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Aranui: Tahitian Cruise

14 Days
Prices From:
US$ 3,048

This two-week cruise aboard Aranui is one of the most unusual and interesting ways to island hop in French Polynesia. Aranui is a dual-purpose freighter: it is a passenger cruise carrying 200 guests to the remote Marquesas Islands, and popular islands of Bora Bora and Rangiroa. Aranui also serves as a working cargo ship with crew on board carrying vital suppliers to the islands it visits.

The cruise features a choice of cabin categories, from standard cabins to suites, a restaurant, several bars, swimming pool, sun deck, lounge, and spa.

On Aranui, there are plenty of opportunities to go hiking amongst beautiful mountain scenery, or snorkeling and swimming in the turquoise lagoons. As you sail from Tahiti to these remote islands, you’ll discover the fascinating, rich Marquesan culture.

Snorkel at Takapoto to see a wealth of tropical lagoon fish, before sailing on to the mountain spires of Ua Pou and the volcanic amphitheatre of Taiohae Bay, where a 23-year-old Herman Melville found literary inspiration after jumping a whaling ship in 1842. Visit the valley of Taipivai, an area dotted with stone tiki gods and sacred me’ae. Visit Atuona, the former village home of artist Paul Gauguin. See the exquisite crafts of remote Fatu Hiva and the famed archaeological sites of Hiva oa.

The island of Tahuata will enrich your senses and your mind with its sweet scents and sometimes tragic, sometimes humourous, but always dynamic history. Wild horses, brought from Chile in 1856 thrive on Ua Huka, outnumbering the island’s 476 residents. Time for one  snorkeling adventure in Bora Bora before returning to Tahiti. 


At Goway we are experts at designing personalized itineraries to suit your special interests, tastes and budget. Let us arrange your ultimate travel experience today.
14 Days
Prices From:
US$ 3,048

Itinerary View Trip Map

Day 1


Depart from Papeete.

Meal Plan Lunch and Dinner
Duration13 Nights

Aranui Cruise

More Info

Location View map
Day 2


Takapoto is a small, oval shaped atoll, 20km by 6km, in the Tuamotus. There will be a 15 minute walk to a magnificent white sand beach where you will have a picnic. You can swim and snorkel in the translucent lagoon to watch the colorful ballet of tropical lagoon fish or do arts and crafts at the beach. Return to vessel by 3:30 pm.

Meal Plan Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
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 lounge/library of 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 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 hypnotic beat of the tamure. After dinner, fix your watch 30 minutes ahead for Marquesan time.

Meal Plan Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Day 4

Nuku Hiva

Sail into Taiohae's spectacular bay, a giant volcanic amphitheatre 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 buddy jumped a whaling ship in 1842. You follow their escape route by jeep along steep, winding dirt mountain roads to the village of Hatiheu to visit the archeological site of Kamuihei. You'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, you 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 bird, sacred turtles and fish are carved on huge boulders. Hikers can take a steep trail to visit the Paeke site. Others can go back to the vessel. The Aranui's whaleboats will sail down the beach to pick up passengers to the vessel, which is anchored in the Taipivai bay. Wet landing at the beach.

Meal Plan Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Day 5

Ua Pou 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 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.

Meal Plan Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Day 6

Tahuta (Vaitahu) and Hiva Oa (Atuona)

In the morning, the Aranui will anchor in front of the island of Tahuata. On this leaf-shaped island, the air is thick with fragrant scent of tiare, frangipani and history. 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, with 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. Art & Craft at the village. Back on board by 10 am to sail to the island of Hiva Oa.

Hiva Oa (Atuona)
You 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 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. Free time in the village in the afternoon or hike to the point of view ( scale of difficulty 7/10 ).

Meal Plan Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Day 7

Fatu Hiva

This is the most lush and remote island of the Marquesan. It's also a center of Marquesan crafts. As your 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 handpainted pareos (sarongs) and monoi, a perfumed coconut oil scented with tiare blossoms and sandalwood. Skilled woodcarvers will invite you into their home/studios.

