The Marquesas is the most northern group of Islands of the French Polynesian chain. The Marquesas consists of six larger inhabited Islands and six smaller uninhabited rocky outcrops. The lonely Planet describes the Island group with the following ‘this archipelago looks like something from the pages of a fairy tale’ and this is most definitely true. With its towering lush green cliffs that seems to reach into the sky and fall into the cobalt blue ocean. Deep valleys indent the shoreline and waterfalls trickle down the vertical canyons.
We ended up anchored of Nuku Hiva for five weeks. Nuku Hiva is the largest Island in the archipelago and is sparsely populated. The main town of Taiohae lines the horseshoe shaped bay of Taiohea. Beyond the town the mountains encircle the bay and when it rains waterfalls seemed to appear from everywhere. A magical sight from the anchorage.
Life is simple in the Marquesas and most people live of the land with what they grow and the animals they keep. There is no indigenous land animals, but many islands have herds of wild sheep, cattle and pigs that were left behind from the plantation days. Fishing plays a big part of the culture and because there is no coral barrier reefs, all of what can be fished can be eaten. Noticeable and sadly there is a great divide between man and animal here in the Islands. It is a culture where cruelty to animals is part of the norm.
Some of the Marquesan population still live of copra production and native handicrafts sales.
There is a heighten sense of culture and beliefs and most Islands offer plenty of archaeological sites dating from pre-European times. Of cause the famous Tiki’s can been seen on or around most of these sites.
Everyone you meet is extremely friendly and welcoming and this is what helps makes these beautiful islands special.
During our time there we explored a little of the inland and did a few hikes. The inland views were amazing. With plains of greenery and mountain peaks that seem to jut out of no where.
A magical location that sticks to mind in Nuku Hiva is Daniels Bay which is a short five mile motor west of Taiohae Bay. The bay is hard to see from the ocean but once you reach the entrance the view is breath taking and stunning with its rolls of mountains that nature has dug deep grooves into. The small village lining the valley is immaculately kept by the fifteen or so very proud and friendly residents. There is an abundance of fruit to be found here, from the delicious grapefruit, to lemons, papaya’s, banana’s, avocado’s, star fruit, carassols and Mango’s when in season. The small path through the village is lined with papaya and lemon trees and so beautifully maintained. The hike to Vaipo waterfall is one of the most stunning we did in the Marquesas.
The Marquesas is not a beach destination, and very few beaches can be found which isn’t infested with the annoying nono’s. There is no abundance of coral reefs and most bays are deep with dark blue or green water which isn’t exactly enticing knowing that there is always an abundance of sharks present.
We only spent a week cruising the rest of the Islands and visited briefly Ua Pou, Hiva Oa and Fatu Hiva. All the Islands are stunning in their own way. Fatu Hiva is one of the icons of the Marquesas as here you can sail into the Bay of Virgins where wrinkled cliffs tumble into the ocean. A real majestical sight. This was our last memory of the Islands as we sailed away from them on Sunday 27th July.