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Travel: Aranui Voyage, Tahuata, Marquesas, Tahiti, May 28/2022

This is the 15th post of a trip to Tahiti, which started on May 10/2022 (here)

Day 8 -(Saturday) - Aranui Cruise to the Marquesses


Sailing in the afternoon to the Next Island - Tahuata,

Later in the afternoon as to get to the next Island of Tahuata, the ship had to sail through

“Canal de Bordelais” (between the 2 islands) named after a French sailor originally from the French town of Bordeaux, whose ship sunk in the narrow path.

Island of Tahuata

A volcanic, smallest, very mountainous, with deep valleys and imposing cliffs, of all the inhabited Marquesas Islands, which is located 4 km to the south of the western end of Hiva Oa, Only 500 inhabitants are residing in this small island’s 4 small villages.

The island is situated across the bigger island and separated by the

Canal du Bordelais,- 3 km wide and with a strong sea currents of up to 20 knots. (also (is also called Ha‘ava in Marquesan.)

The island is crescent-shaped, 15 km long, oriented and tapering to the southeast.

In the shadow of its imposing mountain, Mt. Tumu Meae Ufa, standing nearly 1200 m above sea-level, the island is deeply divided by four steep valleys,

The mountain range, which runs in an arc from east to south, is what remains of the main caldera of the volcano, that created the island.( about 9km in diameter)

Within this caldera is another, lower mountainous rim, revealing the site of a second, more than half-submerged crater, (maybe of about 4km diameter)

It is not yet clear whether this is the caldera of a second, later volcano or a second collapse of the primitive volcano.

Its central ridge that runs along its entire length, reveals steep slopes cut by deep valleys, high cliffs that end in rocky outcrops as buttresses, and a rugged coastline.

of small bays , white sandy beaches and clear waters.

,Tahuata is the Marquesas island with the most coral formations, in an archipelago that is almost completely devoid of them

There is an evidence indicating that Tahuata was inhabited by Polynesians as early as AD 200. The European arrived there in 1595 landing at Vaitahu the largest village on the island, and encountered local people who had large and well constructed sailing canoes. and tools made of shells and fish bones. They used slings, stones, and lances as weapons.

Vaitahu Village is where in 1595, Spanish explorers landed and opened the fire on a crowd of curious islanders, killing about 200 people.

Tahuata was visited by Captain James Cook in 1774 who noted in his log book that the name of the island called Santa Christina by Mendaña was known as Ohitahoo

The topography does not allow the construction of an airstrip so communications are by sea from the neighboring island of Hiva Oa, separated by the narrow Bordelais channel

Tahuata had fowls, fish, sugar cane, plantains, nuts and fruits.

The fertile valleys also allow the cultivation of cassava and bananas, as well as copra and noni. Until the 1980s, coffee was also grown. Fishing is also important, especially lobster fishing. Handicrafts provide additional income.. A rich heritage of ancient stone carvings. with almost all men, also carve rosewood and bone,

Disembarking at the Island

During the disembarking, in midday, again by barges, onto the small horse-shoe bay of Tahuata, the special welcome, to our delight was by a school of most playful Dolphins, having the best moment of the day right by the shore.


The lush island was thick with the scent of the Tahitian tiare and frangipania an

Vaitahu is the name of a bay and valley in western Tahuata. as well as the site of most important village on that island. it was here that Admiral Abel Aubert du Petit-Thouars signed the treaty of annexation of the Marquesas to France, in 1842.

The arrival of the Aranui with the islanders needed merchandise and human tourists cargo, to whom the islanders’ handmade artifacts are being sold, are the life line which keeps the island strive.

Locals swimming at the beach

At the village's "Chez Jimmy" internet Cafe

More Handicrafts at Vaitahu

The afternoon was spent at a handicraft center in Vaitahu, next to the town hall.

famous for its exquisite cow bone and helmet shell sculptures. the carvings are based on traditional Marquesas and Polynesian motifs. either horse or fish, and swordfish rostrum.

Once again a local musical bend entertains the visitors with Polynesian music at the market

By the Catholic Church

At a lush full of fruit tree garden to which we wondered, to the right by the village’s impressive modern church,

A 14 years boy, we run to, with whom David struck a conversation in French, was very hospitable and had kept offering David fruits, right off his garden’s trees.

The sweetest Mango , Pumela , Star fruit and Passion fruit, which we enjoyed munching that afternoon, filled us to the brim..

The beautiful Catholic Church that is built by the Vatican, 100 after the Catholic missionaries arrived (in 1838) on the elevated part of the village, dominates the village. It opened in 1988 to highlight the evangelization of the islands

It is constructed entirely out of local woods, and black pebbles off the beach and is facing the sea. and it decor is a mixture of European and Marquesas style

Decorated with spectacular woodcarvings that Tahuata is famous for, its stained glass windows with biblical motives and beautiful Marquesas sculptures looking Polynesian, is quint.

The anthropomorphic symbolic colorful stained glass window colors stand for:

Red- represent the highest status of the leaders

Yellow - represent Tribal Festivities

Blue - Ocean/life

Brown - Turtle

Sing-along in the Church

The Aranui guides congregated the visiting group, inside the church and a sing along session of beautiful Marquesain songs, took place

Here is the English translation of one taught to the group

A Tu’ Mai Te Here

Let be gathering in the name of heaven

So that you may have this hope of love

On earth may we protect and help her

So that we can surround by the love of parenthood

Live him love

Live him peace

May this love grow

From inside of your soul

May this light shine

The light of life and love

Meeting Eriki at the Church

At the end of the sing-along, Ina and I, who stayed longer at the church so Mila the guide could give us the headlines in English, were lucky to have met one of the

famous Marquesas wood curving master - Eriki Marchand (here) (here)

A well known artist who also was in the past a guest lecturer on the Aranui . Eruki is originally from Tahiti, and now travels between the islands and teach on the culture and curving techniques to the younger generation.

A self-taught artist who touches on painting, drawing and sculpture he is at the origin in particular of the design of the decoration of Faafaite, the sailing canoe which crosses the Pacific by practicing traditional navigation. He is also the author of the Unu of the Moruroa e Tatou memorial and those of Haururu in Papenoo. An art teacher for a time, the artist is now retired.

After a week stay at the Marquesas and learning about the culture, it was Eriki who mentioned for the first time, that all Marquesas boys are being circumcised by the age of 8 years old, when reaching puberty, and a special initiation ceremony is taking place.

Eriki believes that the Polynesians, who all practice circumcision, are one of the lost Israelite tribes because of that custom and that he himself belongs to the Ephraim Tribe decent of Joseph who married to an Egyptian women, and thus fused the cultures.

He played for us the flute he curved himself flute through his nose (not mouth) The self carved flute is made of PVC and is practical for when traveling (to avoid being stopped at the border of smuggling wooden/planes objects)

Eriki really got excited when he heard I was from Israel and kept telling stories about his life and beliefs, preventing from Mila - our guide, to enter a ward

The archaeological museum; the harbor where the first Western explorer set foot; the remains of the French fort built in 1850; the marine cemetery; and few archaeological sites, are additional attractions to view on the island.

On the way back to the ship

Dolphins playing close by the shore, were seen again when we were taken on the barges back to the ship, as well as had followed, the cargo barges loading back to the ship, the picked up island's merchandised.

Leaving Tahuata Island Behind

Sun-Set that evening on the ship

Sun in the Marquesas language (by Eriki) is also called Ra like the Egyptian G-d

To be continued....


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