Hatiheu, Nuku Hiva, Marquesas

Jun 27, 2018 - National Geographic Orion

We woke early for a first glimpse of the Marquesas archipelago as we approached the island of Nuku Hiva. These high islands are a contrast to the atolls of the Tuamotus, and in the early morning the island was blanketed in layers of cloud. Between rain showers, the clouds lifted to show dramatic peaks. When we rounded the corner into Hatiheu, guests and staff poured out onto the decks to take in our moment of arrival.

Hatiheu is a village of about 285 people on the north coast of Nuku Hiva, which has an overall population of about 3,000. Yvonne Katupa has been mayor for 32 years and has done a great deal to preserve the culture of her valley. The sacred sites that we visited have been worked on by both locals and international archaeologists (including our cultural specialist on board, Heidy Baumgartner). The result is breathtaking. The sacred sites gave us a chance to learn about the traditional practices of a community that used to be 70,000 strong. We saw petroglyphs and old house platforms and several important places for feasts and dances.

At a second site just down the road, we were given an astounding cultural performance by the local dancers and musicians. The power in their steps and voices, combined with drum beats and the rustling of the auti leaves used to make their performance dress, left a strong impression on us. The experience involved every one of our senses and would truly have to be experienced to be believed.

After the best lemonade in the world, combined with fresh fruit and banana doughnuts at Mayor Yvonne’s restaurant, we headed back to the ship. By afternoon, some of us chose to rest while others headed back to town and still others headed up the steep hills on a hike to overlook the island.

This was the first of five days we will spend in the Marquesas, and this glimpse of life and landscape felt like an auspicious beginning.

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About the Author

Jennifer Kingsley


Jennifer Kingsley is a Canadian journalist, a National Geographic Explorer, and the Field Correspondent for Lindblad Expeditions. She has travelled extensively in the global Arctic and throughout the temperate rain forest of the Pacific Rim. After completing her biology degree, she worked in Canada's Rocky Mountain National Parks before moving to British Columbia to specialize in grizzly bear ecology. Jennifer spent several seasons sailing among the whales, bears, and wolves of the Great Bear Rainforest. 

About the Photographer

Eric Guth

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Eric began work with Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic in 2006 as a means to see the world, work with great photographers and engage his environmental studies degree beyond the classroom. His initial years with the company were spent working the waters of Southeast Alaska and Baja California. His move to the National Geographic Explorer in 2008 helped earn him the experience and knowledge needed to establish himself as a trusted boat handler, naturalist and respected photographer in nearly all the environments Lindblad-National Geographic travels.

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