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Download Aranui Sailing French Polynesian Island 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 â€” Fakarava
Fakarava is the second largest atoll in the Tuamotu. Your day ashore includes a Paumotu-style picnic on a coral beach with fresh lagoon fish on the grill and a buffet provided by the ship's chef.
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 â€“ 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: Hiva Oa
Today we explore Atuona, the second largest village in the Marquesas. This is where Paul Gaugin lived and did some of his best work. Visit the colonial store where Gaugin shopped and see a replica of the Impressionist's infamous â€śHouse of Pleasure.â€ť 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 simple words: Paul Gaugin 1903. Nearby is the grave of another European who also was seduced by Hiva Oa: Belgian singer-composer Jacques Brel, who died in 1978.
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: Tahuata
On this leaf-shaped island, the air is thick with the huge church, built by the Vatican, is decorated with beautiful Marquesan carvings. On a nearby beach, there will be opportunity to swim, snorkel and picnic.
Day 10: Ua Huka
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 its heart-stopping views of the Pacific. The wild horses (brought from Chile in 1856) thrive here, outnumbering the islands 476 residents. We'll have a Marquesan lunch at a local restaurant and have plenty of time to visit studios of wood carvers. Back on board the Aranui III, it is Polynesian night, with dancing and buffet dinner on deck!
Day 11: Nuku Hiva (Taihoae) & Island of Ua Pou
The beautiful sea-walled village of Hatiheu has a wonderfully restored ancient archeological site (tohua) where a famed local dance troupe will perform traditional Marquesan dances especially for Aranui III passengers.
Day 12: 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 III.
Day 13: Rangiroa
Our last port of call is Rangiroa, with its 42 mile long by 16 mile wide turquoise lagoon; it 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 14: Morning arrival in Papeete, Tahiti
We bid a fond farewell to our new friends and the Aranui III upon arrival in Papeete, Tahiti.
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