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first taste of the marquesas

Our First Taste of Land – A Walkabout Hiva Oa

I don’t know if it’s the 24 day sail it took to get here or the uninterrupted eight hours of sleep…but the island of Hiva Oa is unbelievably stunning.

The landscape is a living post card, the birds sing as if it’s a rewarded performance and the succulent floral notes waft from every direction.  It’s full-blown sensory overload for us here in the Marquesas.

There are just enough tale-tale signs to remind us this isn’t a movie set, this is real island life.  The yacht services building is an old container ship perched on the top of a hill with a million-dollar view.  The homes are very modest, but the yards are impeccably kept.  The hole in the wall grocery/hardware/electronics store feels reminiscent of something you’d see in one of the old towns along Route 66.  It’s a laid back, small-town vibe with a smack-in-you-in-the-face lush island twist.

After the long passage we have an ever-growing list of boat maintenance along with some serious cleaning to tackle, but as you may have gathered, distractions are high.  It’s our first taste of French Polynesia and we can’t stifle our desires to wander about any longer.

Join us for a walkabout as we indulge in wild textures, sweet smells, and the exotic flavors of Hiva Oa, in the Marquesas Islands.

I would like to note that the saying goes: “don’t cry over a little spilt milk”.  Crying over an excellent been-carrying-and-dreaming-of-for-a-year spilt beer is completely acceptable.  Perhaps a bit dramatic, but acceptable.

Funny how a seemingly small series of events can cause a mood buster (that and being a little wiped). Smoke filled air, leads to discovery of a broken air-con, to a need to explain situation, which leads to awkward camera angle. All this coupled with a rockin’ boat, leads to a camera free dive and tossed beer.

But don’t worry, I didn’t sulk for too long.  Jason offered to share his half with me (which I see as a sign of true love).  It warmed my heart and turned my frown upside down.

If you are wondering about the broken AC…it’s an old unit original to the boat (hello 2005) and we’re thinking it’s the fan motor…or maybe, we have something clogged in the saltwater intake line?  It’s still not working but we (aka Jason) will keep tinkering with it.  Good news is we have two, which is one of the benefits of owning a catamaran.  Two of almost everything!  (And yes, double the maintenance but let’s focus on the positive).

Thanks sooo much for watching, reading and being a part of the journey! 

exploring french polynesia

sailing the marquesas

Psst…did you catch our video about anchoring in Hiva Oa?  It’s bow and stern and we share the scoop here: gonewiththewynns.com/bow-stern-anchoring

French Polynesia Bonds, Checking In & Visas

All visitors except French nationals need to have a passport valid for 6 months beyond the intended stay, as well as a return or ongoing ticket out of the country…AKA a Bond.  More on that in just a moment.

French Polynesia is part of the European Union but has its own visa rules.  As citizens of the USA we’re allowed up to 3 months without a visa.  But, we knew we would need more time to explore the 100+ islands and atolls.  So, we started our Long Stay Visa application back in Ecuador.  Full details here: gonewiththewynns.com/sailing-french-polynesia-visa

Bureaucracy is one of the necessary evils of international travel.  From our past experiences, it’s well worth the hassle…and definitely so to be allowed to linger in the exotic paradise of the French Polynesian islands.

Now, about that bond requirement.

With our Long Stay Visa application in our passport, no bond or onward air ticket is normally required, but in Hiva Oa, they were requiring them.

Which serves as a good reminder that rules, requirements and regulations can change at any time, or even from office to office.  So when you arrive to a new country, be prepared for anything.

For an acceptable bond in French Polynesia we had three options:

  • Post a cash bond (money placed in a local bank) of approximately $1,700 US per person (can be withdrawn when you leave the country, but we’re not sure of the associated fees).
  • Purchase an airline ticket departing FP (buy the ticket for a future date, check in with customs, then cancel the flight and pay the airline cancellation fee).
  • Hire an Agent who will provide a Bond Exemption Letter (we paid a little under $300). An agent also helps with long stay visa procedures, provides a duty-free fuel card immediately and becomes a local liaison for any needs or questions.

