French Polynesia is a vast area, with five major island groups: The Marquesas, Tuamotus, Gambier, Austral, and Society Islands. We are traveling west with the winds after crossing from Panama and landing in the magical Marquesas islands. After a few weeks or months in The Marquesas, the next island group is usually the Tuamotus. Cruising the Tuamotus is like nothing we’ve experienced, and a great reason to get the long stay visa. We can’t believe we almost raced through all of these islands, a necessity with the standard French Polynesian three month visa.
Introduction to The Tuamotus
Motu in Tahitian means a small islet of coral reef, an atoll. The Tuamotus is a chain of 70+ of these small islets, many sparsely inhabited.
To sail from The Marquesas to anywhere in The Tuamotus takes 3-4 days, depending on departure and arrival points, and, of course, the wind. Once you’re in the chain, you can do short day or overnight hops to get from one motu to the next.
The archipelagos’ total population is only about 15,000 people. That’s right, across almost 80 islands. The main industries include pearl farming, copra cultivation (coconut oil), and a small amount of tourism in a few places.
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.
Here’s what to expect and where to go hiking in Curaçao
When we’re near land, Brian and I like hiking. We exercise, commune with nature and wildlife, and see the local views. Aftertoo much down time, we’re grateful to be healthy enough to hike and explore the island of Curaçao. Here are some tips and recommendations for hiking in Curaçao.
Any time you hike, be prepared. Pack essentials like water, snacks, and bug spray. Wear good walking shoes (waterproof), a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen or clothes with SPF protection. Before hiking in Curaçao, read the following tips.
Barbuda is Antigua’s northern neighbor and because it’s smaller and less developed, it gets overlooked. Don’t make that mistake. Absolutely go to Barbuda when you visit Antigua. The variety of things to do and see mean you do not want to miss Barbuda.
Frigate Bird Sanctuary
Whether you take a plane, ferry or your own boat to Barbuda, the Frigate Bird Sanctuary is a must. You can only go with an authorized guide. They are serious here about protecting this special habitat and you will be too. This is the largest frigate colony in the Western Hemisphere and worth protecting.
The guides are knowledgeable about the birds and Barbuda’s history so soak it up. You get a fun boat ride too and up-close views of the frigate birds at all stages of development. Our tour guide was George Jeffrey and he is entertaining and educational.
We loved Dominica the first time we visited. Since life onboard Sava Season 2 is about expanded exploration, we had to return. Our second visit to “The Nature Island” allowed us to snorkel, dive, and visit more sites we missed the first time. We found so much more to do in Dominica.
This town is much cuter and more interesting than I knew! We were warned off from spending much time here on the trip down, but this visit we spent three nights in Roseau and found a lot to like.
Our arrival coincided with New Year’s Eve, but we were too tired to do much. We listened to the party from shore, and watched the locals set off firecrackers from one of the docks.
Once we were rested, we enjoyed exploring the town. We shopped in the stores, including an excellent supermarket, and ate and drank at an eclectic range of spots.
In town, High Rise Beach Bar is popular with locals for the views of the port, cheap Kubuli beers, and decent lunch specials. It is not in a high rise nor on the beach.