Day 9 – Nuku Hiva, 12th January

02 Taoihae Bay panorama

Taiohae Bay Panorama

Our first port of call after 8 sea days and about 3,000 miles, since departure Los Angeles. The islanders are in the initial stages of developing a tourist industry, so at present have minimal infrastructure in place,especially for cruise ship visits on a Sunday. They only receive about a dozen cruise ship visits per year.

Read on for a description of the island, some history and our walking tour of the bay.

Nuku Hiva

Located 500-600 miles south of the Equator, it is a small volcanic island, comparable in size to the Hawaiian island of Lanai’i. It is the 2nd largest island in French Polynesia. A rugged and generally mountainous island, it has a steep and frequently indented coastline. The island has no coral reef.

The islands were first settled about 2,000 years ago. Taiohae is the capital of the Marquesas Islands Administrative Group. Population of the Marquesas Islands is about 9,350, but prior to the arrival of Europeans, it was estimated to be 50,000 to 100,000. Current population of Nuku Hiva is 2,970.


The ship only offered 2 tours:

  • Included – a self-guided walking tour around the bay
  • Optional – a 3 hr 4×4 excursion

I researched private tours, but couldn’t find many options. A couple of boats sailing around the coast and a 6 hr 4×4 excursion. Unfortunately, the 4×4 excursion was provided by a tour operator and was only available for their customers.

01 Entering Taiohae Bay anchorage

Entering Taiohae Bay to anchor

While the arrival into the bay was challenging, due to fresh cross winds, once within the confines of the bay, it was calm, although overcast.

03 Approaching anchorage

Approaching our anchorage, well before the small boats

Once anchored, they started preparing the tenders for taking us ashore.

04 Tender being lowered

Tender being lowered

The tendering process was organised with military precision. The Viking Daily provides the meeting time and location for each tour. Being on the 2nd tour, our report time was 09:00 in Star Theatre. On arrival, we traded our tour tickets for tender tickets – Aqua # 2. After a short wait, our tour was called and we were led to the tender platform, where our tender awaited. Our entire group fit in a single tender. Tender capacity is 220.

07 Tender that brought us ashore

Our tender at the dock after discharge

The tenders are huge and in addition to twin screws and rudders, they even have a bow thruster. I also noted that Viking uses Deck officers for driving the tenders, while Princess used PO’s & ratings. This is similar to my days with P&O, where only Officers drove tenders. In fact, on Uganda, I was taught by one of the Nursing Officers.

05 Locals welcoming us to Nuku Hiva

Nuku Hiva Welcoming Committee

We arrived at the dock amidst a torrential downpour, so they suspended tender ops, keeping us safe and dry, while the thunderstorm abated. Once we disembarked we were met by the local welcoming committee, in fine voice. They regaled each tender, as the pax disembarked.

06 Conch player covered in tattoos

Conch player

We bypassed the market, stopping in the tourist information hut for a local map and a leaflet of information on other parts of the island. Also picked up the first postcard for our grandsons.

Since no guides are available, this tour is self-guided, so we set off around the bay to discover the sights of Nuku Hiva, specifically Taiohae Bay.

08 Taiohae Bay beach from Tourist Information

Taiohae Bay beach from the tourist info shack

09 Huge aloe plant

Massive Aloe plant, since we didn’t bring any, would they miss 1 branch?

BTW – no we didn’t test that question.

10 Judi with Taiohae Bay in backdrop

Judi with Taiohae Bay in background

12 Carved rock on the promenade

One of a number of carved rocks along the promenade

13 Taiohae Beach

Taiohae Bay Beach from a little past the Info Shack

The beach looked good, but it is a tough access, since it is about a 3 to 4 foot drop down from the promenade walkway around the top.

14 Viking Sun at anchor in Nuku Hiva

Magnificent Viking Sun at anchor

15 Looking back at the tender dock

Looking back around the bay at the tender dock

11 Judi close-up

Judi close-up, with blurred back ground

17 Canon at the Marines Memorial

Memorial to French Marines who captured the island

Featuring a semi-circular rock faced wall providing a flat promontory, the memorial remembers the French marines and sailors that captured the island.

16 Memorial for marines who landed ashore


In addition to the anchor and flag poles, they also had a couple of cannons pointing out towards the bay.

18 Taiohae Bay after the marine memorial

Taiohae Bay after the memorial promontory

Judi headed back to the ship at this point, so I continued on to the Cathedral and 2nd promontory.

19 Cathedral entrance and grounds

Cathedral and entrance

22 Cathedral Entrance doors

Cathedral entrance doors

It was Sunday and while the church was open, I didn’t want to go in to photograph the interior, so apologies, no photos from inside.

 Carved posts on a building across from the church

Heading back to the bay it was a short walk to the final promontory, which contained a number of carved rocks.

A couple examples of the carved rocks at Temehea Tohua

25 Beach past Temehea Tohua

Taoihea Bay beyond Temehea Tohua promontory

26 Rocky outcropping with Viking Sun

Rocky outcrop looking towards Viking Sun

27 Promenade lined with palm trees and statues

Taoihae Bay promenade with palm trees

28 Nuku Hiva marketplace

Marketplace at tender dock

Having covered about 3 miles in the 30C and humidity, it was time to return to the ship for a well earned shower and dry clothes.

Hope you enjoyed the photos of this developing island. While it couldn’t be described as a ship or private tour, it was a most enjoyable stroll around this un-spoilt and undeveloped bay.



6 thoughts on “Day 9 – Nuku Hiva, 12th January

  1. We visited Nuku Hiva in 2016 and did the same walking tour. In the same heat and humidity. At that time, we were told that a German tourist had “disappeared” on one of the small islands in the Marquesa chain just a few years earlier and cannibalism was suspected. It was enough to convince us NOT to rely on a local-led excursion.

    Did you try any Headhunter Wine? That was the label of the local winery when we were there.


  2. Hi Andy,

    I’ve been looking for a high resolution photo of the Sun from the side that is complete from bow to stern. This photo of yours at Nuku Hiva is magnificent. If it doesn’t break any rules (forgive me for asking if it does), could you email that one to me?

    I have over 200 photos of the Viking Ocean ships inside and out in my Apple photo album, (yes, I am obsessed with them). But this one has escaped me. At least a high resolution version of it.

    I read today’s post twice. I’m living vicariously through you guys. I had studied this itinerary and googled each stop and pre-selected (in my mind) each excursion I would book if I could. I love reading the smallest details you write about. Thank you much for blogging your cruise. My day and night job currently (our busy season) is spent knee deep in multiple spreadsheets. When I see my email notification that you have posted in your blog, I always stop to read. It is my guilty pleasure. 🙂

    Thanks so much. Steve Adam Port Charlotte, FL.

    Sent from my iPad



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