The Aranui sails to the other inhabited village. Hanavave is on the Bay of the Virgins, which is one of the world's most beautiful bays. Some athletic passengers may choose to make the trip by foot. On this unforgettable ten mile hike you'll have unforgettable views of towering cliffs and majestic waterfalls. (scale of difficulty 8/10)

Meal Plan Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Day 8

Hiva Oa

You'll travel by foot or by jeep to the most important archeological sites for tikis, the Mea'e Ipona (ancient, human-like religious sculptures) other than Easter Island. The 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. Swim at the black sand beach, depending of the water condition.

Meal Plan Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Day 9

Ua Huka (Vaipaee-Hane-Hokatu)

Early in the morning, the Aranui will enter the small bay and be securely tied up on both sides of the edge. You'll 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, you will explore the mountain landscape with heart-stopping views of the Pacific. The wild horses (brought from Chile in 1856) thrive here, outnumbering the island's 476 residents. You'll have Marquesan lunch at local restaurant and have plenty of time to visit studios of woodcarvers. You'll visit the arboretum and the garden of fruits and flower. Back on the Aranui, its Polynesian night with dancing and buffet dinner on the decks.

Meal Plan Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Day 10

Nuku Hiva (Taiohae) and 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 your first stop in the Marquesas, Hakahau. This is your last chance to buy Marquesan crafts.

Meal Plan Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Day 11

At Sea

Relax at sea.

Meal Plan Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Day 12

Tuamotu Archipelago - Rangiroa

On lovely Rangiroa, the largest atoll in the world, the Aranui passengers can swim and snorkel in a translucent lagoon. Excellent snorkelling and scuba diving are available for people of all levels. "Rangi" is an underwater jewel box with stunning colors of corals and clouds of tropical fishes. You'll have the opportunity to purchase black pearls from local black pearl farmers.

Meal Plan Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Day 13

Society Islands - Bora Bora

The Aranui will anchor in the magnificent blue lagoon of Bora Bora. Passengers will spend the day on the white sand beach of a private islet, snorkelling and enjoying a barbecue picnic. Additional excursions will be available at an extra cost: circle island tour by boat or by bus, swimming with rays and small sharks, helicopter tour...

Meal Plan Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Day 14

Arrival back in Papeete

Arrival back in Papeete at 7:00 am.

Meal Plan Breakfast

Other Information


2018: May 24; Jun 12, 30; Jul 19; Aug 7, 25; Sep 13; Oct 2, 20; Nov 8, 27; Dec 15.
2019: Jan 10, 26; Feb 14; Mar 2, 21; Apr 6, 27; May 16; Jun 1, 20; Jul 6, 25; Aug 10, 29;
Sep 14; Oct 3, 19; Nov 7, 23; Dec 14


Prices listed are “from” per person based on the lowest cabin class on Aranui - Class C – which is dormitory style accommodation composed of 4 bunk beds with shared facilities. There are 8 cabin categories to choose from Staterooms to Presidential Suites. Please enquire about cabin upgrade costs. More information on cabin categories here. Prices shown with all discounts applied.


  • 13 night’s cabin accommodation
  • Cruise transportation and Guided Excursions
  • All meals
  • Complimentary wine with lunch and dinner
  • Taxes


  • Travel insurance
  • Soft drinks and bottled water
  • Optional tours, such as the Helicopter, Fishing or Horseback Riding tour
  • International and domestic airfare and airfare taxes

Please note Tipping is not customary in French Polynesia, so you do not need to tip on board the Aranui, but a small tip for good service is always appreciated


Prices are "from" per person based on twin/double share accommodation and for travel in low season. Seasonal surcharges and blackout dates may apply. Limited seat/spaces and all pricing is subject to change and availability. Rates for single or triple travellers are available on request - please enquire.

8 Nov 2018
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