(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 made from a post originally written in French. My apologies for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have been generated during the process. If you are reading French, click on the French flag below to access the original and 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! 😀

The'Aranui 5, brand new, upon its 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 Islands. (Photo : © GIE Tahiti Tourisme / 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. 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: hé, hé, c’est vrai que j’ai pensé à toi en faisant mes recherches sur l’Aranui et en découvrant que ce cargo “mixte” était désormais devenu un navire de croisière plutôt luxueux… Bien différent, du périple que tu as fait…

  2. Arriver en avion à Hiva Oa est assez spectaculaire, même si ça ne vaut pas l’Aranui. Il y a des endroits dans cette île où l’on ressent ce mana, l’âme de Polynesie.
    Je ne suis pas certaine que l’on puisse dire que les Marquises sont des îles hautes au sens polynésien. Elles ne sont pas entourées d’atolls comme dans les îles de la Société.

    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… 🙄
      Je sais qu’il n’y a pas d’atolls protégeant les Marquises, mais je pensais que le terme “île haute” pouvait s’appliquer tout de même. En cas je vais corriger et écrire “îles hautes sans lagon”, ce sera plus juste… Merci 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…