The Aranui Freighter To Paradise The South Pacific
|Farther from a continental landfall
than any other group of islands on earth, the twelve Marquesas jut out of the open Pacific
just south of the equator, shrouded in a constant cloud cover. Brooding volcanic pinnacles
pierce the landscape, while the lush vegetation overflows with sweet-smelling plumeria,
bougainvillea, orchids, spider lilies, flamboyants, ginger, ylang-ylang, jasmine, and
Spanish explorer Alvaro de Mendana arrived at this Eden in 1595 and stayed long enough to name the islands Las Marquesas de Mendoza for the wife of his patron. Later, whalers, missionaries, and explores wreaked havoc upon the population of 50,000 with rifles and diseases. Today, some 7,000 people inhabit six of the islands, while six remain uninhabited.
France helps support the Marquesas, providing the basics of modernization, from schools ton rustic roads. But beneath these civilized trappings, a wild pulse still leaps in the streams and the fierceness of the old religion remains alive in the ruins and tikis half devoured by jungle. While cargo is being loaded and unloaded, passengers go ashore to explore, sometimes in whaleboats that surf up to the beaches on rollicking waves. In the course of its 16-day voyage the Aranui weaves back and forth among the islands, touching base at various points to pick up and deliver goods.
I T I N E R A R Y
Arrival and departure times may vary. Please consult Papeete office for most accurate times.
The Aranui's voyages cover all six inhabited Marquesas Islands, plus Takapato and Rangiroa in the Tuamotus, the world's largest atoll.
Departing at night from Papeete, capital of Tahiti, the Aranui lands at Takapoto the next morning. Passengers buy fresh coconuts and soak up sun in this small isle's crystalline lagoon.
Two days later. the mist-drenched escarpments of Ua Pou come into view towering out out the sea like stern, watchful tikis. Islanders wait eagerly on the village dock at Hakahau for the arrival of the Aranui's much needed goods. Passengers looped with fragrant leis gather at a local home for a feast of (raw fish), poi and other Polynesian delicacies.
At Nuku Hiva, largest of the Marquesas, visitors can wander the waterfront at Taiohai, the island's administrative center and closest thing to a bustling town in the Marquesas. Its new Catholic church boasts fine native carvings, and every Sunday the rafters ring with the pure, melodic voices of devout islanders. An excursion to nearby Taipivai reveals ruined maraes (temples) and paepaes (stone foundations) harking back to the islands' ancient pagan religion and the overgrown cannibal realm where Melville's novel Typee was set.
The beauty of primitive Polynesia lives on in the art of Paul Gauguin, who spent his last days on Hiva Oa. The Aranui calls at the village of Atuona' home of Gauguin's simple hilltop grave. The resting place of Belgian singer Jacques Brel is nearby. Farther inland, some of the biggest tikis in Polynesia hide in sweltering jungles under ripe mantles of fungus.
After a brief stop at nearby Tahuata, which consists of the remains of a huge sunken volcano, the Aranui moves on to Fatu Hiva, the wettest and, some say, the most beautiful of the Marquesas. The South Seas arts of tape painting and tattooing, which reached new heights in the Marquesas, still flourish here. An eleven-mile hike from the tape-rich hamlet of Omoa leads to the raw coast at Hanavave, with heart stopping views of the Bay of Virgins and miles of misty shoreline.
At Ua Huka, smallest at the northerly Marquesas, sculptors continue the Marquesas tradition of woodcarving, reportedly the best in Polyrnesia. Passengers can bargain for ornate spears, tikis, bracelets and leis in rosewood and sandalwood, even ukuleles and carved coconuts. The island still enjoys an untamed naturalness, with wild horses, goats and sheep overrunning its open plateaus.
After picking up tons of copra from Nuku Hiva and Ua Pou, the Aranui makes its final stop at Rangiroa, the Tuamotus' premier dive destination. Snorkelers delight in its transparent fish-choked lagoon and thrill-seekers bring home tales of its abundant reef sharks.
|$4950.00||Large outside cabin with one queen sized bed, refrigerator, private facilities with bathtub and Balcony.|
|$4200.00||Large outside cabin with one queen sized bed, refrigerator, private facilities with bathtub.|
|STANDARD A CABIN
|$3500.00||Two lower berths, outside cabin with private facilities.|
|Class C||$1980.00||Dormitory style, upper and lower berths, air conditioned, without private facilities, located on bridge deck.|