Island of Bora Bora


Bora Bora, the jewel of the Pacific

From snorkelling in vibrant crystal-clear coral reefs to exploring lush tropical landscapes, a cruise aboard cargo/cruise vessel Aranui 5 in 2024 now includes a port of call at the island of Bora Bora on the penultimate day of the South Pacific voyage and guarantees a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

Discover why Bora Bora is the ultimate cruise destination with one of the world’s most beautiful lagoons and enjoy many unforgettable experiences to make the most of your time in this tropical paradise.

Bora Bora, the jewel of the Pacific

bora bora cruise

Bora Bora is located approximately 140 miles (225 kilometres) northwest of Tahiti in the South Pacific and is known for its spectacular lagoon and beautiful coral reefs. The island, which was formed by volcanic activity, is mountainous and jagged, with bare black rock on its higher points at Mount Pahia and Mount Otemanu, revealing the remnants of an extinct volcano in these two distinct black stone peaks. Pahia is the shorter of the two, standing at 2,165 feet (660 metres), while Otemanu reaches a height of 2,379 feet (725 metres).

The French Polynesian summer months, from November to April, are frequently hot and humid in Bora Bora with average daily temperatures reaching 85 degrees Fahrenheit and some rain, while the winter months are slightly cooler and drier.

Despite its volcanic origins, there are plenty of tropical trees, plants, and flowers on Bora Bora. Common varieties include coconut palms, orange trees, and vanilla plants. The popular ‘noni’, a tropical evergreen known for its edible fruit, is plentiful.

Marine life also abounds in the colourful coral and turquoise lagoon of Bora Bora with several fish species being a regular sight including red snapper, jackfish, and lemon sharks. Sea turtles, dolphins, and migrating humpback whales are also commonly seen, and due to the abundance of marine plankton around the island of Bora Bora, it is famous for its large population of ray species, including leopard, eagle, and the massive Manta Ray.

The island is also home to a diverse range of bird species. Black-winged Petrels, Pacific Swallows, and White Terns are frequent visitors with many other species commonly found throughout French Polynesia making regular visits to Bora Bora.

Discover Bora Bora aboard the cargo-cruise ship Aranui

Aranui 5 is like no other South Pacific cruise ship. It is both a passenger and cargo ship, with the unique capability of transporting both passengers and cargo to remote locations in French Polynesia, such as theMarquesas Islands and the Austral Islands archipelago, with an included port of call at the famous tropical paradise of Bora Bora. As a dual-purpose vessel, this feature gives the ship its personality and allows guests to experience an included itinerary of truly authentic maritime adventure.

With only 103 cabins that can accommodate up to 230 passengers, Aranui 5 offers a welcoming atmosphere, with plenty of time to relax on deck and meet new people at the bar over a sunset cocktail. A three-course meal is served each evening in the restaurant, followed by music, and singing from the talented Aranui Band, who will gladly teach guests lyrical Polynesian rhythms and how to swivel their hips in the dance of the Tamure's infectious beat.

During the 12-day luxury cruise from Papeete in Tahiti to the Marquesas and the 13-day Austral islands voyage, Aranui provides an itinerary with all meals and scheduled excursions, as passengers discover the magic that attracted artists, writers, and adventurers, such as Paul Gauguin, Robert Louis Stevenson, Thor Heyerdahl, and Jacques Brel to this remote region of French Polynesia.

The warm and friendly crew, many of whom have been with Aranui for several years, and are native to the islands visited on the cruise, take enormous pleasure in welcoming passengers as family and introducing them to their centuries-old customs. They also join with the knowledgeable, and multilingual lecturers and guides in sharing French Polynesian culture with the passengers as they explore these fascinating islands.



Itinerary of our stopovers and excursions

 bora bora cruise

Day 1: Depart from the port of Papeete in Tahiti.

Day 2: Arrive at Fakarava, for a day at the beach lagoon. Classified as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO for preserving rare species, the low-lying atoll is the second largest in French Polynesia.

Day 3: A day at Sea to relax on the Pool Deck or participate in one of the many onboard activities.

Day 4: Arrive at Nuku Hiva in the Marquesas, and while Aranui is unloading the first lot of cargo at the port, passengers are taken in 4x4 vehicles for an excursion tour of the island. After lunch, there’s a visit to the small village of Hatiheu, where the museum displays copies of petroglyphs from hidden island valleys and then continues south to Taiohae with its spectacular bay, a giant volcanic amphitheatre, which is dominated by towering cliffs and dotted with spectacular waterfalls.

Day 5: Arrive at Ua Pou and explore the picturesque port village of Hakahau. Take a walk to the Cross for a breathtaking view of the mountains and over the horseshoe bay where the main village is located. After lunch meet the carvers and enjoy a dance performance, including the traditional Ua Pou ‘bird dance’.

