This was our first cruising outing beyond Taiohae Bay in the island of Nuku Hiva, and boy it set a whole new standard in terms of natural beauty to us !!!
Hakatea Bay – its official name – lies just 6 miles to the West of Taiohae, and we reached it in just 45 minutes. Not much is said about this bay on the guides we have, other than the hike into a valley towards a waterfall, something we wouldn’t do because of Adriana’s toe’s healing (and also because it is SO hot, and it is supposed to be VERY muddy, and FULL with mosquitos … uufh. No, thank you!).
The bay is also known for two other reasons: it was once the site of a Survival Season – the Reality TV Show – and it was also home to a well known local fellow – Mr Daniel – who lived there for nearly 40 years and catered to the needs of cruisers visiting the island. In fact, the bay is better know as Daniel’s Bay than Hakatea. Curiously, Daniel doesn’t live there anymore.
Anyway, all these aspects together kind of overshadow two other even more relevant facts about this bay:
1.) It is plagued with tiny little flies that invade cruising boats every morning and
2.) The bay – and the valley behind it – possess a natural beautiful which is well beyond description
Interestingly, the entrance to the bay is formed in such a way that you only get to see it almost once you made your way in. And it was like this, with surprise, that the four of us stood on deck mesmerized by the beauty of the place as we crossed the entrance.
The bay has two lobes. one to the East, which is where we laid anchor, has a sandy beach on its end and looks like a “normal beautiful bay”. The Western side of it is composed by nearly vertical cliffs of volcanic rock which climb almost two thousand feet into the sky, covered with green moss and bushes, and a few pine trees at the top. And to the North lies the second lobe, with a black pebble beach, a river, and the deep valley on the back. It’s a breathtaking view !
Making the experience even more special, we shared our time there with two dear friend-boats: sv Sarita and sv Enough. It doesn’t get any better than this !
The kids spent long hours playing board games aboard Pesto and Enough.
We also swam during the hottest hours of the day – but not too close to Dawn or Dusk for the bay is said to be visited often by offshore sharks – the type that eat people. One day we went to the white sandy beach on the Eastern side, and saw four small black-tip sharks foraging near a reef. It was exciting, fun and somewhat unnerving to stand by the surfline watching them come closer and closer to our ankles.
Then, another day we took the dinghies and explored the Northern side of the bay, making our way into a river that swirls behind the black pebble beach. As we made our way upriver, we passed by what looked to be a farm, and stopped for a quick walk inland. We were met by the friendliest set of smiles of the local family, asking with their lovely Marquesan accent: “do you want to buy Fruits?”. Ku’a and Taeki are the landowners there, and live off the produce from their land – a rich plot by the way. They proudly showed us their plantations, and we left there loaded with delicious Marquesan produce. Even more exciting, we made arrangements for a meal the next day. Accordingly, as the sun hid behind the tall cliffs to the West the next afternoon, the three dinghies – sv Pesto, sv Enough and sv Sarita – ventured upriver again and offloaded their hungry families onto the lush grounds of Ku’a and Taeki for the much anticipated meal. They prepared a feast composed of shrimp on coconut milk, bread fruit, plantains and rice. Bliss. We returned to our sailboats when night had fallen, happy for the meal we’d just had, and hoping to not become one for any eventual offshore shark that might be visiting the place right then and there.
Counterbalancing all the magic of the place, it is plagued by huge swarms of tiny flies, who invaded our boats every morning – from approximately 9am to noon. They came in unimaginable quantities and took over each and every corner of the boat. Interestingly, they don’t seem to bite and feed on human blood. Rather, their attraction appears to be on anything moist. And since we are always sweating here, they also targeted us. They were so many that we often inhaled them trough our nostrils, swallowed them as we spoke or breathed, and ate them mixed with whatever we were having to eat or drink at the moment. Once they found a moist surface, they would land on it and die. At the end of the frenzy, Pesto and ourselves would be covered by a black layer of tiny dead flies. And despite all the cleaning we’ve done since, we are still finding little piles of dead flies accumulated here and there at the corners of our cabin.
Well, to be fair, if it weren’t for the flies, Hakatea – or Daniel’s Bay – would be just “too perfect”, and stand way too far from most other places in the world – an unfair unbalance.
We are now back to Taiohae for a mix of administrative and bureaucratic work, which is also allowing us to upload this post and the adjoining pictures. We hope you will share in the experience !