On our last day in the Marquesas Islands, we were treated to a real Polynesian experience. While having breakfast, the Clipper Odyssey entered Hatiheu Bay on the north side of Nuku Hiva. The nature show was grandiose: the little village of Hatiheu is located at the bottom of an amphitheater shaped basin. The jagged peaks surrounding us provided an impressive backdrop to the black-sand beach onto which the long Pacific rollers broke in the early morning light. On either side of the bay stood magnificent basalt dykes with lush tropical rain forest covering their flanks. A lone statue of the Virgin Mary stood on one of the high peaks, almost reaching to the clouds.
We went ashore by Zodiacs and transferred to local four-wheel-drive vehicles for a journey halfway up the mountain side. At the marae (sacred place) we were greeted in true Marquesan style by a dozen dancers in grass skirts performing fierce warrior dances and enacting the enlightening Polynesian-voyaging tales, to the tune of tam-tams. In the midst of gigantic banyan trees, green banana plants, and papayas, the sounds echoing through the jungle brought to life some of the feelings described by early European explorers of the remote Pacific islands, as they came into contact with unknown civilizations.
We explored the marae, photographed the stone and wooden tiki figures and investigated the petroglyphs before making our way back to the local restaurant to enjoy the Polynesian hospitality. Various delicacies were available to taste and the musicians continued to entertain us as we looked through the displays of local arts and crafts. Soon it was time to head back to the ship, thoroughly enthralled with the grand finale to our voyage through the Marquesas Islands of Fatu Hiva, Hiva Oa, and Nuku Hiva.