Half around the World (2018)

East USA map   

with thanks to Google Maps & Lonely Planet



East USA 

  Darien & New York

After many years of preparations for our trip around the world these plans had to be changed after the unexpected and sudden death of Jaap in early August 2017. Instead of 60 days travelling together through New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa and Hawaïi I made a beautiful journey to Darien, Connecticut, New York and the beautiful towns of Newport and Oak Bluffs at Martha's Vineyard island. And after three lovely weeks there, I flew to Pape'ete, Tahiti and from there I made a magnificent and splendid two weeks' cruise with the Aranui 5 from Pape'ete to and along the Marquesas Islands.

It all started in Darien, CT, with my friends Marjolein and Harry. We visited some places in the nearby area like Darien itself, New Canaan and a nice little town with a fine marina, Rowayton.

Darien Marion Rowayton harbour





During these first three weeks we went to New York a couple of times. The first time we visited the most famous parts of Manhattan, saw Lady Liberty, Wall Street and Brooklyn Bridge. 

NY 9/11 NY Lady Liberty NY Stock Exchange NY Brooklyn Bridge

In other visits we saw other parts of the Big Apple, like Brooklyn, where Marjolein and I met daughter Mariella. The houses in Brooklyn are quite different from those in Manhattan :-) From the restaurant ship at one of the piers of Brooklyn the view over Manhattan is splendid. And of course everywhere are those famous hotdog stands.

NY Brooklyn houses NY Brookly & Manhattan NY Brooklyn Mariella & Marjolein NY Hotdog stand





Rockefeller Plaza and Central Park are two other very interesting places. Of course Times Square and the Empire State building, seen both in the evening after a great Broadway musical show, are wonderful.

NY Rockefeller Plaza NY Central Park NY Times Square NY Empire State Building











Newport & Martha's Vineyard  

But we didn't only visit New York. We also drove from Darien to Newport and the beautiful island of Martha's Vineyard. See the map on top. Newport is a tourist city with the very first lawn tennis court, a town where you can make a very nice Cliff walk and/or can visit the huge mansions of the very rich people of the past (and present), like the Breakers mansion and Marble House of the Vanderbilt families. Those people really didn't know what to do with their enormous amounts of money. While common people still used oil lamps and a can of water they already had electrical light and baths with three taps for cold, warm and salt water.

Newport tennis court Newport cliff walk Newport Breakers mansion Newport Breakers inside Newport Breakers hall 

The ferry from New Bedford brought us to the nice village of Oak Bluffs at Martha's Vineyard. After leaving the ferry you arrive at a nice green square with nice houses around. Here also are the main bus stops to the other cities at the island.

Oak Bluffs panorama 

The three of us stayed in the cosy, nice and friendly Pequot hotel. Just as all the houses around it it is built in an old fashioned style with nice coloured doors, a swinging chair at the balcony and very friendly people and it is right in the center of town.

Oak Bluffs Pequot hotel Oak Bluffs Pequot at night





Oak Bluffs is famous for its gingerbread houses. Originally these houses were built in A-form, like the tents that were once used to camp here in the old days. Now the houses are painted in many different pastel colours, all together at and around the old campground.

Oak Bluffs Gingerbread blue house Oak Bluffs gingerbread houses Oak Bluffs gingerbread pink house Oak Bluffs gingerbread houses






Martha's Vineyard has more towns, so we also went to Edgartown either by bus or bike and at one of those visits we had a wonderful lobster lunch. 

Edgartown street Edgartown harbour Edgartown lobster






In Vineyard Haven  there are two old light houses, one of them being the East Chop. A picturesque building. One of the two light houses can be visited sometimes. And to come into the mood for golf we played a game of minigolf.

Vineyard Haven East Chop Vineyard Haven minigolf




Around Darien

Back in Darien Harry looked for a nice Par3 golf course and he found one in Fairfield. At a rainy morning we spent some nice time there and had a lot of fun.

Fairfield golf Harry Fairfield golf Marion 





What I didn't realize was that Yale University is in New Haven, not too far away from Darien either. On a sunny, but very windy day we drove to this old city. Although I have never been to Cambridge or Oxford in the UK, I felt like being there. The same style of buildings, churches and campuses.

New Haven Yale New Haven Yale church





Greenwich is a town, not very far away either. It is a very rich suburb of New YorkHouses are luxurious and so are some of the boats :-)

Greenwich Greenwich houses






Tahiti & French Polynesia

Pape'ete & Tahiti Nui


From JFK via Los Angeles to Pape'ete, Tahiti is a long, long flight, especially including waiting time. It took me approximately 19-20 hours. But at whatever time you arrive at Tahiti, people are welcoming you with a flower lei and a friendly word.

