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EXC In-Depth Field Notes: Mo’orea and Nuku Hiva

Our EXC In-Depth Voyage was island-hopping in the gorgeous South Pacific, and Holland America Line’s Director of Explorations Dr. Peter Carey sent some details about Mo’orea and Nuku Hiva. Enjoy this installment of Field Notes, and stay tuned as the ship continues to explore this stunning area.

Mo’orea, French Polynesia

The sharp peaks of Mo’orea rise above the Maasdam in Opunohu Bay. Photo © peter carey

The sharp peaks of Mo’orea rise above the Maasdam in Oponohu Bay. Photo © peter carey

After visits to several of the gorgeous and charming islands of this archipelago, you could be forgiven for getting a little blasé about visiting one more. But when that next island is Mo’orea, that complacency is completely misplaced. This island is stunning! Green slopes rising steeply from the shores, turquoise waters surrounding the intricate coastline, and mountains so pointy they look like teeth. Maasdam anchored in Opunohu Bay and after a short tender ride to shore we dispersed to enjoy the delights of this enticing island. Our onboard EXC In-Depth program had prepared us to get the most out of our adventures, whether they be exploring the coral reefs or recognizing the exotic fruits and flowers growing in roadside gardens.

Nuku Hiva, Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia

One of the stone sculptures that adorn the water front in the village of Taiohae. Photo © peter carey

One of the stone sculptures that adorn the water front in the village of Taiohae. Photo © Peter Carey

The mountainous Marquesas Islands are well off the beaten track, to the northwest of the rest of French Polynesia. And so it is not surprising that very few cruise ships venture here. But Maasdam’s EXC In-Depth program is making a habit of including some of these unusual ports and we were delighted to sail into a sheltered bay on the south side of Nuku Hiva, home to the village of Taiohae. The island has a rich heritage that is markedly different from the rest of French Polynesia. Stone sculptures here date back many hundreds of years, and examples could be seen as we walked along the water front in the village. The market was filled with beautiful wood carvings and shell jewelry made by local artists. White terns and some of the endemic land birds were spotted by the birdwatchers, and local fisherman brought their catches ashore near our tender pier. It was a lovely day spent in a hard to reach corner of the world.

The Clear Water of Polynesia

carey zodiac with corals raiatea compressed

Coral is conspicuous below the boat in the clear, shallow waters of Raiatea. Photo © Peter Carey

Unlike my posts about specific ports of call, this one is about a feature that we have found everywhere in Polynesia so far: clear, beautiful water. Everywhere we’ve been with Maasdam in the past month has been surrounded by gorgeous blue water of varying hues and depths. The dark blues of the deep reaches between islands gives way to the ceruleans, the turquoises, and the lightest of sky blues when we reach the protected lagoons that surround most of these magnificent islands. Their clarity makes them ideal places for coral reefs to thrive and grow, and this in turn attracts more marine life, creating areas that are packed with biodiversity. Swimmers, snorkelers, divers, and even sit-on-the-beach-relaxers can’t help but be enchanted by the blue Pacific.

A Zodiac appears to hover in the clear waters of Huahine. Photo © Peter Carey

A Zodiac appears to hover in the clear waters of Huahine. Photo © Peter Carey

Maasdam continues on an island adventure throughout the South Pacific while heading to New Zealand and Australia, so keep a lookout on the blog for more memorable photos and exciting Field Notes from the ports of call.

  • Joe DeVita

    On the Staatendam’s last trip we experienced Moorea and Nuka Hiva.Your comments were right on!! Hope to return some day. JRD

  • Hue Rim

    We were in Moorea in 2011, on board the Westerdam. Last minute booking (while touring the island) for an overwater bungalow at the Hilton Resort in Moorea was an unforgettable experience! We’re on board the Eurodam as I type this comment on our way to Moorea and Bora Bora again. This time we’re staying in the Conrad Resort Bora Bora…really looking forward to it! ?

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