Claus Lauter: Hello, welcome to another episode of the Why We Travel Podcast. Today it will take us to a far away place. We are going to the Pacific and we will look into the Marquesas Islands. You probably have not heard of them. , it’s not really on everyone’s travel map. It’s a group of volcanic islands and French Polynesia, and it’s very, very small.
So we have an expert with us today who has been there and will give us a little bit of an insight. About this destination. Justin Water. He is a regular travel expert for K T L A. This is the number one news program in Los Angeles. He is a travel journalist. He works in travel as on camera host, and also is a producer, writer, and influencer.
He discovered the passion of travel love for travel when he was 21 was his first trip to the Australian Outback. And since then he is traveling around the world and we wanna find out a little bit more of his lifestyle and specifically on the Barques Islands. So let’s say hello to Justin.
Hi Justin. How are you today?
Justin Walter: Good. How are you doing? Thank you so much for having. Justin, you
Claus Lauter: have a very impressive bio . There is much more to it than what I just could say. run us quickly through what you actually do. It’s a lot. Well,
Justin Walter: thank you. Yes, [00:02:00] Nowadays, I just say a travel content creator because I work in the travel industry as an on-camera travel expert and on-camera host.
I also work behind the camera. , I also do social media content creation, so anything in terms of creating content, whether it’s on camera, behind the camera, writing, photography, videos, editing, will you name it? I try to get my hand in it and just kind of creating a life and a lifestyle and career that revolves around travel.
Claus Lauter: Okay. Now you have been to many places. Marquesas Islands are sort of away from the usual track. So that’s what we’re gonna talk about. Give me a bit of an idea, first of all, where it is.
Justin Walter: Sure. So the Marsis Islands are a group of islands. There’s 12 of them in the group. , that is also, people say French Polynesia.
There’s over 118 islands in the islands of Tahiti, , I live in Los Angeles, they’re just an eight hour direct flight from Los Angeles. So for me, the islands of Tahiti are, pretty accessible, whereas I think a lot of people kind of think of. Bora Bora and Overwater bungalows when they think of Tahiti.
, but what [00:03:00] people don’t realize is Tahiti and the islands of Tahiti are actually over 118 islands that make up the islands, and 12 of those islands are about chain known as the Marquesas Islands. And I actually first learned about the Marquees Islands when I was a kid. I don’t know if you’re familiar, I know in, South Africa the TV show Survivor is a very popular TV show.
Are you a fan of the show at all or have you watched it? You have. Okay. season four of the US version was actually Survivor Marsis. So I remember being a kid watching Survivor Marsis in, the beginning of the first, , generation and years of the TV show Survivor, which is now in season , we’ve already had 43 American seasons. It used to travel all around the world to destination. So as a teenager in the Midwest, I was enamored by, The show went, you know, first it was Borneo, then it was Australia, the Australian Outback, which actually inspired me to live and study abroad in Australia.
Then it was Africa. Then season four was survivor Marquees. So [00:04:00] my first introduction to the marquees was through the TV show Survivor, and they actually filmed on one of the islands New Jiva, which is , the largest of the. Inhabited islands. So even though there are 12 islands in the mar cases, only six of them are inhabited and nuku.
Is the largest of those islands. And when, I had the opportunity to work in the islands of Tahiti for a different project, I was able to extend that opportunity to go visit the Marquesas. And it was on the top of my list to get to New Jiva where they filmed, , the TV show Survivor. So it was a special, , full circle kind of trip for me to explore this island and the marque after watching it as a kid and dreaming one day of travel.
To the Marsis and then actually turning that dream into a reality. Okay.
Claus Lauter: No, that’s an amazing story. Coming from a dream and then really putting it into reality and then first seeing as a kid on tv. Oh, amazing. Only a few islands are inhabited. I think there’s about 10,000 people living there, so it’s really, really tiny.
It is. Everyone has some [00:05:00] kind of idea how the South Pacific Islands are, how they should look like, how are they in reality? What did you find there?
Justin Walter: I’ve been to a lot of islands and around the world and to a lot of destinations. I actually have not been to Hawaii , which is, a short six hour flight from Los Angeles and I still haven’t been to Hawaii, but I’ve been, to islands and tropical destinations and locations all over the world.