Day 6: Arrive at the arid island of Ua Huka, home to many wild horses, goats, and pigs. Witness the Aranui captain perform a very impressive, early morning 180-degree turn of the ship in the narrow “Invisible Bay” at the opening to the port of Vaipaee. Visit the small museum with exquisite replicas of Marquesan art and take a 4×4 tour of the island, stopping for breathtaking views, and lunch in the pretty village of Hane. An optional walk back to the port offers more chances to explore the island and see its unique wildlife.

Day 7: Arrive into the small bay on Tahuata and with the scent of Tahitian tiare and frangipani in the air visit the church and see the beautiful bone and helmet shell carvings. After lunch on board, the ship sails on to Hiva Oa with itinerary to explore Atuona, the second-largest village in the Marquesas. See where Paul Gauguin lived and his infamous “house of pleasure” and the museum dedicated to the Belgian singer-songwriter Jacques Brel, who died on the island in 1978. Travelling by 4X4, take an excursion to visit the largest archaeological site in the Marquesas Islands, “Tohua Taa’oa”.

Day 8: Arrive at Fatu Hiva, the most lush and remote of the Marquesas Islands. See the women demonstrate how they make tapa by crushing the bark from mulberry, banyan, or breadfruit trees. The more athletic passengers can opt for a 10-mile hike over the mountains from Omoa to Hanavave, with a picnic lunch served on the mountaintop. Non-hikers will sail around the coastline aboard Aranui 5 from Omoa to Hanavave to the UNESCO heritage ‘Bay of Virgins’, considered one of the most beautiful bays in the world.

Day 9: Day at sea with activities offered throughout the day.

Day 10:  Arrive at Rangiroa or Makatea, depending on the voyage.

From the open decks, watch the approach into Rangiroa, the second-largest atoll in the world via the Tiputa Pass. Join an optional scuba diving excursion in a glass-bottom boat or head to the beach to snorkel from its white sand beaches.  Departing at lunchtime for the magical island of Bora Bora.

Or arrive at Makatea to see its sheer cliffs rising nearly 240 feet above sea level. Once a prosperous atoll due to phosphate mining, it’s now almost completely deserted, with only a few families remaining. Passengers will disembark and take an excursion across the atoll on foot or by car to visit the sacred caves of Makatea and picnic under the cliffs or on the beach.

Day 11: Arrive on the cruise at Bora Bora with the view of the majestic “Mount Otemanu”, the highest peak on the island. Enjoy a day at the beach, dining on Poisson Cru and a delicious barbecue on a private Motu surrounded by crystal clear waters. Choose from a variety of optional paid-for excursions - scuba diving, lagoon tours by boat and motorised canoe, and swimming with sharks and rays.

Day 12: Return to Tahiti (Papeete) at the end of the journey.

 Sample Austral Islands cruise in 2025 - itinerary and excursions

Day 1: Departure from the Tahitian cruise port of Papeete.

Day 2 and 3: Rurutu is renowned in Polynesia for its high-quality basketry, including hats, bags, and rugs made from pandanus leaves and natural materials. Upon arriving at Rurutu passengers are greeted with local songs and have free time to explore the tranquil village of Moerai. The second day offers a tour of the island's scenic wonders, including cliffs, caves, lush jungles, sandy beaches, and a traditional meal, with the opportunity to witness humpback whales in September as an optional activity.

Day 4: Rimatara - Visitors can explore the main villages, including Amaru, Anapoto, and Motuaura, where the cemetery holds the lineage of past kings and queens. A barbecue on Motuaura's beach is followed by opportunities for snorkelling, birdwatching for the colourful Kuhl's Lori, and optional activities like bike and kayak rentals

Day 5: Tubuai, the most populous island in the Austral Islands, welcomes passengers at Bloody Bay's landing stage with local music and wreaths. Visitors can observe art and craft demonstrations, including pandanus leaf weaving and shell necklace making. The day's activities include a truck tour of cultural sites followed by lunch on board and opportunities for snorkelling, with certified diving available as an optional activity

Day 6: A day at sea to relax on the Pool Deck or in the comfort of the air-conditioned Lounge. Or simply enjoy the views of the South Pacific Ocean during the crossing to Rapa.

Day 7 and 8: Rapa, the most remote of the Austral Islands, boasts a unique crescent-shaped coastline with numerous deep bays and a temperate climate. The island is abundant in non-tropical fruits and vegetables like apples, peaches, and nectarines despite the absence of coral or coconut trees. Upon disembarking at Ahurei dock, passengers are greeted with flower wreaths and traditional Rapa music, followed by a visit to the cultural centre to witness local handicrafts and enjoy a traditional meal. Optional activities include a hike to Fort Morango Uta and a Polynesian evening with a plancha buffet, location depending on weather conditions.

Day 9: Raivavae, often described as the "Bora Bora of the past", is known for having the most beautiful lagoon in Tahiti and its islands. Passengers disembark at Mahanatoa beach, where they are greeted with flower wreaths and local music. A tour of the island includes visits to the "Smiling Tiki" and marae sites, along with a typical Raivavae buffet on the beach. Optional activities include exploring motu Vaiamanu, known as the "motu swimming pool," a coral garden, and hiking to Mount Hiro.

