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Download French Polynesia Detailed Itinerary
Day 1: Arrive in Papeete, Tahiti
A charming bit of France, Papeete is the French Capital of Polynesia from where you will begin your sailing adventure. The ship departs from the dock at 11:00 am (passengers must board the ship by 10 am).
Day 2: Tuamotu Archipelago - Takapoto
Takapoto is a small, oval shape atoll of 20 km by 6 in the Tuamotu.
Day 3: At Sea
A day to relax on-board on one of the sun decks, swim in the pool, curl up in the library with a book or simply enjoy the view of the South Pacific ocean. Balmy evenings can be spent socializing on the upstairs deck/bar with your fellow travelers from around the world.
Day 4: Arrival to the Marquesas Archipelago, Island of Nuku Hiva; Traditional Marquesas lunch in the village of Hatiheu
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 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 whale boats will sail down the river to return you to the Aranui, which is anchored in the bay.
Day 5: Ua Pou - Marquesas lunch
From the deck, you'll see the soaring mountain spires of Ua Pou. Whenever the Aranui stops, villages greet it. As the 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 with a hand-carved wooden dais. 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: Tahuata (Vaitahu) and Hiva Oa (Atuona)
In the morning, the Aranui will anchor in front of the island of Tahuata. On this historical leaf-shaped island, the air is thick with fragrant scent of tiare and frangipani. In the tiny village 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, on 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 which occured in 1842. The huge church built by the Vatican, is decorated with beautiful Marquesan carvings.
Day 7: Fatu Hiva
Lush and tropical, Fatu Hiva is the center of Marquesan crafts. We will visit the villages of Omoa and Hanavave, located on the Bay of Virgins, one of the most beautiful bays in the world. Our guide will lead us through the village of Omoa where local women are busy hammering mulberry, banyan or breadfruit bark on logs.
Day 8: Hiva Oa
We will travel by jeep or foot to the most important archeological sites for tiki and explore the many tiki of this religious sanctuary, which is the largest ever found in Polynesia. We will also see some petroglyphs of rare quality as well as a giant banyan tree hiding a stone lined pit.
Day 9: Ua Huka (Vaipaee-Hane-Hokatu)
Today we will visit a museum with exquisite replicas of Marquesan art. Passengers may wish to explore the island by four-wheel drive; others can ride the famed Marquesan horses. We will 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'll have Marquesan lunch at local restaurant and have plenty of time to visit studios of woodcarvers. We will also visit the arboretum as well as the garden which is abundant with flowers and fruits. Back on the Aranui, it's Polynesian night with dancing and buffet dinner on the decks.
Day 10: Nuku Hiva (Taiohae) and Ua Pou
The Aranui will dock at Taiohae on the island of Nuku Hiva at in the morning. The town is located on a former volcanic crater, which has partly collapsed into the ocean, creating a bay. You may take the 'Le Truck' to the town center and spend free time there. At noon, the ship will sail to the island of Ua Pou, returning to our first stop in the Marquesas, Hakahau. This will be an excellent (and last) chance to buy Marquesan crafts.
Day 11: At Sea
After an exciting few days exploring the islands, we have a full day at sea to reflect on our adventures and relax on board the Aranui 5.
Day 12: Tuamotu Archipelago - Rangiroa
Rangiroa, with its 42 mile long by 16 mile wide turquoise lagoon, is the largest atoll in the Tuamotu Archipelago and the second largest in the world. Rangiroa offers sunshine, white coral beaches and an immense playground for water sports and activities. Lagoon fragrant scent of tiare, and frangipani, the island's fascinating history is ever present. In the tiny village of Vaitahu, Spanish explorers landed in 1595 and opened fire on a crowd of the curious islanders, killing about 200. Tahuata is also the site of the first French settlement in the Marquesas in 1842. The excursions include amazing snorkeling through the pass amongst thousands of colorful fish of all shapes and sizes together with 3 or 4 varieties of sharks.
Day 13: Society Islands - Bora Bora
The Aranui will anchor in the magnificent blue lagoon of Bora Bora, which for many is the most beautiful island in the world. Romantics from around the world have laid claim to this island with its incredible palette of blues and greens, lush tropical slopes, and white sandy beaches. Passengers will have the opportunity to spend the day at the beach, snorkeling in the turquoise waters and enjoying a picnic lunch. For those wishing to further explore the island, additional excursions (including an island tour, swimming with the sharks/rays and helicopter tour) will be available at an additional cost.
Day 14: Morning arrival in Papeete, Tahiti
We bid a fond farewell to our new friends and the Aranui 5 upon arrival in Papeete, Tahiti.
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