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The account is told that 23-year-old Herman Melville jumped address aback he visited the Marquesas Islands in 1842. Melville, who would eventually address the abyssal archetypal “Moby-Dick,” believed he had activate paradise aback he accustomed at this abstruse alternation of islands in the South Pacific.
Fortunately, accession address happened by a few weeks after and best him up — aloof aback he began to doubtable that his new accompany were cannibals and that he ability end up as the capital advance in an accessible feast.
The chance may be allotment true, allotment exaggeration. Regardless, the columnist went on to address “Typee,” which alien the apple to the mystical adorableness of the alien Marquesas Archipelago.
I can chronicle to Melville’s fantasy. Who wouldn’t appetite to jump address and break actuality forever? (Especially aback cannibals are no best allotment of the picture.)
“This abode is so admirable I’m cerebration of demography up adoration again,” said Australian adventurer Bill Horrigan as he hiked on Fatu Hiva, an abundantly abundant agitable island that is allotment of the chain.
Daniel A. Anderson
A horse aback accession accuse up the bank as clouds and shafts of ablaze close a bay on Nuku Hiva Island.
A horse aback accession accuse up the bank as clouds and shafts of ablaze close a bay on Nuku Hiva Island. (Daniel A. Anderson)
The Marquesas are further from any continental landmass than any added islands in existence. They’re so alien that some are clear aback the era of European explorers.
Despite this, they’ve had acclaimed boosters. Scottish biographer Robert Louis Stevenson, French painter Paul Gauguin and Belgian singer-songwriter Jacques Brel admired these islands, breadth misty, 1,000-foot waterfalls avalanche bottomward agitable cliffs and asperous mountains abandon into the clouds.
Although the archipelago is allotment of French Polynesia, it’s 932 afar — a 3 1/2-hour alike flight — northeast of Tahiti and is 3,000 afar from the west bank of Mexico, the abutting landmass.
The abreast has put a coil in tourism, which is acceptable and bad. It makes it difficult to appointment but heightens the experience. You won’t acquisition a Maui-style luau actuality or lounge-show Polynesian dancers. You will acquisition authenticity: dances and feasts at a association centermost breadth about anybody in boondocks turns out to acceptable you.
I heard about these islands from a acquaintance who had sailed a 42-foot baiter actuality from Long Bank en avenue to Tahiti. It was one of his admired stops on a cruise that took him to dozens of islands throughout the South Pacific.
“Yachties” like my acquaintance are one of the above categories of visitors. They ballast in island harbors, beddy-bye on their boats and go aground to analyze and apprentice about the culture.
Others fly from Papeete, Tahiti, to the islands of Nuku Hiva or Hiva Oa, breadth there are landing strips, afresh break in baby hotels or bedfellow houses and get about by clandestine baiter or car.
Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
The third class of visitors arrives by ship: The Aranui 5 freighter-passenger address visits frequently on two-week cruises from Tahiti. The Paul Gauguin, a affluence cruise ship, additionally sails out of Tahiti but visits beneath frequently.
I accumulated busline modes, aerial from Tahiti to Nuku Hiva, afresh hitching a ride aboard the Aranui 5 to see adjacent Ua Pou and added islands.
Nuku Hiva was a admirable abode to start, with a amazing bay belted by aerial cliffs. It was actuality that Melville’s chance began too.
Ua Pou was one of my favorites. Its name doesn’t absolutely cycle off the tongue; neither does the name of its capital town, Hakahau, citizenry 1,600, but it’s an original, clear by the influences of big cruise ships that discharge bags of visitors on added admirable shores.
Three yachts bobbed in the anchorage aback I visited, two of them chic for long-distance sailing. Looming over the bay were aerial basalt spires. I after abstruse that the name Ua Pou agency “columns,” apropos to these affecting towers.
A few barrio belted the azure dejected waters: a academy and arena field, a association hall, baby homes. Kids rode bikes forth the bank or paddled outrigger canoes. I strolled the bay, watching activity cycle by in a baby boondocks on a baby island. I approved to brainstorm myself active actuality and accepting acclimated to this pace. It was a affable fantasy.
Of the 12 capital islands in the Marquesas chain, six are inhabited. My three favorites — Ua Pou, Hiva Oa and Fatu Hiva — anniversary accept altered attributes.
I anticipate best visitors would accede that Hiva Oa, artisan Paul Gauguin’s admired home, ranks aerial on their list.
Daniel A. Anderson
From left: Baby river in Hanava; Paul Gauguin’s headstone on Hiva ‘Oa with plumeria blooms and a carapace chaplet larboard abaft by those visiting the French post-Impressionist artist’s grave. Hand carved board tools, right.
From left: Baby river in Hanava; Paul Gauguin’s headstone on Hiva ‘Oa with plumeria blooms and a carapace chaplet larboard abaft by those visiting the French post-Impressionist artist’s grave. Hand carved board tools, right. (Daniel A. Anderson)
One of the affidavit is the artlessness of Gauguin’s grave abreast the apple of Atuona. The site, aerial on a acropolis overlooking the island, is apparent by an age-old plumeria tree. Its bent branches buck no leaves but are animate with ambrosial white blossoms.
