Tahuata, part 1: Hanamoenoa Bay

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Exploring Hanamoenoa Bay on beautiful Tahuata island

Steven, Barnacles, and the Rays.

“Do you want some fruits?” asked Steven as he produces a long machete from under a wooden bench, cuts open one of the delicious pampelmousses, and offers us the slices . While we are all munching on the juicy fruit he goes on, “Later we all eat,” and points to a giant boar head boiling in a huge pot on a campfire a few feet away under the palm trees. Honored but not too thrilled about his offer we keep asking him about his family and why he lives in one of the most beautiful bays on the Marquesas islands. The bay is named Hanamoenoa and is located on the island of Tahuata. It’s a picture postcard place with clear turquoise water, a white sand beach lined with coconut palms, and lush green and very steep mountains for which the Marquesas are known for.

Tahuata, part 1: Hanamoenoa Bay
View of Hanamoenoa Bay from Green Panther

Hanamoenoa Bay

The beach in Hanamoenoa Bay.


Hanamoenoa Bay On Tahuata, Island Marquesas Green Panther

Alena, Steven and the boar head.

Steven explains that he planted most of the fruit trees here with his grandparents, but then he went to Papeete, the capital of French Polynesia, to work. His grandparents passed away and the bay was uninhabited for several years before he got fed up with the city life and decided to return to his roots and manage the fruit crops in his family’s bay three months ago. “I made a big sign,” he explains pointing to the handwritten letters painted on the front wall of his plywood hut that say “Private property, please don’t take any fruits.” “People would come from the boats and not know what they were doing; they grab unripe fruits, damage branches and trees and leave a mess. I have lot of work to clean up the trees. I am happy to give fruits but people have to ask.” We nod as he goes on “I only take a little bit, only what I need for a day.” This also brings us to his chicken trap consisting of some sticks nailed together, a string and some fresh coconut as bait. “I catch a chicken a day, I eat, I happy,” he explains while demonstrating  how the trap works. We believe him since the forests of the Marquesas are full of chickens which have returned to their wild state. We also learned that he and his family shot two wild pigs last night, after cutting off the pig’s way from the drinking hole at the river with a fire. That explains the huge flames we saw last night close to the beach and the two gunshots we heard. Most of the meat was brought by boat to a nearby village and sold. He kept some pieces though, including the head which is seen as a delicatessen. We thank him for the tour and the fruit and explain that we have to return to our good old sailboat to get the many barnacles off the keel. Not my favorite job but we have to admit, we prefer it to eating boar head.

We swam back to the boat and spent the rest of the day scraping gooseneck and acorn barnacles off our hull and keel. Not sure where we picked those guys up, but our entire hull was covered - it was crazy!! In subsequent days, we alternated between snorkeling in the lovely bay and scraping. Well, we also had some great distractions by several manta rays coming into the bay to feed.

Hanamoenoa Bay Keel Green Panther
Green Panthers hull covered with barnacles ;-(


Hanamoenoa Bay

Underwater life in Hanamoenoa Bay

Hanamoenoa Bay   underwater

Manta Ray visiting Hanamoenoa Bay


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