This incredibly picturesque bay on Fatu Hiva is the stuff magazine covers are made of. In fact, the cover photo for Charlie’s Charts of the South Pacific (one of our many cruising guides) uses this photo to lure prospective buyers. The bay gets it’s name from the many phallic rock formations dominating the mountains encompassing the anchorage.
Apparently the visiting missionaries disapproved of the original name “Bay des Verges” (Bay of the Phalli) and transformed the name to “Bay des Vierges” (Bay of the Virgins) by merely inserting an “i”. Everyone we speak with, ourselves included, prefer the original name.
The view epitomizes the ideal South Pacific anchorage. Steep lush green mountains rise from the ocean to heights of over 3,000 feet. Every square inch of soil hosts an abundance of vegetation from coconut palms at the lower elevations to fields of tall grass as the mountain gains height.
The anchorage is well protected from the swell churned up by the constant trades, and the valley funnels breeze from the trade wind side of the island to keep things cooled off. This also has the effect of increased precipitation as the moisture in the trades is forced up by the steep mountains, cooling the air until it eventually forms the ever present clouds that ring the peaks of these islands. We saw rain showers nearly everyday and night. The anchorage is deep unless you anchor very close to shore. We opted for the more bug free space a little further out in 150 feet of water.
One of the well known attractions is a huge 200 foot waterfall about an hour hike past the village of Hanevave. Walking through Hanavave took all of three minutes. There’s a concrete pier, church, community center, small store, and one street lined with houses.
As we left the village behind the well kept road climbed steeply along switch backs into the recesses of the valley. Following directions from our guide we turned off onto a dirt road that led to a trail heading into the jungle.
Following stone piles left by adventurers past we scrambled over rocks, fallen trees, and through the jungle vegetation. Before long the the telltale roar of water falling hundreds of feet marked the arrival at our destination.
The view was awesome with water tumbling down 200 feet into an inviting pool of clear, cool water. We went for a refreshing swim then climbed the rocks for some cliff jumping into the deep pool. The pool is deep enough that Brady and Eric jumped from 40 feet without touching bottom. I wasn’t as brave with a less than spectacular leap from around 15 feet.
We had dinner plans at a local house to celebrate Erin’s birthday so we headed back to the boat to get ready. As a pre-dinner snack we fried up bread fruit in vegetable oil. The fried fruit with dash of cayenne, salt, and side of ketchup was awesome! This is now our favorite way of preparing this versatile fruit. Fried it is sweeter and much more flavorful than your typical potato. We imagined what a hit bread fruit fries would be back home- if you could somehow figure out how to get the tropical delight back to Seattle.
One of the more entrepreneurial families in Hanavave organizes a dinner at their house on most week nights. They drive a metal skiff from anchored boat to boat enticing cruisers with a delicious menu of traditional Marquesan dishes. The cost is about 1700 francs ($20.00 US) per person. They seat up to eight people on their patio and provide all you can eat Marquesan specialties like baked bread fruit, chicken, poisson cru (raw tuna), dried bananas, and many other dishes. The cost is a little high but not bad considering a cheeseburger for lunch in Hiva Oa was over $10.00.
The food was incredible and we gorged ourselves. The husband and wife of the family sat with us and talked, mostly in French with a few English words here and there. Luckily one of the cruisers with us was fluent in French and did a great job translating the conversation. The husband is quite a good ukulele player and sung a number of Marquesan songs after the meal while his wife kept the beat on a huge drum. We ended the night with a happy birthday song for Erin, first in French then in English.