Wow! My First Cruise Blog!
Written by: Rita
I love all things cruising, so I’m happy to have been asked to write this weekly cruise blog. I am Rita, an assistant editor here at CruiseMates and a regular contributor.
Unlike most cruisers, I love long voyages. For this reason I am also partial to Holland America Line. I also am interested in some of the “niche” cruise lines as well, such as Windstar, Silverseas and Cruise West. However, no matter what cruise line you favor, I will certainly be glad to help with any of your questions.
I’ve just returned from a 35-day cruise to Hawaii and the South Pacific. Some of those out-of-the-way ports are exceptionally wonderful, especially those places which haven’t been too affected yet by the ravages of modern tourism. One of my favorite islands is Nuku Hiva, in the Marquesas. It’s the largest island in that archipelago, and it is breathtakingly beautiful. Its cliffs tower above the sea, and it is best known for the 550 metre Ahuii waterfall in its Hakaui Valley.
The island only has about 1600 residents and they don’t get very many tourists. Holland America only stops there a handful of times in a given year, and a few of the other cruise lines make the occasional call. There is a freighter that stops on a monthly basis with supplies for the islanders. This freighter also carries a small complement of passengers and these people provide most of what little tourism the island gets. There is also a resort on the island that gets some tourists. These are mainly people who are looking primarily for seclusion, as Nuka Hiva doesn’t offer much in the way of tourist activities. The island does have an airport and a few flights come in daily, mostly from other regions of the South Pacific, most notably Papeete. The planes used are small … primarily “puddle jumpers,” such as Twin Otters.
Because Nuku Hiva gets very little tourism, they have no real tourism infrastructure set up … which is a good thing. Holland America offers no shore excursions on Nuku Hiva, probably because it’s not worth it to them to develop such. They make maybe two or three calls a year there, so putting together a shore excursion program would probably not be worth it … assuming that they could even find enough available tour operators. There are a few people, however, who use their own vehicles to operate tours. Horseback riding is also available, as is SCUBA diving. One could snorkel in the waters surrounding Nuku Hiva, but be aware that the water will not be that beautiful shade of clear blue that you will see at other South Pacific islands. But it is sure warm and wonderful to cavort in.
The people of Nuku Hiva eke out a living where they can. Many work for the government, the community, the Catholic Church or the school system. Many are self-employed in ventures such as agriculture, fishing, and the raising of cattle and other livestock. Some are craftspeople as well, sculpting bowls, platters, Marquesan ceremonial clubs, tiki’s and ukuleles. Others travel to some of the nearby islands in the South Pacific to work. Any tourism activities they engage in are just part-time ventures. When I was on Nuku Hiva this past October, we took a complete tour of the island by four-wheel drive vehicle. The proprietor of the tour “company,” Claude, was a carpenter by trade, and he made his primary living fashioning handmade furniture for the islanders. There’s no mass production there. Every piece is fashioned custom-made and built by hand.
You won’t find any shopping malls or McDonald’s Restaurants on Nuku Hiva. But what you will find is a small collection of stores selling mostly crafts and other hand-made items. You can get some clothing items too, many of these hand-made and dyed as well. I noticed a small selection of tee-shirts, which I guess they sell to tourists.
There is really only one full service restaurant on the island, as well as a few “shack” type establishments. The craftspeople pretty much only come out to the dock area when there is a ship in port, which isn’t that often.
I’ll upload some pictures of Nuku Hiva later on this week so that you can see the beauty I’m talking about. When your ship approaches the island, you can see what I am talking about. As your cruise ship approaches Nuku Hiva, the first thing you’ll notice is Muake Hill, the jagged peak and highest point on the island, towering way above you. Its rugged beauty is impossible to describe. The only way to get up the mountain, and to really see all there is to see on Nuku Hiva, is by four-wheel drive. That’s because most of the roads going up the mountain are not paved.
As you travel upwards, you will notice a wide variety of flowers. These will be everywhere … by the road side, growing in the valleys, and even adorning residents’ neatly kept yards. Horses will be grazing by the side of the road, often with no human in sight. This is probably because theft is not an issue in this place. I’d be willing to bet their crime rate is zero.
There isn’t much industry on Nuku Hiva — pretty much just one resort property, a restaurant, government buildings, a post office, a small general hospital, banks, schools, and a few stores and shops. There’s also a town hall and an Air Tahiti office. Most of the commerce is located in Taiohae, which is a pleasant village area that borders the sea.
If you ever have the opportunity to visit Nuku Hiva, by all means do so. And don’t be an idiot like I was the first time I happened to find myself there in January of 2006. Since I was told there were little to no opportunities to take tours, I didn’t even bother leaving the ship. What a waste, as I discovered during this more recent trip, when I was finally able to see all the hidden beauty of the island. You have to work a bit to locate them, but you can arrange to hire a guide, usually through the one hotel on the island, the Nuku Hiva Pearl Lodge, or through contacts you can make over the internet.
If there is any further information you’d like about Nuku Hiva, just leave me a note and I’ll be happy to provide it. If there is another subject you need more information about, just leave a comment and I’ll be happy to try and provide it as well.
I love cruising and there is no other subject I more love to write about. So go ahead and put me to work. That’s what I’m here for.
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