I like to think of myself as quite the adventurer. But, with every thrill-quest I put under my belt, I discover a little something new about myself. One thing I learned on this trip is that I'm prone to sea-sickness due to a damaged right ear. However, this adventure taught me that when I'm on a ship and surround such beauty, I can easily ignore the nausea.
Now I'm not going to lie; it's a rough haul once leaving Fakarava for the two-day open sea trek to the Marquesas Islands. Most passengers had no trouble with sea-sickness at all, and seemed to get their sea legs instantly. Being the sensitive one on the voyage, I used and can recommend "the patch," a little circular dose of anti-nausea medication that will make your time in open seas seem like a breeze.
Landfall in the Marquesas!
Land! At last! I'm at Nuka Hiva and it's island time. The Aranui pulled into port in the early morning hours and by 5:30am, I was out on deck with many of the passengers, taking in the sheer beauty of the first island, Nuka Hiva (pronounced Nooka- Heeva). As the crew unloaded some of its freight, we giddily disembarked and were met by a fantastic tropical rainbow.
Nuka Hiva, the largest of the Marquesas Islands, is said to have been settled by Samoans 2,000 years ago. Its endless valleys and sheer peaks have set the scene for writers such as Henry Melville, whose book "Typee" documented the people of Taipivai. More recently, producers from CBS's reality show Survivor thought it so rugged, that season four was filmed there.
The small town is rather sleepy, and although there is an internet cafe, hours of operation are questionable due to "island time." What caught me by surprise most was that, in all this remoteness, automobiles on the island were mainly Landrovers, some even the top of the line Range Rovers. Although the islanders choose to live in simple homes, they use their vehicles as status symbols, and financing these autos comes from the French Government in retribution to the French Polynesians for nuclear testing in the area in the 1960s.
When you visit Nuka Hiva, be sure to check out the small administrative capital of the Marquesas in Taiohae. Visit the archeological site of Temehea and take an island truck tour over the steep and winding mountain road complete with jaw dropping views and waterfalls.
Continuing my adventure, I boarded the whale boats that bring passengers back to the Aranui. A slow-paced afternoon of sailing took us to Ua Pou (pronounced Wa Poo), the third largest island. There we docked in Hakahau, a small cove with a swimming beach. Just off the port, I found a local's handicraft market with hand carved tiki, bowls and interesting shell earings made out of bone and coral. Another short walk down a neighborhood road leads you to Rosalie's Restaurant, where I dined on fresh fish, while my fellow passengers tried local dishes, such as curried goat and barbequed rock lobster.
The next stop was on the other side of Ua Pouthe port of Hakahetau. Remember, each stop is a necessity for the Aranui, as our crewmen work feverously to get their cargo off of and onto the ship. A short hike through the small village brought me to a natural rock platform, where our guides shared how the "chopra" was being dried. Chopra is the meat of coconuts, which is pressed and made into the famed Manoi Oil, and used in many beauty products around the world. Be sure to browse the local mart, take in a leisurely lunch, go for a hike up a hill to view the cloud covered peaks of Ua Pou, visit the chopra drying platform and totally purchase a local rock or mangoes from the cute little Marquesan boys by the side of the road.
Tomorrow: Adventure Girl goes deeper into the Marquesas!
[All photos: Stefanie Michaels]
· Adventure Girl Ships Out to 'Un-Cruise' The Marquesas Islands [Jaunted]
· Adventure Girl in Macau [Jaunted]
· Aranui ship [Official Site]