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Hoopster95

MARINA/French Polynesia Mar 4-19,2018 REVIEW w/lots of photos

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Backtrack to this morning at 8am... as we walked down the stairs to deck 5 in order to go to the theatre for tender tickets, we detoured over to the Grand reception area and the reservation desk to see if there were any openings for specialty restaurants in the evening. We had targeted Red Ginger pre cruise as we loved the meny and were really looking forward to it... unfortunately most of our specialty dining was due at the end of the cruise as those were the only times available to me. Luckily Red Ginger was available!!! 8pm dinner set.

 

With the quartet going on break, we still had an hour to go before dinner, so we decided to bar hop and check things out around the ship. The piano bar was packed.... usually when the quartet was off on break, the piano man was on, so this venue was busy. we decided instead to head up the elevator to top deck Horizons. There on display was their advertising for their Connoisseur Cognac tasting. They offer various tastings throughout the cruise... for a fee of course. At least you get to see what samples you will get

 

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As suspected, the place was a ghost town as this was prime dinner time. Any show/music was down on deck 6.

 

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There's great art up here as well.... note there's fabulous art all over this ship, do take note of it when on board

 

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We headed back down to deck 6 to see if the quartet had returned yet.... nope. It was here we remembered that we haven't sat at the Casino Bar yet. This bar is set in a really weird place within the ship, dead center deck 6 kind of in the middle of nowhere, and very funky and bright. we enjoyed our munchies and martinis there until dinner time

 

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Red Ginger turned out to be our favorite dinner of the cruise... we really loved the food here. There were several Asian specialties fused with a modern twist... just excellent. Unlike the photos from day 1, the venue was more alive & colourful now with patrons seated and tables set.

 

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The rather simple looking sushi/sashimi starter, and especially the Tuna Tataki, were totally excellent... extremely fresh

 

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The Tom Kha Gai soup had that "afterbite" to it you expect from traditional Thai cooking that can melt your face off!

 

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At the beginning of the meal, we were also offered tea served in the coolest pots. The teas were varied with interesting combinations of infused flavours. I'm not a tea guy, but these were delicious. Definitely try one.

 

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And now for the entrees.... the Tuna special, a chef's creation not on the menu and the resident chef has the ability to use his creative abilities to come up with something different that's not on the regular menu.

 

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WOW OH WOW!!!.... lobster Pad Thai

 

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And the very best entree of the entire cruise at any restaurant... the incredibly succulent, sweet and tangy Miso Glazed Seabass. Everyone we spoke said undeniably that this was a must have. They were right

 

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But we weren't done yet. We were stuffed, however the waitress implored us to try desert. With GF being lactose intolerant, she was offered the sherbert... I ask the waitress what the best desert was.... to my surprise she said the ice cream trio. I shrugged and said ok. WOW! The coconut ice cream tasted like they just cracked open the coconut right there, like this afternoon at the motu.. Very very surprisingly delicious, and I'm usually a thick stick-to-the-top-of-your-mouth chocolate kind of guy

 

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Totally satisfied with this great day, we headed up to Horizons to check out the nightlife since we are at sea tomorrow. Finally... we weren't the only ones! It was fun this evening, the dance floor at a couple of points was full and Horizons stayed busy until about 11:30 when the band took one of their 15minute breaks.... more than half the venue bailed... and we weren't far behind at midnight.

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Wonderful report and photos! You realize that you have to go back next year to buy the pearl ear rings? ;-)

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Wonderful report and photos! You realize that you have to go back next year to buy the pearl ear rings? ;-)

 

First trip wife got the necklace, second matching earrings, third bracelet. We can't afford to go back at this rate.

 

Hoopster, Love the carving you got.

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Hoopster's photos are simply amazing! I can only add one - from the arrival to the island.

 

 

 

[ATTACH]418569[/ATTACH]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unreal - NOW I am for sure going on this trip!

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

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You realize that you have to go back next year to buy the pearl ear rings? ;-)

 

Shhhhhhhhhhhh!!!! :mad:;)

 

First trip wife got the necklace, second matching earrings, third bracelet. We can't afford to go back at this rate.

