ARANUI 5 To The Marquesas, Part Five

Just in case you were looking for part four of this series, in keeping with the Aranui Cruises naming tradition (where the number four is bad luck), it doesn’t exist! In this fourth and final post, we visit the lush island of Fatu Hiva and arid Ua Huka before disembarking ARANUI 5 in Nuku Hiva.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

MV ARANUI 5 at Omoa.

We rode the barge to shore at the Omoa anchorage of ruggedly lush Fatu Hiva, which seemed like a Marquesan mini-Kauai.  Throughout the voyage, we had been preparing for today’s Zen-like challenge: a seventeen kilometer hike over the ridge to Hanavave on the other side of the island.

PK and the tikis. Photo by Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon.

I donned my red and black sneakers for what would be the last in a series of globe-trotting treks. Their well-worn treads had touched the soils of more lands than I can count, from the sands of Alang to the canals of Amsterdam.

Hei there!

Before the hike, we were led into the local village for a tapa (tree bark that is hammered into paper/and or cloth) and hei (floral bouquets, often worn on the head) demonstration…

Laid back local chanteuses.

…rendered in a sweet aural backdrop, courtesy of a quartet of colorfully clad locals.

Beyond the point of no return on the Omoa side.

It was good that we were cautioned repeatedly that the hike would be very taxing, up a steep grade in sweltering heat and humidity with very little shade. And for those with second thoughts, after the first half hour, there was no turning back, since ARANUI 5 would be sailing off to meet us in Hanavave on the opposite side of the island.

Refueling at the pit stop.

At the half-way point, some 400 meters above sea level, it was almost refreshingly cool. We were greeted with cheers by members of the ship’s galley team, who were waiting for us with a small deli set-up.  And, oh, did that hard-earned tuna baguette and a bottle of ice cold water taste good!

Downward ho!

Although climbing up was more exerting, going down was actually much more of a challenge.

Hiking in Fatu Hiva.

And the vistas were stunning, making it hard to not occasionally stumble in distraction.

Hole in the wall.

Beyond the layers of green, I could see through a hole in the neighboring ridge, a phenomenon I have only witnessed in one other place, Norway’s Torghatten mountain.

MV ARANUI 5 at Hanavave.

After a few bends, the ARANUI 5 appeared as a little speck in the Bay of Hanavave.

Stone formations at Hanavave.

Near Hanavave, the remarkable stone formations looked as though they might have been lifted from Easter Island.

The long and winding road.

Towards the end of the road, the incline gave San Francisco’s Lombard Street a run for its money.

Giant manta.

At Hanavave, we limped aboard the first barge for the short ride to the air conditioned comfort of our ship. I immediately tossed the haggard shoes and my scorched/drenched clothing and headed for the pool. Once there, a fellow passenger waved me over to witness a magnificent manta circling the ARANUI’s stern.

Hoisting the fishing boat at Hanavave.

Shortly before sunset, the ARANUI 5 hoisted her barges and even a fishing boat (which is sometimes used for additional guest excursions) and sailed off to Ua Huka in the Northern Marquesas.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Te Tumu cultural center.

Our adventure on the island of Ua Huka began with a 4 WD ride to a botanical garden where we encountered numerous, ripe-for-the-picking local fruit trees. From there, it was off to the cultural center at Te Tumu to browse local handicrafts and visit a small museum.

Ua Huka coastline.

The coastline was significantly more arid than what we witnessed on the other islands, almost recalling that of central California.

Hane waterfront.

Our next stop was the village of Hane, where we had time to explore the local marketplace and a scattering of small museums.

More’O Ua Huka.

There is a large rock at the outskirts of Hane Bay that bore a strong likeness to California’s Morro Rock.

Ua Huka treetops.

We stopped for lunch at a local restaurant but well-worn from our 17 kilometer trek on the day prior, decided against the optional, sun-drenched 5K walk back to the ship. After a short 4WD ride through yet more colorful flora, we were back on board the ARANUI 5.

Approaching Nuku Hiva.

I began the somber task of packing as ARANUI 5 made a westerly course to Nuku Hiva. A school of dolphins greeted us off the rugged shoreline.

Encountering SIRENA at Taioahe.

Just before twilight, ARANUI 5 dropped anchor at Taioahe, where she would spend the night. Meanwhile, the only other cruise ship spotted since we left Tahiti nine nights prior, Oceania Cruises’ MV SIRENA, was maneuvering away.

SIRENA asterna.

The preparations for the poolside Polynesian evening were well under way as the SIRENA quietly glided past us on her way to Tahiti.

Decking it up, Marquesas style.

What followed was a full-on feast and fest, Marquesas style.


The party carried on well into the wee-hours. The good thing for most ARANUI 5 guests on the full 13-night voyage is that they had already seen Taioahe earlier in the week (when the ship called there to offload supplies), so they could sleep in and not worry about missing much the next morning.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Chevals dans les montagnes.

We disembarked shortly before the ARANUI 5 finished loading her outbound cargo and sailed off to Ua Pou, where she would take on more local wares before beginning her return leg to Tahiti via Rangiroa in the Tuamotus and Bora Bora. Meanwhile, we spent the rest of the morning winding through the mountains of Nuku Hiva, en route to the airport.

Tapueahu Canyon.

Near the summit, there was a fantastic view of Tapueahu Canyon, which is Nuku Hiva’s smaller version of Kauai’s Waimea Canyon.

Flying over Tuamotu.

Hours later, our plane soared over the coral-fringed seas of Tuamotu during the first of my homeward flights, retracing the beginning of this remarkable voyage through Polynesia.

End Of ARANUI 5 to the Marquesas

Special Thanks: Guillaume Acher, Rani Chaves, Marilyn Green, Cait Langley, Julie Parrotta

Peter Knego

Peter Knego

Having documented over 400 passenger ships and taken more than 200 cruises, MaritimeMatters’ co-editor Peter Knego is a leading freelance cruise writer, a respected ocean liner historian and frequent maritime lecturer both on land and at sea.  With his work regularly featured in cruise industry trades and consumer publications.  Knego also runs the website which offers MidCentury cruise ship furniture, artwork and fittings rescued from the shipbreaking yards of Alang, India.  He has produced several videos on the subject, including his latest, The Sands Of Alang and the best-selling On The Road To Alang."
Peter Knego

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