Galley Wench Tales

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

Even the walk along Hanavave’s main road to
Fatu Hiva waterfall was pretty awesome.

Where else besides Fatu Hiva’s gobsmackingly beautiful Hanavave Bay aka “Baie of Virgins”(originally named Bay of Penises – really!) would I find the perfect waterfall bathing pool?  Who cares, when that’s the available option!

One of the more whimsical
Fatu Hiva waterfall trail markers.

Our readings indicated the hike was a mere 45 minutes or so, and that while the water was cold, that after the heat from the hike in, it would be refreshing.  With a broken hot water heater resulting in no hot water showers aboard, I relished a good shampoo and wash at the pool.  Wayne looked forward to enjoying bikinis…. As lovely as the Marquesas are for hiking and sightseeing, its beaches suck for lounging.  The last beach we hung out at with bikinis or less was Contadora, Panama, back in late February and early March – unless you count a brief time on beach crowed in by sea lions in Galapagos in April.

California surfer-type cruiser midway through his jump
into the pools below Fatu Hiva’s falls.

It would’ve been easy to miss the trailhead off the main road – there were no signs for it.  Fortunately, cruisers returning from the hike told us it was the second, less obvious, right hand turn off the main road past town, onto a dirt road marked by a clive (small rocks piled atop each other, a common unofficial trail marking device).  From there it took a sharp eye to catch the next marker where the trail moved from a wide open flat path, turning into a narrow path in a wooded area, which began climbing up.

Local Marquesan demonstrates how
the Fatu Hiva waterfall dive is done.

We hiked in on a Sunday, which meant while we wouldn’t have the pool to ourselves, we’d enjoy an interesting mix of cruisers and locals.
When we first arrived, everyone at the pool was a cruiser.  One brave soul — a slim 20s-something California surfer-type with a washboard stomach, scaled a waterfall rock face to an outcropping about 30 feet up.  He leapt from there into the pool below, filming his rapid descent with his water camera.
A bit later, a half dozen or so locals turned up, boombox and male bravado and an overabundance of testosterone in full display.
Several guys climbed and jumped from the same precipice as “Mr. California.”*  They then scaled the face opposite the waterfall, jumping in from a much higher point.  Their leaps were preceded by much, hooting, hollering, general hamming and muscle-flexing of their tattooed arms.  They wanted to be sure their audience was attentive and appreciative.
*Video of some of the waterfall jumps will be added to this post at a later point.  Check back!
Graciously, they then offered the ever-eager “Mr. California” locals lessons on pool entry.  He dove from a higher precipice on the same wall he initially leapt from.

No diving, but this Galley Wench is still willing to pose
at Fatu Hiva’s most excellent waterfall pool.

Once upon a time (in my youth), I’d dove from similar ledges into waterfall pools and rivers.  I still bear the chipped front teeth from belly-flopping from one such leap.  Now, thanks to my hard-earned wisdom maturity age and shallow pockets coupled with a lack of medical and dental coverage I opted not to follow suit.
Even without the daredevil antics, the waterfall pool was indeed as refreshing as it was beautiful, a veritable Garden of the Gods waterfall.  I kept wondering if Brooke Shields (“Blue Lagoon”) or Bo Derek (“10”) would appear….

This tiny iridescent fish at Fatu Hiva’s Hanavave waterfall
inspired one of the first underwater photos with
my still relatively new Olympus camera.

The waterfall was so good, I returned the next day. My second time was a much quieter experience with some other cruisers, including a couple who’d missed the trail marker in and initially gave up on finding the waterfall.  No locals.  No dramatic jumps, but still a great place to soak up the spectacular scenery the Marquesas has to offer and get clean at the same time.  And given all our passage-making time on the boat, I like to get in my walkies whenever I can.

FatuHiva waterfall as seen from our 17 km hike
from Omoa back to Hanavave.

I’d hoped for at least one more waterfall swim before leaving the Marquesas, but instead got a bit of a misadventure instead (click here to find out what happened on our way to Vaipo waterfall in Nuku Hiva Marquesas).  I’m hoping Tahiti, Morea or BoraBora will offer a chance to soak in another Garden of the Gods waterfall as nice as the one on Fatu Hiva.

FatuHiva waterfall as seen from our 17 km hike
from Omoa back to Hanavave, zoomed in
from a 60x telephoto lens.

Location Location

When we took these waterfall hikes in May 2015, we were anchored at Fatu Hiva’s Hanavave Bay (S10.57.854 W138.40.053) aka “Bay of Virgins” (originally named Bay of Penises – really!) in Marquesas, French Polynesia.  This post was written on passage from the Marquesas to the Tuamotus in deference to Keith Blankenship, who chided me about the hairy guy dressed only in a loincloth in a post about the Ara Nui (click here for that post if scantily dressed hairy guys don’t weird you out).  This post will run while take a few days away from Papeete, Tahiti to go to the Pacific Puddle Jump festivities in nearby Moorea, French Polynesia.