or shoot the pass surrounded by fish of every size, colour and shape. Rangiroa is famous for its majestic manta rays. It is also home to stunning pearls in all shades and local artisans known for their fine shell jewellery. While in Rangiroa, you will have the opportunity to enjoy the magnificent lagoon on a glass bottom boat tour or swimming, snorkelling or diving. You can also visit one of the finest pearl farms in the Tuamotus to learn about these rare gems and see how they are grown. Makatea, 210 km northeast of Tahiti, is an elevated atoll, like a fortress standing on the ocean with its 70 m high cliffs. This raised atoll is home to only 94 inhabitants who have decided not to leave their beloved island and its special history. At the end of the 19th century, large quantities of phosphates were discovered here. Makatea was to have a unique industrial destiny in Polynesia. The island, until then forgotten by the modern world, was equipped with schools, a cinema, religious centres, various industrial installations, including a 100-metre metal jetty and even a railway, which are still today the silent witnesses of its singular history.
As you arrive in Bora Bora’s world-famous lagoon of opalescent blues and greens, you’ll be greeted by the majestic “Mount Otemanu,” the island’s highest peak. In this perfect island paradise, you’ll have plenty of time to discover how and why the Pearl of the Pacific earned such a well-deserved reputation. You can snorkel or dive and marvel at the turquoise lagoons, among the most beautiful in the world.
Day 12: Papeete, Tahiti | Disembark
This is the end of our journey. It’s time to say Nānā! (Goodbye) to your travel companions, to the Polynesian staff and Aranui guides.
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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Double 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.
- Fares for children traveling with parents is 50% of base fare
- Single Supplement: Not available in Single Stateroom and Class “C” Dorm
- Cruise fare does not include tourism, cruise, or port taxes, which vary by cabin type
- Triple/Quadruple occupancy - third & fourth adult sharing cabin less 25% from full tariff (Quad available in regular stateroom only)
- No one under 15 years old will be accepted in the Class “C”
- Children (14 years old and under) will be limited to no more than 15 per sailing
The trip was terrific with great planning on your part. Most of the adventures were not mainstream and somewhat off the beaten path which made it especially enjoyable!! We felt taken care of and you all were readily available to respond to questions and issues. I would highly recommend your company and friends have already expressed interest based on our pictures and excitement.