LA Airport Pape'ete flower lei  






After a short night's rest I walked through the center of Pape'ete. It has a large ferry terminal, a lovely Paofai park, a colourful cathedral and a large farmers' market where you can buy a lot of local products.

Pape'ete ferryterminal Pape'ete Paofai garden Papeéte  cathedral Pape'ete farmers' market






But after a half day walk, a tasty coffee and a nice lunch I preferred to see some more of the big island Tahiti Nui. I booked an island tour at my hotel and saw many beautiful things, e.g. the Venus point with a nice view over the Matavai Bay and Pape'ete, the Vaipahi water fall and garden and the Mara'a grotto where I met some friendly and interesting people.

Tahiti Venus point Tahiti Vaipahi garden Tahiti Mara'a grotto Tahiti Mara'a Grotto man


It was a very pleasant tour and being back in the capital the "rolling" restaurants, the roulottes had arrived at the square near the harbour and the festive illuminated Aranui 5 laid along the pier waiting for us for the next day to sail away from Tahiti Nui towards the Tuamotus Islands and further to the Marquesas Islands.

Pape'ete roulottes Pape'ete Aranui 5 by night  









Aranui 5 & Fakarava

The next morning after the check-in at the Aranui we got a great welcoming party with live dancing and music at the Pool Deck. Of course a security drill was a necessity and we were all dressed with life vests gathering near the life boats. You can get wifi at the boat, but it is very expensive. Don't forget to turn off your automatic wifi searching. If not, your budget is gone before you know.

Aranui 5 Aranui pool deck Aranui dancers Aranui security drill





These life boats are completely different from the barges that brought us from and to the Aranui if they was no quay where we could (dis)embark, like it was when we arrived at Fakarava, one of the islands of the Tuamotus Group.

Aranui barges





Fakarava is one of those beautiful bounty islands; white beaches (at one side of the island), when the sun is shining a nice blue sky and ocean, sometimes with little sharks that you can caress. And, there is wifi near the tiny tourist center. Of course, when all passengers are using it at the same time, it doesn't work too well :-)

Fakarava sharks Fakarava shop Fakarava outrigger Fakarava beach






Nuku Hiva 

Nuku Hiva was the first of the inhabited islands of the Marquesas that we visited. Unfortunately it was a very rainy day. The only one we had, though we had more days with a shower. But we also got some sunshine this day. We could leave the boat along the gangway and were welcomed with some music. After a 15 minute walk you will reach the village of Taiohae with a little market, a tourist office with the first tiki we saw, a wooden or stone carving in humanoid form, and the marina. Wifi again at the restaurant! A little bit out of town is the beautiful cathedral. It has some nice statues but the old entrance with its two small towers is more interesting in my opinion.

Nuku Hiva quay Nuku Hiva Tiki Nuku Hiva market Nuku Hiva Taiohae marina Nuku Hiva Taiohae cathedral


With many 4 WD cars we made an excursion to the other side of the island to Hatiheu, where we had lunch at the nice restaurant Mama Yvonne's. Here they have a very special way of preparing food. A complete pig was roasted is a ground oven. After lunch it finally stopped raining. Then you can really enjoy the area in and around Hatiheu. At the large archeological site with the big Banyan tree we even had some sunshine :-)

Nuku Hiva ground oven Nuku Hiva ground oven Nuku Hiva Hatiheu Nuku Hiva Hatiheu tree






Nuku Hiva at Banyan tree Nuku Hiva Banyan tree










Ua Pou

Yeah, very sunny and nice weather at Ua Pou, one of the other Marquesas islands. Together with Nuku Hiva, Ua Pou is one of the bigger islands and with a harbour at Hakahau where the barges were not needed. Some of the islands even have an air strip. While most people walked right away into town another group climbed the path to the cross above Hakahau. In the meantime the freighter part of the Aranui was unloaded/loaded. It really is a very special ship being half freighter/half cruise ship. Downtown the nicely dressed ladies from the village had prepared a large table with fruit for us. It was delicious.

Ua Pou Aranaui Ua Pou cross Ua Pou lady Ua Pou fruit


The local dance group gave a special performance, not only interesting for us, but also for the local kids. Aren't they cute. The ladies danced quietly and friendly, but the men were like real warriors and sometimes even frightening with their large jumps into the public :-)

Ua Pou kids Ua Pou female dancer Ua Pou dancers Ua Pou male dancer Ua Pou dancer


Ua Pou is a nice island with many plants, bushes and trees. After a little walk the English/German speaking part of the passengers arrived at Restaurant Tata Rosalie where they had prepared a lovely lunch for us with all kind of meat, fish and vegetarian dishes. The French ate somewhere else as happened before and would happen when we didn't eat at the Aranui 5.

