Cruising the Marquesas

Been a bit tardy on the blog updates of late but what with lack of internet access and complete adaptation to island time, it just didn’t seem a priority.

We have been slowly cruising around the islands and enjoying the wondeful Marquesan people and their amazing “Hiva” homeland.

Here’s a picture of the layout and location of the Marquesas for orientation ( Emily C. Donaldson (2017): Troubled lands: sovereignty and livelihoods in the Marquesas Islands, International Journal of Environmental Studies, DOI: 10.1080/00207233.2017.1364893)


As you can see, we have just started scratching the potential of French Polynesia, let alone the rest of the Pacific Islands!

Here’s another whistlestop through some of the places we have been chilling in.

ANAHO Bay on Nuku Hiva

There will be more on this special place later as we are going back again but it is such a special anchorage (see pic, tucked around behind a headland with 360 degree protection) and such a pleasurable environment (sandy beaches, walking, forest etc etc).



and of course the snorkelling …..


Anse Avaiva Iti

Again special for us as it was our first landfall after the crossing from Panama, so we could not resist another stay.


Fatu Hiva

We had a spanking beam reach sail across from Tuahatu to Fatu Hiva (south western most of the islands).


There is only really one viable anchorage called Baie Des Vierges (Bay of Virgins) off the village of Hanavave. It used to be called Baie Des Virges (Bay of Penises) before the Missionaries interfered and had it changed. If you really, really squint and stare hard at the picture, you can just sort of imagine a virgin in the rocks.


Hanavave and its anchorage are really picturesque. If you want to stay incommunicado, anchor on the left of the bay (more sheltered) where the jutting rocks interfere with the Vinispot signal.


The other settlement on the island is Omoa. It is an hour and a half kayak down the coast which is a splendid trip, full of hidden inlets, caves and mini-waterfalls. Sorry, no pics as Liz’s waterproof camera proved not eventually …

The other way to get there (yourself) is to hike the only island road. This takes just over four hours at a goodly pace. We thought about hiking back again to save the expense (for a nanosecond) and then settled in for a bayside lunch, cold Hinano beers and a bumpy water taxi (small aluminium boat) ride back.


The bay was so rough when we left that they could not use the slipway to launch the boat but dropped it in with a forklift truck instead!!


There is also a pleasant forest walk to the Cascades at the head of the valley above Hanavave.


The people on Fatu Hiva were just so nice and helpful. We got invited to the Sunday service in the Roman Catholic church. This turned out to be a uniquely Marquesan “sung mass”. There was a great turnout. The service itself was highly participative as regards members of the community leading various parts and readings. There was a small choir together with soprano and tenor ukuleles, a rhythm guitar and a large and emphatic lady on a traditional drum. The voices were great, not only in the choir but in the audience as well, with lots of harmonising. Even the children participated instead of the normal fidgeting or sleeping.

We had several pleasant strolls around the village and visited with a local artisan who carves in shell, stone and wood. Very good carving work (we have seen enough now to have some degree of appreciation of quality). We bought some items but the smaller stuff as it is all so very expensive here (prices are 3X Panama as a rule of thumb).

The lead artisan is supported by his son, who runs the business now. I have got wood carving tools coming to me from Australia. When they get here, we will return to Fatu Hiva as they have agreed to teach me the Marquesan methods of carving.


This is regarded as one of the best anchorages in the Marquesas (good snorkelling, lots of Manta Rays, beautiful beach, no development). We bypassed earlier in our wanderings as there were still quite a few boats in. This time we have had it almost entirely to ourselves with an occasional second boat dropping in.


Hiva Oa

Although not our favourite anchorage, we had a very pleasant stay when we went back to visit John and Bev on Dandelion (who have finally resolved their engine problems).

The anchorage was very flat and quiet (by comparison with our previous stay). We had some great walks and met up again with Seth and Ellen on Celeste and John and Becca on Halcyon.

Good kayaking out to the island and swimming with the Manta Rays.


Good provisioning done, we were off again …


Ua Pou

Very pleasant sail across and spectacular views on approach.


Nice time in town with friendly locals and a dance and haka celebration. Pleasant walking around.


One of my favourite spots. We are the only yacht in the bay again.


The views are great. On our last visit we got a great rainbow shot of Dandelion. There is good snokelling on both sides of the bay, great walks for hours to north and south and a great kayak down to Baie Hanatefau for more good snorkelling.

The church is a work of art, dominated by a beautiful stained glass window that filters in the morning light most beautifully.

There is a micro-archaeology-dig site (covered in) in the south of the bay at what seems to have been a seaside settlement that provided a dune dig. The researchers drew conclusions about the seafaring capabilities of the early Marquesans through the discovery of various artifacts and their distribution elsewhere in Polynesia; in particular, the source (quarry on another island) and distribution (very distant islands) of a precisely identified stone used to make adzes.

Some of the finds from the dig have been preserved and displayed in the local museum.

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Whilst not detracting at all from the value of the local museums (the Musee Boutique on Nuku Hiva is another worth visiting), it is sad that so much of the Marquesan artifact heritage has been taken away from the Hiva homeland and now resides in foreign, “first world” museums and collections. This systematic deprivation is well documented in “Les Marquisiens: Les Marquisiens et leur art. Ornamentation primitive des mers du sud III. Collections”, by Karl von den Steinen, first published in 1928. A large book (13″X19″), this thoroughly documents a wide range of Marquesan art and artifacts with a commendable but depressing thoroughness in the identification of where these objects now reside. Now there’s a project ……..

Vaitahu was also the adoptive home of Emily Donaldson, from where she was based in conduction ethographic research which you can access here:

This article provides a good insight into her work:,%20Troubled%20Lands,%20Sovereignty%20and%20Livelihoods%20in%20the%20Marquesas%20Islands.pdf

She also published a Marquesan-French-English Dictionary and Phrase Book, a physical copy of which we have been unable to find – we even boarded the Aranui in foul weather in Vaitahu Bay to source a copy but they did not have any. You can request a digital copy from Emily via her website.



One thought on “Cruising the Marquesas

  1. There might be a positive way of looking at the artefacts being in other countries in that other civilisations can learn from them and know about the Marquesans. Also the western habit of digging things up and preserving them may have preserved things that would have been destroyed or rotted away. Difficult issue as a lot of stuff was sold (and stolen) by previous generations.


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