Written by RSchoettger on 12 Sep, 2005
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.…Read More
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."
Written by RSchoettger on 11 Sep, 2005
Fatu Hiva: Being the most remote and southern island in the Marquesas Islands, the only way to get here is on the Aranui 3, unless you own a yacht. It is not an island you want to miss, as the locals are so friendly…Read More
Fatu Hiva: Being the most remote and southern island in the Marquesas Islands, the only way to get here is on the Aranui 3, unless you own a yacht. It is not an island you want to miss, as the locals are so friendly and the landscape so dramatic. This comma-shaped island is only 3.5 miles wide and 9 miles long and formed by two extinct volcanoes. Approximately750 people live on the island in only two towns on the island’s west end.
Omoa: After sailing from Hiva Oa overnight, we arose the next morning anchored several meters off shore near the township of Omoa, Fatu Hiva. Using the whaleboats, Omoa was one of the roughest trips to shore, as the coast was rough and the get-off point is located among the rocks. It was fascinating watching the crew strategically wait for the heavy swell to shift while coordinating the lifting of the chained cargo from a flat boat to shore using a small Caterpillar. It often took three or four times to actually get the cargo ashore.
Once on land, we walked about 10 easy minutes along the coast to the town center, admiring the dramatic shoreline within a small bay surrounded by shell of an old volcanic crater. Upon arriving at the center, we went to a small handicrafts market geared towards the passengers of the Aranui 3, who arrive every 3 weeks. This was one of the best locations in the Marquesas to buy crafts, as their artwork is superb. Here is one of the better places to buy quality tapa cloths, a Marquesas custom of stripping the bark from a variety of trees, then pound, soften, and roll out prior to an artist applying a local dyed pattern. In addition, they are known for the wood carvings and shell jewelry.
What made this so special was the serene, gorgeous setting and absolutely wonderful locals who greeted us very kindly. The Aranui crew pointed out that these people have more of the traditional Marquesan way of life than the other islands, again due to their isolation.
Vanavave: Upon returning to the ship from Omoa and having lunch, we embarked along the western Fatu Hiva shoreline and enjoyed the dramatic crevices and cliffs indenting the island. Timing is everything, as we are in the later parts of the afternoon, as the sun is shining along the coast and casting wonderful shadows. In only 30 minutes we came to Vanavave.
Originally, due to tall pillars or basalt spires among a plantation of coconut tress, the early explorers called this location "Baie des Verges" or Bay of the Phalli (rather obvious reasons!). The missionaries followed and promptly added one letter to the name: "Baie des Vierges," or Bay of Virgins, therefore resulting in the more common, but inappropriate name.
After taking quite a few pictures, we set ashore and walked easily towards the inland valley through town, which lasted only about 15 minutes one way. Amongst the simple homes along the single cement road were beautiful gardens full of hibiscus, red ginger, jasmine, and gardenias. Several more basalt pillars rose around the village, which offered constant dramatic vistas. The very friendly locals provided some entertainment with dances, and as in most spots, offered their artwork.
After getting back to the Aranui, timing was such that my wife and I were offered a unique trip on the whaleboat around Vanavave Bay to watch the sun reflect on the island as it was setting. (We were lucky that a professional photographer was onboard for a magazine and requested this). I think I have said this enough, but the beauty was breathtaking, and for more than 45 minutes, we lazily circled the bay and watched as the island changed colors from yellow to pink to red. Wow!
We spent one day on the island of Fatu Hiva, but we will never forget the people, scenery, and adventure.
Written by RSchoettger on 19 Aug, 2005
Prior to leaving on the Aranui 3 for the Marquesas Islands, we had no idea of what to purchase, except for maybe wood carvings, tapa's, and other items. My wife and I travel so much, and it is becoming more and more difficult…Read More
Prior to leaving on the Aranui 3 for the Marquesas Islands, we had no idea of what to purchase, except for maybe wood carvings, tapa's, and other items. My wife and I travel so much, and it is becoming more and more difficult to find unique collectables. We always want to buy something special to remember our trips and planned to spend some bucks to buy from a gifted wood carver in Taiohae, Nuku Hiva (which we did anyway!). I gave little attention to tattoos, as I definitely shied away from this practice, being as conservative as I am.
As the trip moved forward, talking with the crew and seeing the true history behind tattoos in the South Pacific, I became quickly interested. The Marquesas Islands are historically one of the true artistic tattoo centers in the world, where it is more appreciated as an art and is rich in culture and tradition.
So, being over 50 and having little concern with the pressures of measuring up to my current job and life in general, my wife and I took the plunge! She always wanted one anyway.
One afternoon while at sea on the Aranui, they announced that they are taking reservations for one of the best artists, or tuhuna, in the South Pacific at a port on the tiny, remote island of Tahuata. With only 3 hours on shore, they were limited, but they never before had more than two or three takers. Not this time! Over eight people were interested as we wrestled for position. For those who did not make the list on Tahuata, the Aranui offered another opportunity while at port in Nuka Hiva with another tahuna.
Fortunately, my wife and I were picked to get a tattoo from Fati Fi’I, one of the South Pacific’s finest tahunas. As we arrived at the port town of Vaitahu, Tahuata, we were quickly whisked off the ship on the whale boat and made shore. Within a 5-minute walk, we were at a small house that was need of much repair. Both my wife and I looked at each other and wondered if this was wise!
The only thing that actually kept us there was that we were third and fourth in line and watched as the first gentlemen had his tattoo done. In watching, it was a relief to see that Fati took many precautions, such as disposable gloves and needles, and executed great care in applying the tattoo. In addition, the final result was wonderful and very detailed.
My wife went first since she had always wanted one. She asked for something to represent happiness, and in about 20 minutes, Fati completed a wonderful wheel design on the back of her right shoulder. I followed with what I wanted to represent: traveler. He put a Marquesian Cross with water on my left upper arm, which turned out fantastic. He first drew the art in a red marker and asked for approval before continuing. What was surprising was that it really did not hurt that bad, and before I knew it, it was done.
Two tattoos applied: $100. Marquesas tattoo: Priceless.
The only minor problem was that we could not go into the salt water for about 5 days. We missed a couple of beaches, but we ended up being extremely happy with the result. There was no infection from anyone on the trip. I think about this always and enjoy the thought that I can actually take this to my grave!!
So, my recommendation is: If you truly collect art from around the world, it is a mistake to not get a tattoo by a leading tuhuna in the Marquesas Islands. As we did, you can find many places on the body to make this a memorable piece of art! This is one of the best things I have ever done.