Fatu Hiva, Marquesas

May 04, 2019 - National Geographic Orion


On a Friday morning in early May, National Geographic Orion steamed into her anchorage in the bay of Hana Vave, Fatu Hiva. The Marquesas are an incredible, remote island group, situated north of Tahiti and the Society Islands. With tall, jagged cliffs and steep drop-offs into the Pacific Ocean, this island group is much more reminiscent of the Hawaiian Islands than it is the Tuamotu’s or Society’s. There are no fringing reefs to protect Fatu Hiva – only a young reef which is still developing.

Fatu Hiva is one of the most picturesque islands across this wild archipelago, with the beautiful Baie des Vierges (Bay of Virgins). With a small population of less than 1,000, most of the island is left uninhabited. The Marquesas are full of culture, with very strong ties to tradition and family. This includes many traditions, carvings, and dances. A visit ashore offered a waterfall hike, led by naturalists and including cultural specialist Heidy Baumgartner. Those who opted out of the waterfall hike either took time to explore the village, or took to land to look for the endemic kingfisher.

This part of the ocean is also teeming with life. Reef and oceanic manta rays both make their home here, more often in the Marquesas than the Tuamotu’s. Manta rays are huge oceanic creatures, capable of reaching wingspans great as 21 feet. Though very large, they are planktivores, meaning they rely entirely on small, often microscopic creatures for sustenance. Their size is their main defense, and since they start life at roughly 6 ft in wingspan and grow quite quickly, they don’t have many natural predators throughout their lifespan.

After a morning ashore, guests were ready for some quality water time. Snorkel opportunities and Zodiac cruises left from the ship, admiring the sheer walls and steep cliffs of Fatu Hiva. The scuba diving team set out for a new adventure, about a half-mile from the ship. A full day of water sports, outings on land, and road trips across the islands, the guests of National Geographic Orion settled in for a cocktail hour full of information from the ship’s expedition team. Cocktails were had, joys from the experience were shared, and dinner was enjoyed by all as the sun set over Fatu Hiva’s beautiful horizon.

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About the Author

Alyssa Adler

Undersea Specialist

Originally from Oregon, Alyssa has always had a strong relationship with nature and the outdoors. In search of a life full of adventure, she found her passion for the ocean while studying at Oregon State University. She graduated in 2012 with a B.Sc. in marine biology, a minor in chemistry, and a PADI divemaster certification. The year following graduation included extensive traveling and diver training, gaining experience in Greece’s Ionian Sea, the Caribbean waters of Honduras and Bonaire, and the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador.

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