Fatu Hiva is not an island where cruisers are allowed to check in, but it is to the south east of all the other islands, and to get there having checked in at Hiva Oa would have meant beating to windward for a considerable time. So after a lot of debate on the radio with fellow sailors, we made landfall at the Bay of Virgins, Fatu Hiva.
The popular anchorage there is spectacular, surrounded on 3 sides by majestic mountains, with lush green vegetation and palm trees tumbling to sea level. The view from the anchorage was unreal, with massive columns of volcanic rock acting as a gateway to the mountains beyond. Inland there is great hiking, and we walked to a 200ft waterfall with the most beautiful placid pool at its base, and warm water cascading into it. We had really refreshing swims on arrival, after a picnic lunch swam again, and then sat on a comfortable rock soaking up the sunshine. We had this most beautiful spot to ourselves. On our return, we enjoyed the most stunning mountain scenery in afternoon sunshine, the best we have seen to date.
We were invited to join our German friends, who had arranged with a villager a lunch of wild boar and roast goat, cooked in a lava coal pit for about 6 hours, sushi prawns and wahoo, breadfruit and bananas, followed by the most deliciously sweet pamplemousses, like a large grapefruit. The following day we returned and collected two large bags full of fruit and herbs, just unreal!
The islanders appear to be fairly prosperous, living in modern bungalows, and driving 4×4’s. To obtain fruit and vegetables, they are only interested in exchanging whatever goods we have spare on board, and in particular wanted cordage for their fishing boats, shackles, torch batteries and spectacles etc. One of the main industries on all the islands is Copra, which meant little to us to start with, until we came across a sliding low roof over a floor made of either concrete or woven matting. Coconuts are split open, the fruit prised out, and then dried in the sun. Because of the mountainous nature of the islands, they experience significant rainfall, hence the need for a sliding roof to protect the copra. The fruit is dry between 3-7 days, and is then bagged up, and taken to a landing stage for collection by a copra boat for transport to Tahiti, which also brings supplies in.