After 7 beautiful days at sea, we were excited to spot land, and our first stop on our Viking World Wonders journey did not disappoint!
The Marquesas are a group of volcanic islands in French Polynesia, a collectivity of France in the southern Pacific Ocean. Only 6 of the 12 islands are inhabited, and we arrived in Taiohae, the capital city of Nuku Hiva, the largest of the Marquesas, early on a Sunday morning. The Viking Sun anchored in the Taiohae Bay and passengers made the brief trip to shore using the ship’s lifeboats. We were warmly greeted by the local residents with songs, dance, and drums.
These remote, exotic islands have inspired artists and writers for ages. Paul Gauguin captured the beauty of their their people on canvas; Jack London and Herman Melville described them in prose; and Jacques Brel retreated to the Marquesas to compose music.
A short walk from the pier brought us to the Cathedral of Notre Dame Des Marqueses. The entrance to the cathedral is flanked by statues of Saints Peter and Paul carved from rosewood, and the exterior walls are made of stones which were donated by people from each of the six inhabited Marquesas. The cathedral’s pulpit was carved from a single tamanu tree, and the decor is reflective of the island’s culture. We were lucky to be able to view the manger as this is the last day of their Christmas holidays.
A short walk from the cathedral is the beautiful beach where children were riding bikes, horses, and scooters all around the town, enjoying the last day of Christmas break before they return to school.
As we made our way through the sleepy town on foot, we came across numerous enchanting sculptures; a few cemeteries and shrines; and people simply enjoying the beauty of their island. We also dodged several brief downpours that came up suddenly and ended just as quickly. Next stop we’ll have to remember our umbrellas!
By the end of our visit, we felt very fortunate to have spent our first day on land in such a quiet, peaceful, unspoiled place. The pace was slow; the warm hospitality was everywhere; and we truly enjoyed this beautiful day in this lovely polynesian village.