We got up a little later than usual, after 6am this time. We were still chugging along, which was odd since we thought we'd have been at Fatu Hiva by the time we woke up. There was nothing out our window, so we hoped there was something out the other side. Sure enough there was, a rocky island with brilliant sunshine behind it that made looking at Fatu Hiva difficult to do. During breakfast we acutally started to sweat from the sunshine bearing down on us through the window. Since the first tender was not until 8:30, we got ready leisurely, and walked around a bit to get some different vantage points of the island. Just when we were about to head down to the tender, the cruise director got on the PA system and said the tenders were delayed because of swells. The ocean actually looked much calmer to us than the day before, so we weren't sure what was up. This is a major downside to having a ship full of people in their 60s, 70s, 80s and up - what constitutes "dangerous conditions" for getting onto the tender is entirely different than what we experienced in Antarctica and the Galapagos. So instead of getting off the ship, we sat around and read (Crystal) and got up on the trip log (Justin).

We noticed the tender boat going back and forth, and we hoped they had gotten everything set up, and sure enough they had. The first tender went out at 9:30, and we were on it. They indicated they were going to cap the tender at 50 people because of the seas, but it sure seemed like there were more people than that on the boat. It didn't seem any rockier than the day before, actually less. The boat ride was less than 5 minutes, and we were able to get off the side of the tender, rather than climbing out the front like the day before. We met Lionel Cantois, whom we booked the excursion with, and Lionel quickly introduced us to our English-speaking guide, Jean-Marc. Once on the road, we were out of Omoa (population 300) in no time, and up in the hills above the valley, looking down on the town. After about 5 minutes the road turned from concrete into dirt, and we worried we were in for a long bumpy ride on the way to Hanavave.

But frankly, whatever the road conditions could have been, it would have been worth it. We drove slowly, but stopped every 5 minutes or so because around every bend was a phenomenal lookout, either west towards the ocean or east towards the jagged mountain ranges dotting the interior of the island. We would say it was incomprably beautiful, but it wasn't incomparably beautiful, it had an apt comparision - Kauai. Once up on the ridge, it looked very much like Kokee State Park, with Uluhe ferns, some Ohia relative (the leaves were more elongated and the flowers more orange, but it obviously a related species - probably Metrosideros collina), green cliffs and valleys and turquoise water. After so many different views, it became apparent that Fatu Hiva was even more spectacular than Kauai, which we did not think possible.

A little bit after we started heading down into the valley with Hanavave, we stopped at a cell phone tower, which doubled as a phenomenal lookout over Hanavave and also back south towards Omoa. Jean-Marc didn't speak much English and we hadn't spoken much during the ride, but he really didn't need to say anything. And really we don't need to say anything, as there are no superlatives to describe what we saw.

The road into Hanavave was paved for the last 5-10 minutes, but it was incredibly steep with some hairpin curves. Our truck, which wasn't very long, had to stop and do three-point turns going around the curves, and Jean-Marc had to engage the emergency brake every time he switched from drive to reverse or vice versa. Hanavave (all population 300) was, if at all possible, even more picturesque than Omoa. It is flanked on either side of the valley by some huge rock formations, hence the original name before it was renamed "Bay of Virgins" (Baie de Vierges) - Bay of Phalluses (Baie de Verges). Adding the "i" to "Verges" made all the difference, apparently. Crystal remarked that one of the rock formations looks just like King Kong climbing a building.

We walked around a bit in Hanavave, then got back in the truck and headed back across the island. We got back around 12:45 to Omoa, then went into a small museum where they had some artifacts. We then went next door into a "gallery" where local artists had set up booths to show their handicrafts. There were tikis, there were maps on tapa (a paper made from the inner bark of trees), there were carved bowls - lots of stuff. We purchased two tikis to bring back to Pahoa for our "Marquesas Room," to round out the downstairs with our Kauai Room, our Hawaii Room, our Rapa Nui Room and our Society Room. We walked back through town and got to the pier just before the 1:30 tender headed over. The ride back was pretty calm as well, and we got back just before the lunch buffet closed at 2pm. We had a nice leisurely lunch with a great view, then headed up to the pool bar - the part in the shade - and spent the afternoon gazing out at the spectacular view, which changed constantly as clouds rolled in and out and the sun kept getting lower in the sky.

At around 5, the ship raised the anchor and headed north along the west coast, heading towards Hanavave and the Bay of Virgins. The view all along the coast was spectacular, as was the lighting. The captain could have moved a little faster, however, as by the time we got to Hanavave the sun was almost completely set and so the colors didn't "pop" as much as they could have had we gotten there 10-15 minutes earlier. This is a minor complaint, as the whole 45 minutes up the coast was absolutely phenomenal, including visuals of goats galloping along impossibly steep hillsides.

After the sun set we headed away from Fatu Hiva, off towards Tahuata. At this point we got cleaned up, then headed down to dinner. At dinner, and then at everywhere after that for the night, people complimented us on our dress/shirt, and the fact they matched. What's odd is that no one said anything 3 nights earlier when we were wearing the same thing - go figure. Henry and Ryan both gave us grief at dinner for not coming to say hi during breakfast; we obviously need to spread ourselves around a bit more.

After dinner we went to La Palette and watched the band. Our cruise director Michael got up to sing a couple of songs with them - he is quite a performer. We went down to the piano bar as well, and chatted up Efren and Ray about travel spots in the Philippines. We didn't stay up too late, but late enough. We're starting to get into a bit of a routine now, and a good one at that.