Friday, 16 October 2015

Paradise Hideaway on Nuka Hiva ..... October 2015


01 – 13 October 2015:  Anaho Bay, Nuka Hiva ~ 8 49N 140 03W

PA014775 Getting Away From It All

The days slipped into nearly 3 weeks with Balvenie tucked behind the breakwater at Hakahau on ‘Ua Pou, we enjoyed our time there but we were ready for a change of scenery.  So we stocked up with as much bread, fruit and vegetables as we could find, pulled up both the anchors and nosed out to sea. 

It’s actually quite amazing what a calming affect a small breakwater can have on a ocean that has the next closest landfall way over in the Americas, we were definitely back out into the big blue wobbly stuff once we popped out!


An uneventful sail across to the southern point of Nuka Hiva in a steady breeze in front of the beam (of course).  Then as we sailed up the east/windward coast of Nuka Hiva the wind went very light and fluky which was all rather weird and we tiptoed along past Haatuatua Bay in a light breeze from behind. 

Once we cleared the top of the island and turned dead downwind we sailed the last few miles then motored into the huge protected harbour of Anaho BayPA050062 What an absolute joy to arrive, an anchorage with no swell so no roll, good depths in sandy bottom, sitting comfortably to the light trade winds and no stern anchor needed ~ paradise found!

There are a few houses ashore, an easy dinghy landing, fresh spring water piped right to the beach, nice long sandy beach, a reef for snorkelling and some hiking trails, but as the last eleven years has taught us ‘there is no such thing as paradise’.  We too have been corrupted by progress and skipper now includes a shacky beach bar with satellite TV for live World Cup Rugby and free wifi in his list of must haves over the next few weeks, both conspicuous by their absence in this idyllic peaceful place.         

The cell tower high on the hill is not beaming in phone coverage or our prepaid wifi signal,  PA050076there is definitely no shacky beach bar with a big screen TV streaming in the Rugby World Cup, no fresh baguettes daily, actually no store at all probably because there is no electricity ~ oh well this is a remote spot on a small island in the middle of a very big ocean!    But we are happy here, this paradise is quiet, flat and home for now.

Work & Play ~ All In One Day 

One day we packed picnic lunches and along with Jeff & Katie went hiking off over to Haatuatua Bay in search of ancient ruins, a spot for lunch and possibly a fruit and veggie farm we had read about in the cruising guide.

We found a few black rocks just inland from the beach that showed no resemblance to ever having been buildings but ticked them off as the rather ruined ancient ruins, then we found a lovely shady area at the end of the sandy beach and set up to enjoy some leisure time.

PA054834 PA050067

Little rocks were found to use as our  steel “boules”, another rock replaced the traditional wooden jack and we commenced a game of Pétanque.  We don’t know the rules, so there weren’t any, but we had lots of fun and amazingly I won ~ when are we playing again?? PA050056

Exhausted from our big game and replete from lunch we slowly made our way home in the hot afternoon sun.   We had found the gardens on our way through so stopped to make our purchases on our return and arrived just before the horses were being loaded up with the days pickings. 

This is a very remote garden, it’s a long way to the road in Hatiheu.  Firstly it’s about 40 minutes along the trail behind the beach then around 50 minutes going up the switchback trail to the top of the ridge and other 40 minutes down the more gentle trail on the other side to the road.  Quite a trek, then I guess the sacks get loaded on pickup trucks and taken to Taiohae for selling at the market or freighting to Tahiti.  A lot of work to sell your produce.


But we didn’t have any horses so loaded ourselves up with pamplemousse, melons, tomatoes, papaya, aubergines and limes for around $6.  They were all rather heavy but it was a relatively flat walk back to Balvenie and having fresh produce is worth it.

Off To “Town” For the DayPA030050

We have followed the horse trail over the ridge twice now for a full day out to neighbouring Hatiheu.  It’s a beautifully manicured village set along a small pebble beach ~ there are several well kept houses, a lovely church, small museum, 2 rather poorly stocked stores and an excellent waterfront restaurant.

