Friday 11 March 2016
Although I did not continue on to Papeete, Tahiti with the Aranui 5, the final morning does end very early. The Aranui arrives early in the morning at a different location than it departs from in the inner harbour. The Aranui actually returns to the freight quay in Papeete which is on the back side of the harbour. Fortunately taxis and shuttle companies are all lined up and ready to pick up passengers to take them to their hotels or other places when disembarkation takes place at 8am. The one challenge with this disembarkation time however is that most international flights do not leave until at least 11pm or later that same evening.
If passengers are flying home on the same day, most will get a day room at one of the local hotels. Some however will pre-arrange to drop off luggage at the same hotel they had stayed at prior to embarking on the Aranui. The Hotel Tahiti Nui will store bags and give you a day pass for 3000 cfp per person. This gives you access to the pool, sauna and internet. The last option is to use the airport’s luggage storage services for the day but this is less than ideal as one needs to not only get all of the way to the airport, but also back into the city or somewhere else where they plan on spending the day.
The Aranui 5 was truly a magical experience that brought us closer to the sights, sounds and smells of the Marquesian people. After two weeks on the Aranui we had a greater appreciation for the customs, cultures and work ethic of these hard working people. It was inspiring to witness the people of these islands and their deeply respected and embedded cultures that are once again thriving and developing. I hope to return again to this area of French Polynesia.