Fatu Hiva and the Bay of Virgins
From Tahuata we sailed to Fatu Hiva. It is the southernmost island of the Marquesas. The crossing is about 40 nautical miles. In general, the Marquesas Islands are relatively close together and you can easily stroll from one island to the next. Often it can be done in a day, sometimes you need an overnight trip, but actually, it is always not really far.
Fatu Hiva is one of the smaller islands in the Marquesas – at least in terms of population. There are about 600 inhabitants and 2 settlements worth mentioning: Hanavave (on the Bay of Virgins) and Omoa about 3sm further. On the other side of the island is Ouia. This place is super small and practically deserted. People only come here to hunt or to make copra. I wouldn’t even call it a village, but it is known because Thor Heyerdahl and his wife Liv lived there in 1937. At that time the place was still inhabited by an old man and a girl. Thor Heyerdahl also published a book about Fatu Hiva. However, he is better known for his Kon-Tiki expedition, which took a raft to Raroia in the Tuamotu Archipelago to prove that Polynesia was settled from South America. He succeeded in proving that it could have been reached from South America with the means available at the time. Nevertheless, the prevailing opinion today is that Polynesia was settled from Asia.
The Bay of Virgins is described by many as one of the most beautiful anchorages in the world. We haven’t seen them all yet, but it is certainly a very beautiful bay. The views are spectacular! Only the downdrafts from the mountains spoil the picture of the perfect anchorage. There are many gusts with changing wind directions. Therefore, the boats in the bay sometimes move in very different directions. It is good that there are not many boats and we have enough space to anchor. Only on the last day, a catamaran comes right next to us and actually its anchor doesn’t hold, so it is dragging past us during the night. But luckily everything turned out well and nothing got broken…
The island has some very beautiful walks to offer. You can get fantastic views over the bay or hike to a waterfall and swim there. This is super refreshing at these temperatures! The way there through the rainforest is also a bit of an experience.
There is no hotel or guesthouse in Hanavave itself. Nevertheless, the inhabitants are relatively well prepared for tourists as customers. Many sell carvings with traditional patterns, small tikis, tapas (pictures on a kind of tree pergament) and of course fruits. People are also happy to barter. Ropes, torches and fishing hooks are in great demand. Many sailors come here and once a month the AnaNui 5 comes – a supply boat that also does cruises and therefore also brings tourists to the village. Apart from that, there is not much in Hanavave. Every day, the children meet at the harbour to swim.
We also visited Omoa. Not so many sailors come here, although it is actually the main settlement on the island. The place looks a bit tidier than Hanavave, but the anchorage is not nearly as nice. Next year, the Marquesas Art & Culture Festival will take place in Omoa. It is a cultural festival that takes place every two years in the Marquesas and is always held on a different island in turn. You can already see some preparations for this spectacle in town. Apart from that, it is also very quiet in Omoa. Families spend the weekends on the beach with BBQs and bodysurfing. Children also like to go swimming in the river that runs through the middle of the village (for us, a welcome freshwater bath that we couldn’t resist). All in all, a very relaxed South Sea island. We liked it a lot and will probably remember the views and swimming in the waterfall for a long time.