Cruise to the Marquesas – Volcanic Islands and Atolls

Cruise to the Marquesas – Volcanic Islands and Atolls 3150 , 12 Days

Mythical and mysterious and really far away - an archipelago that has attracted explorers, writers, painters and artists. Breathtaking landscapes with mountains, valleys, plateaus and cliffs. A nation of former warriors with their own language and culture.
The Marquesas archipelago, located 1,500 km northeast of Tahiti in French Polynesia, consists of 12 islands, of which only 6 are inhabited and we disembark on 5 of them. After a few days of sailing, they emerge from the Pacific, tall and lush. Nature is raw and its charm powerful. It is a land of stories and legends. Welcome to the Marquesas, the "Land of Men".
The cruise in French Polynesia departs from Papeete in Tahiti, capital and part of the Society Islands. From here, the cruise is set for the Tuamotu Islands, where experiences await on one of the islands of Fakarava, Makatea or Kauehi. Once in the Marquesas Archipelago, the experiences are lined up on the islands of Nuku Hiva- Ua Pou - Ua Huka - Hiva Oa - Fatu Hiva. Rangiroa, the largest atoll in French Polynesia is visited on the voyage back to Papeete.

The ship
For more than 30 years, the shipping company Aranui, as the main transporter of goods to the Marquesas, has maintained the vital sea connection for the inhabitants of the islands. Our cruises are sailed by the Aranui 5 - a purpose-built passenger and cargo ship designed to offer all the amenities a cruise ship should have while still delivering goods. Aranui 5 is French registered and can take approx. 230 passengers in 103 cabins. There are eight decks that reflect the ship's Polynesian heritage and crew in its interior design. There is a restaurant where all meals on board are served in relaxed surroundings; a lounge; two conference rooms where guest speakers will present various topics related to the Marquesas; three bars, including the Sky Bar with a great panoramic view; an outdoor swimming pool; boutique; spa; fitness center and the first tattoo studio at sea.

Cruise highlights:
♦ 3 of 4 island groups in French Polynesia – Marquesas, Tuamotu and Society Islands
♦ Hiva Oa – the island that inspired Jacques Brel and Paul Gauguin
♦ Polynesian folklore – tiki sculptures, "Pig dance", tattoo and pearls


Day 1. Saturday – Departure from Papeete (Tahiti)
Depart from Papeete in the late afternoon,receive a warm welcome onboard from our crew and sail to Fakarava atoll in the Tuamotu archipelago.

Day 2. Sunday - Fakarava (January-April) / Makatea (May-July) / Kauehi (August-Dec.)
Fakarava, 488 km northeast of Tahiti, is a huge atoll that is part of a UNESCO “biosphere reserve” because of its rich eco-system, with an abundance of rare flora and fauna. Makatea, 210 km northeast of Tahiti, is an elevated atoll, like a fortress standing on the ocean with its 70 m high cliffs. This raised atoll is home to only 94 inhabitants who have decided not to leave their beloved island and its special history. At the end of the 19th century, large quantities of phosphates were discovered here. Makatea was to have a unique industrial destiny in Polynesia. The island, until then forgotten by the modern world, was equipped with schools, a cinema, religious centres, various industrial installations, including a 100- metre metal jetty and even a railway, which are still today the silent witnesses of the island’s singular history. Kauehi, 40 km north-east of Fakarava, was uninhabited not so long ago. It was gradually populated for the exploitation of copra and for several years, pearl farming has also been developed. Recently opened to tourism, Kauehi will seduce you by its authenticity as well as by the surrealist hues of its lagoon, which you can enjoy as if you were alone in the world.

Day 3. Monday - At sea
There are many ways to while away a day at sea on Aranui 5 from immersing in the Polynesian culture during workshops on weaving, dancing, cooking, wrapping a pareo, playing the ukulele, language, and even ‘tatau’ or relax on deck, in one of the bars, attend a lecture, browse the boutique, work out in the gym, be pampered In Aranui’s Polynesian spa, take a dip in the pool or just gaze out at the sea. When we arrive in the waters of the Marquesas, you will have to set your watches forward by half an hour.