 

:eek: :loudcry:

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Day 5 - at sea (March 12, 2018)

 

Holy cow!... were we ever looking forward to this day at sea with ZERO time table... well, we did have on thing planned at 10am. We signed up for the art studio class. I'll get to that as the day progresses.

 

Regarding looking forward to the seas day, I think everyone else on the ship was as well. I stirred and rolled out of bed before 8am, and quietly as a mouse slipped out of the cabin while GF slept in and headed down to see if we can get into any of the Specialty restaurants this evening. Being a sea day I noted pre-cruise on my Oceania dashboard that a couple of the restaurants were fully sold out, and the other two had only 9:30pm slots available. Makes sense... many would prefer the sea day to try Specialty. This time we wanted to try either Toscana or Polo Grill, and extremely luckily I was offered a shared table at Polo at 8pm... we'll take it!

 

In the meantime, I walked down to deck 5 with camera in hand thinking I'd take a few pictures of anything I've missed so far.... it was a ghost town!. Everyone else was sleeping in as well, so I had free run of the public areas to take a few pics before bringing Americano's back to the cabin.

 

The Grand Staircase

 

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Furniture and artwork in the Grand reception area

 

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8am ... note the massive lines { -- insert sarcasm here --} at guest services, concierge, reservations desk, etc.... on RCL guest services would be already 10 people deep with issues to be dealt with

 

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Mary Hart of Entertainment Tonight fame is the God Mother of this ship.

 

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Finally I would get some shots of the empty "Marina Lounge" Theatre.

 

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This theatre is no where close to the size nor as majestic as the Voyager and larger class of ships in the RCL fleet, however for this cruise it did the job just fine.

 

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I got the chance to head back up to deck 6 again and ensure I took good photos of the Martini's Bar, the grand piano, the various stylish furniture and the excellent artwork displayed

 

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And lastly on deck 6 I made my way through the Grand Bar and around the corner to the Casino Bar while no one was around

 

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Back in our cabin and getting ready for day, we were in for another gorgeous day here in South Pacific

 

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We decided that instead of the Terrace for breakfast, we'd try something different today and go to Waves instead. GF had noted fruit juice smoothies and wanted to give them a shot

 

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Other fare is served here as well such as bacon/eggs, various breads/pastries, etc.

It was alright, but not earth shattering. If you are on this cruise and trying to be very health conscious, then this is a fabulous option for you. We felt that we missed the Terrace back deck and the plenty amazing breakfast options available at the Terrace

 

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10am was approaching, and we had signed up for the art class. It's a 3 step process (thus 3 classes over the course of the week).

We were introduced to resident artist William Andre Allen... just call him Andre. And what an interesting story he had....

 

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Andre's family were relatively well known Motown artists within the music industry, but Andre never followed their footsteps. Instead he grew up loving art. He was also diagnosed as dyslexic as his art is defined as working backwards towards the final product... so rather than putting the background down first, the foreground goes onto the medium first with the background last.

 

He was really struggling as an artist, having opened a small gallery. He hadn't sold a piece in close to a year and was about to quit. A gentleman walked in and asked if it was possible that Andre can produce 10 pieces? Andre didn't know what to say except "yes". Then the gentleman asked, how about 70? Again Andre couldn't produce 70 originals just like that, but he was answering "yes": to every question he was asked. Turns out this was Frank Del Rio, CEO of Oceania, and he explained to Andre that he wanted to fill his new ship, the Marina, with his art. Andre was floored, but rolled up his shirt sleeve and got to work.

 

I can't remember the exact timing (ie. after finishing the first 70 pieces for Marina or after), however Del Rio came back and said their building another sister ship (the Riviera) and want another 110 pieces. The rest is history. Supposedly he has some of his pieces on all O ships. Many of his pieces are in public spaces, and in cabins as well... for example delee had a really large wall hanging in their Vista Suite that was gorgeous.

