Nuku Hiva is the largest of the Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia. The island is, our tour guide explained, not overly-developed as is desired by the residents. There is a mostly-paved road that circles the island, mostly near the coast, it seemed.
Unspoiled Wilderness and Villages
Just getting ourselves to and from the Nuku Hiva village was an adventure! The waves and swells were high, and while we had no trouble transferring to the tender (slow, careful steps, both hands free, allowing crew to help us), many people with mobility challenges, such as using crutches or walkers (we didn't see anyone try it using a scooter or wheelchair), had great difficulty. The looks of fear on their faces was palpable, and the crew looked worried as well—they were essentially lifting these people into the tender. At the Nuku Hiva village side, early in the morning, the tide was in and while there was a substantial step up, thanks to a stepstool provided on the tender the height could be managed by most people. There was help for the rest. Later in the day, though, with the tide out, the situation was much different. Because there is room for only one tender at the dock, tenders were waiting in the bay for the one at dock to unload/reload and it was slow going indeed. The drop into/out of the tender was huge and many were struggling. Standing in line to go back, we saw several passengers on each arriving tender look at the challenges in leaving the tender, and opt to just go back to the ship. Lesson for those who will follow us: find out what the tide schedule is for the day and plan accordingly. Come and go at the highest tide possible on the Nuku Hiva side.
It would be a shame to miss this island, though. Our 4-wheel drive jeeps took all of us on the tour, in groups of 4, up into the high coastal country, where the views over the edge, toward the sea, were just gorgeous. It was fun to look down on the beach that had been a Survivor: Marquesas filming spot; we're great fans of the show. The jeeps had to park on the road shoulder whenever we stopped for these scenic views, and entering/exiting the jeeps required a very high step into and out of the jeeps. We traveled over a very rough, unpaved 2-3 mile-road, off the main road, to a little settlement where local fruits were laid out for us to try; handicrafts were for sale, including handmade musical instruments, and where the scenery by a local bay/river could be viewed and enjoyed. Disconcerting to many, however, was the sound of pigs being slaughtered nearby; we were in an authentic farming area and tasks in the village continued despite the presence of tourists. Of course one didn't have to look; the activity was in a shed several hundred yards away, but the sounds were unmistakable. The scenery here, though, to us, was quintessential what one thinks of when the term "polynesian islands" comes to mind.
Back in the Nuku Hiva village, we wandered down to the grocery store where everything from usual grocery items to children's toys were sold. Nearby was a post office, a bank, and other usual shops and services of a small town. It's well worth a walk around town to see the sights. There were food stands and small restaurants, but seeing how long the tender line was becoming, and considering that we had left very early that morning to come over for the 7:30 am tour, we went back to the ship, very satisfied with our day in Nuku Hiva.
George's Blog: We had a great tour of Nuku Hiva today. The weather was great and we toured several of the mountainous and shore regions. We are now in the middle of the South Pacific over 3,000 miles from the nearest continental land mass (in Mexico). It will take us seven days of sailing to reach San Diego. It gives an appreciation of the long journeys of the early sailing vessels that could go only a fraction of our speed of roughly 20 Knots.
HAL Shore Excursion
Taipivai Valley: Scenic Drive
Blog Content & Website Design: Marney Wilde • Photographs by George Wilde