After we have visited all six Marquesas Islands aboard the Aranui 3, we came upon a Sunday of true rest and bliss at Anaho Bay, Nuku Hiva. Although the "main" island in the Marquesas, this spot is almost unreachable other than by sea. Located on the northeastern shore of the island, the location has no roads or other access other than a hiking trail, which is not easy to do. In a wonderful gesture of preservation, the mayor of a neighboring town, Hatiheu, has requested that this area remain pristine as God intended.
Our visit started with a beautiful sunrise while we were within the enclosed bay completely protected from the ocean. After breakfast, all passengers and crew went ashore via the trusty whale boats for a shore landing. Since it was Sunday, it was nice to have the crew also relax and join us for an entire day while we explored the area. One of the great assets of the Aranui 3 is the openness between the passengers and crew which added pleasure to the experience.
Once landing on shore, several of us proceeded on a hike along the entire length of the shoreline and up and over a small hill to Haatuatua Bay and its archaeological site. As if out of Jurassic Park (better back drop than the movie!), this site contains some of the oldest artifacts dating to around 95 BC, which when discovered recently, completely startled historians and has revolutionized some of the theories for how the entire South Pacific was settled. Although I appreciated this, I still savored the landscape with its windswept isolation and dramatic volcanic presence.
Once we returned along the 1.5 miles of unspoiled beaches to the picnic site, many enjoyed relaxing by swimming and snorkeling. There are not many places in the Marquesas for swimming and since Anaho Bay is so enclosed (no rip tides) and uninhabited (no sewage as in some ports), the swimming was excellent. We also enjoyed a very good meal prepared by the Aranui chef, such as local dishes of Poisson Cru (raw fish in coconut milk), octopus and banana pudding, among other "normal" items as barbequed chicken, fish and pork. During the meal, and for some time afterwards, the crew brought out their musical instruments and sang many native tunes. They were actually quite good.
For about 1 hour I sat on the beach and gazed about this place and hoped it never changed. Already two new 1,600-passenger cruise lines are starting to frequent Nuku Hiva (although in the capital of Taiohae) and I am concerned that places as this will soon become "civilized"--I really hope not. As Robert Louis Stevenson stated upon his trip here on the schooner, the Casco, in 1888: "I have watched the morning break in many quarters of the world, and the dawn that I saw with most emotion shone upon the bay of Anaho."