Thursday, June 12, 2014

Hakatea Bay – by Gary

It was a long-weekend this last one past and with shiny new engine mounts and a fresh oil change under our belt a decision was reached to flee the bright city lights and get away for a couple of days.  We made the hour-long passage SW from Taiohae to the next big bay round – Hakatea.  While so close it seemed a world away, providing an amazing glimpse back into another time.  Experts estimate that at first contact perhaps 20,000 people lived in the long valley above the bay including King Te Moana and Queen Vaekehu.  Today only a handful of folks remain in this most spectacular place – standing guard over an archeological treasure trove, testimony to the advanced material culture of traditional Polynesian society.

Accompanying us for the weekend were brothers Romuald and Gaetan, both boat kids.  Talk about a boat full of rowdy young teenagers.  We all got on really well together.

The Hakatea Bay anchorage is partially surrounded by startling basalt cliffs...

... and its not just the cliffs that are startling – check-out the ear lobe of our reception committee.  He invited us back to his house for grapefruit!

Situated on the shorefront estuary of a river, the village of Hakaui consists of a few small houses and a tiny, tiny church.

One of the principle attractions of Hakatea Bay is the two-hour trek following the course of the ancient ‘Royal Road’ up the valley to Vaipo Waterfall.  To beat the heat we set off early in the morning, under the watchful eye of a local.

The carefully detailed road itself is a very impressive undertaking, and along the way we also saw many house platforms, ceremonial sites, pits (for storing breadfruit???) and tikis.

The steep valley sides gradually closed in on us.  Rising on both side of the fast flowing river the walls are sometimes almost 800m high.

Our first vista of the waterfall – plunging 350m into a deep canyon, it’s the highest in French Polynesia.

Sadly this is as close as we got before getting lost!  We wandered around the bush for about an hour trying to pick up the track – oh well.

We were tired and foot sore by the time we made it back – but it was a great walk.

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  1. Great blog Gary, and fabulous pictures. What a wonderful place and so tragic.

  2. This takes my breath away. You'll find our footprints preceded you in this beautiful place.
    Thinking of you, with love to all on board Mofombo.
    Will send an email.