Fatu Hiva: The best of the Marquesas.

Today aboard the Aranui we visit perhaps my favorite of the Marquesas Island chain, Fatu Hiva, which has some of the most amazing culture, local arts, beautiful bays, and amazing hiking that Polynesia has to offer.

From Tahiti Island Travel: At about 75 kilometers from Hiva Oa, Fatu Hiva is the southernmost island in the Marquesas and has a striking outline, particularly when approaching the famous bay known as the Bay of Virgins. The island offers a number of interesting excursions, the cross-island road that joins the two villages of Hanavavae and Omoa, a 4-hour long hike, is unmissable. The route has spectacular views and passes through luxuriant tropical vegetation, with its heady mixture of exotic fragrances.

The 650 inhabitants live mainly from fishing, coprah production, growing nono – a fruit with astonishing medicinal virtues.
The talented Local sculptors have a vast array of materials to choose from, including sandalwood, rose wood and coconut wood. There are also a variety of vegetable fibers, at hand, the island continues to produce tapa or bark-cloth, decorated with traditional designs – it is a forgotten art on many other islands.
Fatu Hiva is a world lost in time, even within the Marquesas!

Fatu Hiva is the island of tapa, a magnificent cloth which is made using the bark of the Banyan, Breadfruit and Paper Mulberry trees. These large sheets of fabric, laboriously made by beating the layer of bark, were traditionally used to protect ones’ privacy, making curtains, coverings or clothing. Large lengths of cloth were worn during important ceremonies and tribal war, the length and quality of the cloth being a sign of wealth and status. Today the smaller pieces are more commonly decorated with geometric or natural designs.

There is also a unique opportunity to visit the turn of the century home of M. William Grelet, a Legion of Honor general who’s amazing island home has been perfectly preserved, right down to the bed linens. Very cool to be able to walk through history.

The highlight of the trip for me at least was the hike up the center of the island which is a plateau covered largely by tall grasses and pandanus trees. To the south of the plateau, running to the south, is a mountain ridge, called Tauauoho, its highest peak, at 1,125 m (3,691 ft.) is the highest point on Fatu-Hiva. From there you can almost touch heaven.

Stay tuned as we explore these amazing Marquesas Islands aboard the dope Aranui 5 for Get Lost Magazine!
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