French Polynesia- Fatu Hiva


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Fatu Hiva!

The approach to Hana Vave, also known in French as Vaie des Vierges (Bay of Virgins) on Ile Fatu Hiva, is magnificent and was a welcome site after a long, hot, 48 mile motorboat ride from Hiva Oa.


The depth in the anchorage comes up rapidly but you can anchor quite close to the incredible scenery of bulging, aggregate volcanic rock precipitously sitting over the tiny village of Hana Vave.


The most dramatic scenery in Fatu Hiva are the aggregate rock peaks that seem to change character as the light changes throughout the day.

Tight Quarters

In Hava Vave, boats anchored in 20 feet of water are close by those anchored in 90 feet. There's little wiggle room.


This tiki sits at the boat ramp in the tiny harbor of Hana Vave formed by a stone breakwater. We don't yet know the story this is supposed to tell - possibly of a painful pregnancy (?).

Quaint Cottage

Many of the tiny homes in Fatu Hiva (and also Hiva Oa) are of this neat and compact design. We assume they are sold as a kit. (Note the large leaves of a papaya plant in the foreground left.)

Amazing Village

Hana Vave is a lovely tidy village in the most dramatic setting imaginable.


Noni, processed for health food juice, has become an important cash crop in the Marquesas.


Though declining in importance, copra is still grown and processed using traditional methods and packed in burlap sacks for transfer to market aboard the Aramui 3.

Ancient Site?

Nearby to this ancient tree is a series of platforms sitting by a clear mountain stream.

Ceremonial or Dwelling?

None of our guidebooks tell us what the purpose was of this ancient site - a "tohua" is a ceremonial plaza, a "me'ae" is a temple, while a "paepae" is a housing platform - and our Marquesan and French language skills weren't good enough to ask


We found this flower on our hike to the waterfall and thought it looked just like a lupine (albeit yellow).


As we were passing through the village we were stopped by Teresa, who took us inside and drew a detailed map on how to find the town's famous waterfall. It was a good thing as this was the only signage we found during our hour hike. The waterfall's name means "big waterfall" in Marquesan.


The day was hot and sticky and, after a serious hike through the jungle, the cooling mist and clear swimming pool below Vai'e'enui was "havai'i" - or heaven.


We passed this young healthy stallion coming back down the trail and later looked back to see a young man on this horse coming up behind us at a gallop. No saddle, his only equipment was a line which he had looped through the horse's mouth like a crude bit.

Laundry Day

Many women, particularly the older women, wear colorful pareos as either skirts or dresses; they make gorgeous laundry.


Ile Fatu Hiva is the only place in French Polynesia where tapa cloth is produced by pounding thin bark. This tapa, made by Teresa in Hana Vave is made from the bark of a breadfruit tree.