(CNN) – For miles and miles, there are hardly any inhabitants in sight on the French Polynesian island of Nuku Hiva. This South Pacific utopia is among the most distant locations on the earth and is an incredible a part of the planet the place a traveler may be as distant from the crowds as attainable.
Tahiti and Bora Bora have lengthy been the celebs of French Polynesia, however Nuku Hiva revels within the limelight because the second largest island within the nation. It’s also the capital of the Marquesas Islands, one of the crucial pristine archipelagos on our planet.
The islands have just lately reopened to guests, with vacationers who’ve spent the earlier 30 days in america now welcome. Maybe due to the remoteness there have been comparatively few circumstances of Covid among the many inhabitants of just below 3,000 individuals.
Nevertheless, the journey to this secluded paradise shouldn’t be a simple one. From San Francisco Worldwide Airport to Tahiti Faa’a Airport in French Polynesia, it takes eight and a half hours to fly.
It’s a measure of how distant the person islands of this archipelago are that the connecting Air Tahiti flight to Nuku Hiva airport takes one other 4 hours.
Touring from the airport to the principle metropolis of Taiohae in a four-wheel drive car is an enchanting 90-minute trip. Breathtaking views, tall ferns and pines may be discovered at each bend. Navigating the rugged rocky roads of Nuku Hiva holds surprises, akin to wild ponies, staring blankly as they take precedence.
Vacationers in want of a digital detox, or just an escape from the stress of current instances, will admire being deserted for a number of days on this hard-to-reach island.
Nuku Hiva has an otherworldly and primitive vibe. There aren’t any tall buildings and the one cellular phone community is 2G. It has the first wants of a group; a put up workplace, a hospital, a metropolis corridor, a financial institution, 5 grocery shops and a pharmacy.
There’s a mystical allure that permeates Nuku Hiva. Locals say it’s a place the place you possibly can really feel the genuine “mana”, the non secular life power of Polynesian tradition. It is exhausting to not hear hundreds of years of historical past, particularly because the beautiful Tiki and Moai statues depicting historical gods or ancestors are proudly scattered across the island.
Looming over Taiohae is Tiki Tuhiva which, at 40 toes tall, is the tallest up to date sculpture within the Pacific. Reveals a feminine Tiki protected by a male warrior. Impressively, the Marquesan stone crafts discovered on this iron statue are distinctive to the island. This well-known Tiki sits atop Mt Muake and is certainly well worth the quick hike to get a panoramic view of the bay’s rocky shore.
Near Tiki Tuhiva can also be the archaeological website of Tohua Koueva, which has undergone a meticulous restoration to indicate what life was like for the traditional Marquesses lengthy earlier than the arrival of Europeans. This enormous Tohua (outside gathering place) was the clan celebration heart and is ready amidst the mysterious forest grounds of a former ceremonial royal playground. Right here human sacrifices had been performed and made.
Large banyan timber are a part of the majestic backdrop of historical marae temples and dozens of ceremonial stone platforms, referred to as paepae. Tiki statues carved in stone may be discovered outdoors the refurbished thatched huts.
Conventional tradition is of prime significance right here. William Teikitohe, a tour information working for Pearl Resorts’ Le Nuku Hiva, factors out easy-to-miss archaeological stays together with numerous animal and human petroglyphs.
Having been born and raised in Nuku Hiva, Teikitohe venerates the location as sacred. “It’s a uncommon place and it’s the solely place the place we will grasp the true essence of the Marquesan tradition”, he tells me.
With extra of the brand new era of Marquesses shifting away from their roots, Teikitohe needs to protect the significance of such websites.
“Immediately the locals do not wish to go to the archaeological websites, they like to have a beer within the restaurant. It hurts.”
He provides: “I take pleasure in visiting right here as a result of I have to know the historical past of my ancestors – and it is not within the restaurant.”
There isn’t any public transportation from Taiohae to different components of the island, so mountaineering is the principle exercise in Nuku Hiva. Many tracks on the island’s devoted trails result in mysterious conventional settlements and different enchanted wonders of nature.
The principle attraction is the tour to the Vaipō waterfall within the historical village of Hakaui.
This iconic ponytail waterfall fashioned in the course of the jagged basalt peaks of the Hakaui Valley. Countless streams of water fall from a peak of 1,148 toes (250 meters), making this waterfall the tallest in French Polynesia.
Driving to the valley is very advisable with native tour operator Cannibal Artwork, who provide a two-day tenting package deal at a value of $ 150 per individual. Led by Tangy, a local of the valley, and his Croatian-born companion Ana, each are esteemed consultants on the route.
