Our First Taste of Land – A Walkabout Hiva Oa

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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Dates This Video Covers: May 23 – 25, 2018

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