Day 4. Tuesday - Nuku Hiva (Taiohae / Hatieu / Taipivai)
This island is the administrative centre of the Marquesas. The village of Taiohae stretches along the beach, which is like a magnificent amphitheatre created by the successive eruptions of three concentric volcanoes and dominated by towering cliffs streaked with  waterfalls. In the small village, all of the government services and residences, the hospital, bank and schools, are close by.  A lovely handicraft centre is located on the beach road. Your adventure in Nuku Hiva will include a tour of the Cathedral Notre Dame, famed for its stonework and wood sculptures. In Hatiheu, you will visit the archaeological site known as Tohua Kamuihei, where public festivities once took place. Here you will see the paepae, immense stone platforms on which houses were built, and huge boulders carved with enigmatic petroglyphs. Under a giant banyan tree, enjoy a performance of traditional songs and dances, including the “Pig Dance”, which originated in Nuku Hiva. For lunch, try a traditional “Umu”, a Marquesan specialty where food is cooked in an underground oven.

Day 5. Wednesday - Ua Pou (Hakahau)
Legend refers to Ua Pou as the “pillars of the archipelago” and it is often called “The Cathedral Island”. These names become clear as the ship docks at Hakahau Bay surrounded by 12 basalt summits soaring as high as 1100 metres. Every island has its own special ambience and Ua Pou’s is one of mystery and magic. You are sure to see familiar looking faces as many of our crew members are from here. Energetic early risers can hike up the hill to the Cross for breathtaking views of the valleys and village below. The artisans’ centre is a short stroll into town and the offerings include works featuring the unique flower stone and a variety of carvings and children’s clothes. Before enjoying a Marquesan lunch, take in an excellent dance show, including the Bird Dance, a traditional Ua Pou performance.

Day 6. Thursday - Ua Huka (Vaipe’e/Hane/Hokatu)
This island, the least inhabited in the Marquesas, is largely arid and home to many wild horses, goats and pigs. It is also a refuge for two endemic birds: the pati’oti’o and the pihiti, which are only found here. In the early morning, the Aranui will execute a point-to-point 180-degree turn in the narrow mouth of Vaipaee’s Invisible Bay. With only metres to spare on either side, it is a skillful operation undertaken by the captain and the crew and is not to be missed. From the dock, travel by 4WD to the village of Hane.  Along the way, you will stop to explore the Botanical Garden, the cultural centre Te Tumu, featuring a small museum with exquisite replicas of Marquesan artifacts, and a petroglyph museum and local woodcarvers’ studios in the fishing village of Hokatu. Look for the unusual carved black and white coconuts. In Hane, where a Marquesan lunch will be served, visit the Marine Museum beforehand and in the afternoon, hike to view red tuff tikis overlooking the bay.

Day 7. Friday - Hiva Oa (Atuona) 
Atuona, principal village of Hiva Oa and the second largest in the Marquesas, was once the capital of this archipelago. Sweeping views of the harbour can be seen after a walk up the hill to the cemetery where Paul Gauguin and Jacques Brel are buried. Explore the Gauguin Museum, a replica of his “House of Pleasure”, and the Brel Museum, which showcases his plane JoJo, which was often used for medical emergencies.

Day 8. Saturday - Hiva Oa (Puamau) - Tahuata (Vaitahu)
A morning drive by 4WD takes you to Puamau to visit the most important local archeological site for tikis in French  Polynesia. Our guides will show you through the mysterious ruins at Mea’e Iipona and share stories of these haunting statues and an ancient civilisation. In the afternoon, you will visit the impressive church of Tahuata which was built by the Vatican and decorated with beautiful carvings and a stained glass window featuring the Marquesan cross. Though the smallest of the inhabited Marquesan islands, it is historically one of the richest. Tahuata has experienced it all — it was the first island in the archipelago to be discovered by Spanish explorers, who opened fire on a crowd of curious islanders in 1595, saw the arrival of missionaries in 1797 and then became the first French settlement in the Marquesas in 1842. The locals carve exquisite tikis, sea creatures, bracelets, necklaces and more from horse and cow bone, fossilised bone, tusks and pink helmet shell.