 

So how did he get onto Oceania? He simply asked Del Rio at one point if there was a way he can open a studio and/or teach on board? Again, the rest is history. The "Artist Loft" was established on Marina and he's been travelling the world off an on with Marina ever since I believe.... very cool story (I hope I got it right)! His artwork is available for sale and on display

 

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The seating was set up with a large table filled with paints, brushes, foam pads, cups, stencils... everything and anything you would need for this project. we all took seats to learn what we'd end up doing.

 

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The project? This plate!

 

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I'm no artist, but I thought I'd come into this open minded and just wing it. I've got to tell you I was a little intimidated as most everyone around me had set plans and were extremely artistic. I tried my best to start a pattern, perhaps lining one of the edges, painting dots around the edge, anything... truth be told I really sucked! I tried the stencils too but however that was even harder for me

 

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In the end, I had watched Andre's assistant, Cassidy, help another fellow cruiser to do an abstract design by simply dripping paint onto the plate and letting it run. So I figured that was my way out to do something cool.... not so. Like everything in life, there's a skill involved yes? Here's my attempt at dribbling an abstract design onto my plate.... ugh!

 

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I wasn't in any mood to restart (yet again for the 5th time) by washing everything off and starting at square one with a clear plate, so I continued and decided that it was "finished" for now. On to better things!!... like the day ahead

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What a sloooooooooow and laaaaaaaaaaazy day we had...... YAWN! After class we prepared to head up to pool deck, where we lasted a whopping 1 hour on one of the two person chaises before we bailed. GF was too hot and getting too much sun. We packed up and went for delicious lunch at the Terrace. The rest of the day was walking around and simply lazed in our cabin and deck, something I normally just do not do as I normally am always busy doing something. So I have no notable things to mention for today... other than we were thinking of checking out trivia later in the afternoon but never did. I can only assume there were a few sales going on down in the Grand reception area. I'll try to scan and include all the "Currents" at the end of the review. I am pretty sure there was a lecturer in the morning speaking on Marquesas (while we were at art class) as well as a couple of other things around the ship today.

 

We enjoyed another great sunset this evening

 

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On this night we spent our pre-dinner cocktail time fully in Martini's with the piano man

 

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They'll make you any type of specialty martini you want.... and there are some very interesting options to try

 

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I'll mention here that every bar we've experienced on this sailing was very consistent with the quality and taste of the drinks that we served. Order an Oceania 15 anniversary special up in Horizons, or here in Martini's, or up at the pool bar.... they will taste the same. I found all drinks that I tried to be excellent and delicious. I can't say the same for the consistency nor the quality on RCL... seems you never know what you're going to get.

 

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Dinner time came upon us so we made our way up to Polo Grill. Introducing ourselves to the Maitre'D, he informed us they had a table for two available for us without sharing... excellent! The room itself I feel is gorgeous, rich dark woods, great finishings and extremely comfortable seating. I'll also mention now that service was impeccable.... never once in your face, intuitive when finished. GF went to finishing school and she's interesting to watch in this setting.... for example when placing her fork and knife together on the right of her plate mistakenly one time as we were talking, one of the servers was there within 10 seconds to remove the plate.... but she wasn't finished. She was super pleased that they were on the ball in that way.

 

Let's get to the food.... I started with the escargot. It was just ok in the way they prepared it. I was hoping this wouldn't be a repeat of our less than stellar meal at Jacques as RCL's escargot is better in my opinion

 

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Things turned around from here on end... superb crab cake!

 

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Super good lobster bisque

 

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Both the above starters were marginally better than RCL's Specialty steakhouse called Chop's... and now to the piece de resistance.... wait for it..... wait for it.....

 

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VOILA!!!

 

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The steamed lobster was over the top delicious as was GF's veal tenderloin. Just like Chop's on RCL, sides are ordered and served separately.... if they had dumped a vat of their Lobster Mac & Cheese in my bathtub I'd be swimming in it all night. Oh my Lord, extremely awesome! They also brought us more of their grilled lobster to share. Lobster is an expensive added cost item on RCL, overtop of their cover charge to even get into their specialty restaurants!

 

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They could've rolled us out right then and there with a wheelbarrow, but instead they brought us the desert menu. There are many wonderful choices here.

 

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I mentioned in a previous post how good the O baking and deserts have been, comparable to any specialty bakery at home. I also mentioned that RCL's deserts have become gelatinous and bland, extremely disappointing cheap messes probably being made out of worthless ingredients like lard and whathaveyou rather than quality ingredients. Here's the Fudge Brownie..... ooooooh yes!!! Stick to the roof of my mouth good!

 

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So overall in comparison to RCL's Chop's, Polo won the battle overall on the food alone, especially with the entree and deserts. Regarding class, feel and ambiance of the room, RCL's Chops is totally equal and normally a beautiful venue on most RCL ships. Service..... not even close.... hands down landslide Polo wins.

 

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O's next Broadway show was due today down in the theatre, so we headed there right after dinner. Unlike their first show, this was more of a production with the Orchestra playing on stage and several change of sets throughout the show.

 

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I mentioned before the quality of the dual-talented singers/dancers here on O, and this continued with this show. It was very very good. I feel these performers could outperform many of the RCL singers and dancers on the bigger stage.

 

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Tomorrow's arrival in Nuku Hiva isn't until 12 noon, so after the show we headed up to Horizon's to enjoy the remainder of the evening with the band. You can see in the background of the photo the dance floor had quite a few people.... fun time up there tonight. The drinks on the table? Both our favorites on this cruise.... on the left: "Oceania 15 year anniversary Martini" ($15 a la carte), on the right a "Beautiful", XO Courvoisier with a shot of Grand Marnier (approx $30).... this was not on the menu and we had to instruct the waiters when we ordered.

 

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Note that we had no care in the world regarding costs with the prestige drink package. It was with the help on this forum that we decided to use our obc to upgrade from the select to the prestige package. Why? If you enjoy double gin and tonics for example, you will be charged for two shots of alcohol at $10 each.... PLUS 18% gratuity! With wine at dinner it was extremely easy to catch up to the $59 per day prestige charge. Also with the package no gratuity added, so it worked very well for us.

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Beautiful photos and great detail, as usual. Thanks so much for this! A couple of questions? Do you happen to know if the first art class fills up, do they offer a second for the overflow people, or are they just out of luck? And second, how did you find the spacing of the two-top tables in Polo Grill? Just curious if you could smell the shellfish from other tables (that can sometimes be a problem for me, part of an allergy thing). Keep the info coming!

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Beautiful photos and great detail, as usual. Thanks so much for this! A couple of questions? Do you happen to know if the first art class fills up, do they offer a second for the overflow people, or are they just out of luck? And second, how did you find the spacing of the two-top tables in Polo Grill? Just curious if you could smell the shellfish from other tables (that can sometimes be a problem for me, part of an allergy thing). Keep the info coming!

 

Thx musicmom!

Re art classes... 3 classes time slots at different times of the week labelled A, B or C... if you choose C for example, you show up on certain days at certain times. If an excursion or late day causes you to miss a class there's no problem squeezing in with one of the other time slots to catch up.

Re Polo, a couple of good photos of the room are back here. You can see the spacing of the 2-tops

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?p=55691042&highlight=Polo#post55691042

 

How did you find time to eat?;)

 

Ha!!! Nice one .... trust me, gaining a couple of pounds was not a problem on this cruise :D

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Day 6 - Nuku Hiva, Marquesas!!!

 

I had been looking forward to this day since I booked this cruise as I've been always intrigued with Marquesas, it's tribal (ie. cannibalism) culture and history. Today we were set to arrive at 12pm. Truthfully I have no recollection of breakfast or anything else on this morning as I have no pictures until our approach to Nuku Hiva... my focus and memories are of the great time I have of the rest of the day to come. Here we are about an hour out... the weather doesn't look too good, does it?

 

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For those of you who don't know, Marquesas was put on the map so to speak here on North America because of "Survivor" reality TV show. The 4th season of survivor was produced fully here on Nuku Hiva. While I'm on topic for survivor, tomorrow well known tour guide, Richard Deane, was the lead on the island in helping Survivor negotiate sites/land with owners and government for the show to be produced and was well versed with all the sites that were used.

 

Noting the map below, the ship would be passing the western half of the south shore of the island from left to right, passing by 'Spirits of Oceanus' in Daniel's Bay, the Tribal Council and Challenge area in Colette's Bay, and finally entering Taiohae Bay in order to drop anchor.

 

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Below is another map. Note the red line indicating the only road that leads away from Taiohae. About 1/2 way between "A" and "B" the road forks (I did not show the second road on the map).... to the left is a 90 minute drive to the airport at the very top left (northwest corner) of the island. The redline is where all the tours are concentrated:

 

A. Taiohae - cruise ship tenders are here and not much else at all. Trail head to hike over to Colette Bay is also here

B. Taipivai Valley - beautiful viewpoint. Down in the valley is a cultural center all the tours go to purchase local arts

C. Hikokua Archaeological site & Kamuihei (Banyan trees) site

D. Hatiheu town and bay - viewpoint, lunch, museum, trail head to Anaho Bay

E. The elusive Anaho Bay - green line from Hatiteu indicates the one hour hike to get there

 

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Many on the roll call pre cruise, and during the cruise, talked about visiting the Vaipo waterfall... it is 100% not doable on the 1/2 day, and in fact non of the locals were willing to provide this option on the full next day due to the current iffy weather. Many cruisers did not do research... it is a 40 minute boat ride from the cruise ship around to Daniel's Bay.... then a 2 hour difficult bush walking/crossing rivers hike to the waterfall. No facilities or food there, you must pack it in. Then the same 2 hour, 40 minute route to get back. It is not accessible from land. If you get hurt, or rained in, or????.. there's no magical coast guard or helicopter there ready to come and get you anytime soon.

 

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Finally entering the bay! It was time to get out of the cabin to get ready for early tender tickets before anyone else. This was SUPER important on this day and we were extremely lucky... will explain in the next post.

 

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Our original plan pre-cruise was to try and find the trail head for the Colette Bay hike, and see if we can get there to view the Survivor Tribal Council beach. We then talked about the lack of reefs protecting the swimming areas around Nuku Hiva (ie. sharks are a plenty here!!), and also no no's (invisible sand flies), and then the large orange wasps which supposedly have a much worse sting than those in North America... that was the final straw as GF has sting allergies, so we scrapped that idea.

 

Also pre-cruise there was talk for our full day tomorrow that we would actually make it to Anaho Bay with Richard Deane as it's explained on his website.... FALSE! Richard's groups do not go to Anaho Bay as there is not enough time. I would also estimate at least half of the cruisers could not make the hike anyways. This was a real disappointment for both GF and I as we researched Anaho and it's history. Anaho bay is rated one of the top 3 things to witness/experience on Nuku Hiva on various blogs/websites... we just had to figure out how to get there.

 

We met our other cruise buddies on this trip, Gary & Shelley, early down in the theatre to get the earliest tender tickets. They were going to join us if we found a private tour guide to possibly take us to Anaho Bay. We suspected that it would be tough to find any private tour guides.... with only 4000 inhabitants, I can only think that the 1000+ people coming off Marina are going to be greatly disappointed standing there on an empty pier looking around at each aimlessly trying to figure something out.

We were right.

 

IIRC, I believe we were luckily on the second tender, the first one allowed for independents so that we did not have to fight for services other than with those from our tender

 

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Greeting us on shore was this small local group.

 

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Looking around town, this is what you see.... yep, not much. If you didn't have a tour to go inland, you could spend the day walking the town, visiting the church, shopping for crafts, etc.