A adviser explained that the artist’s thatched-roof home was aloof accomplish away, a abode breadth he could attending out the window and see the blooming blooming mountains.
He died here, a pauper, on May 8, 1903, and was active the abutting day.
As I explored these islands, every day I acquainted as if I had activate Eden. But afresh the abutting day, I acquainted that way again. Aback I assuredly accomplished Fatu Hiva, I knew I had activate it, the best admirable abode in the world.
This abundant island, the best alien in the Marquesas, is 100 shades of green, with aerial cliffs and coast waterfalls. At the apple of Omoa, I watched women anguish case to accomplish tapa bolt and saw men abstraction copse to accomplish paddles, masks and war clubs.
I bought a bright pareo (sarong) and talked with citizen Fiaiho Christophe, 40, who said he’d approved active in Papeete, Tahiti, for a while, but he’d appear aback to Omoa.
“It was too big,” he said. “There are aloof 60 bodies actuality and anybody is family.”
Unfortunately, he’s in the minority. Experts say abandonment is a huge botheration for these islands, breadth 80,000 bodies already lived; now there are beneath than 10,000. In fact, added Marquesans alive in Tahiti than in the Marquesas.
Later that day I visited the Fatu Hiva apple of Hanavave, a abrupt 10-mile backpack from Omoa. But the adamantine assignment was account it. I was amidst by amazing scenery, saw frigate birds and gulls aerial beyond the dejected sky and heard the music of streams and waterfalls as they bounced off rocks abreast the trail.
When I accomplished Hanavave, it seemed as if every apple citizen had angry out to ball and sing and acceptable me and the added visitors.
I anticipation about Melville. Afresh I pondered, who wouldn’t appetite to jump address and stay?
Daniel A. Anderson
Visitors to the Marquesas Islands are greeted by locals assuming acceptable ball and music acceptable ceremonies. In addition, some dances are those historically performed aback basic for battle.
Visitors to the Marquesas Islands are greeted by locals assuming acceptable ball and music acceptable ceremonies. In addition, some dances are those historically performed aback basic for battle. (Daniel A. Anderson)
I did a bifold booty the aboriginal time I saw the smiling, tattooed face of Jean-Claude Pahuatini, additionally accepted as Mahalo.
The Marquesas Island built-in is heavily active from his baldheaded arch to his feet, with intricate atramentous tats about absolutely accoutrement his face.
My afraid attending didn’t abash him. He grinned alike wider, amused by my reaction.
Mahalo, a longtime aggregation affiliate on the Aranui 5 freighter/passenger ship, enjoys assuming off his anatomy art to cartage sailing through the Marquesas. It tells a story.
Tatau (tattoos) comedy an important role in acceptable Polynesian culture, emblematic above activity events, rites of passage, amusing status, heroism, hunting and fishing prowess, ancestors character and religious power. Boys activate accepting the tattoos as children, abacus to them as they abound older.
Missionaries banned the Marquesans from practicing this ritual art for added than 150 years. It was active in the 1980s and has become added accepted common in the aftermost three decades because of its affluent history and aesthetic lines.
Historically, Polynesian boom artists created designs application board accoutrement and a denticulate cartilage comb, but avant-garde accessories is frequently acclimated today. It shortens the bulk of time the tattooing action takes.
Visitors generally adjudge to get a boom while on the islands; designs accommodate geckos, centipedes, the Marquesan Cross and added geometric patterns. A actual baby boom may amount as little as $150; ample ones can arise to added than $1,000.
THE BEST WAY TO MARQUESAS ISLANDS
From LAX, Air Tahiti Nui, Air France, Delta and Hawaiian action ceaseless account to Papeete, Tahiti. Restricted round-trip airfare from $1,768, including taxes and fees. From Papeete, Air Tahiti offers ceaseless account to Nuku Hiva and Hiva Oa, Marquesas Islands. Restricted round-trip airfare from $691, including taxes and fees.
The passenger-freight barge Aranui 5, www.aranui.com, sails 17 times a year on 14-night voyages through the Marquesas.
The cruise address Paul Gauguin will captain to the Marquesas this ages and in April, August and October 2018.
To alarm numbers beneath from the U.S., punch 011 (the all-embracing dialing code) 689 (the country cipher for French Polynesia), 40 (the breadth code) and the bounded number.
WHERE TO STAY
Keikahanui Nuku Hiva Pearl Lodge: BP 53, Taiohae, Nuku Hiva, Marquesas; 920-710. Twenty bungalows set in a abundant breadth overlooking the bay and apple of Taiohae. Restaurant, pool, air conditioning, Internet. Doubles from $162 per night.
Hanakee Hiva Oa Pearl Lodge, BP 80, Atuona, Hive Oa, Marquesas; 927-587. This hotel, a sister abode to the Nuku Hiva Pearl, additionally is fabricated up of alone bungalows. It appearance Polynesian adornment and balustrade angle of Tahauku Bay. Restaurant, air conditioning, pool. Doubles from $218 per night.
TO LEARN MORE
Tahiti Tourisme, (310) 414-8484
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