Well, you ask if I’m lonely here in Nuku Hiva? Scott’s been gone 2 weeks and ….I miss him. But, I am never lonely or bored. With so much to do on and off the boat, and with so many past friends, new friends and friends yet to be made, I rarely have time to realize the quiet. (Maybe a bit weird to have all 44 feet of Sea Bella to myself, haha.) I go on hikes everyday, pet the random horses, study for my Yoga Certification, shop for yummy fruit, learn the local history, play chess online, do some sewing projects, and the best part: visit friends. I look forward for Scotts return next week, to share in all this island goodness. He will be here for the big Marquesan festival, Matavaa. And, yes, it will then be my turn to travel to California next month, to see my kids, family and friends, I am so excited about that.
Not just your average anchorage; Hakatea Bay (aka and formerly Daniel’s Bay) Nuku Hiva. (The most remote Island in the world).
This is the site of Season 4 of the TV series “Survivor” and also the last known case of Cannibalism in the Marquesas. How recent you might ask? Recent enough that I think the guy is still in jail. lol.
This amazing place was the Royal center of Nuku Hiva for over 1000 years. Up to 20,000 natives lived in this valley until Small Pox and other introduced diseases wiped out thousands, in past centuries. Now and over the past 80 years less than an average of 10 people live in the valley.
As we hiked up the Royal trail to the waterfall we came across dozens of Pae Pae’s or foundations of ancient buildings. We are amazed that they are basically in the process of returning to earth. Over grown jungle and trees growing through the middle of many of these ruins. Archaeology has shown that in some cases the heads of families members or warriors have been buried under rocks in the Pae Pae’s after the tribe or leaders ate the eyes and brain out of the skulls. (To take their visions and knowledge). We didn’t move any stones!
The local family that is still in the valley cooked us lunch and filled our bags with fruit upon our return.
It’s very difficult to explain the day and what we saw. All I can say is I can’t believe this place isn’t a museum. Oh yeah, the water fall was cool too. The only way to get here is by boat. Ya have to see it to believe it…..
Our 15th island here in FP and it sure didn’t disappoint. Oa Pou, on the most isolated archipeligo on the planet; Marquesas. We sailed back her to spend the off season, the hot summer months, and the well known cyclone seasons. It is so peaceful and friendly here that we stayed 2 weeks. Daily walks through The village of Hakahau and up the hill to Restaurant/Inn Pukuee for a cold beer and great view of the bay was a treat.
We hired the owner Jerome for a well guided Jeep tour of this majestic island. We visited the largest ancient archeological site here, examining the floors, homes, quad area, dancing platforms, and temples. I looked closely for the ancient skulls buried in the rocks, but found none. We learned that hundreds of these Pae Pae grounds are buried up here in the high jungles of the island. The Tavaka Tribe was around 1,500, living on the highest peaks of Marquesas.
But, what Ua Pou’s is most famous for is the very rare “flower stone” in a north bay. Certain minerals formed when the volcano here was alive and molten. The cooling process created what appears to be miniature gold flowers in the stone. (See photo) We watched a local stone carver at his work bench.
Shopping trips come in all varieties when you live on a boat on an island. This one was sure unique. We heard from other cruisers that there may be a little store open in the neighboring village, Haakuti, in Ua Pou. So 6 friends took our dingies and kind of crash landed on the mossy wall.
The surge had highs and lows, making the dingy exit and entrance tricky. Funny that we had to anchor the dingies out a ways and swim to shore. We walked about the village and met some very kind locals. The children here were shy, one boy had a pet rooster on a leash. We explored the church and cemetery, then asked around for some bananas. A sweet mother of 3 gave us some mangos, pomplemouse and oranges as she had way too many. On our way back, we bought a box of limes from this darling family. They even served us delicious limeade and gave us a ride back to the rocks.
Fun with Sharks!
Okay, we had a little time waiting on the weather, so let’s play!
We gathered (chummed in) a few sharks in the back bay with some day old fish (no hooks) and did some filming with the GoPro(s). Big learning experience!!!! We thought there were only 10-12” babies in the back bay.
The first fish we put out was tied to a 5 lbs dive weight and worked just fine with the small sharks……well…..let’s just say that weight is gone…😳
The next fish we put out was attached to our bucket full or coral and sand. That didn’t last long either. I finally just put my foot in the bucket to keep the sharks from taking the fish. The next round, we got the stern anchor off Sea Bella and that worked great! These are all Black Tip Sharks btw……some much larger than the 12” we were expecting.