Ua Pou banana tree Ua Pou Hakahau Ua Pou restaurant Ua Pou lunch






When we came back to Ua Pou, about 10 days later, most of the passengers preferred to spend some time either in or on the water. Canoes were available and we peddled two rounds per group near the Aranui in a real local double canoe. It was good fun. Of course the water temperature was lovely warm, so I also did some plunging and swimming :-)

Ua Pou beach Ua Pou canoe








 Hiva Oa & Tahuata

The first stop at Hiva Oa was in Puamau. The Aranui couldn't dock at the quay in the harbour and barges had to bring passengers and freight from and to the ship. One of the main attractions on Hiva Oa is the archeological site of Te I'ipona . Here are many tikis, a male and a female one, a priest and a pregnant tiki, so they say. It is a very nice and interesting place.

Hiva Oa Aranui Hiva Oa barges Hiva Oa Paumau Hiva Oa Paumau site Hiva Oa Paumau tiki Hiva Oa Paumau house


In the afternoon we "sailed" to another island Tahuata. It was a rather rough sea and it was not so easy to get off and on the Aranui to the barges. Luckily we were helped by the crew. Tattoos are very common for the people of the Marquesas islands. After many years that tattoos were forbidden they are allowed again nowadays. The tattoos on the old tikis are used as an example

Tahuata tattoo man Tahuata barges






Vaitahu is the main village with cute kids again. There is a nice market, nice people even if they don't look so friendly and also with lovely flowers.

Tahuata kids Tahuata Vaitahu Tahuata flowers Tahuata market woman






The next day the Aranui 5 sailed to the other side of Hiva Oa, to Atuona, where other main attractions of the island can be seen. After a nice walk from the Atuona harbour over a part of the island you will arrive at the village where the graves of the French painter Paul Gauguin and of the Belgian singer Jacques Brel still exist. In the center of town is the Paul Gauguin Centre. They have many reproductions of his paintings. In the garden is the Espace Jacques Brel with the small plane he used to fly to other Marquesas Islands and perhaps to Tahiti.

Hiva Oa hike Hiva Oa grave Paul Gauguin Hiva Oa grave Jacques Brel Hiva Oa Atuona Gauguin Cnetre Hiva Oa Gauguin paintings Hiva Oa Espace Jacques Brel


In the afternoon, after lunch at the Aranui, it started to rain. Nevertheless we went into town again and visited the temple where you can find nice tiki statues.

Hiva Oa temple Hiva Oa Atuona tiki










Fatu Hiva & Ua Huka

Every day the very friendly people aboard the Aranui cooked for us and the nice and tasty food was served by, amongst others, these kind and lovely people. Every day another dress code, but always friendly and smiling.

Aranui Norbert Aranui Tatiana Aranui Moana





Our journey went on. From Hiva Oa to Fatu Hiva, where a 17 km hike was on the program, from Omoa to Hanavave. I didn't  want to go but was persuaded to join the hikers, though I thought I would never make it. Steep hills of 20% up and down over muddy paths. But I succeeded and it was worth all the "trouble". But first we visited a small market in Omoa where it was explained how local people make tapa, a piece of cloth. In the past it was used in clothing, but nowadays it is more used as a gift or an ornament.

Fatu Hiva Omoa Tapa making Fatu Hiva Tapa maker 





And then the hike started.  As mentioned before the path was steep and muddy, but halfway we had a simple but nice lunch and then it went down. From a specific point we had a nice view on the Aranui deep down below us. And later on at the rock near the harbour of Hanavave.

Fatu Hiva path  Fatu Hiva lunch Fatu Hiva lunch eating Fatu Hiva road Fatu Hiva Aranui Fatu Hiva Hanavave rock 

As usual I started to walk somewhere in the middle of the crowd, but ended up as one of the first in Hanavave, together with my Austrian companion :-).  It was a wonderful hike and I can recommend it to everyone. Wear good shoes, take some water with you, though the doctor, nurse and Aranui crew are driving along all the time with extra bottles.

It was funny that when we arrived in Hanavave nobody was there to welcome us, to clap their hands and be proud on us. We were too fast and the non-hikers still had to come by barge to Hanavave from the Aranui while we were already going back.

Fatu Hiva Hanavave Fatu Hiva Hanavave Harbour barge 






The next day had an amazing start. It was an early arrival at Vaipaee, Ua Huka, which has a very narrow and small harbour. The Aranui could only just turn around and then she was more or less nailed to the rocks at both sides with very thick ropes, brought ashore by little boats with brave sailors, so the ship could not move too much when cargo was (un)loaded, including us, the passengers.  

