Marquesas Islands

Our first landfall after crossing the Pacific Ocean. We were treated to lush green landscapes with dramatic rock spires rising out of the ocean. We would have been happy with desert isles after 19 days at sea. Instead we were tickled to find sweeping views of pictures that looked like they could leap right of the pages of the book "Where the Wild Things Are".

Each island similar, yet each unique in their own way. Different adventures were to be had on all.


The first sight of land after our crossing was glorious. We entered the Hanavave anchorage in a bit of a rain storm that we would soon learn to be very common. In 85 degree weather they are always a welcomed sight. We saw some familiar faces there on the catamaran Sarabi. When Capaz and Lawur arrived we took to exploring the island and getting to know the locals. We hiked to the Vai'e'enui waterfall, traded for goods such as tikis and wood carvings, observed the ancient art of making tapas and were treated to a feast of local foods by the Kohueinui family. It was there that we got our first taste of goat and bread fruit.

We quickly grew accustomed to our new fresh fruit staples of bananas, mangos and pamplemousse. It is going to take us a little longer to get used to the new languages of French and Marquesan mix. Neither of which we know well, thankfully they are patient people with a good sense of humor. One of their staples for export is copra which is the process and product of drying coconut for oils and food. They are also the major exporters of Noni fruits which are fermented and shipped to Utah where they are turned into a wonder drink that claims great healing qualities.


Next on our stop was the town of Atuono where we checked into customs at the local Gendarmerie. With a little luck and money paid to the right people, we flew through the process in an hour. The town is a bit of a walk from the anchorage but luckily the most common mode of transportation is via the back of pick ups. The Taahuku Bay anchorage itself though not large held up to 25 sailboats there. A great chance to catch up with many friends who crossed the ocean with us.

Once in town we provisioned a bit. It was here that we had our first real introduction to the steep prices of French Polynesia with the exception of 50 cent baguettes of bread fresh daily. We were treated to a ceremonial paddle of an old outrigger complete with locals in old world style costumes. (Truth be told they were having a photo shoot for some advertising) Spectacular show complete with musical conch shells blaring. Sunday morning we attended our first Catholic Church service complete with every woman's hair done up right with fragrant flowers and a congregation of wonderful singing voices.


We started at the southern most anchorage of Hana Tefua where we stretched out our legs with a great hike to the top of a hill adorned with a giant cross. It gave some amazing views of the bay and we were able to collect some more fruits on the way home. Further north we anchored in Resolution Bay, named after one of Captain Cooks ships. The beautiful Catholic Church located there is made of a combination of wood from the island and rocks that used to be the ballast of ships that anchored there. Another beautiful service although this one was done entirely in the Marquesan language instead of French as before.

A second big draw in Ivaiva is a famous tattoo artist who kindly placed a fanciful piece of work on Ryan's right arm (crew member of Capaz). We took a quick hike to find some paepae's which are stone structures and platforms that were once used for various ancient ceremonies in the past. From there we did spend one more night on the north side of Hiva Oa again in search of an oasis of a pool we had heard of. We found it in all it's splendor surrounded by hibiscus, coconut, and citrus trees. Unfortunately, it is tempered by the nuisance of nono's. Amazingly pesty bugs with a terrible bite. Onto the the next island


After one overnight sail we arrived early in the morning to the Hakahau anchorage and the excitement started in right away. An earthquake had hit Tonga and a tsunami warning had been put out. It was cleared as soon as it was released and thankfully we never felt or saw a thing. The rest of the visit there was pure joy as the anchorage became our own personal swimming pool. Between the 3 boats of Lawur, Capaz and ourselves, there was a line to swing from anywhere you wanted. Everyone perfected their best dives off the boats. Buy your bread in the morning, school until noon and swim all day. By far one of our favorite anchorages it has it all, beautiful surroundings, wonderful town, beach, good dinghy dock, swimmable and no bugs.

They put on serious outrigger competitions with nearly 30 or more boats. Very fun to watch them race in single man or teams of 6 paddling around our boats and out into the ocean. We even entered ourselves in their volleyball tournament that afternoon for some good fun. The local kids had as much fun playing with us as we did with them. A bright, shiny and energetic group, they will swim amazing lengths for some entertainment on your boat. Getting them to depart and swim back can be another story.

On the day of our departure Niki, on Lawur, made arrangements with a local family to get some fresh fruit for all of us. I wish I had taken photos of the bounty we had received. We were not prepared for their generosity and it took us two dinghy's to haul back all the bananas, pampelmousse, limes and guavas they provided.


Our last stop in the chain of Marquesas Islands. As we entered the bay we noticed some enormous manta rays feeding. Bruce quickly jumped in and took a chance swimming with them. Taiohae is the main port of the island fully equipped with stores for provisioning, banking, laundry, internet cafe of sorts, museum and resort with bungalows and sweeping views of the bay. There is even a helicopter pad and transportation. We frequented the town daily including a few stops to the local pizza place, yum. There was also a local tattoo artist who left his mark on a number of cruisers. The town and the anchorage was a bit busy and rolly for us. We were told later that it was not safe to swim here as the local fisherman leave their fish parts in the water and attract sharks. With no swimming available there is little reason to stay. We gathered fuel and we were on our way. We did hear that the morning we left an 8ft shark swam circles around a few nearby boats.

We visited two more anchorages on Nuku Hiva. Both we can safely say were some of the most beautiful and protected anchorages yet. Baie d'Anaho on the north side boasted complete protection from ocean weather and delivered. Inaccessible by car it is quiet and remote. We enjoyed the beach and a marvelous Mother's Day Hike to the neighboring town in the bay of Hatiheu next door and toured many ancient tiki and ceremony sites.

Anaho Bay from hike vantage point Crossing river on the way to Ahuei Fall

View the photo gallery for this bay

Click on first photo to view images larger

View the photo gallery for this bay

Click on first photo to view images larger


The second anchorage was Baie Taioa. Once inside the bay, Hakatea cove is to the left, aka. Daniel's Bay and home of Daniel. A colorful local man and host to many a cruiser, he has the log book to prove it. It is also the location of the beginning of a 3 hour hike to see Ahuei, the 3rd largest water fall in the world. The views all the way were stunning ranging from tropical jungle to sheer canyon cliffs with meadow like basins at the fall itself. We were treated to bananas and pamplemousse with Daniel to reward our efforts and watched coconut crabs scatter to their holes in his yard. The bay to the right was the site of the original Survivor Marquesas show. Equally beautiful and protected there, we spent one night. With no lights from shore, the stars were spectacular and we can easily find the Southern Cross now.