After six weeks in The Marquesas, it’s now one of our favorite places, in no small part due to lovely Tahuata island. For two weeks we bounced between a few different bays, snorkeling and diving with marine life, exploring the villages, and eating at local restaurants. Add to that marveling at the beauty around us, which is unavoidable in French Polynesia!
Location and Getting There
Tahuata Island is located just south of bigger Hiva Oa, which makes it ideal for anchoring. It’s the smallest occupied Marquesan island, with a village and a few communities with churches. The benefit of its proximity to Hiva Oa is we can stay “away from it all” at quieter Tahuata with the convenience of town a few hours sail, or motor, away.
When I said everything would be easy after our Pacific passage, I spoke too soon. Our trip to Tahuata from Ua Pou was terrible. What should have been a 60nm half-day trip turned into almost 24 hours with no sleep for both of us. The wind kept shifting from side to front, from 12 knots to over 20 to next to nothing. We had to be on guard to change the sail trim and position, which we had to do at least once an hour if not more. What was supposed to be 60 miles became almost 120 with all the tacking we had to do!
The good news is we got a lot of time to recover from the trip in a beautiful place with fun adventures.
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.
The third largest Marquesan island with 5 towns and over 2,000 people, Ua Pou covers over 40 square miles.
We happily anchored in the main port of Hakahau, with stunning views of the mountains and near the conveniences of town.
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.
Our first stop after crossing The Pacific was Marquesas’ biggest island: Nuku Hiva. While exploring Nuku Hiva, we anchored in two different spots and drove around on a day tour. Two weeks in Nuku Hiva gave us a great introduction to French Polynesia.
The Marquesas are impressive! The islands rise up straight out of the sea into majestic mountains. Lush green rolling hills are full of fruit trees with some of juiciest citrus we have tasted. The hiking is great and the water is warm and full of amazing sea life like mantas and dolphins. Add to that lovely people with a great culture and I love it here.
About Nuku Hiva
Nuku Hiva is the largest island in The Marquesas, which are a group of islands in French Polynesia. Nuku Hiva is located in the northwest of this island group.
Maybe because of Nuku Hiva’s size, the government designated it as the only port to clear in since the pandemic began. So, even though it is further west and thus farther away than other ports of The Marquesas, we had to stop there first from Panama.
Our longest passage yet will likely be our longest passage ever if I can choose. I expected the voyage from Panama to Polynesia to be a mix of bad and good. I was correct. Compared to others who did the journey, thirty days at sea from Panama to Polynesia was average. I’m happy it’s over.
Even on a short sail problems inevitably pop up, so with a 3800 mile+ passage, we knew anything could happen! Since we arrived in Nuku Hiva unharmed and with no major boat damage, we count ourselves lucky but the sail from Panama to French Polynesia was far from perfect.
Leaving Panama, we expected to have very little wind, and we were right. The first few days of the passage we crawled and we covered very little ground. In fact, many followers noticed our boat do a big circle on our map tracker. It wasn’t a mistake. With no wind and trying to conserve fuel that early in the trip, that was our actual course that day! Fortunately, that section of Panama was the lightest wind we had on the voyage. Unfortunately, it was the end of the warm weather. We were in hoodies soon after!
Even worse for us with our new lithium batteries and upgraded solar panels was the absolute lack of sun. While we didn’t have much rain and only a couple minor squalls on the trip from Panama to Polynesia, the clouds followed us for weeks! Fortunately we brought a lot of gas for our generator because we used it! We had to run it early and often to keep our battery – and autopilot and chart plotter – running at night. Which leads us to another problem!