We got up early this morning, as the sun was shining intensely through our window, even with the drapes shut. We looked outside, but nothing in sight. Justin went up to the 8th deck, and Nuku Hiva was still a decent way away, albeit already in site. Ua Pou was behind us in the distance. So we got ready for our tour, and then headed up to the (not so) secret deck at the front of deck 8, watching Nuku Hiva get closer and closer. It was very peaceful up there, just watching us approach the land and have the town of Taiohae come into sight. There was a large yacht in the bay, several stories high, but with no helicopter. We were wondering if this was the yacht that Bligh had told us about, as he had mentioned a huge yacht being in Hiva Oa last week that had a helicopter on it. As with all of the Marquesas islands, the topography of Nuku Hiva was very jagged, with numerous cliffs and steep valleys, all very green. Taiohae looked substantially larger than any of the towns on Fatu Hiva and Tahuata. Nuku Hiva is the "largest" of the Marquesas, but that isn't saying a whole lot.

The ship dropped anchor at 7:15, and we grabbed breakfast right after that. The first tender left at 8:00, and once again we were on the first tender. We wondered how many people had been on the first tender every day, or if we were the only ones. Compared to the last few days, the water was glassy, with minimal issues getting on and off the tender. This was presumably because there was an enormous bay in front of Taiohe that shielded the open ocean. Today we weren't the only ones on our tour, as John and Janine (from the 714) joined us. We were met by Annabelle (sp?) from Nuku Hiva Tours, who walked us over to their office while we waited for our guide, Collette to show up. We looked around the office a bit, and in about 5 minutes Collette was there. She told us she'd lived on Oahu for about 10 years, and just moved back to Nuku Hiva in the last few months. Like Bligh, her English was quite good, and like Bligh, her speech had a bit of Hawaiian pidgin as well.

We started in "downtown" Taiohe, at the area where the Marquesan festival was held in 1999. This is the same festival that we be held on Hiva Oa in December of this year. There were several tikis, representing different parts of Polynesia, and also a big open area for meeting. We were there a long time, but mostly just talking story. Then we went down to the west edge of town and turned around, then headed up out of Taiohe up some steep switchbacks. In a short period of time we were up several hundred feet above town, with sweeping views of the bay and our ship. Collette was driving a new truck, and wasn't 100% checked out on it, so every time we stopped we stopped.

Up at elevation it was Hawaii again, with the invasive Falcataria trees, uluhe ferns, and so on. We meandered up along the ridgeline, then started descending into Taipivai. There were some amazing views here as well. Down in Taipivai, we stopped at the place where the Marquesas festival was held in 2011. It was in much better shape than the spot in Taiohe, either because it was 12 years newer, not right next to the ocean (where a tsunami came through after the big Chile earthquake), or because at each festival, people try to outdo the previous festival. In any event, it was very nice, and the whole area was very peaceful and green.

Driving through town, Crystal spotted the Pelagadoxa palm that Justin had been looking for all trip. She saw one in a yard, and then we noted that 4 or 5 yards in a row each had one. We stopped at Collette's house for a short time, where we got to meet her kids and also her pet pigs. Then we went up and over from one valley into the next, heading down into Hatiheu. Along the way we stopped at a couple awesome vistas, including one that had two wild Pelagadoxas nearby. On the way down, just before getting to town, we stopped in an area that had hosted some of the 2011 festival, and it had a couple massive banyan trees and also a couple of Pelagadoxas. We saw a couple of wild horses in the area as well. There were a couple of mosquitoes here, but nothing near as bad as we had been led to believe, and frankly nowhere near as bad as at our place in Pahoa.

We ate lunch at Yvonne's along the beach in Hatiheu, talking story with John and Janine and Collette. We each got a beer (well, not Collette) and a mountain of food. Justin and Collette each got rum marinated pork that looked as though it was a half a pig. Crystal and John and Janine got some seafood platters that were equally enormous. It all tasted great, which was good since we would have felt horrible wasting so much food. On the way up and out of Hatiheu we had some excitement, as Collette had a little bit of trouble on a couple of switchbacks, killing the engine whilst switching gears. John was giving her advice, but we're pretty sure it wasn't helping, even if good advice. Thankfully we did not roll off the side of the hill. Although if that's the way we went out, there are much worse ways to go. We backtracked to Taipivai, then went one valley over, to Hooumi, where we stopped at the beach for a bit. The sun had been bearing down on us all day, so it took some strength to not run into the ocean in our clothes.

After Hooumi, we backtracked all the way back to Taiohae, where we saw a church in town. As with the church we saw in Tahuata, there was lots of fantastic carved wood on the doors - something you don't see in U.S. churches. Since the walk back to the pier was so short, we left John and Janine and Collette and just walked back. We stopped to see one Pelagadoxa, and also two huge Sausage trees. We had great timing, as the 3:30 tender was arriving just as we got there. The tender was basically empty, and the ocean was still calm. Back on the ship, we dropped our gear, wiped the sweat off of our brows, then went up to La Pallette. There weren't a huge number of people there, and we kept changing tables to avoid the sun - we had gotten our fair share (and then some) for the day. We tried to watch the sunset, but every time we thought we were getting around the south edge of the island to have an unimpeded view of the sun, another piece of land would appear in the distance. But the clouds and sky had a good color to them.

The captain actually blew the horn three times, and we couldn't figure out why at first, but then we saw two kayakers hauling ass towards the shore - they apparently had been in front of us and we didn't want to hit them (nor did they probably want to get hit). We got cleaned up after the sunset, then went right back to La Palette, where the Santa Rosa band was playing. They were playing a good variety of music, and everyone was enjoying themselves. We decided this would be new pre-dinner spot. We had 7:30 reservations at Le Grille, which was good - we both had blackened duck that was good. We then went back to La Palette again, and were the only ones in there with the bartender Michael Jerome for about an hour.

He was happy to have the company, and we chatted about what it's like to work and live on a boat for so long. Michael actually has a wife who works on the boat, so in his case that's much easier than it is for others. He also told us that usually the crowd is quite a bit younger, as the 7 day cruises around the Society Islands attracts quite a few more honeymooners. Apparently the 14 day Marquesas cruise has a much older demographic. Around 10 a bunch of the Frenchies came in as the Polynesian staff had a French song performance. We figured we'd stay, as we don't know any less French than we do Polynesian. It would have been nice, but the table behind was talking loudly rather than watching the show, so we got up and went down to the Piano Bar. We stayed there until Marius left, then went back up to Le Palette (for the fourth time now) around 11, where the Frenchies were gone. We sat outside and enjoyed the excellent weather until we realized the only other people were leaving; we immediately got up and went to bed since we didn't want to hold up the staff getting to sleep.