This morning, guests aboard National Geographic Orion awoke with full hearts after an amazing, heartfelt evening of spirited music with the community of Nuku Hiva.

Dropping the hook off the shores of Hapatoni, we prepared for our last outing in the Marquesas. After breakfast, we hopped in the Zodiacs and headed for the smallest (27 square miles) of the inhabited Marquesan Islands. Tahuata has a little over 600 people living in four different communities, and the topography is so steep that there is no ground level enough for an airport. The island is served by the larger island and airport on nearby Hiva Oa. Tahuata was the first Marquesan Island visited by Europeans in 1595 and was discovered accidentally by Alvaro de Mendana on his voyage to colonize the Solomon Islands. This explorer named the islands after the wife of the Marquis, “Marquesas de Mendoza,” who financed his travel. It took another 200 years before the next explorer, Captain Cook, stopped here on the Resolution in 1774.

Onshore, we had another amazing reception complete with music and beautiful head leis (hei tiare). We followed a procession of music into the community, where we enjoyed a beautiful dance performance followed by fresh fruits, juices, and an amazing selection of crafts. Some people chose to go for a snorkel after the performance and were blessed with a visit from spinner dolphins. Others explored the community and walked the royal road lined with 100-year-old temanu (Calophyllum inophyllum) trees. This road was built by missionaries in the mid-19th century to commemorate an alliance between the people of Nuku Hiva and Tahuata.

While we are sad to leave this amazing archipelago, we have been deeply moved by the spirit of its people and the exceptional beauty of the land.