 

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These are the buildings at the pier.... yes, that is all, two little stores and a restaurant under a tent. Up the path is a very small tourist center, and then the only main road leading in and out of the town

 

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Gary was in ahead of us and already standing beside a tour guide with a map in front of him trying to sell himself. I quickly walked around the area to see if there were other options.... nada, nothing, absolutely no one else trying to sell a private tour... only Richard Deane turning away people who weren't on his reserved list and the Oceania paddle board signs. Quickly going back to Gary, another group was already talking to this tour guide but they were humming and hawing, very indecisive. The tour guide's English was not great, and Gary wasn't 100% sure of where we were trying to go, so I jumped in (my French is passable) and said "Nous marchons Anaho Bay?" (We walk Anaho Bay?)... answering in broken English, motioning with walking fingers, he said "hike? Hatineu?". Ahhhh! Now we have something! So with broken English and broken French, we agreed for him to take us directly to the Hatineu-Anaho hike that we would miss tomorrow. The cost? 6000xpf per person (about $75). We agreed. It would be just us four in the guide's private car, this 4x4 Land Rover

 

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As a side note... you will not see one single car on Nuku Hiva.... they are all 4x4 pick-ups or SUV's. The land and the streets are just too rugged. On another note, we could not leave right away as we were boxed in by about 30 other pick-ups SUVs. Why? They were all the private vehicles contracted by Oceania's group tours!! How else can they supply transport for hundreds of people off the ships without any buses on the island? So we had to wait for the huge convoy to get going before we were able to also leave.

 

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The tour guide looked at our clothes and gear, looked down at our shoes especially, and said we were ok. He mentioned that we would be in for some rough weather today and that the hike may not be possible, do we still want to go? Yes we did! He mentioned we can make changes as we go if the weather prevents the hike. In the meantime he headed up to his personal home to change and put on some better "hiking in torrential downpour" clothing. Soon we were off. Follow the red line on the map above all the way from the tender pier up north, through the mountains and tight hairpin turns, all the way to Hatiheu. This was over an hour. Along the way the rains started. Along the only main road there was already a partial washout, without this road everyone is stuck on either side

 

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And then inland the rains came down

 

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Unfortunately, they did not let up.... lots of water everywhere with big "rivers' running on the road and draining downhill making driving conditions quite treacherous

 

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This also allowed for some incredible waterall footage as the upper mountains were also draining. I believe these are the Vaiahu, Teuokueenui and Mahuiki waterfalls falling from the Tekao summit. There is no way to get to these on land

 

IMG_3107_zpsibj1wyhh.jpg

 

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About an hour in, and we approached the Teavaitapuhiva Pass at about 1600 foot elevation.... here was our only second stop the entire way with an awesome view of Hatiheu Bay below us. We made it!!

 

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Now for the quick descent down to the town, turning in and out of switchbacks, however with super awesome views of the valley below and ferns which saturated the landscape

 

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Finally, we were down on the only main road of the town of Hatiheu. We noted we would be here tomorrow with Richard Deane's Temarama tour for lunch. And yes, the rains started again.

 

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We turned up the only side road available from the main road, and it led up a little ways, maybe half a mile with a few modest homes, and then it became a dirt road and ended. An hour and 15 minutes in, were we there yet?

 

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Yep, here we are! Let's get suited up and go.

 

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If it wasn't for the rains that really came down on us in portions of this hike, it wasn't all that bad except for the elevation. Most of my photos are not during the downpours as obviously the photos would be blurry. This gives you an idea of the terrain and the climb

 

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Our guide picked fruit along the way. There was papaya and another fruit I can't quite remember the name of ... I tried googling but I cannot find it. Something like Pegiya, petiya, starts with p.... if anyone can come up with the name please post. They looked somewhat like a large long pea pod, edible raw and really good

 

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Coconut cemetery.... no where to go until they collect at the bottom of a hill blocking the path

 

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I realized we had were about to reach the summit. The rain had subsided to a very light drizzle. This was to be the money shot...

 

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Yes!! We made it. I felt like Marco Polo discovering the other side of the world. As we stood resting a bit enjoying the view, the rains started again. The option was to turn back and hit some of the other sites or continue on down to the beach. We didn't come all this way from the other side of the world to wimp out now, so we kept on, makig our way down all the way to the bottom at the middle of the bay below

 

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It was about 40 minutes up, and another 30 minutes down. As we approached the bottom, we could see the clearing. There a re no roads here.... simply a few modest homes and pathways just up from the beach, and then the bay itself. Just gorgeous

 

IMG_3160_zpscabyyot7.jpg

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