At first, we had no intentions of hiring an agent.  We had planned to take care of everything ourselves.  But when they requested the bond, it was an easy decision.  After the unpleasant bureaucracy experiences in Panama and Ecuador, we had zero desires to navigate the long stay visa process on our own.

Sandra is the local agent in Hiva Oa and works with Tahiti Crew (the agency we hired).  So far, our experience has been great, but we’re not done yet.  We’ll get back to you with our official report: Yes Agent!  Which Agent? or No Agent! recommendations after we have our French Polynesia Long Stay Visa’s in hand and felines land approved.

While this isn’t everything you need to know about sailing into French Polynesia, hopefully our experience can help you start planning your arrival.  If you want more details, a great resource for this type of cruiser info is noonsite.com.

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Gear Used

Dates This Video Covers:  May 23 – 25, 2018

Hello there! I honestly don’t know what to say, so I am going to tell you a bunch of random facts instead. I'm a fish eating vegetarian who hates spiders and loves snakes. I almost never took vacations growing up. I wanted to be Pippi Longstocking (still do). I misspell about every other word I write and still struggle with grammar. I love splurging on a good high tea (which is really hard to find these days). And whatever you do, don’t tell me I can’t do something, because then I'll HAVE to do it!

Comments (26)

  • Emily Morrissey

    Watched an episode and Nikki had a tank on with the Wynn logo. Do you guys have those up for sale? You two are total inspiration. My husband now wants to buy a bigger boat ( we own a 23ft sea ray) when he retires from the Army and take our family (3 kids, cat and dog) sailing! Love your videos!

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  • Larry H

    Fabulous destination! I can’t wait for more!! Stay safe!

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  • Terry Doudican

    Sorry about your beer! Good for you for saving the camera!

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  • Enjoying your videos from back here on the mainland.

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  • Sandy

    Hi! Love your videos! I would love to hear about how you get groceries. Do you just shop and eat what they sell on the islands? Do you somehow order things online? In a related question, could you talk about what food you stocked for the long voyage and did you run out of anything!

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    • Curious Minion

      Hey Sandy. They get asked this a lot and will be doing a future video and post about provisioning. They usually just shop locally – being primarily vegetarian that’s their best option for fresh anyway. And practically speaking, having things shipped outside the U.S. is a huge pain: finding a place that will accept a package can be a challenge, and parcel service in FP is not terribly reliable. But when visitors come (especially Jason’s mom Mary), their suitcases are always stuffed with treats and hard-to-find items. Stay tuned for the provisioning video!
      Curious Minion

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  • Pat Ransil

    Reminds me of my trip there in late May 2016. I used Sandra and she did a great job with all the visa / bond paperwork. Great to see the places I enjoyed so much. Yes, lots of meat and often huge portions. On Tahuata we found a wonderful secluded bay that we had all to ourselves for several days (on the west side, not as far down as Vaitahu). There are some great anchorages and hikes on the north side of Hiva Oa as well.

    I hope you don’t end up spending too much time cleaning ash off the boat. When they burned the trash, sometimes we got a lot of ash and when it gets wet and then dries, it can be hard to clean off the deck.

    But it is a beautiful place, all the more so after the trip across.
    Enjoy!

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  • You’re sense of adventure is so refreshing. I love the way you explain as you go and Jason, your video quality is amazing. Love the music choices. Sorry about the beer Nikki but glad you were not injured. Enjoy and thank you for sharing with all of us!

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  • Gene Jones

    Love your videos!!! Please keep them coming. Couldn’t help but notice your fire extinguisher (when Nikki was cleaning the spilled beer). It appears to be a model that has been recalled. I owned four recalled models, my boat, my camper and two in my home. Please check Kidde’s website to verify if you have an unsafe one: https://www.kidde.com/home-safety/en/us/support/product-alerts/recall-kidde-fire-extinguisher/
    Safe travels, Gene

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  • Bert Macdonald

    Those flowers are called Frangipani, they grow throughout the tropics. The flowers are edible but the sap is a skin irritant and causes d+v, so don`t injest any 🙂 The ones in Bali are huge! They do quite well in Australia.