The journey to Hakaui begins with a 40-minute scenic boat trip from Taiohae Bay, the place passengers strategy the island’s rocky headlands and fortresses. Costs begin at $ 50 for a return ticket.
Land of males
A lot of the buzz of Nuku Hiva is on the Taiohae Bay Cruise Port, the place yachts en path to Australia from America glide alongside the bay’s shoreline, a glitzy distinction to the villagers’ island scenes who spend the day on horseback.
Each day life right here goes at its personal tempo. Relaxed locals may be discovered gathering to take heed to banjos strumming whereas others cracking nuts on the sidewalks. This doesn’t imply indolence. Many make a dwelling from conventional wooden or stone carving and searching.
Others have opened their household properties as boarding homes. These are the islands’ most genuine, reasonably priced and social lodging choices for guests. Native fishing can also be in style and Saturday stays the busiest day on the port with the fish market raking in many shoppers.
There’s creativity on the Tapivai Crafts Market, which showcases an incredible number of Marquesan crafts at cheap costs. A extra intimate expertise awaits you within the Marche handicraft homes.
A sculptor’s home on the Teikitohe guided tour is lined with cabinets displaying a set of cows, sheep, goats, and buffalo horns. The sculptor makes use of them to create necklaces and earrings carved from bone.
Nuku Hiva is nicknamed “The Land of Males”, due to the warrior traditions that also persist immediately. Native males, together with Teikitohe, are proud to put on the horns of the animals they’ve killed round their necks.
Craftsmen nonetheless carve out objects akin to casse tête, a rosewood membership as soon as wielded in battle however now used for conventional haka dances.
Town heart is well explored on foot and it’s well worth the stroll from Nuku Hiva harbor to Notre Dame Cathedral. In contrast to its Parisian counterpart, this sanctuary is a comparatively new construction whereas the carvings inside are basic Marquesas.
Carpentry apart, Notre Dame Cathedral gives a quiet respite from the sweltering warmth and humidity of Nuku Hiva.
For rest, Nuku Hiva has many abandoned seashores. On the north coast of the island, within the village of Hatiheu, lies a postcard setting on the palm-lined black sand shores of Hatiheu Bay.
An much more surreal seaside expertise awaits you at Anaho Bay, which is 2 kilometers east of Hatiheu. This arched bay is framed by rolling inexperienced hills and may be very inviting for a swim. Due to the tiny level of coral reef contained in its waters, it boasts a few of the greatest snorkeling within the Marquesas. Luckily, you might have the pleasure of recognizing cute coral or maybe a turtle or reef shark.
Apart from diving, Anaho and Hatiheu are the one locations on the island the place you possibly can attempt horse using. Nuku Hiva a Cheval, an area tour operator, reveals each villages on horseback.
Dine beneath the celebs
Discovering a spot to eat out may be tough, however it’s value it as Polynesian delicacies is a scrumptious style of the South Pacific.
Native delicacies are filled with island flavors and, after all, seafood and fish choices dominate the menus. A should attempt is the nationwide dish, poisson cru which implies “uncooked fish” in French however the locals name it “ia ota”. It tastes and appears extra enticing than it appears to be like.
Chez Yvonne’s in Hatiheu serves beneficiant and fairly priced parts of classics like crayfish and blended seafood dishes and is in style with locals and guests alike.
Again on the Le Nuku Hiva resort, visitors can check-in at one of many 20 premium and deluxe bungalows situated within the hills surrounding the principle lodge, which is ready in an unlimited tropical backyard. These rustic wood bungalows had been individually designed by an area artist and the interiors exude a particular Marquesas character.
The resort’s Premium Bay View Bungalow incorporates a personal terrace providing panoramic views of Taiohae Bay and the spectacular mountain peaks that encompass it. It’s a magnificent sight to get up to and visitors may also stroll simply 50 steps to benefit from the black sand seaside beneath.
Regardless of the Polynesian lavishness, there isn’t any solution to escape the wake of roosters crowing at first gentle. Bugs and bugs additionally take pleasure in making their method into the bungalows, although the resort fortunately offers bug spray and repellent.
The resort’s restaurant, Le Pua Enana, is a candlelit eating expertise beneath the celebs, its menu mixes well-known French delicacies with Marche influences.
In the meantime, the poolside Tiki bar gives an incredible number of freshly made island cocktails, obtainable at any time of the day.
Enterprise has understandably slowed down for each the resort and guides like Teikitohe, who stays upbeat in regards to the island’s rebound.
“Right here, vacationers can uncover quite a lot of Polynesian nature and tradition and the individuals of the Marquesas wish to share our lifestyle with them,” he says. Irrespective of how lengthy you intend to go to, Teikitohe suggests “Aita pe’a pe’a” – in different phrases, benefit from your time right here.