Hanavave boasts a splendid setting, at the mouth of a steep-sided valley, best enjoyed from the sea (lucky yachties!). When the setting sun bounces purple halos off the towering basaltic cones of Baie des Vierges, with a cluster of yachts at anchor, it’s a hallucinatory wonderland.
Truth is, these cones resemble giant phalluses protruding out of the ocean. This risqué natural tableau was originally (and aptly) named Baie des Verges in French (Bay of Penises). Outraged, the missionaries promptly added a redeeming ‘i’ to make the name Baie des Vierges (Bay of Virgins).
There’s a small, sober church with an elaborate wooden altar in the village, as well as a waterfall at the end of the valley (ask for directions).
North of Hanavave, the stunning Vaipo Cave is carved into black cliffs. It’s accessible only by boat.