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  • Alan Solomon

    There are not too many of your videos I don’t like. Your new intro is Awesome and relives any Curiosity. I like your description of the flower and the scent on the island. Citrus with vanilla. You could tell by your face.
    Thanks you guys for another Special video.
    With appreciation,
    Play it safe.

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  • Judy Goodson

    Be thankful it was just the beer you lost. My husband and I went to Panama, and I broke my ankle badly when I slipped getting into an Indian canoe. What a mess! The hospital didn’t want to treat me in the ER, because I didn’t have my passport or ID with me. Fortunately, the dear friend we were with was a Panamanian citizen, and she convinced them we were relatives, or something. Of course our American insurance was no good there, so we had to cut our trip short and fly back to the States the next day. By then my ankle was so swollen, I couldn’t have surgery until 8 days later. Then I spent three months in a wheelchair! In short, be sure you don’t get injured or need hospitalization while you’re in a third world country.

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  • It is definitely beautiful there !!! What a bummer, to spill that beer, after such a long passage to get there and not even being able to find any veggie food in town. So sorry.

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  • Mart

    I like the new look of the videos.

    Glad you saved the camera! That would have really made for a bad ending!

    Cheers! ❤️

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  • Luc

    Of course you know Jacques Brel. Go download “Ne me quitte pas”, “La Quête”, “Quand on a que l’amour” and have a lovely evening.

    P.S. Since you’re in French Polynesia, forget about this wasted beer and find a good bottle of Champagne before listening. Don’t thank me…

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  • Tev

    My brother grows ALL of those tropical fruits in his backyard in Florida. The star fruit is quite abundant and falls to the ground all the time. His mangoes are the best I’ve ever tasted and we can’t have them shipped to us so I can feel your pain. Hope you can get some when they ripen.
    I find the immigration policies interesting. Especially in these times.
    Hey if you want to run your AC all the time it’s your business. Your reason makes perfect sense though.
    Love the videos and the new intro and the extra one on Thursday was a pleasant surprise. Stay safe out there.

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  • Scott

    Like the new intro. Maybe on the title screen, add two dates in smaller print? Bottom left “Recorded on … “. Bottom right “Published on …”. And put a date on the map? Regulars understand the editing and posting lag, but it is a question that keeps appearing from newer viewers.

    So sorry to see such a special beer from Mom go down.

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    • Mary

      Me too, Scott! Mom

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  • Daniel lemaire

    About Jacques Brel, an icon of francophone culture: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacques_Brel
    About Paul Gauguin: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Gauguin
    Got to start working on your French, since you’re going to be there for a while…
    Fair and following winds!
    😉

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  • Bob Bennett

    Glad to see you made it and are enjoying the islands. I know this all happened months ago, but we still were praying for you and your journey. God is the master of time and space, so I know He answers prayers in the past that we lifted up for you. God bless you both ( actually, all four of you ) and continue to have a safe and exciting journey!

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  • Misha

    Wonderful vidio your descibtion means we can smell the flowers and taste the fruit, what a breathtaking area. Sorry its spoild by red-tape, bonds, agents , it seems everyone wants a cut. Its a pet hate of mine corruption & tipping , Whilst tipping in the states is the norm , in the Uk we only tip if we get first class service of some kind. Cannot wait until next sunday I think its go to be a long week.

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  • Toni Felts

    I LOVE the new intro…its short and precious!

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  • T C Spencer

    When was your arrival date and how long are you going to stay? Thanks!

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  • Roger B

    I would definitely cry over a spilled dark beer. Another great video. Thank you. I love plums.

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  • Dave and Doris McKnight

    Still loving your videos, keep them coming. Youre living the life for us. Thank you.

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  • Patrick Joyce

    Love the new Intro guys.

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