But I traveled to the marquees with one of my best friends, a co-host of mine, a producing partner of mine, someone who I work with, king of Phillips. She is , a seasoned on-camera travel host and traveled journalist who I absolutely adore and love traveling with. And we work a lot together. when we were in the marquees and when we’re on Ji, On a on a horseback riding adventure that I’m gonna talk to you about.
she said to me, this feels like Hawaii if we went back in time. So it kind of has , that Hawaiian kind of rustic kind of look and terrain. But it feels like [00:06:00] Hawaii years and years ago, before Hawaii became a huge popular destination. And just to note, the islands of Tahiti pre Covid, Get the same number of tourists in one year that Hawaii gets in one week.
So in terms of tourism, you know, the islands of Tahiti are pristine and beautiful in the marquees where kind of the rustic version, , of Hawaii type terrain. And, Hawaiian culture is actually influenced by Marsian culture. , so there is kind of a connection to the Marsis and Hawaii.
So there is that link in terms of kind of what it feels like and looks like. But when we were picked up in Nu Jiva, we stayed at Lodge and the owner is Deborah, and it’s basically kind of a homestay Airbnb. That was our experience on Nu Jiva. Her daughter, , Anada picked us up at the airport and then gave us kind of a tour of the island in her car, , on our way to the lodge we were staying at in their home.
, the roads have only recently [00:07:00] been paved in the last couple, decade , and cell service is only recent. And so this is a, location, a very off the beaten path, rustic destination that is just getting some of the modern, things such as roads , around the island. So it is really neat to go to a location in a destination like the Marquesas and like new Jiva.
It is going back in. Okay,
Claus Lauter: so you already mentioned you had a little bit of a adventure there has to do with a goat. Tell me the story, .
Justin Walter: Okay, the way King of Phillips and I love to travel is we love outdoor adventure. So anything in terms of getting, adventure and thrill seeking, we love to do so.
Our host, Deborah organized a horseback riding adventure for us. And , the morning she dropped us off at Our Guide’s house and we met the guide. He didn’t speak any English, we weren’t able to communicate with him. We looked at Deborah and said, is there any orientation of what we need to do with the horses or anything?
And she said, Just get on the horse and follow . So, we hopped on our horses [00:08:00] and we rode it through the small town up into the mountains. And it started off just a beautiful horseback riding trip. And, we were going through, lush green scenery up to these mountains and we got to a viewpoint where it was very beautiful.
He had our horses kind of go up to a ledge and then he signaled to kind of take our phone to take a photo for us. And we thought, oh great. This is just, you know, a beautiful horseback riding adventure. Little did we know this was going to be, and still is, one of the most epic adventures of our lives that slowly started unfolding.
So we then followed him on his horse. He led the horseback riding adventure, just through nonverbal communication. And we followed and then, Slowly but surely we started going up higher and higher and higher into these mountains, and I started looking at King like, what, where are we going?
You know, it started raining at one point and he kept, you know, he said the word gr, gr, gr, in which we were like, oh, you know, our horses Were starting to slide down these mountains a little bit on these , muddy trails. So we get up to these ridge lines of these mountains, like razor [00:09:00] thin pencil, thin ridge lines.
And we’re on these horses where I’m starting to get nervous looking to my right and looking to my left. If this horse makes one slip or mistake, we’re gonna fall hundreds to thousands of feet on these marsian beautiful mountains, but getting a little scary. So at one point we were on a ridge line Our guide hops off his horse in front of us. While Kinga is in front of me, I’m on my horse on this tiny, tiny trail. There’s a hundred to a thousand foot cliff drops to our right and left. He gets off his horse, pulls out a rifle. And starts slowly hunching down and running forward to shoot goat. And we had no idea that this horseback riding adventure was actually a goat hunting expedition.
So he gets off his horse. I look at Kinga and I’m nervous. So nervous because in my mind as if he shoots this gun, this horse could just buck up and I could go flying off a cliff. And you know, it was like this. I [00:10:00] literally saw my life flash. My eyes a little bit, and I said to Kinga, I said, I don’t wanna die here.
And I don’t wanna die. So she said, get off your horse, let’s get off our horses. And I got off my horse immediately. And then he did shoot the gun. He shot a goat, and that is not where the adventure ends. So he shot a goat and then I look at Kinga and I said, you know, she said to me, are we in? I said, we’re in, we’re in.