Raroria was the last of the atolls we visited. For many cruisers it’s the first one to sail into from the Marquesis. Our highlights were exploring the Kon Tiki monument with our great cruising friends on Fundango, the huge pearl farm and of course our silly fun with the baby sharks. Our good cruising friends on SV Breakaway found these great Octopi:
Sailing through the Tuamotus was an amazing experience, but it was time to say goodby. Thank you for joining Scott and I online these past 6 months in 8 atolls (and Tahiti for repairs). It’s such fun to share our experiences with friends and family. We went on a sporty 3 day sail back upwind to the Marquesas for cyclone season (and for yummy fruit and fun mountains to explore!)
Watch this fun video on our visit in this atoll:
Since Scott and I chose to stay one year in French Polynesia, in early April ’23 we headed from the Marquesis directly to the Tuomotus. We sailed Sea Bella from Fatu Hiva, aiming as high on the wind as possible, sailed 3 days and landed in Atoll Amanu, a darling sleepy village which had the youngest Mayor in all of France. Two highlights; the children were so playful and engaging and the small reef in the middle known as Star Island was a colorful dream.
After a few weeks and not much for provisioning, we headed to the atoll Makemo, which also has a quaint happy town. This is our favorite atoll for snorkeling the many coral heads. Their colors and formations are vivid and just so healthy, not to mention the intense blues and purples of the clams. A quick change in weather had us running to a safe anchorage at the most south corner, but the fetch and craggy bommies were still an issue. Some boats’ had their windless’ break and others’ bridles broke, not to mention some lightning damage.
Ready for change, we had an excellent downwind sail to Tahanea with a few boat friends. What an amazing atoll for diving or drift snorkeling all 3 passes. The coral reefs were healthy and such fun to snorkel daily in. Its very important to always note the tides in the passes and snorkel on slack to incoming only. Enjoying the quiet anchorages with just 4-5 boats was pure bliss for us nature lovers, but it’s not for every cruiser since there is no support, village or local people to be seen.
Needing some fresh vegetables and fruit we headed next to the atoll Kaeuhi, which had a tiny market but nothing fresh. We stocked up on canned and frozen goods and found most of the basic essentials. This is typical in these remote islands with only one village of a few hundred locals, maybe 1 market, a bakery and 1 small restaurant. They don’t grow vegetables here because its all sand or rocky coral. A supply boat will come every week or two, but often that is not when you are at the village. Wind shifts occur weekly, possibly making cruisers take cover many miles away from town.
So, although breathtaking, we chose to move on to Fakarava, a well known dive spot of the Tuomotus. We spent 4 weeks at a must see anchorage Hirifa and a must do scuba dive spot at the South Pass. Most cruisers have their own dive gear, and its simple and cheap to refill your tank at the dive shops. Small guided boat dives are also available daily. Hanging out with 30-40 other International cruisers; diving, snorkeling, beach games, bonfires, wind sports all was an excellent time.
Again, needing fresh foods and since we had some lightning damage, we needed marine services in Tahiti, so went to the docks for a month. We found the mechanical services and supplies to be excellent. But, we did not care for Tahiti much, kind of a big city, pricey, very spread out with confusing bus schedules. After provisioning for another 4 months, we stopped over at marvelous Moorea and back to the Tuomotus.
Our first stop was Tikehau for a week, unfortunately it was upwind, so we motorsailed. There are two must see spots, but possibly seasonal. One is a snorkel spot where the graceful reef mantas get their mouths cleaned by little blue fish. The other is an amazing group of thousands of fish just outside the pass. The best advise with finding the special secrets on the Islands is to ask a local, they are thrilled to help or even take you there.
The next atoll on our list was Rangiroa, well known for its excursions. The majestic Blue Lagoon (below) was stunning and a dive with dolphins, who playfully jump in the waves of the passe. Again, we found the people, village, anchorages, beaches all a peaceful delight.
After a few weeks, we sailed upwind to Toau, pleasant, small, and simple. If you glance at a map of the atolls, you will notice they are mostly in a line that follows the trade winds. Good for going NE but more tricky to go SE. If a cruiser is planning on heading back to the Marquesas for storm season (which seems to be the most popular and safest option) route planning and weather watching is a must. Which is exactly why we island hopped back upwind to Fakarava (3 weeks), Tahanea (3 days) Makemo (2 weeks ) and Raroria (1 week).
Overall, these sandy atolls were very similar and we thoroughly enjoyed the slow pace, meeting the locals, swimming daily in 80 degree waters, and communing with the cruisers. Since the sailing season ends in October, it seems that most boats had either hussled on to Fiji or circled back to Marquesis for cyclone season. I learned that you can either cruise slowly or fast through the Tuomotus, but no medium speed due to their remoteness and the strong trade winds.