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Tahiti’s Marquesas Islands
Romance in the South Pacific
By Rita Cook and A. Anthony Mastracchio

What will you remember about the Marquesas Islands? Will it be the ship you will live on for 16 days called the Aranui 3, surrounded by travelers from around the world? Will it be the people you meet on the ship during your honeymoon – 65 people all discovering the Marquesas Island’s together with everyday being a new adventure?

Even now the Marquesas Islands are but a fond memory as we think back on the experience at home. In fact, it is just what we think a honeymoon should be, memories tied together unforgettable in the retelling.

While the Marquesas Islands certainly has her share of annoyances, it also offers much more with a culture and people that are found nowhere else on the earth.

The Aranui 3 is about the adventure, the seclusion, the rarity of this group of islands uniquely set apart from the world and easily able to function without the cares or worries.

All honeymoons will certainly have positives and negatives, but you can be sure that while you will enjoy the Marquesas Islands together, you will nevertheless have your own unique ideas formed exclusively through the eyes of your own individual experiences.

The Marquesas Islands are indeed a lonely archipelago not visited by too many tourists and not as easy to get to as say, Bora Bora or Papeetee, Tahiti. While some would think inconvenience it’s also heaven. No hawkers, tipping, begging and on Tuesday at Hakahau the children and teenagers alike will greet you with a constant "hello" or "Bon Jour."

Islands Visited

The Marquesas Islands or Henua Enata "Land of Men" are at the end of the world with only about 7000 inhabitants in all. Some of the smaller islands are virtually untouched since the era of European discovery. Our trip on the Aranui 3 consisted of visiting the islands of Ua Pou, the most populated island with 2,000 people, Hakahetau, Hakahau, Nuku Hiva, Vaitahu, Fatu Hiva, Omoa, Puamau, Ua Huka, Atuona, home of artist Paul Gauguin and Taiohae-Taipivai, where Herman Melville spent time and wrote his book "Typee."

Tiki Sites

Since the islands of Tahiti were so remote for many years, and still are to a degree, the ancient sites are phenomenal and well worth the trip. On several of the islands you will have the chance to hike into the woods and view the Tiki sites. On Puamau there are the me'ae Iipona (ancient temple) and the Takaii, the biggest Tiki of French Polynesia. Many of these sites still carry the energy from human sacrifices and an intense power that the people in this part of the world developed and maintained.

Traveling on Cargo/Passenger Ship

You will find the experience of traveling on a passenger/cargo ship, well, different. For one, our ship had cargo as varied as a coffin (for a chief who didn't die after all), a dozen SUV’s, kerosene containers and everything in between. At each island the cargo was unloaded, it is the only means the Marquesan people have of receiving supplies from the outside world.

On board there is a swimming pool, reasonable size cabins, gym and exercise room and a lounge to read or write about your adventures.

You can pick up the ship at either Papeetee, Tahiti or on several of the Marquesan Islands that have small airports. The latter option is good if you don’t have a full 16 days to spend aboard the ship.

Photos by A. Anthony Mastracchio

CONTINUED, page 2 Helpful Advice for Your Trip