Hiva Oa turned out to be really nice. We ended up in Hanaiapa instead of Atuona because the swell was crazy in Atuona and there wasn't much space in the small harbor. Hanaiapa turned out to be an underwater paradise.
We had read some old SV Delos blogs from the Marquesas that Suzie emailed us during the pacific crossing and I had a feeling that Hanaiapa was were they went diving and saw mushroom coral. We ended up getting our dinghy anchor stuck just as they had and when I went to retrieve it I got a quick glance at the coral around and realized this was the place. We decided to go diving to check it out and after going down in the very murky water and finding the beautiful mushroom coral we ended up loosing Andrew and spending the next 10min at the surface tracking bubbles to try and get to him! After finding him and making sure we wouldn't get separated again we went back down to a crazy Alice in wonderland landscape. Because the visibility and light wasn't very good the video once again does not do the place justice.
The morning after our arrival and as we were heading to the "dinghy dock" we saw loads of dolphins at the entrance of the bay. We quickly went to take a peek and they were soon playing swimming and playing right in front of our dinghy. Sadly we had a taxi waiting for us and couldn't get in the water but decided we would see if they were there again the next day. To make this an even better start to our morning as we left the dolphins and headed to the dinghy dock we encountered MANTA RAYS!!!! Yes, shouty capitals because I am sure you all know that I love manta rays and I was beyond frustrated to not be able to just dive in.
First thing after breakfast the next morning we jumped in our dinghy with wetsuits and snorkel gear and went out to look for dolphins. We were not disappointed when once again there were hundreds of them just at the entrance of the bay. We jumped into the water in turns and got to swim with what turned out to be melon headed whales.
There were so many of them going past us everywhere that it was hard to figure out where to look. It was also amazing to listen to them talk to each other. After a very long time of James, my dad and I taking turns to swim with them Arthur decided he wanted to go in too. James found the perfect spot to drop us off and we were soon surrounded by them, it was incredible and Arthur was very excited to see them.
After that wonderful encounter we managed to find the Manta Rays again but as they were further into the bay the visibility was really bad.
Hanaiapa also turned out to have a lady that grew vanilla and also made honey. I managed to buy everything she had left and hadn't sent to Tahiti. The problem in the Marquesas and later it was the same in the Tuamotus is that they send out most of their arts and crafts to Tahiti to sell. So if you are unlucky you might go and see a wood carver and be unable to see his sculptures because they have all been sent off.
After a few days in this lovely bay we also got to see some local Marquesan perform a haka for some tourist they had taken around the island and who had gotten a quick dance lesson and after the men did their haka, I got to participate in the bird dance done by the ladies. Great memory and great fun!
After leaving Hanaiapa we sailed over to Puamau to take a look at our first archeological site. We also got to eat our first starfruit on the long walk up the hill, and let me tell you, they are amazing when fresh off the tree!