The islands of Oceania are among the most idyllic on Earth. Separated by vast expanses of ocean, the subregions of Micronesia, Melanesia and Polynesia include a broad range of environments from the massive mountains of Papua New Guinea to deserted atolls and lagoons of fantasy. Located in a geographic area that extends over three million square miles, they support an incredible diversity of tribal cultures with an intriguing repository of ancestral traditions, and enough untouched natural beauty to last a lifetime.
Enjoy this video of the Aranui III Polynesia Cruise:
All itineraries are subject to change, due to weather and other conditions. All times indicated are approximate, and are also subject to change.
Departure on Day 1 from Papeete (at 10:30 am)
Day 14 arrival in Papeete (around 9:30 am)
Day 2: Takapoto, Tuamotu Islands
Takapoto is a small, oval shape atoll of 20 km by 6 km in the Tuamotu. We go on a 15 minute walk to a magnificient white sand beach where we will have a picnic. You can swim and snorkel in the translucent lagoon to watch the colourfull ballet of tropical lagoon fish. Art & craft at the beach. Return to vessel by 3:30 pm.
Day 3: At Sea
You can relax with a book on one of the sun decks, swim in the small pool or enjoy the immense South Pacific. Balmy evenings mean reading in the lounge/ library or chatting with an authority on Marquesan culture or archaeology. You'll probably spend many evenings socializing on the upstairs deck/bar with your fellow adventurers from around the world. The spirited Polynesian crew will treat you like welcomed guests and proudly introduce you to their rich culture. Almost every night, they sing and strum hypnotic Polynesian rhythms on their ukuleles and will teach you to move your hips to the hypnotic beat of the tamure.
Day 4: Nuka Hiva (Taiohae - Hatiheu - Taipival)
We sail into Taiohae's spectacular bay, a giant volcanic amphitheater dominated by towering cliffs streaked with waterfalls. As the Aranui unloads, you can explore Taiohae, the tiny administrative capital of the Marquesas. Taiohae Bay is where a 23-year-old sailor, Herman Melville and a buddy jumped a whaling ship in 1842. We follow their escape route by jeep along steep, winding dirt mountain roads to the village of Hatiheu to visit an archeological site. We'll have lunch at Yvonne's Restaurant, one of the best restaurants in the Marquesas, where the specialty is pig, baked in an underground oven. You'll meet the owner-chef, Yvonne, who also happens to be the town's energetic mayor. After lunch, we will travel to the valley of Taipivai. The area is dotted with stone tiki gods and sacred ritual sites (me'ae) and immense stone platforms (paepae) where the Taipi built their houses. Enigmatic petroglyphs of birds, sacred turtles and fish are carved on huge boulders. The Aranui's whaleboats will sail down the river to return you to the Aranui, which is anchored in the bay.
Day 5: Ua Pou (Hakahau-Hakahetau) Marquesas
From the deck, you'll see the soaring mountain spires of Ua Pou. Whenever the Aranui stops, villages greet it. As the muscular crew unloads supplies - from cements to sugar - and loads sacks of copra (dried coconut meat), you'll explore the tiny town of Hakahau with its church and a hand-carved wooden dais within. You can meet some talented woodcarvers and hike up a hill for a breathtaking view of the distant cloud-covered mountains. At Rosalie's Restaurant, you'll taste your first Marquesan lunch: breadfruit, a marquesan staple, along with curried goat, barbecued rock lobster, poisson cru (raw fish marinated in lime juice and soaked in coconut milk ), taro and sweet red bananas.
Day 6: Hiva Oa (Atuona)
We have plenty of time to explore Atuona, the second largest village in Marquesas. This is where Paul Gauguin lived and did some of his best work. You can visit the colonial store where Gauguin shopped and go into a replica of the Impressionist's infamous "House of Pleasure." As you walk up the hill to the cemetery, you'll have sweeping views of the harbor. Beneath a huge Frangipani tree is a tombstone with the simple words: Paul Gauguin 1903. Nearby is the grave of another famous European who also was seduced by Hiva Oa: Belgian singer-composer Jacques Brel, who died in 1978. You'll also enjoy another lavish Marquesan lunch at Hoa Nui Restaurant.
Day 7: Fatu Hiva (Omoa - Hanavave)
This is the most lush and remote island of the Marquesan. It's also a center of Marquesan crafts. As our guides lead you through the village of Omoa, you'll see women hammering Mulberry, Banyan or Breadfruit bark on logs. They dry it and then paint ancient Marquesan designs on their famous tapa cloth. Fatu Hiva is also well-known for its hand-painted pareus (sarongs) and monoi, a perfumed coconut oil scented with tiare blossoms and sandalwood. Skilled woodcarvers will invite you into their
Day 8: Hiva Oa (Puamau - Hanaiapa)
We travel by foot or by jeep to the most important archeological sites for tikis (ancient, human-like religious sculptures) other than Easter Island. Our trained guides will show you these mysterious jungle ruins of Puamau and tell the stories of these haunting statues of an ancient civilization. Bring plenty of film.
Day 9: Tahuata (Vaitahu - Hapatoni)
On this leaf-shaped island, the air is thick with fragrant scent of Tiare, Frangipani and history. In the tiny village of Vaitahu, spanish explorers landed in 1595 and opened fire on a crowd of the curious islanders, killing about 200. When the first missionaries came in 1797, the generous local chief left his wife with missionary John Harris, with the instruction that he treat her as his own wife. Harris fled the next day. Tahuata also is the site of the first french settlement in the Marquesas in 1842. The huge church built by the Vatican is decorated with beautiful Marquesan carvings. We will enjoy a picnic in the Valley of Hapatoni, go for a swim and snorkel at a nearby beach.
Day 10: Ua Huka (Vaipaee - Hane - Hokatu)
We visit a museum with exquisite replicas of Marquesan art. Some Aranui passengers will explore the island by four-wheel drive; others will ride the Marquesan horses. For three hours, we go and explore the mountain landscape with heart-stopping views of the Pacific. The wild horses (brought from Chile in 1856) thrive here, outnumbering the islands 476 residents. We will enjoy a Marquesan lunch at a local restaurant and have plenty of time to visit studios of woodcarvers. After visiting the arboretum and the garden of fruits and flower we go back to the Aranui where we join Polynesian night with dancing and a buffet dinner on the decks.
Day 11: Nuka Hiva (Taiohae), Ua Pou (Hakahau)
The Aranui will dock in Nuku Hiva at Taiohae in the morning. You may take the Le Truck back to the town center and spend free time there. At noon, the ship will sail to Ua Pou, returning to our first stop in the Marquesas, Hakahau. This is your last chance to buy Marquesan crafts.
Day 12: At Sea - Day 13: Bora Bora, Society Islands
The Aranui will anchor in the magnificent blue lagoon of Bora Bora. Passengers will spent the day at a white sand beach, snorkelling and savour a picnic. At a small cost, additional excursions will be available: island tours, seen from the lagoon or by bus, swimming with rays and small sharks, helicopter tours…