I would like to announce this is my very first travel post. Hip-hip-hurray!🎉 This trip to The Marquesas and Nuku Hiva was meant to kick-start my nomad world-travelling adventure – instead, I returned to the well-known corona situation in March and all travelling plans have been put on pause for now.
BUT let’s get this storytelling started! I would like to share my experience and recommendations on how to spend 2 days in Taiohae in Nuku Hiva.
From the airport
When finally arriving at Nuku Hiva airport after almost 2 days of transport (departed from Stockholm), I was drained of energy and didn’t look forward to the final one-hour drive from the airport to Taiohae, the main town and harbour. But it proved hard not to appreciate! The view when driving through the mountains is breathtaking and we stopped at several viewpoints. One overlooking Nuku Hivas Grand Canyon and another stop with a stunning view over Taiohae harbour.
Tip: Make sure to arrange airport pick up before arrival, either with the place you choose to stay or contact Yacht Service. There’s only up to one flight departure/arrival per day which mean the locals drive to the airport only once a day.
French Polynesia is divided into 5 areas; Society, Tuamotu, Gambier, Austral and Marquesas Islands. Nuku Hiva is the largest island in the Marquesas. The island has an incredible history and culture, once the population was great and the culture strong. In 1842 the French took control of the island and missionaries banned cultural practices. When the Marquesas was free once again, they maintained some Christian values but also reestablished their cultural identification.
Where to stay
I can highly recommend the charming and simple Tata Pension Mave Mai. It’s located on a hill and there’s a nice view from terrasse over the harbour bay. The pension is family-owned and they are all very friendly and helpful, although not all of them speak English very well. Breakfast is served on the terrasse where you will also find wifi.
In this small harbour town all necessities can be found; supermarkets, restaurant, bank incl. ATM, pharmacy and post office.
There’s hardly any wifi or data coverage this far away. Which leave one with two options:
1) Purchase a local sim card at the post office, it’ll provide a low signal in Taiohae and no signal when leaving the city area.
2) Use wifi wherever you are staying and at the harbour port (Yacht Service or Snack Vaeaki). Then you can enjoy being unplugged the rest of the time.
The first thing I did after checking in at Mave Mai, was changing to swimwear and finding the nearest beach. The feeling of walking into 28℃ water after a long transport is fulfilling immediately – “I’m finally here and it’s amazing!”
Food and places to eat
First of all, I have never ever tasted as wonderful fresh fish as in Nuku Hiva. My favourite dishes are “poisson cru” (tuna, coconut and lime) and “sashimi” with a tasty sauce they make.
When going out in Nuku Hiva, the menus are usually written on a piece of cardboard and the food will be served on plastic plates. But do we really need more, as long the food is fresh and tasty?
Restaurants I recommend:
- Snack Vaeaki – At the Harbour port. Serve meat, fish, fries, rice and the best fresh juice.
- Snack Tuhiva – Inside a green market area. Serve sandwiches, salads and more.
- Bella Pizza – When feeling hungry for pizza.
- Pearl Lodge – Most fancy, I didn’t go there myself.
- Beach restaurant – Occasionally, there’s a pop-up restaurant in a tent. Offer a few local dishes.
Tiki Tuhiva statue
A must-see (also impossible not to see) is the Tiki Tuhiva statue. Standing 12 meters tall on a hill, a combined statue of a female tiki and a male hunter. The female figure has a hole in her bellybutton, intended for paper written wishes.
Time to get a Tattoo
Tattoos are an important part of the Polynesian culture and The Marquesas has its very own tattoo style called “Patutiki” which mean “Print-tiki”. A reference to printing tiki symbols on the body. Most locals have their bodies covered in decorative tattoos and it isn’t unusual for youngsters to start getting tattoos when they become teenagers.
Nuku Hiva is known to have some of the best tattoo artists in French Polynesia. Of course, I had to give myself a permanent souvenir. My tattoo artist is called Daniel and his studio can be found next to the bank, in “Maison Pour Tous Mata Hoata” area.
A local guy has written a book “Te Patutiki” which describes The Marquesan tattoo history and has an overview of their symbols. I bought the book at Yacht Service and it’s available in both French and English.
The Tourist Information can arrange trips to the local vanilla farm. It comes highly recommended, but unfortunately, I didn’t find the time to visit.