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Fatu Hiva, Marquesas April 2003

By doina — last modified Apr 14, 2003 04:08 PM

Published: 2003-04-14 16:08:19
Countries: French Polynesia

The village of Hanavave, once consisting of a few houses, has expanded considerably in recent years with many returning Marquesans building new houses. The village now has a paved road, electricity and a satellite phone. There is a public phone in the port operated with local phone cards. Phone cards are on sale at the post office in Omoa, or from the postman, when he brings the mail to Hanavave.

Fatu Hiva’s most obvious improvement is the small harbour in the NE corner of the bay protected by a substantial breakwater. Inside there is a quay and launching ramp. Dinghies can be left on either. Ashore there are two fresh water taps, and while the water may not be recommended for drinking, they are perfect for doing your laundry as there is plenty of water on the island.

There is a small shop, on the right side past the school. The selection is rather limited but occasionally there is frozen meat, butter, canned goods and some fresh produce. Fruit (grapefruit, bananas, papaya, oranges, lemons as well as avocado when in season) can be bought from the villagers – you just stop at the house where you can see fruit trees and ask of you can buy some. Fresh bread is baked daily except Sundays by the local baker, the second house on the right on the road that starts north in front of the shop. It is best to order in advance.

Among the shore activities is a 2 hour walk to a waterfall in the forest above the village, a quite strenuous walk along a path that is not well marked. There is also a track over the hills to the main settlement at Omoa – a 6 hour round trip. It may be possible to get a lift with a fisherman going to Omoa, and walk back. Provisions in Omoa are better.

The local policeman, based in Omoa, visits Hanavave every day and will check that boats have stopped first at Hiva Oa and have cleared at the gendarmerie there. Those that have not will be told that they cannot stay. Although in the past the attitude was more tolerant, both the local policeman and Hanavave’s mayor told me that the stricter rules have been brought about because of some sailors having abused their welcome – some were caught selling alcohol (spirits) to some local young men so during the 2003 cruising season customs in Papeete intend to send over a patrol boat to keep a better eye on things in the Marquesas.

Dan Roman, S.Y. Danera