Upon being informed by my boss in Washington D.C. that I am entitled to a vacation from my administrative work for a government official, I immediately informed my wife to pack our things as we will have a nice summer vacation along the South Pacific Ocean. Our Marquesas Island tour was a vacation we have been planning months ahead in time for our 25h anniversary as a couple. It was a pleasant and relaxing holiday as we took a break from our routine work schedules and just sit back, enjoy and bask under the sun and sand of the French Polynesian Region.
We got welcomed by a sunny but tolerable humidity when we reach the volcanic isle called the Bay of Virgins. We gasped at the balcony of our cruise ship as it got nearer to its designated port of call. The view of the waters was marvelously astounding! Even from afar the water looks so dense, pristine and so clear I can see the huge rock formations that surround this island from my vantage point at the ship. I cannot contain my excitement the moment we landed and get to enjoy a good swim along with other tourists who relished the experience of a dip on its clean waters. It was so refreshing indeed! Locals welcome us with a lei and warm smiles. We were greeted by the entire village tribe residents of the island. They showed their appreciation to their island visitors with an amazing tribal performance. At the main square of the island we were amused by the dance show of the local tribe in their beautiful costumes made out of colorful flowers and bird feathers. The men beat the toere, a kind of local drum while the children keep pace by tapping on cardboard boxes. It was a very nice gesture and a show that is not to be missed. As we explored around it was refreshing to see the mountain peaks overlooking the valley. We absorbed the feeling of getting lost in this valley and its breathtaking landscape that impressed us to no end with the beautiful and magical charm of its rich vegetation.
Clinging to the side of the mountain and covered by little overgrown weeds The Calvary Cemetery is a modest burial ground for two illustrious travelers, Jacques Brel and Paul Gauguin. It is a very touching cemetery that overlooks the bay and stands at the top of the Atona village. Their respective tombs lie just at the edge of the cemetery and fronting the ocean. There is a corresponding entrance fee for every visitor who wants to see or offer flowers to their rustic tombs. From here on the Hiva Oa isle the view is beautiful and the surroundings are peaceful. The view of Mount Temetiu and its peak rises to the sky and we can also see the precipitous cliffs and crater of the extinct volcano. We get to know who Paul Gauguin is when we visited the Gauguin Museum built in his honor. The museum serves as a good effort to bring two cultures and two worlds together through the antics of an excessively tormented man. The famous painter who also does wood carving has an extensive display of all his works and mementos. All artifacts that were relevant during his stay with the tribe can be seen inside the museum. We bought a reproduction copy of his painting as well as offering flowers on his tomb. We also saw a small area dedicated to the late singer Jacques Brel. From here we learn the story of his arrival and life in the island. The small museum for both artists left a simple and touching impression in our hearts.
The next day we head out early morning to join another group of tourists for our mountain hiking adventure at the Marquises Rando along the Nuku Hiva Isle. I find its terrain and diverse landscape very ideal for hiking. The canopy hiking was a challenging one because there were no marked trails. Our local guide Fred has a complete knowledge of the island and its rich flora because he works for the environment and conservation services of this mountain. Starting our hike as early as 5 am before the sun rises we reach the peak and adore its breathtaking views of the different landscapes over the island plus a great view of the sea. His professionalism and kindness only reinforce the beauty of their culture and the amazing information he provides left us in awe. At day’s end we did not miss having an exciting water adventure with another group of divers at the Centre de Plongee Marquises. On board a rented yacht we explored the exhilarating views of the water and went drift diving to swim along with nursery sharks, manta rays and giant turtles. We called it the day by doing offshore fishing, wrangling with a big bass, cooking our catch and having a nice dinner as our yacht cruise along the volcanic islands.
The next day our cruise ship headed to the next island port of call at the Maupiti Region. The Tereia Beach is what I call the ultimate dream beach! We come across this beach with almost nobody on this sublime beach but pure white sand and clear waters. The waters were not really deep in this place; we even have the opportunity to walk across the lagoon up to the Motu Island Beach. The colors were amazing and the facilities are very pleasant. This island has no available hotel it is precisely why not much tourists go on this piece of uninhabited paradise. We rented a bike to pedal and explore this 9 kilometer island. Everything around here is white sand and pristine waters loaded with colored fishes. There was hardly any construction for hotel, but there are lots of food stalls. We spotted some small stingrays and black tip reef sharks on the other part of the lagoon fronting the ocean. The more we biked along the lagoon the more we got to see manta rays that were big, beautiful and diving at the Maupiti Nautique. We enjoyed more snorkeling fun on this beach because of so many manta rays hovering around us under the water. Plus we get to see a very rich coral garden underneath.
For our anniversary we toured the Raiatea on board a rented boat called Bavaria 49. It was very clean and well kept complete with a working kitchen. I steer this boat until we reached the Niyati Croisiere Plongee. We enjoyed more sailing and diving on this enchanted place. There was hardly any tourist around and I felt like we own the island because hardly anything nor anyone in sight except locals but still not as populated as other island. On its clear water we saw a rich bio diversity of trevally, ava-piti, black tip sharks, dolphins, stingrays, manta ray, giant turtles, and colorful tropical fishes. I will never forget this last dive and romantic night my wife and I spent along the French Polynesian Seas. Everything about our trip here was made truly special and memorable. This was the perfect holiday for us!
The nine days of diving cruise and boat rides capped with an anniversary celebration on a secluded island was an unforgettable experience and a hard to beat one. I recommend this trip to all lovers of nature it was idyllic but very fulfilling to reach this island. Definitely worth coming back here.