Marquesas Islands PolynesiaPolynesia, Marquesas Islands
Great maneuvers in the Marquesas Islands of France Polynesia
Shortly after 6am and I stood on the upper decks of the Aranui 5 with a small group of early birds to see what our commandant, Christophe Dupuy, dubbed "la grand manoeuvre". "He sailed the boat into an incredibly small canal and then made a 180 degree turn before docking.
When I looked at the rugged sea and the canal' s sheer cliffs, I hoped that things would go better for him than for the master of Italy, who a few years ago tried a great maneuver off the Isle of Giglio and sunk his boat.
The other skipper reported The Aranui 5 skippers do the big round every two wards because they have to. This is the only way for boats to reach Ua Huka, one of the most isolated islands in the South Pacific. The Aranui 5 could be one of the most spectacular boats in the whole wide range of water sports, and one of the most spectacular routes in the whole wreck.
It has been designed as a cargo vessel as well as a ferry and is a bit nasty at first sight. It is, in the truest sense of the word, half a ferry, half a cargo vessel, working as such, carrying cargo and travellers to some of the most pristine islands in Polynesia, France.
Once the master and staff had securely secured the ship, I remained on board for a while and watched as the team unloaded the cargo onto board. Ua Huka is the smallest of the Marquesas Islands and its 600 or so people depend on barge to transport goods to the isle.
According to Polish legends, the Marquesas Islands have become the umbrella of Polynesia and Ua Huka is known for its rocks, wind-swept mountains, ferocious oxen and sheep, orchards and uncommon avifauna. When we got ashore, 4X4 cars with locals were awaiting us to take us around the isle.
As the other guests followed the leader close behind, my man and I hatched into the fruit garden to take a picture of some of the few and vulnerable bird for which Ua Huka is known. We continued to the Te Tumu Cultural Centre to see fine woodcarvings and replica of Moroccan arts.
Return aboard that day, it was Polyynesian dark. Afterwards we ate under the star and had a great Polish dancing show with a lot of realism. Aranui 5 has an exquisite meal and includes wines for lunches and dinners (the boat flies the flags of France). Every stop on the 4,000 km long trip was fascinating and exposed the particular cultural heritage of the Marquesas Islands and Polynesia.
This 14-day trip involved visiting Fakarava and Rangiroa in the Tuamotu Archipelago, Bora Bora on the Society Islands and Nuku Hiva, Ua Pou, Hiva Oa, Fatu Hiva, Tahuata and Ua Huka on the Marquesas Islands. During the last two day of our journey, the oceans were the harshest Aranui 5 had ever seen.
"Hopefully you feel comfortable after the extra sleep we had," said Capt. Dupuy shyly when we reached Bora Bora a little later than foreseen. I was reassured to know that our skipper had some great maneuvers to do. Sailing all year round from Papeet, Tahiti, Aranui 5 has 103 en-suite rooms ranging from luxury balcony rooms to dorms perfect for individualists.
The price for a 2018 Aranui 5 holiday starts at US$2,920 per passenger (excluding flight and taxes).