While we had been warned that over the years the bays have been inundated with cruising yachts and with COVID-19 it peaked last year with 90 boats in Taiohae bay and that the locals were sick of cruisers and somewhat ambivalent to them. We found people were friendly; people waved as we walked by, kids high fived Andrew and waved from car windows and the lady at Larsons supermarket laughed every time I paid for something and used Spanish instead of French. The other bays around Nuku Hiva we found that the locals were a lot more welcoming and more willing to have a conversation.
The two closest small supermarkets or Magazins to the dinghy dock are Larssons and Kamake. I think Larssons has a larger selection. Larssons and Kamake has fresh baguettes and croissants if you get there early or reserve them, and they do sell out quick. Things start early on Nuku Hiva, people get their baguettes or fresh fruit and veg at 6 am.
Larssons and Kamake stock potatoes, onions, garlic, and most of the time in the fridge section you will find carrots, leeks (imported from NZ) and apples (again imported from NZ). On the front counters there are sometimes bags of fresh cucumbers, bok choy or something similar.
Between the two stores you can buy pretty much everything including things like quinoa, couscous, dried herbs. There are a lot of Australian/New Zealand brands particularly with the chips and biscuits (cookies) you will even find Tim tams. While you can pretty much buy anything, it will not be at the same price as Mexico, America, or Australia as you would expect with imported items.
If you look for the red dot items like on flour, pasta, tinned vegetables, chicken thighs and rolled beef, they are government subsidized and cheaper. So, if you forgot to stock up on something before leaving Panama or Mexico you should still be able to find it. There are a couple more supermarkets too they are just a further walk from the dinghy dock.
Price of a few items to give you an idea:
Can of sprite/coke $1.70 (coke sans sucre or coke zero $1.40)
Eggs $5 US for a dozen (Grande/large) eggs
Aerogard $4.20 (from Kamake it is not a red dot in Larssons and over double the price)
Tinned corn/peas – 0.67 CFP or 67 cents US
Rolled Beef (red dot special) and delicious cooked on the BBQ – 2 kg for 2100 CFP or about $10.50 US a kg
Flour – 119 or $1.19 per kg
Pasta – 112 CFP or $1.12 US for 500 grams
Potatoes – $2.90 kg
You can buy a sim card from Kevin who runs Nuku Hiva Yacht Services for about $80 US for 10 gb. Kevin also offers internet which you can use at the tables out front of his store, but it is not free anymore and he charges a daily rate of $7 US.
The little local café Tematapuaua, just down from Kevin’s also has Wi-Fi if you buy a drink, snack, or meal, we did find the internet there dropped in and out and took forever to load a page, and friends tried it on a different day and found the same thing.
Another alternative which we were alerted to by an Australian/Norwegian couple was the local library or bibliotheque. For 1000 CFP or $10 US you can get an annual subscription to the library and you are able to use their internet while the library is open. Ava and I did go to the library and join up as she had a lot of school to catch up with and it required internet. The internet worked fine, the later you go to the library the slower the internet is. If the librarian needed to make a call the internet is disconnected to do so. The librarians do get upset if you say you want to buy internet so ask if you can join the library and then you have free use of the Wifi which the periodically change the password to. The library is open the following hours: 7 am – 1 pm, Friday 7 am – 2.30 pm. The Wi-Fi is turned off once the library hours are finished.
Charisma a boat we met had used Moana to get a tattoo and were very happy with him. Seth (Charisma) kindly took us to show us where Moana is located. Yes, we did use Moana for tattoos. Moana has been tattooing since he was 11 years old and has done tattoos in Tahiti and in New Caledonia as well as where he is currently based in Nuku Hiva. Moana did tell us that he had a film crew coming to make a documentary on him the following week and it looks as though talent scouts could potentially recruit him for a tattoo parlour in Tahiti soon. From what we could work out the price of tattoos depends on how long it takes and is approximately $50 US per hour.
Tristan getting his tattoo done.