Day 9. Sunday - Fatu Hiva (Omoa - Hanavave)
Fatu Hiva is the most lush and remote island in the archipelago, and is also a centre of Marquesan crafts. In the village of Omoa, women will demonstrate the making of tapa by hammering mulberry, banyan or breadfruit bark on a log. It is then dried and painted with traditional designs. Another demonstration will show the making of the kumuhei, a bouquet used by the local women to perfume their hair. The adjacent craft centre offers tapa, carvings, hand-dyed pareo and some of the finest monoi coconut oil found in these islands. Following the visit of the village, active passengers may choose to hike from Omoa to Hanavave, a 16 km hike offering spectacular views of towering cliffs. A picnic lunch will be served at the summit. Non-hikers will sail on the Aranui to Hanavave’s Bay of Virgins, considered one of the most beautiful bays in the world. Go ashore for a visit of the village and to welcome the hikers.

Day 10. Monday - At sea
Enjoy a day at sea to relax by the pool and participate in one of the lectures or activities offered by our guides.

Day 11. Tuesday - Rangiroa
Rangiroa or “huge sky” is the largest atoll in French Polynesia and the second largest in the world. The seemingly endless blue lagoon attracts divers to snorkel, scuba or shoot the pass surrounded by fish of every size, colour and shape. Rangiroa is famous for its majestic manta rays. It is also home to stunning pearls in all shades and local artisans known for their fine shell jewellery. While in Rangiroa, you will have the opportunity to enjoy the magnificent lagoon on a glass bottom boat tour or swimming, snorkelling or diving. You can also visit one of the finest pearl farms in the Tuamotus to learn about these rare gems and see how they are grown.

Day 12. Wednesday - Return to Tahiti (Papeete)
This is the end of our journey. It’s time to say Nānā! (Goodbye) to your travel companions, to the Polynesian staff and Aranui guides.  

* Rates quoted at the time of printing are based on current costs and are subject to change up to and including the date of sailing
* Schedule & Extra cost provision: If, due to weather or other uncontrollable reasons, you are required to spend one or more additional nights, you will be responsible for your own hotel and meal costs. In addition, because the primary function of vessels in the service of Compagnie Polynesienne de Transport Maritime is to carry freight, the departure dates, ports of call, and duration of cruises may be subject to variation both prior to departure and en route. Freighter passengers should have a flexible time schedule and anticipate the foregoing possibilities. While we do everything possible to inform and assist our clients, neither CPTM nor its agents will assume additional expenses, hotel or meal costs associated with delays or changes in itinerary and schedules.
* Itinerary changes: Routes and activities are indicative and can be modified according to weather conditions or availability. Although we  make every effort to operate all cruises as advertised, we reserve the right to alter or curtail the itinerary, or substitute sightseeing, ports of call or conveyances as deemed necessary.

Price Includes:
cruise transportation and related taxes (tourist tax/ port tax/ fuel/ TDC)
shipboard accommodation
3 meals per day
a bottle of wine to share among 4 passengers for scheduled onboard meals
lunches in local restaurants
planned guided shore excursions to remote villages and archaeological sites
cultural dance shows
lecturers onsite and onboard

Not Included:
fuel surcharge (125€ per person)
shipboard purchases
port taxes other than those specifically provided for
other personal items


Cruise to the Marquesas – Volcanic Islands and Atolls (Rated 4.77 / 5 Based on 24 Reviews.)
3150 EUR
12 Days
Open for booking
3150 EUR
12 Days
Open for booking
3150 EUR
12 Days
Open for booking
3150 EUR
12 Days
Open for booking

Currency fluctuations might cause correction of price at any time.

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