Nuku Hiva and Ua Pou

After visiting the arboretum in Ua Huka, we set off for Nuku Hiva, which is only 27 miles away. This is the largest and most populated island of the Marquesas, whose widest bay can accommodate more than a hundred boats; indeed, we had no difficulty finding a convenient anchorage in terms of position, though certainly not as comfortable due to the constant and pronounced rolling. In our experience, this is a common feature of many anchorages in the Marquesas Islands.

The Great Bay of Taiohae

Our plan on this well-equipped island was to fix a minor engine problem, buy a gas cylinder and a series of nautical items, and also to stock up on essential groceries in anticipation of the very scarce availability of these in the Tuamotus, the next archipelago on our travel itinerary.

We decided to rent a car both to carry out various errands and to explore the island, which turned out to be extremely varied, with mountain landscapes that reminded us in some places of Switzerland and in others of the Grand Canyon. In fact, in addition to the many bays fringed by white sandy beaches surrounded by bizarrely shaped rocky peaks, we drove through lush green meadows with cows and horses grazing. The road then passed through narrow gorges reminiscent of the rock formations of the Grand Canyon.

The Stream Flowing into Anaho Bay

View of Hatiheu Bay

Panorama of Nuku Hiva at 1200m altitude

The “Grand Canyon” of Nuku Hiva

On Saturday, June 8, we set off for Ua Pou, the last island of the Marquesas archipelago, about 25 miles from Nuku Hiva, which we covered with a good wind until our arrival, where we encountered a heavy storm that made the entrance to the main bay barely visible. Only the next day, when the clouds had cleared and the sun had come out, could we enjoy the beauty of Ua Pou with its towering rocky peaks looming over the bay.

View from the Bay of Hakahau
Hakahau Bay viewed from the Village
Some kids help us carry water to the boat
The village of Hakahau
The breadfruit tree
The small “shopping center”
Exiting church on Sunday

In the afternoon, one of our neighboring boaters swam over to us asking for a ride to the village in our dinghy since his was unusable. While chatting, we discovered that Tom, originally from Poland, is a solo sailor who left everything to circumnavigate the world; we were very surprised to learn that his next destination was directly the Philippines, as French Polynesia had proven too expensive for his finances.

On our last day in Ua Pou, we went on a car trip around the interior of the island where we learned about the peculiar geological characteristics of the Marquesas and the history of their formation.

Panorama of the East coast of Ua Pou

In particular, a rock called “flower rock” has been identified in Ua Pou for its appearance with bright-colored inserts, indeed in the shape of a flower, which is found only on this island and is extremely hard, useful for making various artifacts.

“Flower Rock”
Departing from Ua Pou – the Bay of Hakahetau

With our departure from Ua Pou to the Tuamotu archipelago, our visit to the Marquesas Islands came to an end.

During this period of exploration, we got to know a little about the character of the Marquesans. We were struck by their generosity and hospitality; we will remember their frank and direct gaze, always cheerful and ready to smile. We got the impression of a people proud of their origins and traditions, but at the same time curious to learn about other cultures and ways of life. One of the expressions of their tradition is tattooing, with which everyone’s body is covered to varying extents: in ancient times, tattooing indicated a person’s level of importance and was reserved only for the upper classes; it was therefore a way to recognize at first glance those who held an important role in society from those who “counted for nothing.” At one point, we almost decided to get a small tattoo ourselves as they are really beautiful and each design has its own symbolic meaning, but we did not have the opportunity to realize this intention.

Other expressions of their culture are music and dance, which accompany every social and religious event, filling the family or sacred environment in which they are performed with joy and festivity. The beauty of these islands, unmatched anywhere else, will remain etched in our memory for their lush nature: the variety of very different plants, the flowers that cover the vegetation with bright colors, the small villages that their inhabitants maintain with great love, and the cleanliness everywhere; imagine that each village has its own separate collection point. We have much to learn from these people, and we consider ourselves fortunate to have had the opportunity to come into contact with them and learn something from them.


Tahuata and Ua Huka

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