Fruit and Vegetables
The ladies set up fruit and vegetable tables on either side of the local café just near the dinghy dock. It is very hit and miss as to what you will find each day. There has been a drought until 6 weeks ago and so there have been limited supply particularly of vegetables. To give you an approximate idea of prices I have included a few:
Rambutan (a bunch with about 30 – 40) 400 or $4 US
Cabbage (small) 240 or $2.40 US
Mangoes – 5 small for 300 or $3 US or medium $100 or $1 each
Other items we have found there but not necessarily every day include cucumbers, watermelon, pineapple, my favourite passionfruit, chives, Pamplemousses, grapefruit, ginger, parsley, white carrots, bok choy or something similar, green beans, bags of small peppers, bags of limes, coconuts or capsicum, eggplants. We did not see tomatoes but when we first arrived Spruce did bring us a bag which Andrew thought were the best tomatoes he had ever eaten. Supposedly Saturday and Wednesday are the best market days, but we did not find that was necessarily the case, Monday seemed to be one of the better days. If you want things that are imported like potatoes, carrots, leeks, garlic, and apples you need to go to one of the Magazins.
Fresh fish is sold early in the mornings at the dinghy dock. We paid $5 US a kg for yellow fin tuna (2 pounds approx.) and often when 2 kg was purchased, they through in an extra half a kg. At times they also sell coral trout and mahi mahi.
Due to Covid Andrew and Tristan had been using Love and Luck’s clippers for haircuts and Ava and I had not had our hair cut in 16 months. Now that we are in French Polynesia and the COVID-19 risk is a lot lower here we decided it would be a good place for haircuts. Charisma told us about a hairdresser, Maria Haoatai. Andrew and Tristan went first to get their hair washed and cut for $25 US per person. Ava was very excited to get her hair cut, and I was also able to get mine cut and a few foils. Maria offers a full range of services, cut, colours, foils, blow dry and she also had a ready supply of bright colored temporary gels which are so popular with the teens. Maria has a saloon set up in her house and I have marked her location on a map. You can dinghy to the beach and it’s a three-minute walk to her place.
After being at sea and a two-week quarantine you may be looking forward to a night off cooking. Moana’s is a 20-minute walk from the dinghy dock and serves pizza and a variety of beverages including alcohol. The pizzas range from about 20 – 24 US for a large one.
Map will be added next time I have internet.
Other things to see or do in Taiohea Bay:
Walking along the main road of Nuku Hiva you will eventually see a side road with an island with a cross on it, indicating the church further up the street. (or see the map) The church, the largest in the Marquesas was constructed between 1973 and 1977 and was done on the site of the previous church which had been built in 1848. The two bell towers and a section of the wall from the original church now serves as the entrance into the cathedral complex.
The cathedral’s entry doors are flanked by rosewood Marquesan style carved statues of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. While the walls of the church are made of wood and stone, what is interesting is that the stone used was brought from each of the inhabited islands in the Marquesas.
The kids have been dragged to so many churches and cathedrals over the years of travel they were more interested in looking at the nearby fruit trees than admiring the beautiful structure. We were not in the bay for a Sunday service.
On Tu Hiva Hill where a former fortress was constructed by an American to wage war against Britain, now stands the world’s largest and some say ugliest Tiki. The Tiki stands at 12 metres tall, and it was designed to represent the female figure depicted in Marquesas carvings. Beside the female Tiki is an 8-meter-tall male who has tattoos done in the Marquesas style. The statues are made of iron and concrete mostly and the outer layer is made of volcanic rock which is often used by local carvers on Nuku Hiva.
The female tiki has a hole in her bellybutton, which has become popular by locals to write a letter and insert it into the bellybutton. While we did not write a letter, Ava and I did wander around the statue and made a surprise discovery that the statue even had a vagina.
We did sit at one the stone tables and chairs that surround the Tiki and look out over the bay and mountains while enjoying our first sunset and freedom from quarantine.
Andrew and I went for a walk one evening and decided to take a closer look at the ancient site of Temeea Tohua which is on the main road in Taiohae. The square park is home to a series of statues some of which have alien like appearances. Why would the Marquesans have carved alien like figures? Some believe that when the first settlers who came from Samoa some 2 000 years ago may have had an alien encounter and that may be the reason that the figures have long heads and large eyes. Other archaeologists believe that early Marquesans may have worshipped a Reptilian deity and that is why the look otherworldly. Either way they don’t look particularly human.
Alien Life form or a Reptilian deity?
The statues feature big eyes, large elongated heads with some featuring a small body while others have huge bodies, and other several strange looking features that make you wonder what could have inspired the ancient inhabitants to carve such non-human features?