Day 10: Day at sea with lectures on the culture and history of the passenger-freighter Aranui 5 or time to simply soak up the motion of the ocean on the return to the Society Islands

Day 11: Raiatea - Visit a luxurious Botanical Garden and the fascinating history of the archaeological site TAPUTAPUATEA, a 1000-year-old large marae complex, or open-air temple, and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is regarded as the religious and spiritual centre of all of Eastern Polynesia.

Day 12: Bora Bora - Upon arriving in Bora Bora's stunning lagoon, you'll be greeted by the majestic Mount Otemanu, the island's highest peak. This paradise island offers the option to relax on the beach and enjoy a barbecue on the private Motu Tapu surrounded by clear waters. Additionally, you can partake in various optional excursions, including scuba diving, lagoon tours by boat or motorised canoe, and swimming with sharks and rays.

Day 13: Return to the port of Papeete and disembark the ship.

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Activities and excursions offered during the stopover in Bora Bora

Manta ray cruise bora bora

Upon arriving on the cruise into Bora Bora’s world-famous lagoon of opalescent blues and greens, Aranui guests will be greeted by the majestic “Mount Otemanu”, the highest peak on the island.

A range of optional excursions are available during a day on the island from an outrigger motorised canoe excursion and the chance to swim with stingrays and sharks,  to exploring the seabed with a mask and snorkel and enjoying lunch on a private motu “Motu Tapu”, savouring raw fish in coconut milk, grilled meats, and exotic fruits, before returning to the ship with lasting memories of the day.

Guests can go scuba diving, or swimming with timid Black-tip reef sharks. These are the sharks most commonly seen in the Bora Bora Lagoon because they prefer shallow water over the deep ocean. With their black-tipped dorsal fin and tail, smooth grey body, and light-coloured belly, black-tip sharks are stunning and glide gracefully through the clear water. They are social creatures, so they are found in groups in the lagoon. When a boat approaches the usual shark feeding areas, more sharks are likely to circle the boat. But do not be afraid. When you enter the water, they will circle at a safe distance.

Swim in the lagoon with Bora Bora Stingrays  - Stingrays in Bora Bora have been greeting Polynesians for as long as they can remember. When an excursion boat appears in their area, they swim to visit. These stingrays are used to being around people and will be your best friend if you pat them and feed them fish. Stingrays are slippery to the touch, so if you don't want to feel them slide past you, wear board shorts and a rash vest.

 Mount Otemanu - Rising sharply to 2,385 feet (727 metres) above a turquoise blue lagoon, this jagged remnant of an ancient volcano is the jewel of the French Polynesian islands. Its unique form, visible from every corner of Bora Bora, casts a spell of magic over the landscape, making Bora Bora a cruise destination for thousands seeking the epitome of natural beauty.

Le Mont Pahia, in the Nunue municipality, is Bora Bora's second-highest peak after Mount Otemanu. A 7-kilometre hiking trail will take you up 661 metres to the top, from where there is a truly breathtaking view of the world's most beautiful lagoon. Some of the slopes are slippery and difficult to navigate, though there are rope railings to assist you and it is best navigated with the assistance of a guide. Parakeets nest in the bird cave, which is located high up on the mountainside and according to legend, is where the souls of the departed rest. 


Types of cabins available on the Aranui

Passengers travelling aboard Aranui 5 will experience not only the amenities of a first-class cruise ship but also the allure of life aboard a working cargo ship and become part of the French Polynesian supply chain.

It is classified as a small ship with a capacity of approximately 230 passengers in 103 cabins. These range from Premium exterior stateroom cabins, with more than 90% having a private balcony, to Standard exterior stateroom cabins with a picture window or porthole, and budget-friendly Class C, shared dormitory-style cabins that can accommodate four or eight people.

 The ship's interior decor, which includes eight different guest decks, reflects the owners' and crew's Polynesian heritage. There is a restaurant where all meals are served in a casual setting; one lounge; two conference rooms where guest lecturers give presentations on various cultural topics; three bars, including the Sky Bar with sweeping panoramic views; an outdoor swimming pool; a boutique; a spa; a gym; and the first tattoo studio at sea.

What budget should you plan for a cruise to Bora Bora?

A visit to Bora Bora can be expensive due to the difficulty of getting there and the scarcity of hotels, so an included cruise aboard Aranui 5 is one of the best ways to see it and a very cost-effective alternative.

Passengers need only pay extra if they wish to participate in one of the optional extra excursions to go scuba diving, join a lagoon tour by boat and motorised canoe, go swimming with sharks and rays, or take a helicopter flight above the islands of Bora Bora.

Prices start from 11 500 F pp for 3 hours tour of the island by pirogue excursion.

Alternatively, passengers can simply enjoy snorkelling from the private beach on Motu Tapu and tuck into the included beach BBQ.

The local currency is the French Pacific Franc, and it can be exchanged on arrival in French Polynesia.

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