Dog Lovers Marquesas Islands People & Culture

Nuku Hiva: Tattoo time!

Peaks and bay
Written by Renato Matiolli
After Hiva Oa we sailed to Nuku Hiva. Its main bay, Taiohae, is probably the main anchorage in the Marqueses islands and it has tons of sailboats. Nuku Hiva also has many other beautiful protected anchorages with a lot less boats. The island has a dense vegetation, lots of fruit trees and waterfalls. However within all this natural beauty all Sarah and my cousin could think of was getting a traditional tattoo.

Nuku Hiva peaks

Taiohae bay is a very popular anchorage in the Marquesas. It has all the basic facilities and it is well protected from most weather conditions. But it’s not our preferred type of place since it’s deep and has murky waters.

Taiohae Bay

Taiohae Bay drone

In Taiohae there’s this giant Tiki called Tuhiva. Traditionally sailors place a letter into its bellybutton. We were no different. We thanked our safe passage and asked for protection in Polynesian waters.

Giant Tiki 2 Giant Tiki 1

Since Taiohae is such a huge and safe bay, when the cruise ships come to Nuku Hiva they anchor there. The cool thing is that when they come to land, the local kids welcome them with a Haka ceremony. The boys look like mini warriors and the girls are very graceful princesses

Haka 2

Haka 1 Haka 3

In Nuku Hiva we said goodbye to the remaining members of our Pacific Crossing crew. But not before getting some local souvenirs. My cousin had been doing some research and he found the most traditional tattoo artist here – Teike HuukenaHe runs the tattoo studio (Patutiki) with his cousin Ludo, who actually has his face fully tattooed and wears a necklace of wild boar teeth he hunted himself! Needless to say that Sarah also got super excited with the idea. So both got massive Polynesian tattoos. I guess these two won’t be forgetting Nuku Hiva any time soon.

Tattoo Sarah

Tattoo primo Tatuador Sarah


A few days after our crew left, our good friend Bia came to visit us. We rented a car for a tour around the island.

Bia jumps  Bia e Sarah

There are a few waterfalls around Nuku Hiva, but I guess no one was in the hiking mood. We were mainly in the hunting” for fruits mood. There are fruit trees all over the island and actually just next to the road. We drove around the entire island. The whole topography and vegetation of the island is worth the tour.

Massive tree at marae

Sarah starfruit  Sarah and horses

Turn ahead Peaks and big bay

Peaceful view

The thing is, the road will only take you so far. It won’t take you to the most beautiful bays. So to the Anaho Bay we took Ipanema. This is more the type of place we like to be anchored. There are less boats, shallower, clearer waters and white sandy beaches. There is even a trail with a purpose. It takes you to another beach next to the bay.

Anaho from above

Hiking view

The beach after the hike

So long Anaho Bay

Feijão bravely made the entire hike with us. He found a couple of friends on the way. However, most important, we found a nice beach at the end to cool off his private parts. This is his thing… just laying back and relaxing. He is not much the hiking type and neither am I.

Feijão and the horse Three little pigs

Cooling the balls down

Unfortunately during our final days in Nuku Hiva a lot of things started breaking on the boat. First the dive compressor, then our outboard engine and generator. Both our main engines were also running funny. Finally the anchor winch stoped working. That was it for us. So instead of following our plans to spend the season in the Tuamotus we decided to sail directly to Tahiti. It’s a slightly better place to get things fixed.

SUP Nuku Hiva

Time to say goodbye to Nuku Hiva. No worries, we will be back here at some point.

Sarah's goodbye

About the author

Renato Matiolli

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