Within the Polynesian triangle, Raiatea, or Havai’i as it was originally know, is considered the cradle of Polynesian civilization. As the first island to be populated by these seafaring people, this is where all migration to the three points, New Zealand, Hawaii and Easter Island, began. Taputapuatea, a 1,000 year-old large marae complex, or open air temple, and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is regarded as the religious and spiritual center of all of Eastern Polynesia. From here, navigators and sailors would venture out to settle new lands. Appropriately, Raiatea, with its main town of Uturoa, is the base for most yacht charter companies. Mount Temehani, the island’s most sacred mountain, is home to the tiare apetahi, a flower found nowhere else in the world, which only blooms at dawn.
Another paradise island in the South Pacific, Aitutaki has it all: gorgeous white sand beaches and a stunning turquoise lagoon surrounded by motus on the barrier reef. Though considered an atoll, it has a significant large area of high land on the north side, providing sweeping views across the lagoon. According to legend, the island was settled by Ru, who sailed from Raiatea in the Society Islands in search of new lands and many Aitutakians believe they are descended from this seafaring warrior. Today, they are known for their charm, easy going attitude and hospitality. Whether relaxing on the beach, snorkeling the crystal-clear lagoon in search of colorful tropical fish and corals, or discovering remnants of an ancient past, Aitutaki offers the best of both worlds.
Aitukati > Atiu
Home to approximately 400 warrior people, there are few untouched places left in the world like Atiu. Over 8 million years old, Atiu, the 3rd largest island of the Cook Islands is one big adventure playground, ancient and unspoiled. Rich in culture and history, Atiu is an eco-lovers paradise. There are numerous limestone caves dotted around the island, which are continually being carved out by the interaction of fresh and salt water. Life is pretty much the same as it was some 25 years ago and offers therefore a really genuine insight into island living.
Atiu > Rarotonga
The largest and most populous, Rarotonga is the hub of the Cook Islands, with its chief town, Avarua, as its capital. Settled by Polynesians from French Polynesia around the 9th century, the bond with Tahiti and her islands has always remained strong. Today, as modern Pacific people, the high spirited Cook Islanders are a cosmopolitan blend of Western influence and ancient Polynesian heritage. Many important archeological sites can be found here, such as Arai Te Tonga, the most sacred marae in Rarotonga, and nearby, the Ara Metua, a thousandyear-old interior road, paved with basalt or coral slabs, that once circled the island and of which, about two thirds still exists. Highland Paradise, sometimes known as “the lost village” is now a cultural center consisting of old and faithfully rebuilt traditional structures, offering guided tours of the once large settlement site, and re-enactments and cultural demonstrations.
Bora Bora. A name that evokes visions of paradise on Earth. A playground known throughout the world. For two days, Aranui 5 will be anchored across from the village of Vaitape, where you will have ample time to discover how and why the island has earned its much-deserved reputation. You will discover the Pearl of the Pacific after a picnic on the paradisiac Motu Tapu.
Bora Bora > Papeete, Tahiti
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.