It was a great Pacific crossing, our longest passage ever. We were at sea for 21 days and when we made landfall at Nuku Hiva, French Polynesia we were thirsty for land, food, and other people. We dropped our anchor in the busy bay and felt victorious. We had crossed the largest ocean in the world together.

We relaxed in the cockpit, awestruck by our new surroundings and spent from the passage. About an hour later two really nice men in a dingy slowly motored over to Magic. I was excited to have visitors in this new place.

They offered us a large bag of Marlin they caught and froze solid. We still had plenty of the 35 pound tuna we caught the other day, but we accepted the Marlin gratefully knowing we’d appreciate it once our tuna was gone.

We prepared our dinghy and went to land. We began exploring and soon realized around 10% of the trees around town were fruit bearing. The delicious, grapefruit-like pamplemousse grows everywhere, and the scientific name is citrus maxima for good reason. These gorgeous green globes are huge, and can grow as large as a cantaloupe.

They are sweeter than a grapefruit and a whole lot more work to dissect, too. You must commit to a pamplemousse. It takes around 15 minutes to peel an average sized pamplemousse. I know because I enjoy making Thai pamplemousse salad with peanuts, onions, coconut, lime juice, garlic, chiles, brown sugar, and fish sauce. This salad is a strange combination which will confuse and delight your taste buds. The fruit is also fantastic on its own.

We continued to try other fascinating fruits which became available at the market, and thanks to a recommendation from our friends on a boat named Pino we stumbled on to the Sugar Apple. It is my favorite fruit here.

Sugar apples look like purple pine cones, but I bought four of them anyway because of the way Recka’s eyes glowed when she told me about them. These had to be good.

We went to Daniel’s Bay for a couple days, taking the sugar apples with us. We grabbed the softest one and enjoyed it our first night there, sitting on top of the boat in a beautiful anchorage with green walls and waterfalls around us.

We started on the fruit. We peeled its soft, leathery skin off in little pieces. It put up no fight. This was a task easily accomplished without fingernails. Inside we found a soft, creamy, pink substance. It was similar to an overripe avocado in texture, with a sweet, earthy, and loamy flavor. The creamy substance lines the leathery skin, and at the core of the sugar apple are large brown seeds enveloped in a delicious white pulp. We devoured it.

The sugar apple is a succulent little bomb of enjoyment, and when it gets very ripe it even starts to take on hints of cherry and become more complex. I wish I could have one every day and take them with me everywhere I go. I’ve never seen them anywhere else, though. I will have to enjoy them as often as possible in the South Pacific.

I thought mangoes would be easy to pick here, but it took time to find any that we could harvest. The mango trees around town which are not on private land are harvested heavily. We persisted, though, and one day with the help of a rental car we found all the mangoes we could possibly handle! Picking mangoes is a sticky experience. The stem of the mango begins oozing sticky white liquid as soon as the fruit is removed from the tree. We drove all over the island taking in fantastic vistas and enjoying the mango and banana trees by the side of the road.

We had a great time seeing the entire island and picking fruit. The driving is adventurous, though. At one point the road is extremely steep and curvy, and for about 1/8 of a mile it has only one lane. There are no pullouts. You’re supposed to honk loudly to declare your right of way before driving up or down the one way section.

We’ve also tried different types of bananas here, both at the market and from the wild, and these are the best bananas we’ve ever eaten. They are rich and make American bananas seem airy by comparison. They are sweet and don’t ripen as quickly as the ones back home, either.

In addition, the stores have a good selection of other foods like cheese, bread and Asian foods. There’s a café where we can get a good meal for about $10. We’ve been impressed. Rumor has it the South Pacific is a remote and difficult place to find food, but that is certainly not the case on Nuku Hiva!


Lisa Hackett

About the Author

Hi, I’m Lisa. I’m a tall, blonde superhero and I live in a van. I do it all. I rappel big waterfalls, drive from Idaho to Alaska solo, live and work in a van in the wilderness and dodge encounters with wolves and bears. Seriously. More

2 Responses to Foods of Nuku Hiva

  1. Patty Thompson says:

    Lisa, and thrilled that you and Brian are living the dream!! Keep up the good work and stay safe and healthy. Love you both. We will miss you at the Ohio wedding in June. Take care.

    • Lisa Hackett Lisa Hackett says:

      It’s great to hear from you, Patty! We are thrilled, too, this is so much fun. We’re looking forward to seeing you again soon. Lisa and Brian

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About the Author

Hi, I’m Lisa. I’m a tall, blonde superhero and I live in a van and on a sailboat with my superhero husband, Brian. I do it all. I rappel big waterfalls, scuba dive with sharks, dodge encounters with bears and wolves, and work remotely as a full time computer programmer.
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About the Van

Hi, I’m Vanifest. I’m a big, 4x4, off-the-grid van complete with solar panel for power. I'm a 2000 Dodge Ram Van and Lisa has had me since 2009. Read more about me here.

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