The Island Of Nuka Hiva

Nuka Hiva is the largest of the Marquesan Islands and is located in the northern part of the chain. While most cruisers will make Hiva Oa their first landing point after cross the Pacific, we do know that others head to Nuka Hiva. Often times it just depends upon the weather you have during the crossing and/or if you need to get parts. While you can have them shipped to Hiva Oa it seems Nuka Hiva is a larger port and easier to get shipments. We know, we had to have a new Honda generator shipped to us here. It was quite and ordeal and rather costly! (To read more about that, Click Here)

While we’ve heard and read of many cruisers who say the swell is to great or uncomfortable, we just didn’t find that to be the case. Yes, we did have swell at times but we live on a floating home and expect movement. We spent the better part of 17 days in this anchorage and really didn’t find it to be a problem.

Customs & Immigration

You can check into the country here in Nuka Hiva, however, we checked in at Hiva Oa.

The Dingy Dock

The dinghy dock here is located at the wharf on the eastern side of the bay. It gets quite busy as fishermen bring their boats here to clean their catch and, of course, there are boats from all of the world who are just getting their “island legs” after weeks at sea.

The sharks will be around and feeding when the fishermen clean their fish. This can be quite alarming if you are coming to the wharf during this time….especially if you are in an inflatable as they are literally feet from where you tie up.

Speaking of the dingy dock. We found that this was somewhat of a train wreck most days. Why? Well, it seems many cruisers really just don’t care about anyone but themselves. Maybe they just aren’t thinking but the fact is, lack of thought or concern makes for quite a problem at this particular dock.

Depending upon the tide the climb up to the top of the wall can be quite a trek at 6-8′ up a metal ladder that could use a little refurbishing. When you are trying to haul bags of groceries, carts or other items up and down it helps if you can actually get to your dinghy without having to climb across all the rest of them. Here’s some thoughts we have on how cruisers can be more considerate of one another.

  1. Don’t tie your painter right on top of the ladder. Leave a good amount of line out so that dinghies can be pulled in and out.
  2. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE…don’t pull your dingy motor up! Your prop could easily cut into the tube of an inflatable, not to mention injure someone who must climb through the menagerie of lines and boats.
  3. Be patient! It takes time to tie up and navigate through the cluster to climb up to the wharf or down to your dinghy. Everyone here is provisioning and even just enjoying the experience. We’re in the islands now. Leave the “we’ve got to move at hyper speed” attitude behind and enjoy the relaxed pace of life here.

Getting Around

If you don’t plan to leave the immediate waterfront, which you really won’t need to, you can simply walk wherever you go. After weeks at sea this seems to be the preferred method by most cruisers.

They do have a couple of taxis to get you from here to there because there is an airport on the island. Check in with Kevin at Yacht Services Nuka Hiva. He is a huge help with anything and everything including taxis, rental cars etc…


There are three magasins in town where you can restock your provisions. The best time to go for bread is first thing in the morning. If you aren’t there by 9 or 10 you probably won’t get any fresh bread. Late in the day or first thing in the morning after the Aranui supply ship comes in is the best time for everything else. Be aware, meats are quite expensive. We got some chicken breasts there and about passed out when we realized what we’d actually paid for them. It was a shocking $27 USD for two chicken breasts! But, then again, it’s an island and everything is being shipped here from somewhere.


There are actually several great places to eat around the area. And, most of them offer free wifi which is always a bonus as internet in the Marquesas is sketchy at best.

Given our time here we had a chance to visit several of the restaurants. Our favorites are:

Snack Vaeaki which is located right at the wharf. They offer free wifi as long as you purchase food or drink. Honestly we find it rather disturbing that cruisers will actually go to these places, take up tables, use the internet and not purchase anything. Even if it’s not required we always make certain to patronize the restaurant and get something to eat or drink. Henry is the owner of this little spot and we came to adore him. On Sundays he and his family would gather here to eat, enjoy each other and play music. Dan even joined in on one of their jam sessions. You can read more about that by clicking here.

Snack Tematapuapua is another great spot right near the wharf. The also offer free wifi and often times it’s a bit faster than Henry’s place. Their food is very good and the open air seating is allows for wonderful breezes which we thoroughly enjoyed as it was a bit hot and muggy. Oh yes, we highly recommend the goat!

Moana Nui is walking distance from the wharf. They have a wonderful atmosphere and often times have live music. They serve pizza, calzones and other Italian meals as well as traditional Polynesian. We didn’t really care for the pizza but that’s probably just because it’s nothing like we are used to eating. That said, we did have an amazing prime rib here onon Marquesan Mother’s Day which was quite a treat. They don’t open until 1800.

Rose Corser’s HE’E TAI INN had the best pizza in town. Another place that doesn’t open until 1800 hours but it was definitely worth the wait. It’s a little farther around the bay and you can walk there. We just happened to still have our rental car from our day trip across the island so we drove.

Nuku Hiva Keikahanui Pearl Lodge is the place to go if you are finally ready to be pampered again. We spent a lovely evening here with friends indulging in wonderful island cuisine, fruity cocktails and incredible views of Taiohae Bay. And, if you call ahead for reservations they will send a car to pick you up at the wharf. We’ve also heard that if you make a reservation for lunch you can also enjoy their beautiful swimming pool overlooking the bay.

Marine Parts & Hardware

Well, as in most of the islands you’ll be hard pressed to find marine parts here. You an have them shipped in but be prepared to pay a dear price for that. The magasin BIGOT north of the main area of town does have some hardware items and probably had the most we found anywhere.

Touristy Things To Do

There are some interesting places to see on the island and many anchorages. We were waiting for our generator though so we didn’t get past Daniel’s Bay but we did rent a car and spend an amazing day traveling across the island by land. Here’s links to both.