(Photo: CPTM / Aranui.com)
Photo: CPTM / Aranui.com

The Marquesas and Aranui

  Polynesia: Maupiti + Rangiroa + Moorea - October 2012

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic Google translation from a post originally written in French. My apologies for the weird sentences and the funny mistakes that could have been generated during the process. If you can read French, click on the French flag below to access the original text:

In the category dream boats, here is one on which I would see myself embarking one day: the mythical Aranui, to go to the Marquesas Islands!

The Arnaui, a life line for the Marquesans

Aranuiit means "the big way". A name well chosen for this ship that makes a very long crossing: 1,500 km north-east of Tahiti, the Marquesas is really the end of the world ... Impossible to fit them in my itinerary, during my first (too short) trip to Polynesia in 2012.

The Aranui 3. (Photo: CPTM / Aranui.com)
The Compagnie Polynesienne de Transport Maritime (CPTM) has been supplying the Marquesas Islands since 1959. Above, theAranui 3. (Photo: CPTM / Aranui.com)

TheAranui dumps foodstuffs and manufactured products and embarks copra, fruits, fish ... The arrival of the boat is always an event. This is a real life line for islanders.

In early 2016, I discover that a brand new ship, theAranui 5, has just been commissioned. As his name does not indicate, he succeedsAranui 3, which has been running since 2003.

Explanation? The boat having been built in China, where the number 4 is not good luck, they preferred to go directly to the number 5! 😀

Aranui 5, brand new, upon arrival in Tahiti in November 2015. (Photo: CPTM / Aranui.com)
TheAranui 5, brand new, upon arrival in Tahiti, in November 2015. (Photo: CPTM / Aranui.com)

From cargo ship to cruise liner

Since 1984, the peculiarity of theAranui, which fascinates travelers, is to be a "mixed" cargo ship, also carrying passengers in addition to goods.

(Photo: CPTM / Aranui.com)
TheAranui is both a cargo ship and a cruise ship. (Photo: CPTM / Aranui.com)

Today, more than thirty years later, the "cruise" part is no longer anecdotal: the new Aranui  can accommodate up to 254 passengers! It is now positioned on the upscale, offering luxurious cabins, with balcony.

I looked a bit at the prices ... For a full two-week cruise in 2016, it starts around € 2,400 for a berth in the "dormitory" cabin and it then spreads to the presidential suite at more than 7 000 € per person ... In addition, you must do well in advance to book. Places on the mythical ocean liner of the South Seas are in great demand.

Dream of Marquesas

But the idea of arriving in the Marquesas, isolated in the middle of the huge Pacific Ocean, by boat rather than by plane, it makes me really dream ...

The spectacular relief of Ua-Pou in the Marquesas. (Photo: © GIE Tahiti Tourism / Philippe Bacchet)
The spectacular relief of Ua-Pou in the Marquesas. (Photo: © GIE Tahiti Tourism / Philippe Bacchet)

There is something. The archipelago consists of twelve high islands without lagoon (six are inhabited) with vertiginous cliffs, rugged terrain, unspoilt nature. The Marquesas inspired Robert Louis Stevenson and Herman Melville, they captivated Paul Gauguin and Jacques Brel (who rely on Hiva-Oa). They speak to our imagination and Polynesian culture draws its roots ... And we can also dive!

In short, I do not know when I will manage to organize such a trip, but I will go to the Marquesas one day, that's for sure!

  Polynesia: Maupiti + Rangiroa + Moorea - October 2012

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  1. Euh, avoue, tu veux m’envoyer aux Marquises avec ton cargo Corinne ! C’est pas gentil ce genre de tentation alors que je rentre à peine 😉

    1. @Laurent: Hey, hey, it's true that I thought about you doing my research on the Aranui and discovering that this cargo "mixed" had now become a rather luxurious cruise ship ... Very different from the journey that you have made…

  2. Arriving by plane in Hiva Oa is quite spectacular, even if it is not worth the Aranui. There are places on this island where you can feel this mana, the soul of Polynesia.
    I am not sure that one can say that the Marquesas are high islands in the Polynesian sense. They are not surrounded by atolls as in the Society Islands.

    1. @Marianne: en ce cas, il faudra que je prévoie le bateau + un survol en avion… Je ne connais pour l’heure les Marquises qu’en photos ou documentaires, des images souvent spectaculaires, qui me font vraiment fantasmer… 🙄
      I know there are no atolls protecting the Marquesas, but I thought the term "high island" could apply anyway. In case I will correct and write "high islands without lagoon", it will be more fair ... Thank you 8)

  3. je prépare un voyage professionnel en polynésie et je suis tombé par hasard sur ton blog… Il y a plus de 20ans maintenant, ma mère avait fait une parti de la traversée sur le pont avec les locaux….bcp plus roots mais bien meilleur aperçu de ce que peut être le traintrain (bateaubateau? 😀 ) des insulaires et rencontres garanties!! si c’est toujours possible, ca peut être intéressant…