After spending much needed time to recover from jetlag in Taiohae, Nuku Hiva, I was ready for 28 days of sailing and diving in The Marquesas!
At lunchtime, I met with 9 other gasts and the 3 longtime crew members at Taiohae harbour port. For the upcoming 28 days, we would be living side-by-side on a 16,7m catamaran and make everything work by collaborating.
What does being a “gast” mean”? In Danish and German it’s called being a “gast”, but I’m unsure if there’s an English term for it. It means being a part of the crew on a boat or ship. This is no charter way of travelling, instead it’s an authentic sailing experience.
I had the pleasure of sharing a cabin with three lovely girls at the same age as me. One of the girls had actually been on a previous expedition with my little sister. Small world!
One of the extraordinary experiences about going long-time sailing is shopping groceries! When shopping for 13 people for more than a month at sea, it requires a dedicated shopping-day. First, everyone needs to agree about what to prioritise; alcohol, Nutella, muesli, meat? When the shopping list is ready it is time to go big-time shopping.
When all the bags are gathered at the harbour, it’s necessary to wash off ALL items before it’s allowed onboard the boat. The purpose of this is to avoid insects and especially cockroaches.
A morning “MANTA RAYS”! was yelled across the boat. When looking over the surface of the sea we could see the fin tips from a squadron of manta rays. Quickly grabbed mask and fins and swam 10-20m from the boat and there they were.
Fantastic start of the day! Manta rays are one of my favourite sea animals. It’s an incredibly peaceful and awe-inspiring feeling being in the water with massive majestic animals.
Fun fact: Manta rays are negatively buoyant which means they need to swim their entire lives. Except when mating, then the female stops swimming and lets the male lead.
Time to set sails! – Ua Pou
First stop was an island called Ua Pou.
Dive site: Obelish
We were all super excited to finally get compressed air in our lungs and experience some of the worlds most unharmed sea! Unfortunately, we jumped directly into a pea-soup at Obelish dive site. The water was green and the visibility was down to 7-13 meters, but at least we saw a lot of fish. Especially lots of Stonefish and Moray eels.
At this point in time, we sailing-newbies started to develop our daily vocabulary and language. Expressions like “It’s RAINING!”, “Grinding!”, asking “is it time for a sundowner?!” or talking about being salty or not being salty was used daily. I’ll leave you to guess what it all means.
Sanctuary and barbecue
An afternoon a local trip was organised where a local family have built a free sanctuary. Probably the best and most juicy roasted pork I have ever tasted was served, obviously taken and grilled straight from the “backyard”.
Before departure, we challenged ourselves with some steep hiking! I’m usually not easily scared, but I felt slightly insecure walking there because the ground was unstable and you didn’t really know which rock or piece you could rely on when grabbing it or taking a step.
Anyways, I will argue it was worth the effort when reaching the top. The view was simply magnificent.
Houmi – More diving!
It was time to leave the pea-soup, return to Nuku Hiva and visit Houmi Bay.
Dive sites: Ticapo, Houmi bay
At Ticapo dive site we found some of the diving we all were waiting for! A rich array of marine life and the visibility increased to around 15-20m. Personally, I checked Scalloped Hammerheads off my bucket list. I saw them at 3 out of 4 dives and they gladly came by individually and greeted us.
It was teeming with mantas in this bay! Once again we could snorkel with mantas straight from the boat, and when driving the dinghy we literally had to be careful to avoid them! Nuku Hiva has a reputation of hardly having any corals, as it’s all volcano cliffs and rocks. But in this bay, it’s possible to find corals along the coastline.
Langouste dive hunt
The last night in the bay we went hunting for Langoustines in the Houmi bay. A total of 6 individuals managed to catch 12 Langoustines – the hunt was pure chaos and super fun! What a dazzling barbeque we had, grilled Langoustines with garlic butter, yummy!
Dramatic rock formations, crystal blue water and bounty beaches. The most beautiful bay at Nuku Hiva. Well, if you look above the sea level. Underneath it’s evident that once it was filled with beautiful corals. Even this far away climate changes are having its influence.
On the beach, there’s a charming little beach bar and “Pension Restaurant” where it’s possible to order a reservation with one day notice. A reservation was made and we were served a stunning buffet consisting of raw tuna, rice, salad and a delicious chocolate cake for dessert. Everything was fresh and well made, highly recommendable.
Tip: Go for fish. The locals like to serve goat, but their fresh fish is just better than anywhere else.
At this time, everyone had started getting used all the new routines (and boat rules), such as cooking, cleaning, toilet rules, filling scuba tanks and close windows when it’s raining. We started to really know each other and spending cosy time together like watching moves or having a drink at sunset.
Marquisienne – Excellent diving
Tiny bay with rough vertical cliffs where the primary activity is scuba diving at Mateteiku dive site.
Dive sites: Mateteiku, Marquisienne bay
The visibility stayed around 15-20m but also some challenging (read: fun) currents. Here I saw lots of mantas- eagle- marble- and tahitian rays, some hammerheads, miscellaneous reef sharks, barracuda shoals, extremely large titan triggerfish, octopi, flat rock crabs and much more. Not to mention a small yet easy swim-through, where rays can be seen on the bottom.
When returning from the last dive, we also saw a large pod (+100?) of melon-headed whales with calves passing us. Wow!
Some of the mentioned bays require a boat to get there, there are simply no roads. It means there isn’t a lot of visitors and experiences feel undisturbed. For example, I had 22 dives on this trip and I didn’t see any other divers than ourselves.
Daniels Bay and Vaipo waterfall
The final destination before we returned to Taiohae Harbour. The past weeks had passed in no time and I had to start preparing myself for a coming end to my journey.
Before checking out, I had to fill an important checkbox – The Vaipo waterfall. It takes around one and a half-hour of hiking (9,2km), starting at Hakaui valley through a green rainforest canyon surrounded with up to 550m tall vertical cliff pinnacles. Do I need to say how mesmerising the surroundings are?
Self-made sailing map
Confused about the route we have been sailing? Even when I was out there, I felt a bit confused about where exactly we had been and I mixed some of the new names together. Therefore I made this simple map showing where we have been sailing the past 28 days in The Marquesas.
I was sailing with mOcean, which is a Danish company. They are reliable and I can easily recommend sailing with them.