Nuku Hiva, Marquesas, French Polynesia, 5/19/2023, National Geographic Orion
National Geographic Orion
French Polynesia & Pacific Islands
Today, National Geographic Orion arrived at the remote island of Nuku Hiva, our first island to visit in the Marquesas archipelago. We received a warm welcome by the local people when we arrived at the dock by Zodiac. We had the most incredible cultural experience when we visited their sacred banyan tree. It was a perfect introduction to the Marquesas Islands, a once in a lifetime experience here in one of the most remote paradises in the world.
Alex was born and raised in Alabama. First living in a state park on the Tennessee River then growing up on Alabama’s white sand beaches, he has always had an affinity for nature and wildlife. Alex started his professional career while studying film ...
Early this morning, we arrived at the Tuamotu Archipelago, a completely different landscape than what we have experienced previously on this voyage. As we approached Rangiroa atoll and entered the pass, a single bottlenose dolphin came to escort us into the lagoon. With a strong outgoing tide and standing waves, the dolphin surfed our bow and did some spectacular leaps. We spent the whole day exploring this glorious island. SCUBA divers did multiple dives while snorkelers enjoyed “The Aquarium,” where the volume of fish is off the charts. We also went ashore. Some of us took a casual stroll, and others were enticed by the black pearl. Too soon, it was time to head out of Rangiroa and on towards Makatea!
Today we arose to calm seas here in the South Pacific. It was a beautiful day for cruising the remote Pacific Ocean, or Te Moana Nui a Kiva, as Polynesians know it. Today was a true day of rest here on National Geographic Orion . Our guests enjoyed the amenities of the ship as they relaxed and listened to our world-renowned field staff and guest speakers. In the morning, we had a truly eye-opening presentation from guest speaker Richard Vevers entitled, “Transforming Our View of the Ocean.” This was followed by our National Geographic expert, who gave a presentation on what it is like to be on assignment for National Geographic. After the Mexican lunch buffet, those who were able to stay awake were treated to a galley tour. This immersive experience allowed guests to experience what life is like working as part of the galley team. We were also lucky enough to have two more presentations during the afternoon, including tips and tricks on how to get the most out of iPhone photography followed by a helpful fish identification lesson from our undersea specialist. A gourmet dinner was followed by a dessert buffet in the lounge. The buffet included popcorn because it was movie night. All got to enjoy Moana with some special interpretation on the movie’s cultural accuracy.
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.