So then we walked our horses to, , where he tied up his horse and then we just followed him. We didn’t talk to him at all. We just followed him. And it got to a point where we. Scaling the side of a mountain, like as if we’re bouldering and climbing in these like steep sides of a mountain, scaling them to get to the point where we saw the goat, it was dead.
Lying on a ridge, , on a cliff, we scaled the side of a mountain, probably pretty dangerous. This would never have flown in the US as a tourism adventure. There’s no amount of [00:11:00] waivers that legally you could sign to make this a legal adventure in the United States. So we get to this. Where there’s the goat he killed and he gets the goat, he chops off the head.
He tosses the head over the cliff, and then he starts. Tying up the goat. He ties it, he throws it over his back, and then we climb back up the mountain, follow him. We then get to where our, horses were tied up. He ties up , the goat and we watched him gut and then cleaned the goat. He pulled out the bullet from the heart.
It was a direct hit, , through the heart and the lungs. And he gave kinga the bullet. And I think Kinga is making a necklace out of that bullet that she kept. And then we watched him, Package and we helped him and we watched an awe, again, , no verbal communication. He didn’t speak any English.
We just watched and we were a part of this adventure with him. And then if I fast forward a little bit, we continued on. He killed another goat, but unfortunately it fell off a cliff and we couldn’t find [00:12:00] it. And we then returned back to town we got back to Deborah at the lodge. We were staying. We communicated through her with him and said, , how did you know we would be so interested and open for this adventure? And he just read our energy , he said we were down and we said to Deborah, how did you sign us up for something like this? And she said, oh, I thought you guys wanted a survivor tour. Cuz someone had told her that I love the TV show Survivor.
And they told him , to put me on a tour. On a horseback riding tour to show me locations where they filmed survivor, and she interpreted that as we wanted a survival list adventure. So she paired us up with what we didn’t know or who we didn’t know. This man is the town goat hunter. He hunts goat for the town.
He’s been doing it his entire life. Generations of goat hunters where since he was a kid, he learned how to hunt goats, and that’s what he does for the town and for a living. He hunted the goats. And we lived a day in the life of our [00:13:00] marsian man who was the town goat hunter. For him, it was just an average Tuesday or a Wednesday for us, it is one of the most epic.
In the life that we can ever, dream of having with this man. And what’s even more remarkable, he did this entire thing in flip flops for one, two. , what we learned to find out was the day before he buried his wife, his wife had passed away and he buried his wife the day before. And then he took these two Americans out on a, goat hunting adventure as if nothing had, phased him in his life.
So we are so. To have that experience and that cultural immersive adventure with , this amazing marsian man in the mountains of the Marquesas.
Claus Lauter: That’s an amazing story. , for him, probably it was just another day in the office. Yes. And for you it was really like a survival trip, but that shows you how travel basically can bring you to the maximum, what you can take, and then you grow from there.
Yes. And then next time it’ll be easier. Talking a little bit about getting to the Maza Islands. I mean, not [00:14:00] everyone needs to go through this kind of adventure. Unless they want to. But how do you get there? What’s the language overall? A little bit of, , practical tips.
Justin Walter: Getting to the marquees and getting to the islands of Tahiti, the first step is wherever you’re flying from, you want to get to Main Island.
Tahiti, , that is where, from LA there’s direct flights. I know there’s, flights , it’s a very popular destination for French people and coming from Paris, so usually there’s a lot of flights. A go through either Los Angeles or San Francisco. So you get to Main Island, Tahiti, once you’re in Main Island, Tahiti, , I’ve always flown through Air Tahiti Newi as the airline to get , to Main Island, Tahiti, but there’s other airlines and carriers that can get you there.
Once you get to Main Island, Tahiti, then you book internal flights to get to the other islands. So that’s How you would get to the Marsis is there’s no direct flights from, you know, if you’re coming from the US or from other destinations. Most you kind of go through Main Island, Tahiti, wherever you’re coming from, whether you’re coming from Europe or whether you’re coming from the United States, or if you’re coming from South Africa, you’re gonna get to main, main Island, Tahiti.
And what if your [00:15:00] journey’s long? I would recommend staying a couple days to kind of just adjust and instead of then going right into , these other islands, , the marquees for example, I can’t remember, I think it was like a three or four hour flight from Main Island, Tahiti. the internal flights, we also used, , air Tahiti to book the internal flights.
