French Polynesia

Overview  •  Detailed Itinerary  •  FAQ's  •  Testimonials  •  Dates & Prices

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 - Fakarava

We arrive in Fakarava in the morning. Designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and the second largest atoll in French Polynesia, you will have time to discover the small village of Rotoava, the church, built of coral and the local arts and crafts. Afterwards, enjoy a refreshing swim and snorkel in the translucent lagoon among the colorful ballet of tropical fish. Optional excursions, such as snorkeling or diving in the various passes or an outing to an islet for bird watching, are available at an additional cost. We will return to vessel by 12:00pm.


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.

The spirited Polynesian crew treat you as welcome guests and proudly introduce you to their rich culture. Almost every night, they sing and strum hypnotic Polynesian rhythms on their ukuleles.


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.

We will have time to explore HIVA OA (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 see a replica of the Impressionist's infamous "House of Pleasure". As you walk up the hill of 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. There will be free time in the village in the afternoon or hike up to the viewpoint.


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.

Fatu Hiva is also 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 home/ studios. The grandchildren of former chief Willie Grellet, open their home to Aranui 5 passengers and proudly show his rare collection of ancient Marquesan woodcarvings.

On Hanavave, passengers can choose to make the trip by foot and participate on a 10 mile (16 kilometers) hike for unforgettable views of towering cliffs and majestic waterfalls. Finish with a swim in a jungle river pool, which could easily resemble a South Pacific movie set.


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.

Close by, the tombs of the last male and female chief dating from the early 1900's are worth a visit. Although they were buried under Christian rituals, several pagan elements were added to their burial place. The ship's guides will tell us stories of these haunting statues of an ancient civilization.


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.

Please note: For each voyage, our exact route and program may vary according to weather conditions. The time given for visits ashore is the schedule set by the cargo's commander. Flexibility is the key to the most enjoyable voyage.

1-800-741-7956 North America  •  0808-234-1714 United Kingdom  •  416-588-5000 Worldwide
Font Size: -A  +A