the natural wonder of the Bay of Virgins on beautiful Fatu Hiva, the most
Fatu Hiva is the southernmost island of the Marquesas
archipelago, 35 miles southeast of Tahuata.
The island is wild and
spectacularly beautiful. The jungle greenery begins at the waterís edge,
with narrow ravines, deep gorges and luxuriant valleys briefly open to view
as the boat glides past, close to the sheer cliffs that plunge straight down
into the splashing surf.
The Bay of Virgins
was sculpted by Nature in her most generous mood. Rock curtains, which
Catholic missionaries said were formed as veiled virgins, enclose Hanavava
Bay. White patches of goats and sheep look down from their green mansions
above the quiet harbor.
Blessed with abundant rain and rich, fertile soil,
sweet and juicy citrus fruits fill the gardens. Large, tasty shrimp live in
the rivers that rush through each valley and rock lobsters are plentiful.
Dried bananas are a specialty of Fatu Hiva, as is the Umu Hei Monoi -- a
delightful blend of coconut oil, sandalwood, spearmint, jasmine, ginger
root, pineapple, sweet basil, gardenia, pandanus fruit, ylang-ylang and
other mysterious herbs.
These flowers and herbs are used as perfumes for
massages to seduce a boyfriend or to ward off mosquitoes. Sculptors carve
miro (rosewood), tou and sandalwood, plus coconuts and basaltic stones. They
produce bowls, platters, small canoes, turtles, tiki and other designs. The
artisans of Fatu Hiva still produce tapa cloth, made from the bark of trees
and painted with the same designs their ancestors formerly wore as tattoos.
The 497 inhabitants live in the villages of Omoa
and Hanavave, which are separated by 3 miles of sea. A narrow path winds
over the mountains between the two villages offering a challenging hike and
panoramic views. The Catholic church in Omoa is one of the most picturesque
scenes in any Marquesan village. Facilities include food stores, a post
office, direct dial international communications, a town hall and primary
is offered in small pensions and family homes on each island and
activities include hiking on mountain trails, horseback riding, deep sea
fishing and sailing.
more general information
on French Polynesia, go to: