Fatu Hiva, Marquesas

Jun 30, 2018 - National Geographic Orion


The sun rose over Fatu Hiva, and our approach was spectacular. We pulled up to the village of Hanavave, which sits in the middle of a narrow valley full of towering rock formations blanketed in green. Coconut palms shimmered in the morning light and undulating cliffs stretched away from the town in both directions. This island truly rises straight from the sea. 

Our birders left first and went to the southern village on this island, which is called Omoa. They spent the morning high up on the island roads searching for the Fatu Hiva Monarch, a single island endemic which is critically endangered. There are only 37 birds left in the world, so the group was ecstatic to have found one of five nesting pairs and to have watched them feed their first chick of the year. 

The rest of us split our time between a waterfall hike and some time in town where we watched a demonstration of tapa cloth making. This is a traditional form of cloth made from the bark of three different trees, and the people of Fatu Hiva have preserved this art form – it is no longer practiced on the other islands of the Marquesas. 

We finished the morning with a dance performance accompanied by live music. 

We spent the afternoon on the water taking Zodiac cruises to admire the cliffs of volcanic basalt and also going snorkeling for our first time in the Marquesas. The cliffs under the water are just as steep as the ones above, so we could turn our attention to the fish and urchins along the rocks, or we could gaze into the deep blue of an ocean that seems to go down forever. 

Sunset from the outer decks gave us a chance to say goodbye to Fatu Hiva as night fell. 
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About the Author

Jennifer Kingsley

National Geographic Explorer

Jennifer Kingsley is a Canadian journalist, a National Geographic Explorer, and the Field Correspondent for Lindblad Expeditions. She has travelled extensively in the global Arctic and throughout the temperate rain forest of the Pacific Rim. After completing her biology degree, she worked in Canada's Rocky Mountain National Parks before moving to British Columbia to specialize in grizzly bear ecology. Jennifer spent several seasons sailing among the whales, bears, and wolves of the Great Bear Rainforest. 

About the Photographer

Eric Guth

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Eric began work with Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic in 2006 as a means to see the world, work with great photographers and engage his environmental studies degree beyond the classroom. His initial years with the company were spent working the waters of Southeast Alaska and Baja California. His move to the National Geographic Explorer in 2008 helped earn him the experience and knowledge needed to establish himself as a trusted boat handler, naturalist and respected photographer in nearly all the environments Lindblad-National Geographic travels.

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