Step on board Aranui 5 – the ‘Freighter to Paradise’

Take an island-hopping adventure to the most remote shores of French Polynesia


The islands of the South Pacific conjure up images of adventure and mystery, unspoilt beauty and wild shores that are intoxicating and inspiring in equal measure. None more so than the enchanting Marquesas Islands of French Polynesia, and there is no better way to reach them than on board the passenger-freighter Aranui 5 – one of the most original and unforgettable voyages in the world.

Located in the Pacific Ocean, 900 miles from Tahiti, the Marquesas are so remote that Aranui 5 is, in fact, their lifeline. A working cargo ship, Aranui 5 delivers supplies to the six inhabited islands of the archipelago, while also hosting up to 230 guests on her 2500-mile adventure through the islands.

Fondly known as the ‘Freighter to Paradise’, a voyage on Aranui 5 is the journey of a lifetime. The 13-day round-trip from Papeete on Tahiti, includes seven full days on these wild and mysterious islands, as well as visits to Fakarava, a pristine Unesco Biosphere Reserve, and Rangiroa, the world’s largest atoll – both in the Tuamotu Archipelago – as well as mythical Bora Bora in the Society Islands.

But it is her deep dive into the unique culture and landscape of the Marquesas that makes Aranui 5 so special, with a week-long immersion in the earthly paradise that inspired the likes of Paul Gauguin, Robert Louis Stevenson and Herman Melville. Few visitors make it to these islands and Aranui 5’s arrival is a celebrated occasion in the islands’ small ports and remote communities, and travellers can expect the warmest of welcomes.

Each voyage, Aranui 5 visits all six inhabited islands in the Marquesas – Nuku Hiva, Ua Huka, Ua Pou, Hiva Oa, Fatu Hiva and Tahuata – with inclusive excursions in every port. These include:

  • Exploring the archaeological sites of the Taipivai Valley on Nuku Hiva, which is dotted with stone tikis and rock art, followed by an ‘Umu’ pork lunch cooked in a typical, Marquesan underground oven
  • Traversing the mountains of Ua Huka by 4X4, or riding one of the famed Marquesan horses that roam wild on this island
  • Hiking to the ‘Cross’ on the ‘Cathedral island’ of Ua Pou, with its 12 mighty basalt summits rising up to 3,745 feet.
  • Visiting artist Paul Gauguin’s former home, grave and replica of his ‘House of Pleasure’ on Hiva Oa
  • Seeing craftspeople at work and watching sunset in the UNESCO World Heritage Bay of Virgins on Fatu Hiva, the most lush and distant of the islands visited on the voyage
  • Discovering the stories of conquistadores, missionaries and French settlers who shaped the history of Tahuata, the smallest inhabited island

Aranui 5 accommodates 230 guests in 103 comfortable suites, staterooms and dormitory-style rooms, some with balconies. An onboard programme of insightful talks about life in the Marquesas takes place in the two spacious lounges, and there are also four bars – including the panoramic Skybar for relaxation. Meals are served in the dining room, where after the three-course dinners, the Aranui band performs. There is also an outdoor swimming pool, fitness room and boutique.

A 13-day voyage on board Aranui 5 costs from Euros 4,088 pp (including accommodation in a standard cabin, based on two sharing), all meals (incl. wine with meals) and scheduled excursions.

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