(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 translation of an article originally written in French. I apologise for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have resulted. If you read French, click on the French flag below to access the original, correct text: 

In the dreamboat category, here is one on which I could see myself embarking one day: the mythical Aranuito go to the Marquesas Islands !

The Arnaui, a lifeline for Marquesans

AranuiIt means "the great way". A well-chosen name for this ship that makes a very long crossing: 1,500 km northeast of Tahiti, the Marquesas Islands are really the end of the world... Impossible to include 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)

L'Aranui The arrival of the boat is always an event. It is a real lifeline for the islanders.

At the beginning of 2016, I discovered that a brand new ship, theAranui 5has just been put into service. As its name does not indicate, it succeeds theAranui 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)
L'Aranui 5The new, brand-new, aircraft will arrive in Tahiti in November 2015. (Photo: CPTM / Aranui.com)

From cargo ship to cruise liner

Since 1984, the particularity of theAranuiwhich fascinates travelers, is that it is a "mixed" cargo ship, carrying passengers as well as goods.

(Photo: CPTM / Aranui.com)
L'Aranui is both a freighter 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 at the top of the range, offering luxurious cabins with balconies.

I looked at the rates... For a full two-week cruise in 2016, it starts at around 2 400 € for a berth in a "dormitory" cabin and it goes up to the presidential suite at more than 7 000 € per person... Moreover, you have to book well in advance. Places on the mythical South Sea liner are in high demand.

Dream of Marquesas

But the idea of arriving in the Marquesas Islands, isolated in the middle of the immense Pacific Ocean, by boat rather than by plane, really makes me 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 Islands. (Photo : © GIE Tahiti Tourisme / Philippe Bacchet)

There is plenty to do. The archipelago is made up of twelve high islands without a lagoon (six are inhabited) with vertiginous cliffs, a rugged terrain and unspoiled nature. The Marquesas Islands have inspired Robert Louis Stevenson and Herman Melville, they have bewitched Paul Gauguin and Jacques Brel (who rest on Hiva-Oa). They speak to our imagination and Polynesian culture has its roots there... And you can also dive in!

Anyway, I don't know when I will succeed in organizing such a trip, but I will go to the Marquesas Islands, one day, for sure!

  Polynesia: Maupiti + Rangiroa + Moorea - October 2012

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  1. Uh, admit it, you want to send me to the Marquesas with your cargo ship Corinne! It's not nice this kind of temptation when I'm just coming back 😉

    1. @Laurent: hey, hey, it's true that I thought of you when I was doing my research on the Aranui and when I discovered that this "mixed" cargo ship had now become a rather luxurious cruise ship... Quite different from the journey you made...

  2. Arriving by plane to Hiva Oa is quite spectacular, even if it's not worth the Aranui. There are places on this island where you can feel the 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: in this case, I will have to plan the boat + a flight over... I know for the moment the Marquesas Islands only in photos or documentaries, often spectacular images, which really make me fantasize... 🙄
      I know that there are no atolls protecting the Marquesas, but I thought that the term "high island" could be applied anyway. In that case I will correct and write "high islands without lagoon", it will be more accurate... Thanks 8)

  3. I am preparing a professional trip to Polynesia and I came across your blog by chance... More than 20 years ago now, my mother had made a part of the crossing on the deck with the locals....bcp more roots but much better insight into what can be the traintrain (boatboat? 😀 ) of the islanders and guaranteed encounters! if it's still possible, it can be interesting...