Ua Huka harbour Ua Huka Vaipaee boat Ua Huka Arboretum





The weather started with showers when we left the Aranui and at the Vaipaee arboretum; halfway the island tour the rain stopped at Tohatu at the museum of Te Tumu and it became a bit brighter and at the end of the island tour in Hane the sun was shining during our lunch and during the hike to the archeological site. What a great day! With beautiful weather we returned to Vaipaee.

Ua Huka museum Ua Huka Tohatu tiki Ua Huka Hane ladies Ua Huka Hane sitting Ua Huka Hane horse
Ua Huka hike Ua Huka Hane sea 


In the evening crew members of the Aranui had prepared a very special Polynesian dinner for us. Not only the passengers liked it, but also cook Raymana :-). The food was delicious and it was a very special evening at the pool deck. After the buffet the people who learnt the Tahitian dances during the cruise gave a very nice performance together with the dancers and musicians of the ship.

Aranui Polynesian buffet Aranui Polynesian evening cook Raymana Aranui Polynesian buffet Aranui Polynesian dancing Aranui Polynesian music






Rangiroa & Bora Bora 

Before leaving the Marquesas Islands we shortly visited Nuku Hiva and Oa Pou again and then said goodbye and hoping to come back to these marvellous Marquesas islands again by throwing a beautiful flower into the ocean.

Aranui away from Marquesas Aranui Flower throwing






We had to sail those 1,400 km back again to the Tuamotus and the Society Islands. Contrary to the Marquesas here are the real Bounty islands. No volcanic islands steeply rising out of the sea but coral islands with white sandy or sometimes stone beaches, blue lagoons and sunny, blue skies. At Rangiroa we could leave the barges for the first time as from landing boats. It was not Rangiroa itself, but a very small island Tiputa, just next to it. Not with the most beautiful snorkelling and swimming facilities, but still nice. It is a good example of how the real Bounty Islands are or can be.

Rangiroa barge Rangiroa Rangiroa beach Rangiroa boats Rangiroa Aranui






But sometimes, as we did at Bora Bora, you will get some thunder and rain showers too. Then it is nicer to be in the water than on the water. It is great to swim between the little sharks, caress the ray fishes and see all the coloured fish and the amazing white sand, which according to legends can make you at least 20 years younger. Just try it, but don't believe it. Perhaps it works for some people. Unfortunately, not for me :-) While making a canoe trip you will pass the enormous tourist resorts with beautiful water bungalows. Not cheap, but nice and very trendy.

Bora Bora swimming Bora Bora ray fish Bora Bora bungalows Bora Bora Canoe tour

Some of the Aranui passengers made a trip around Bora Bora main island and others had the canoe trip around and between the atolls but we all ended up at Motu Tapu island where the Aranui crew had made up a wonderful barbecue party. After lunch we could spend some more time at the wonderful white sandy beach of this small, wonderful island.

Bora Bora BBQ  Bora Bora Motu Tapu Picknick Bora Bora Motu Tapu beach









Tahiti Nui & Mo'orea 

After two weeks of close contact it was difficult to leave the Aranui and the crew and to say goodbye to all the people who met each other there. I had seen Pape'ete before and decided to book a trip land inwards, a real 4 WD tour. The guide/driver showed us how to make a leave protection crown and she gave all (three) ladies one. The men had to protect themselves.

Tahiti Aranui goodbye Tahiti 4WD tour Tahiti 4WD tour Marion 





Mo'orea most likely is a wonderful island, but don't visit it without a tour reservation. If you take the ferry from Pape'ete without a booking for a tour you will have to hire a very, very expensive taxi (approx US 60 for half an island tour, about 1 1/2 hour) and though it is a nice island this is not worth the money. Sorry taxi driver Albert, you ask too much money. I don't recommend you!!!

Mo'orea Cook Bay Mo'orea Cook Bay









Marina del Ray, CA, USA

After 5 1/2 weeks' holiday I had to fly back home. Fortunately I had one more day in Venice Beach, California in Marina del Rey. I had a nice lunch there but for the real activities at Venice Beach you will have to go more into the direction of Los Angeles. Here it is quiet. Marina del Rey had a nice channel just downtown and hotel Jamaica Inn is very nice. It has a small swimming pool and a lovely terrace. It is a nice hotel to stay for 1-2 nights, not very far from the airport (25 minutes by taxi) and in a nice area.

Marina del Rey Venice Beach Marion Marina del Rey Channel
Marina del Rey Jamaica Inn hotel Marina del Rey Jamaica Inn hotel


Next year the trip around the world? I really hope so.




last revision: 20 September 2018
Marion Fahrenfort


NY Brooklyn Bridge Marion Marina del Rey Marion



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