Austral Islands, Raiatea & Anaa

Austral Islands, Raiatea & Anaa

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Discovered in the 18th century, the Austral Islands are located 600 km south of Tahiti. Breathtaking landscapes, sheer mountains, valleys, these islands are renowned for their agricultural and artisanal activities, their caves sheltering ancient burials and whale watching.

Trip Name
Austral Islands, Raiatea & Anaa
Vessel Type: Passenger ship Length: 126 m Passenger Capacity: 260 Speed: 15 knots The Aranui is a mixed passenger/cargo vessel that operates between Tahiti and the Marquesas. It offers comfortable, air-conditioned accommodations for about two hundred passengers. Passengers will be able to sunbathe on deck, swim in the pool, or enjoy exotic tropical drinks while the Aranui wends her way among the islands of the Marquesas. Accommodations classes are Suites, Deluxe, Standard and C Class. The vessel operates under the French flag, and her crew are all Polynesian, primarily Marquesans. The name “Aranui” means “The Great Highway” in Maori, another great Polynesian culture. The first Aranui was purchased from a New Zealand ship owner in 1959. CPTM kept her original name, because it suited her. Serving as a link between the remote Marquesas and the rest of the world, she truly was a “Great Highway” on which cargo and passengers traveled. The original Aranui was too small to meet the needs of the islands as trade increased. CPTM therefore retired her, and purchased a new vessel, which was also named the Aranui. The second Aranui was originally built as a freighter for the Baltic trades, with unusually thick hull plates because of floating ice often found in that area. She was modified in Germany in 1990. After only a few years in service, it too was getting too small again to meet the islands growing trade needs as well as the increase in passenger travel. CPTM decided this time to built a new vessel in 2000, which was named the Aranui III. The Aranui III was built in Romania as a freighter and passenger vessel. Because of the number of passengers the vessel can carry, she was reclassifed as a passenger vessel. Thus, meeting the strict requirements of international SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) regulations and many safety features including life boats and lifte rafts and fire safety systems. The vessel is French registry, and crewed primarily by Marquesans. They are extremely skillfull and very hospitable. It is often their custom to give an impromptu concert in the evenings, both for their own and our passengers pleasure. The ship features a small boutique where various sundries, clothing and souvenirs are available. There are washing machines and dryers aboard, but dry cleaning is not available. There is also 2 bars and video room, which has a television, VCR and a small collection of videotapes. She also has a swimming pool and sunbathing space. The electrical current in the cabins is 220 volt 50 cycle AC, using French-style plugs. If you have any small appliances, please make sure you have voltage converters and plug adapters needed to use the ship’s standard power. The vessel accepts traveler’s checks and credit cards for on-board purchases. We regret that we cannot honor personal checks. Lock boxes are available on board for passenger convenience. However, we do not accept custody or responsibility for passenger valuables or money. Facilities: * 1 dining room * 2 spacious lounges & 2 conference rooms * 4 bars including 1 panoramic bar (Skybar) * 1 fitness room * 1 outside swimming pool * 1 shop * 1 massage room * 2 lifts


