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Fatu Hiva, Marquesas

The island of Fatu Hiva is spectacularly beautiful with jungle greenery beginning at the water's edge, and narrow ravines, deep gorges and luxuriant valleys close to sheer cliffs that plunge straight down into the splashing surf. The Bay of Virgins, with its rock curtains Catholic missionaries said were formed as veiled virgins, encloses Hanavava Bay. White patches of goats and sheep look down from green mansions above the quiet harbor. Large, tasty shrimp live in the rivers and rock lobsters are plentiful. Dried bananas are a specialty of Fatu Hiva, as is Umu Hei Monoi -- a delightful blend of flowers and herbs. Sculptors carve miro, tou and sandalwood, plus coconuts and basaltic stones. Artisans still produce tapa cloth made from tree bark and painted with designs their ancestors wore as tattoos. Omoa is one of two villages inhabitants live in. A narrow path winds over the mountains between the villages, offering a challenging hike and panoramic views. The Catholic church in Omoa is one of the most picturesque scenes in any Marquesan village.

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