Fatu Hiva is the southern most island in the Marquesan chain and located 30 NM southeast of Tahuata. At its highest point its 1100 meters above sea level making it a very steep island. Most cruisers who come here head to Hanavave Bay also known as The Bay of Virgins. Interestingly enough it was, at one time was known as the Bay of Penises due to the phallic shaped rock formations around the bay. It is the most photographed bay in all of the Marquesas and once you see it you will understand why.
There are only two anchorages that you can feasibly anchor at here. Both are known to be rather gusty with the winds sweeping through the valleys so make certain you drop enough chain.
We spent five days here and loved every single second. From the large, graceful manta rays that greeted us as we dropped our anchor to the kindness of the villagers and the beautiful hikes, it was a perfect stay.
Customs & Immigration
There is no place to check into or out of country here and we’ve heard of cruisers who tried to stop here before heading to Atuona on Hiva Oa to check in and they were fined and told to leave.
The main village is located at the wharf and is quite small so walking is how you get from place to place. We have heard that you can hire a local to drive you across the island but we did do it.
Provisioning & Restaurants
There are no real facilities here so be sure to come with all the provisions you need. We did find a tiny magasin on the right side of the main road just up from where the dinghies anchor but it is rarely open and had very little inside. We preferred to leave what was there for the villagers. Apparently you can pay a local to drive you across the island to one of the other villages that has a little more but it’s still pretty sparse.
While there really aren’t any proper restaurants here you may encounter a local who will invite you to their home for dinner. This happened to us. Riva and Poi had us over to their home for a traditional Marquesan feast of fish, goat, pig and more. Of course you’ll be expected to pay for it but it was minimal and the reward for us was an experience we’ll never forget. It definitely pays to get to know the locals. Click here to read our article about our evening with Riva & Poi.
Touristy Things To Do
Of course just being here is “touristy” but there are a couple of things we would recommend. One is the hike to the Grotto & Waterfall. It’s a wonderful hike if you can actually find it. We’ve put together a PDF to give you some visual instructions in addition to the written ones. You might just find it helpful as we spent and entire afternoon looking for it one day and never found it. Fortunately we did get there the second day once we were armed with some better directions.
The Marquesans are known for the wood and bone carvings and many of the carvings you find on the larger, more commercialized islands come from right here on Fatu Hiva. Why buy them here? Well, one you actually get to meet the man who has carved your new treasure and two, it’s significantly cheaper to buy them here. On Hiva Oa we found small tikis that cost 4000 CFP ($40 USD) for one. Here on the island we got three for the same price.
For more information on the carvers we met and the items we purchased, read our article, Fatu Hiva Locals by clicking here.
Of course an island as beautiful as Fatu Hiva has lots of opportunities for hiking as well. We did our two big hikes in the village but we’re sure the locals can direct you to other tracks as well.
To see some more photos of this beautiful place click on the link below for our Fatu Hiva Gallery.