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.
Join us for updates, insider reports & special offers.