Nuku Hiva, Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia

Nuku Hiva is one of the six inhabited islands of the ten islands that make up the Marquesas Islands. Taiohae, is the main town on Nuku Hiva and the administrative centre for all of the islands. It was at this island that Herman Melville jumped ship from a whaling vessel in 1842 and spent four months living among the Typee people in the village of Taipivai.  He wrote the books Typee and  Omoo as accounts of the period.  At the time the Typee were cannibals, but our local guide on today’s tour said that legend has it that he was so skinny when they found him that they didn’t want to eat him! Paul Gauguin lived on the neighbouring Hiva Oa until his death there in 1903. The Belgian singer Jacques Brel also spent the years until his death in 1978 at nearby Atuona. Taiohae itself is a kind of outdoor monument to Polynesian culture. One park along the waterfront has many stone carvings on display (photos).  Our morning’s tour took us first to the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Marquesas (photo) with its locally carved stations of the cross and altar (photos). We then climbed a winding road to a couple of scenic points. The first looked over Taiohae Bay where our ship was anchored (photo) and the second over Taipivai (photo).  We crossed right over past Taipivai to a small black sand beach where we had a substantial snack of local fruit.  The scenery en route was quite stunning. The island has steep basaltic cliffs falling to the sea (photo) and deep valleys around a high plateau in the interior (photo).  We saw a number of people riding horses and our driver informed me that people who collect coconuts for a living use horses to ride in the forest.  Later in town, I saw a mare and foal along side the main street (photo).  This is a very lush and picturesque island though there is little infrastructure to support much tourism. It is also a long way from anywhere.  We have over 2800 miles to travel to reach Los Angeles on December 4th.  This has been a fascinating journey to places that I certainly would not have visited except by ship.  However, I still hope someday to visit Yap!  Merry Christmas and Seasons Greetings to all.

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One Response to Nuku Hiva, Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia

  1. daviddapaget says:

    Bon voyage back across the ocean, Leslie. I’ve been enjoying your blogs, and travelling along vicariously. I’ve had trouble with the password to the blog, so was not able to send comments earlier. Plus I’ve been busy we our move back home. Do look me up when you’re back, and we can catch up over lunch/coffee. DAVID

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