A Week in Ua Pou Marquesas

harbor Oa Pou

As often happens in our sailing lives, plans changed when we visited our second Marquesan island. We thought we’d stay for a few days but we were having so much fun we spent a week in Ua Pou!

About Ua Pou

Ua Pou (pronounced Wah Poe) is another mountainous Marquesan island. We were told the name means “two pillars” for the twin peaks rising above the other mountains, dominating the island’s landscape. Located south of Nuku Hiva in the northern Marquesas, we made it our second stop in French Polynesia.

Week in Ua Pou map Marquesas
Ua Pou and The Marquesas Islands map

The third largest Marquesan island with 5 towns and over 2,000 people, Ua Pou covers over 40 square miles.

The defining pillars of Ua Pou
The defining pillars of Ua Pou

We happily anchored in the main port of Hakahau, with stunning views of the mountains and near the conveniences of town.

Culture

One of the highlights of our week in Ua Pou was culture day. The islanders took advantage of shutdowns for a Catholic holiday and had a big cultural celebration.

It was one of our favorite days since we moved onto the boat! We got an up-close experience of the local culture of this Marquesan island. For no charge. There were cute kids, costumes, singing, dancing, ukulele playing, drums, stilt racing and more!

Culture day a week in Ua Pou
Kids playing ukelele in Ua Pou

We arrived late in the morning and stayed for about three hours. First, we saw kids race on stilts and the adults race at shucking coconuts. They were fast!

Stilt racing Ua Pou
The stilt racing in Ua Pou

Our day was made once the kids started performing. Five different groups of children performed, each in different costumes and performing a different traditional song and dance.

Children at culture day
A full house at Ua Pou’s culture day

The children were beautiful and so joyful. We’ve learned that they were not allowed to speak their language in school or celebrate their culture and get tattoos until the 1970s. Now they are loving their newfound freedom. The children had fun performing and their parents and grandparents had as much fun photographing and filming them and singing along to the familiar songs.

Culture day Ua Pou
Children in costume at Ua Pou’s culture day

The day also included ukelele playing, drumming, and a rock band. As only a couple of outsiders there, Brian and I were lucky to see it. Culture day was a favorite from our week in Ua Pou, probably a favorite of any day.

Drummers in Ua Pau
Drummers in Ua Pau

Hiking

For sailors stuck onboard for 30 days, this was a perfect spot to visit! We did three hikes, ranging from a short and quick uphill to a 5+ hour cross-island guided trek to a waterfall and lunch. That waterfall is one of the most perfect I’ve seen and another reason to love Ua Pou. The views on all the hikes were stellar. In fact, everywhere in Marquesas is gorgeous. Whenever I look up in these islands I am blown away by their beauty.

Hike to a waterfall
Beautiful waterfall at the end of a hike in Ua Pou

Eating Out on Ua Pou

After Nuku Hiva’s three restaurants, we were amazed by the wider choices in Oa Pou! The town alone had several snack bar/food trucks, a bar-restaurant at the pension, a bakery-cafe and more places to eat! Which is a good thing because we haven’t been able to refill our propane (cooking gas) so we take every opportunity to eat off the boat.

Ua pou restaurant sign
Tipiero was our fave Ua Pou restaurant

Our favorite restaurant in Ua Pou was Tipiero. Run by a friendly and charming French chef, the menu is small. When we went for lunch after our cross-island hike, we had two meal choices. We had one of each and ate that curried goat and seafood plate for several meals afterward!

That’s something we’ve learned in The Marquesas. These are people who like food and lots of it! Brian and I either share a dish when we eat out or expect to bring leftovers back to the boat. With lots of seafood and French influence, the food is mostly delicious.

Goat curry

Shopping

For boat dwellers with limited space, shopping really means provisioning, which means food and drink and boat parts. The town has a charming set of municipal buildings including an artisanal market we enjoyed visiting. Marquesan woodwork and carvings are beautiful and I may have to buy a souvenir despite having nowhere to display it onboard. I bought a music shaker at the market to accompany Brian when he plays guitar.

Tiki carvings artisan market Ua Pou
Tiki carvings for sale in Ua Pou

Hakahua has excellent supermarkets. We timed our visit to our favorite supermarket the day after the supply boat came in and the shelves and freezers were stocked. The locals travel to the port for fresh provisions on supply boat day, so we were there at the right time.

In a country of beautiful islands and friendly people, this was a highlight of The Marquesas, already one of our favorite places on earth.

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Author: Mel

Living aboard a sailboat, scuba diver, cat parent, cyclist, blogger, love the water and exploring new places.

4 thoughts on “A Week in Ua Pou Marquesas”

  1. How wonderful that your visit coincided with the culture day, it’s moments like those when you are welcomed into a place that make travel so special. That dish of curry goat is enormous! I’m glad you said that you shared the dishes!

  2. I must admit I am living a bit vicariously with you as you travel around the Marquesan islands. All that blue water and sky would be our dream for sure. How great that you visited Uo Pou on a culture day and got to see the local traditions. Waterfalls with hikes are my favourite kind of outdoor trek. Looks lovely. I can see why this might be a highlight for you.

  3. I enjoyed learning about the Island of Uo Pou so much from your post! It sounds like an amazing place I sadly will probably never visit 🙁 unless I learn to sail sometime in my life lol. The culture day sounds amazing, I love when travel days turns into something that’s better than you could have ever expected. I am excited to keep reading about your travels in French Polynesia!

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