The Aranui 3, a semi-freighter, semi-passenger vessel, has been a pioneer in the Marquesas Islands exploration over the years. With 14-day cruises from Tahiti to some of the most remote Tahitian islands, Aranui offers the perfect blend of education, soft adventure and authentic island experience. As a working freighter, it is also one of the only ways some of these islands are connected to the world, as they do not all have an airport.
The Marquesas Archipelago, a 4-hour flight North from the capital island of Tahiti, are like no other island group in French Polynesia. There, rugged towering peaks and cliffs greet the travelers. There are no lagoons or barrier reefs to be seen. These islands are therefore not a beach destination, but for travelers looking for an intense, enriching cultural experience, and adventure, the Marquesas will not disappoint.
Certified Tahiti Specialist® Christina Turrini says it in her own words in her article.
The vessel will remain a freighter-passenger ship and continue to offer unparalleled voyages to the Marquesas Islands, with stops in the Tuamotu as well as the addition of Bora Bora to their itineraries. The ship’s public areas will be enhanced, keeping the Polynesian flair and atmosphere throughout.
You will go for the first time and fall in love… You will want to return, for a milestone or bring your family to a place that many call paradise.Here are a few must-do activities and reasons to return again and again:
- Amazing hikes: did you know that the main island of Tahiti has some of the best variety of hikes throughout French Polynesia? Whether a beginner or advanced hiker, you can spend days exploring the lush, untouched valleys and mountains of Tahiti. Really adventurous: why not try a two-day trek to one of the most inaccessible places: Te Pari, just passed Teahupoo on Tahiti Iti. You will feel like you have entered a whole new world; one where petroglyphs are engraved in giant stones, where natural pools have crystal clear waters and where black sand beaches still breathe ancient Tahiti… It is highly recommended to go hiking with an experienced guide!
- Underwater wonderland: although scuba diving is available throughout most of the Tahitian islands, the highlights are the atolls of Rangiroa and Fakarava. Both are known for the thrilling drift dive that will take you from the ocean to the lagoon. On the way, amazing encounters can be expected: schools of barracudas, tuna, graceful eagle or manta rays, and of course every diver’s dream, lots of sharks (grey, black and white tip, lemon, great hammerhead seasonally). Most dive operators in the islands offer “Dive Passes” that will be the best deal for avid scuba divers
- Heiva festival: every year in July, Tahiti celebrates dance, music and traditional sports. For this major community event, dance troupes from the islands come to the island of Tahiti to compete for the titles of “Best Dance Troupe”, “Best Male Dancer”, “Best Musicians” etc… Dance troupes will rehearse for months prior to the big day! Anyone traveling to Tahiti during that time should definitely make it a point to attend. It is truly spectacular.
- Whale watching: from August through October, humpback whales migrate through the Polynesian waters. During these reproduction months, it is fairly easy to spot mothers and calves cruising along the coasts. Tahiti, Moorea as well as Rurutu are the best places to see them. They can also be seen between Bora Bora and Raiatea
- Bird watching: Tikehau means “peaceful landing.” Once you set foot on this beautiful atoll, you can right away feel the serenity and tranquility. In this incredible setting, visit the Birds’ Islet for a half or full day tour. Variety of birds include: Red Footed Boobies, Fregates, Egrets to only name a few. Adults, babies in their nest, it truly is amazing!
- Helicopter touring: the islands from the air are so spectacular! With so many shades of blue and water so clear that one can “heli-snorkel”, treat yourself to a few minutes of intense beauty that will leave your eyes dreaming in blue
Tahitian Art: The Beauty of Carving
Among some of the famous artists who have settled there, French artist Paul Gauguin found his version of paradise in the Marquesas Islands. He settled in the village of Atunoa, on the island of Hiva Oa. Recently, his house more commonly as known as “La Maison du Jouir” (“House of Pleasure”) was restored. Next to it, the Paul Gauguin Museum offers a glimpse of his art. However, one should note that none of his original art can be found in French Polynesia.Jacques Brel, a famous Belgian singer also found his haven of peace in Hiva Oa. After years of touring and a very public life, he retired in the Marquesas Islands. He put his skills to good use living there. At the time, as a skilled pilot, he was the good samaritan and transported locals from one island to the other, offering tours to children and be a true support to the local community. Adored by the Marquesans, his grave is located in the Atunoa’s small cemetery.