November 27, 2013 – Nuku Hiva, French Polynesia
Nuku Hiva is our last stop in Polynesia, and indeed our last port of call on this cruise. It is located in the far northeast area of French Polynesia, in the Marquesas Islands. This is the fifth French Polynesian island we have visited in six days, each of them so far has been quite different from its sister islands and Nuku Hiva is no exception. We are back to islands with volcanic mountains, quite a change from the flat atolls of Rangiroa, but this island has no coral reef. It has a very nice deep harbor, but is not surrounded by a protective reef, which changes several things – for one, no snorkeling here, since there is no reef to hold the small fish and to keep the sharks out. Also, there is no channel to navigate into the harbor.
The entrance to the harbor is marked by Motu (island) Nui, made of one huge rock on one side.
And Motu Matauapana on the other side. (no, I can’t pronounce it – give me another week here)
Again, we used the tenders to get ashore. With no snorkeling offered, or advised, we decided to just look around, and perhaps attempt to spend the rest our pretty pink money.
The view from inside the tender/lifeboat.
The tender wharf.
Each of these islands does a really good job of greeting the ship, and Nuku Hiva is no exception.
This drummer looks like a good candidate for the NFL.
The entire waterfront area is a park, curving around the rocky beach. The sand color varies from volcanic red, to black, similar to the black sand beaches of the big island of Hawaii.
It has paths for strolling and has several carvings – some ancient, some new, which have been placed along the way. Like Easter Island, the stone carvings are prominent in the Marquesas.
Parts of the beach are sandy, and parts are covered with these black stones which tumble with the waves, creating sounds almost like music.
On the larger rocks, there were dozens of these small black crabs.
Near the end of the cove, is this memorial to the Marquesan Soldiers who served and died in the French Armed Forces.
We made our way back to the pier area and enjoyed a soft drink in the shade.
The awnings on the right are not temporary, they actually are businesses, such as restaurants, bars, and yacht services, which serve the considerable yacht traffic in the harbor.
I had to work hard to persuade Sally, she couldn’t bring this little guy on the ship with us.
We spent the afternoon on board reading and relaxing. Six days at sea to Los Angeles and this Grand Voyage is ended.
This is probably a good time to summarize the French Polynesian Islands we visited – sometimes they all get lumped under the misnomer “Tahiti”, when Tahiti is just one of them. They have some things in common: they are all French, the main language is French, English is rare, the money is the French Polynesian Franc (some use of Dollars, but don’t count on it), the people are a unique blend of French and Polynesian – very friendly.
In the order we visited them:
- Bora Bora – Still my favorite all around. Beautiful setting with enough commercial activity to keep it lively, but with a definite emphasis on nature and watersports.
- Papeete, Tahiti – OK, but quite commercial and busy.
- Moorea – the most scenic of all. It gets high marks because it is so unspoiled, but only an hour away from Papeete by ferry.
- Rangiroa – not very scenic, very remote, but might be a destination for a REALLY laid back veg out vacation.
- Niku Hiva – very beautiful, very remote, not a destination for swimming or diving. I think it has one hotel.
And so we begin the long ride home. We have been out of satellite range for several weeks now, so no ESPN, and sometimes Fox (the only news station) is frozen. We won’t miss being out of touch.