Day 1 - Day 1 SATURDAY – Departure from Tahiti (Papeete)
You will be warmly welcomed by our Polynesian staff and will take your bearings on the boat before the great journey to Raiatea.
Day 2 - Day 2 SUNDAY – Raiatea, Society Islands
Originally called Havai’i Nui, Ra’iatea is considered to be the cradle of the ancestors and the ma’ohi civilization, which is claimed by all the Polynesians of the triangle (Hawai’i, New Zealand, and Easter Island). The expansion of Polynesians throughout the Pacific began from this exact site on Raiatea. After offering blessings through sacred ceremonies and celebrations, outriggers with the original pioneers ventured north to Hawaii and west to New Zealand. As the first Polynesian island to be populated, Raiatea maintains the most spectacular and first international marae of the Polynesian triangle, called Taputapuatea and is where inauguration ceremonies, political alliances and international meetings would have taken place in ancient times.
Day 3 - Day 3 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 4 - Day 4 TUESDAY – Rimatara, Austral Islands
The Aranui is adrift – tenders to the dock. Welcome with a walk through purification smoke (ancient tradition of Rimatara’s inhabitants). Although Rimatara is the smallest of the Austral Islands, it charms the visitors with its hidden treasures. In the hollow of this circular island, one has the impression that time has stopped. Departure for a circle island tour by bus and visit to the villages of Amaru, Anapoto and Matuaura. Visit of handicraft centers. In Rimatara, the main occupation of the inhabitants, apart from agriculture, is basket weaving and especially the preparation of fara pae’ore leaves (a variety of pandanus without thorns) which are used to make cloth.
Day 5 - Day 5 WEDNESDAY – Rurutu (Moerai-Auti-Avera), Austral Islands
Rurutu, one of the two largest raised atolls in French Polynesia, is unique because of its geological structure which is surprising as one does not expect to discover such landscapes in the South Pacific. Basalt and limestone cliffs dotted with caves where islanders once lived, a volcanic interior with lush tropical jungle, white sand beaches and beautiful bays offer breathtaking views. The Aranui is adrift – tenders to the pier of Moerai. Welcome in the village of Moerai. Visit of the Mitterand cave, the handicraft center with weaving demonstrations. Local coffee for sale. Visit to the Royal House, well known for the confection of local patchwork quilts, the « tifaifai », followed by a demonstration of “stone lifting” (traditional custom).Circle island tour by « truck », starting from the Northern or Southern coast. In the North, visit to the « cave Mitterand », the marae in Vitaria’s village. In the South, swimming at Naairoa’s beach, taro plantation visit with explanation about the cultivation system, old houses made of lime stone.
Day 6 - Day 6 THURSDAY – Tubuai (Mataura), Austral Islands
Tenders to the small dock at Town Hall with welcome and music. Handicraft at the Town Hall of Mataura with weaving demonstrations (hats and baskets made of pandanus leaves…), necklace making, « hue » (gourd) for sale, etc. – Scuba diving with « La Bonne Bouteille » (optional activity). Free time in the village (Post Office, Bank…) Visit of « Fort Georges », « marae » with a « kava ceremony» (dances and songs…) and a wood carver in the village of Tamatoa. Scuba diving with « La Bonne Bouteille » (optional activity).
Day 7 - Day 7 FRIDAY – 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 8 - Day 8 SATURDAY – Rapa (Haurei), Austral Islands
The Aranui is tied up at the pier of Rapa in the village of Haurei. Welcome with music and flowers « lei ». Located in the extreme south of the Austral archipelago, this crescent-shaped island with its coastline cut by 12 very deep bays reminiscent of Nordic fjords is one of the most isolated and least populated in French Polynesia. Rapa-Iti – or “Little Rapa” as the island is known here – has a strong cultural link with Easter Island, known as Rapa-Nui or Big Island by the Polynesians. Legend has it that Rapa-Nui was first settled by the people of Rapa-Iti. Once home to fierce warriors who lived in fortified villages built on terraces among the volcanic peaks, the island’s inhabitants now live by farming and fishing.Truck shuttle from the pier to the Cultural Center. Visit to the Cultural Center with handicraft. Free time in the village of Haurei. Visit to the “pa” (fort) for good hikers, very steep hill. Truck shuttle between the Cultural Center and the pier (for those who want to go back on board).
Day 9 - Day 9 SUNDAY – Rapa (Haurei), Austral Islands
The Aranui is at the pier in the village of Haurei-Rapa.« Truck » to morning Church service.
Day 10 - Day 10 MONDAY – Raivavae (Mahanatoa-Rairua-Vaiurua-Anatonu), Austral Islands
Known as the “Bora Bora of the Austral Islands,” Raivavae’s white sand beaches, huge emerald lagoon, and 28 motus surrounding the lush main island have earned it this distinction. Giant stone tikis resembling those of the Marquesas and Easter Island, including an unusually smiling tiki, wooden carvings, an open-air sacred temple, and Polynesian pirogues are just some of the archaeological features you’ll discover on an island tour.Tenders to the beach of Mahanatoa with flowery welcome. Departure by bus for a circle island tour to visit a smiling “tiki” in Rairua’s village. Food tasting with local music. Handicraft, woven hats and baskets made of pandanus leaves. Meeting on the beach of Mahanatoa for a typical buffet from Raivavae. Optional activities : – Motu « pool » excursion with swimming and snorkeling.
Day 11 - Day 11 TUESDAY – 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 12 - Day 12 WEDNESDAY – Anaa, Tuamotu Islands
The Aranui is adrift in Anaa. Tenders to the small dock of Tukuhora. A small atoll with less than 500 inhabitants, Anaa wrote its way into the history books as the birthplace of Tahiti’s royal family — the Pomare Dynasty. These days it’s best known for its luminous jade lagoon with green clouds above from the sun rays reflecting off the water and picturesque motus with no less than eleven little islands scattered around the atoll. Be introduced to local craftsmanship and challenge your family or friends to the traditional javelin throw. Walk for a visit to the village.Visit to Anaa Pito, a whole in the lagon (optional activity) Polynesian Feast on board.
Day 13 - Day 13 THURSDAY – 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. Arrival around 8.00 AM.
Day 14 - Please Note:
Itineraries are subject to change.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type


    • Raiatea, Society Islands
    • Rimatara, Austral Islands
    • Rurutu (Moerai-Auti-Avera), Austral Islands
    • Tubuai (Mataura), Austral Islands
    • Rapa (Haurei), Austral Islands
    • Anaa, Tuamotu Islands