Hiva Oa, Marquesas, French Polynesia

When we left Panama we were bound for Nuku Hiva, but we found out a few days out that the COVID rules had changed, and Hiva Oa was now an acceptable port of entry. So we turned a little bit left and made landfall. The anchorage at Tahauku is tight, and the water is seriously murky. But Searcher helped us find a spot and set our very first stern anchor, and soon we were looking back at Villa from land.

Our first priority was to get checked in, but we missed the hours on the first day, so we went grocery shopping instead. Or we tried to; we got to town mid-day, and found everything closed except one bar. We got our first wifi in a month, and tried the local beer. It was not good.

French Polynesia is part of France, so while the produce on offer was very thin, there was a wide selection of products we’re not used to seeing. Canned duck confit! Huge cans of butter! A huge selection of canned charcuterie! And we managed to pick up Vini phone cards, which came with a handy coverage map. We should be covered in the rest of the country, albeit mostly not at high speed. Of course, we found that that high speed really only covered the side of the island with the main town, so those yellow circles may be optimistic. We shall see.

We got back to the boat that evening and had Searcher over. It was great to see friends again!

Check-in on day two was canceled because the Gendarmarie was dealing with some unspecified emergency. So we went back into town, and we stopped at the one tourist destination, the Gauguin museum. It’s a nice space architecturally, full of copies of his paintings and badly translated stories about his life. There’s also some native art, which though thematically incoherent, we thought was cooler. It turns out we don’t like Gauguin much. We include one picture of a copy of a painting, because what’s going on with that one boob?

On the same site, there’s a “museum” celebrating Jacques Brel, who apparently was a famous French singer. The museum consists of his restored plane, Jojo, and a bunch of posters in french; we figure there’s not a lot of interest from English-speakers so there’s no call to translate.

By this point we were hungry, so we stopped at the only restaurant we could find, a food truck, and had… food. Then we hit the grocery again, and on the way out we stopped by the very acoustically live public restrooms. While there, a guy walked by and sold us a quiche. French territory.

On the walk back, we found bird chilies growing along the side of the road!

We finally check in on the third morning. Another boat, Indian Summer, had some extra gas in a cylinder they’d rented, and offered to gravity-fill it into our bottle. Then in the afternoon, Acushnet arrived, and we took a walk up the hill to get dinner at the Hanakee Pearl hotel.

We hadn’t planned on staying this long in this bay, and the water is murky enough that we didn’t feel great about running the watermaker. But Acushnet had just come in with full tanks, and they gave us a couple of jugs to tide us over. So with the extra breathing room, the next morning we rented a car, and took a drive around the island.

The first destination was Te I’ipona, home of some of the biggest tikis in the Marquesas. We tried to stop at a restaurant first; we’d called in the morning to confirm that they were open. But the place was jam packed with two long tables of tourists, and the proprietor seemed totally uninterested in any more business that day. So it was straight to the archaeological site.

We tried to stop at a pretty bay, Hanaiapa, but it was rainy so we didn’t stay long.

On the other end of the island’s one road, there’s another archeological site, Upeke, most of a village foundation with great views of a huge waterfall.

Our last stop was right in town, the graveyard that has Gauguin’s and Brel’s graves. Great view.

We got Searcher and Acushnet together for a group dinner.

Next day, a supply ship came in. We spent the day doing project catch-up, and then went out to dinner back at the same hotel Hanakee with Acushnet and their friends on Ultimate. This time, we were in time to see the view, which is excellent.

We woke up in the morning to find we had a new, very close neighbor, and some friendly wasps trying to make a home in the sail bag.

On our last night, we moved the boat up to the front of the anchorage, nominally the turning basin but clear right now as both supply ships had already visited this week. This would give us a faster exit in the morning, when we set sail south to Fatu Hiva.

One comment

  1. “Friendly Wasps”….nice turn of phrase. Love living vicariously though your dialog and pictures. Hugs, Jon and Pat

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