Hiva Oa and Tahuata, Marquesas Islands

May 29, 2019 - National Geographic Orion

Our day started with our early arrival to the island of Hiva Oa, the largest and most fertile of the southern Marquesas Islands.

As the first rays of light appeared in the horizon, a fleet of Zodiacs departed National Geographic Orion to investigate the coastline near the main town of Atuona. The island has impressive cliffs that abruptly raise high up from the sea. A lack of coral barrier, a characteristic common among all Marquesas islands, makes the coastline susceptible to erosion from heavy swells and waves. Fortunately, a small off-shore islet in front of the main bay, provided us with space suitable for snorkelers to enjoy what became one of the most spectacular wildlife opportunities of the trip.

For the rest, we had quite a time visiting the town of Atuona. This was the final home of the famed French painter Paul Gauguin and to Belgian singer Jacques Brel. Both have been buried in Calvary Cemetery overlooking the town. We concluded our visit to town with a stop in the cultural center, which mostly portraits the life and artwork of its most famous inhabitant, Paul Gauguin.

As for our afternoon, our ship repositioned to the near island of Tahuata, which was nearly 2.5 miles from Hiva Oa. Here our guests disembarked shortly after lunch to be welcomed by the warm and pleasant community with an outstanding performance right at the main dock. This lead to a procession through the little village and into a cultural center where more music and the best handicrafts we’ve thus far seen were both on full display.

A group of guests decided to join some of our staff during the late afternoon on our very own Citizen Science project known as Planet or Plastic, which conducted for the first time a plankton tow survey to be further analyzed and determined the amount of micro-plastic contents in it. This is a revolutionary way to integrate our guests into real science conducted onboard.

Unfortunately, this day was our last, and tomorrow most of our guests will depart back to their homes, but a good number will still continue on to enjoy a pleasant ride en route, stopping next at the Islands of Hawaii!

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About the Author

Lucho Verdesoto

Expedition Leader

Born and raised in the tropical country of Ecuador, Lucho is a passionate naturalist that has been working for Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic since 1998. With a marine biology background, he started as a naturalist in the Galápagos Islands in 1994. Since then, he has filled numerous roles with Lindblad-National Geographic, such as naturalist, undersea specialist and expedition leader in the Galápagos Islands, Costa Rica and Panama, and Baja California.

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