Galley Wench Tales

Exploring the world through the people we meet
and the food they eat.

This blowhole was one of many Fatu Hiva
scenic spots on our boat ride from
Hanavave to Omoa.
The day after we made the 17 km Fatu Hiva hike from Omoa – Hanavave, our friend Steve from Armagh groused, “I will never feel the same about Lonely Planet again!”  (I noticed Armagh’s Moon Guidebook listed the 17 km hike, too).

Blown!  We got close to the blowhole.  Timing the shot
to catch the spray while not soaking my camera lens was challenging.

Omoa town, Fatu Hiva dropped quickly
into the distance as we hiked up….

Wayne and I were relieved Steve blamed our guide book for recommending the hike, instead of us….  He completed the hike a couple hours faster than us, pounding the long, steep and shadeless downhill return stretch in some of the worst heat of the day.  We trailed a bit behind at a more leisurely pace with Jan from Ambler, pushing it to get in before dusk, though believe we rebounded more quickly.

Seen along our Fatu Hiva hike, these
blackened ferns were striking.  There was
as much variety of ferns as in
my best Pacific Northwest hikes.
These orchids, which grew in wild abandon,
were my favorite flowers on Fatu Hiva.
Fatu Hiva’s textured foliage invited photoplay.

Fatu Hiva shares billing with Venice, Italy as one of the more surreal scenes I’ve had the pleasure to step into.  In the case of Venice, stepping out of the train station doors felt like entering a postcard into the past.  Fatu Hiva’s Bay of Virgins (Hanavave) is like the bunnyhill of landscape photography – nearly as impossible to take a bad photo of its fantastically lit weird geological formations as it is to fall on a bunnyhill (click here for some stunning Fatu Hiva Hanavave anchorage photos).

Given we only planned to anchor in the Bay of Virgins, we were hungry to explore more of Fatu Hiva’s vibrant foliage, crenulated mountains, vistas overlooking soaring basalt wall and spires…..
We caught a small speedboat from Bay of Virgins* to the more established Omoa in the morning.  Normally we’d grab some breakfast before we took off.  I figured it would be okay; there was a “bigger” grocery in Omoa**, so I was betting I could grab an inexpensive baguette there and eat on the go, and something cold to drink in addition to the water we packed for our hike.
*$60 or $15@ for each of the 4 of us in the boat.  Arranging that is another story…. For now, let’s simply say while we liked our driver, the arrangements did not leave us with a warm, fuzzy feeling about the locals.  Made me pine for Hiva Oa albeit pretty though less visually spectacular than Fatu Hiva.
**The grocery in Hanavave had very short hours and didn’t even carry beer!  Not even Hinano!
Oddly, this Fatu Hiva road was nearly impossible
to see when looking up from Hanavave valley.  We liked the subtlety of that.

No luck on the baguette – and we were early enough to get them – if they had them.

But… they did carry some substantial 8 oz sided Cadbury Old Gold 70% dark chocolate bars for just over $3.  I bought several.
And they carried ice cold Hinano beer.  We bought two tall ones.
“They’re just going to get warm,” Wayne observed, glancing at our Hinanos.  “They won’t be any better warm,” he added.
I agreed.
Overlooking the town of Hanavave, Fatu Hiva on our downhill stretch.

So there we were, exiting the small valley surrounding Omoa, beginning our steep climb toward the summit, eating dark Cadbury chocolate bars, washed down with cold Hinano.  It was only 9:30 am, and hot.  Breakfast of champions.  Not one I care to repeat.

We stopped to check out viewpoint after viewpoint, detail after detail along the sometimes paved, sometimes ferrous red-orange winding road.

About halfway through our hike, at a lovely summit point with covered picnic tables, we enjoyed a more nutritious lunch of cheese and salami on gluten-free rice crackers, with bananas for desert.

Just outside the town of Hanavave.  As through much
of the Marquesas, coconut palms are grown for copra production.

At the end, we were tired, hot, sweaty, dusty and felt a little flat-footed.  Yet, the walk was as thrilling as it was long; we’re really glad we did it.  If you follow in our footsteps, I recommend saving cold beers and chocolate for the finish rather than the start of the hike.

When we sailed to Tuahata, we noticed our guidebook mentioned there was another 17 km village-to-village hike.  To Steve’s relief, we never even suggested it, except to let him know there was one listed in the guidebook. Ditto for Ua Poa.  In Tuahata, the highlight was swimming with manta rays (click here for that).  Ua Poa, we opted for another 4-wheel drive tour.  Watch for an upcoming post on that.

Can you see those little tiny dots in the water? One of them
is our sailboat at anchor in Hanavave Bay, Fatu Hiva,
as seen on our Omoa – Hanavave hike.

Location Location
We’re in Taiohae Bay, on Nuka Hiva, Marquesas, French Polynesia (S8.54.856 W140.05.880).  We’ve tentatively planned a Nuku Hiva road trip for this Friday, May 29th 2015.This time we’re relying on good local guidance from Kevin of Nuku Hiva Yacht Services before we go, a map and a rented 4-wheel drive ($120 + gas).  Our new autopilot’s been installed (though it needs to be tested).  We’ve replenished our engine diesel and outboard gasoline fuel ($6/gallon!).  We still would like to replenish our water tanks before we go, get some last-minute fresh produce***, visit the local dentist and the waterfall at “Daniel’s” (Hakatea Bay) before we head off for the Tuamotus.  Depending on where we stop, that’s a 300-500 mile sail; several days worth.
***We’ve heard fresh produce is difficult to come by in the Tuamotus and also a good “trade” item for fresh fish there.
Fatu Hiva’s hills really are this green!
(totally unmodified photo – really!)
Fatu Hiva’s dramatic crenellated cliffs.

Is it even possible to capture Fatu Hiva’s panoramic vistas?  This view was about halfway between Omoa and Hanavave.