One of the stores has wifi which is almost strong enough to use at the neighbouring restaurant, so with espresso coffee in one hand, curried goat on order for lunch and the laptops fired up we can happily settle down for a few hours entertainment.  There’s the news, sports results, weather, emails & facebook to check, updates to the blog to post, skype calls to make if possible, etc, all at the speed of worse than old fashioned dial up ~ but remember, paradise is never perfect!


Paradise?  Yep ~This Is About As Good As It Gets

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Off Roading In ‘Ua Pou ..... September 2015

24 – 30 September 2015:  Hakahau, ‘Ua Pou, Marquesas, French Polynesia


Time For Another Tiki Tour P9240090

We joined with Jeff & Katie from Mezzaluna and Frank & Sally an American couple staying ashore and went on a full day island tour of ‘Ua Pou with Jerome the owner of Hakahau’s Pension Pukue’e our driver and guide.  Jerome told us quite early on that one of is hobbies when he spends time back in France is to go 4x4 off road driving, well he sure gets plenty of practice here in ‘Ua Pou. 

Initially the road was paved as it wound steeply up into the rocky peaks, twisting and turning through barren landscape around one bend, lush jungle around the next.P9240015   It was easy to imagine there were witches and goblins hiding on these inaccessible precipices, living in harmony with spirits of ancient warriors and tapu tikis, this is truly a landscape of fairytales.  

The island was formed by two separate successive volcanic eruptions and the towering peak of Mount Oave (1,232m) is the highest in the Marquesas group.  The phonolite peaks are the backbone of the island and the valleys gouge heavily down the sides, falling steeply to sea level.  It is a spectacular landscape and the quality of the road was exceptional ..... until it ran out ~ time for some serious off roading! P9240020 

Mystical Me’ae

After a very bumpy off road experience we arrived at a large ancient me’ae and pae pae site, tucked well away in absolutely the middle of nowhere on private land.  The setting was inland and very remote which indicates that the island was highly populated before the onset of disease and destruction caused by the arrival of white men. 

Jeromes knowledge of the history of the area was excellent and very comprehensive, no stone – or tiki was left unexplained!P9230233   Many of the original tikis from all sites over French Polynesia have been taken to museums  worldwide, new pieces have been crafted to replicate and replace them.

He also has endless knowledge of the art of the historical tattoos, and has himself become a tattoo artist, displaying his own work on his bodyP9240028 – should have got some photos.  Tattoos are still very popular here and most men are heavily tattooed, generally they are absolute works of art. 

In Search of Flowery Pebbles

Our brains now overflowing with Marquesan history it was time to relax with a picnic which we enjoyed at Hohoi, one of two pebble beaches on ‘Ua Pou that you may still find increasingly rare garnet phonolite pebbles.  

The only other place these are found in the world is Brazil so our hopes of actually finding any on the beach weren’t too high, especially when you see just how many regular pebbles are on the beach.  But Jerome, with his expert eye for flowery pebble spotting did his best, not quite as many “flowers” as those in the brochure, but “flowers” none the less.


Off To The South Coast

We are not sure if we took a short cut to get to our next destination of Hakatao or if the actual road really was that “adventurous”.  What is amazing however is that it goes from total offroad dirt tracks to almost new concrete road in the blink of an eye, in some very weird places for no particular reason, oh well, sure kept us entertained.


Enroute we discovered tikis tucked away in thick vegetation, petroglyphs carved onto rock faces and a million mosquitoes hungry for human blood.  It seemed we had certainly ventured off the “beaten path”, going where very few tourists had been before!


We finally arrived in the seaside settlement of Hakatao.  A local fisherman sat next to his colourful canoe filleting his catch, young lads paddled their outrigger in from a successful fishing expedition, opened coconuts lay on the waterfront road drying in the sun before being bagged for export.  This was a tiny remote settlement, without even a store, road access was challenging, sea access was subject to the swell conditions ~ but the inhabitants were a friendly happy lot, just going about their day to day business. 

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P9270023 P9270029 We spent another week in Hakahau, we hiked to the neighbouring beach, managed another quick catch up with Hilary and Chris our friends cruising on the Aranui III when it returned briefly to collect more freight, explored more ashore, witnessed the full blood moon with the last fragments of its lunar eclipse and caught up on more boat jobs. 

And We Never Did Tire Of This Magnificent Vista ......