A lot of people in the marquees and in the islands of Tahiti speak French. As you know, it’s French Polynesia. , but there are most people we found speak English as well. Our goat hunting guide that was, someone who didn’t speak English. But in, , in all of my travels, I’ve been to the islands of Tahiti now, I believe three times, and did various islands into various chains of the islands of Tahiti Most.
do speak French and English. , so if you do speak English, you’ll be able to get by, mostly , by speaking English. And if you speak French, then it’s a bonus to you.
Claus Lauter: In regards of travel budget, I can imagine it’s a bit more on the higher end or how
Justin Walter: that’s that. So it depends. The islands of Tahiti are known, for more of kind of a higher end budget.
When people, again, think of the Overwater bungalows and Bora Bora however, There’s [00:16:00] ways of doing it where you can do it on more of a budget and you know, the marque, for example, once you get to the marquees,
there’s only one main hotel, but then there’s Airbnbs and kind of more budget style ways. And I actually recommend doing a homestay, our homestay experience in Nuku. Heva was incredible. We stayed with a woman named Deborah and she welcomed us into her home like family, and we left feeling like we had a new friend for life.
She cooked us our meals. She took us around the town. Her daughter and her daughter’s daughter were amazing. We had family meals with her son as well. We really got to learn and experience the culture of Mar. Directly through Marsian people versus staying in a hotel and having more of that not gonna say uptight, more of that fancy kind of hotel experience.
So I recommend if you don’t wanna spend a lot of money and you wanna be more budget conscious, . Even when I was in Main Island, Tahiti, I stayed at an Airbnb home, stay with a [00:17:00] family in Main Island, Tahiti. So yes, you could splurge and go to Bora Bora and you could go to these overwater bungalows, which are beautiful.
Bucket list dream trips for sure. But if you wanna do it in a more. money friendly way. There’s ways of definitely finding options that are more affordable. And there’s also so many islands that Bora Bora is gonna be the most expensive. But then there’s islands like, Moray, very close to Main Island, Tahiti that offers great terrain, a lot of adventure, more affordable options. And amazing. There’s so many ways to do quote unquote, Tahiti in the islands of Tahiti that doesn’t have to break the. Okay.
Claus Lauter: I’m a big fan of staying with locals.
You wanna experience the culture, you wanna be with the people and not in a exchangeable resort hotel, which can be also somewhere else on the planet. Yes. So I’m totally with you on that one. Tell me a little bit more, , we travel a lot, you do a lot of TV shows and whatsoever. , give me a bit of an overview of what you do and where people can find.
Justin Walter: I do travel a lot. I love travel. It’s my number one [00:18:00] passion. I joke that it’s my longest term relationship. , , people can find my firstname.lastname@example.org. That’s kind of where I have all of , my work , and what I’m up to. And then I also am on social media and my handles are at a t w Justin, and the a t W stands for around the World.
, my blog is around the world. With justin.com. So those are kind of the main spots to find me a t w Justin on social media. And that’s kind of where keep things up to date on where I’m at. I look at my social media, yes, it’s for work, it’s my digital travel journal.
I love being able to go to my Instagram , and look through old posts and look through highlights and just kind of see, like, this is my travel journal that in 10, 15, 20, 30, 40, 50 years, I’m gonna love. Digital representation of a journal of my travels, or I used to hand write, journal entries, which I’m starting to do again on my travels.
But I love having kind of social media as the the digital journal. Okay,
Claus Lauter: I’m coming a little bit too late to the table. I’m just too old.
Justin Walter: [00:19:00] Hey, look at, I mean, perhaps , you have a podcast, which is amazing and I think too though, social media, yes, it can be a business.
, some people turn it into a Mine is a business. But I think. I love my friends who travel that just do it for them and for fun. So if you take photos and you like videos, just put it on social media. Don’t worry about likes, don’t worry about, comments and all the engagement, all that garbage.
Just, do it for you. That’s what I would say to anybody who, wants to keep a if they want to use it on social media or just do it for yourself. Both are good options. No, a
Claus Lauter: hundred percent agree with that. Justin, thanks so much for giving us an overview on the Marques Islands.
I will put it on my travel list. I haven’t been in that area. Definitely want to go there now. I will put all the links in the show notes. Then you’re just one click away. Thanks
Justin Walter: so much for your time. Thank you so much. I.
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