Mountains, lush green vegetation, blue sea, beaches and sun, a good summary of what the Marquesas Islands. This archipelago is 1.500 kilometers from Tahiti and it is a true paradise.
If you like this type of landscape, the culture of the Pacific, live adventures and enjoy outdoor activities, walk where Gauguin and Brel walked or dive in a wonderful underwater world, then your destination is the Marquesas, as ours is today. . Here we go!
They are an archipelago that is 1.500 kilometers from Tahiti and contains around twelve islands, but only six are inhabited. Today they have a population of around 9200 people and its administrative center is Nuku Hiva.
The islands are a beautiful mix of black sand beaches with dreamy bays. Have mountains, tienen valleys, tienen waterfalls, so the activities they offer are many: horseback riding, hiking, 4 × 4 jeep rides, diving, snorkeling… And as we said above, the artists Gauguin and Brel walked around here at the beginning of the XNUMXth century in search of a little peace. And they found her forever because even here are her graves, in Calvaire Cemetery.
Unlike other islands in French Polynesia, here there are no lagoons or coral reefs that protect the coast. Its volcanic islands of sharp edges, of sharp mountains that arose from explosions of magma, that has jungles and deep valleys. Is about one of the most remote archipelagos in the world, well away from any continental mass, so much so that they have their own time zone.
The largest island of the group is Nuku Hiva. It is also known as the Mystic Island and has many interesting sites: the Hakaui Valley Waterfall, the third highest in the world, the black beach of Anaho, underwater caverns that keep an impressive flora and fauna and the Cathedral of Notre Dame with wood and stone carvings representative of each island. Here the main city is Taiohae, the administrative capital of the islands.
Its highest point is Mount Tekao, at 1.185 meters, and it lacks coral reefs or a flat shoreline. The island has many historical treasures, Polynesian-style stone houses, fortifications and temples. France annexed it in 1842. At first it was dedicated to the sandalwood trade and was a stop for whalers, to later dedicate itself more to the export of fruit.
The island has a very rough west coast, with small bays that open into deep valleys. There are no villages around here. It is on the north coast that there are the two most important ports, with deep bays: Anaho and Hatihe'u A'akapa. On the south side there are other bays and here there are more ports. Inland there are green meadows where cattle are raised.
As we said before, the administrative center is Taioha'e, to the south. Did you ever see Survivor, the T seriesV? Well, in Nuku Hiva the fourth season was filmed, in 2002.
The Marquesas Islands are divided into the northern islands, there are eight and among them is Nuku Hiva; the southern islands, seven, and some mounds that do not become islets that are to the north. The second most important island is Hiva Oa, also the second largest island of the group and within the southern islands.
Here is the port city of Atuona and this site is usually the first port that ships crossing the Pacific to the west touch. We can say that It is the island with the most history of the group because it contains very old Tiki statues and it was the place where the painter Paul Gauguin and the musician Jacques Brel died. It is also known as the Marquesas garden because it is very green and fertile.
Hiva Ova has shores with beaches and cliffs where diving is practiced, but even so it is an island that at times seems secluded in itself, silent, almost isolated. Its most important town is Atuona, on the southern end of Taaao Bay, protected by the two highest mountains on the island, Mount Temetiu and Mount Fe'ani.
Another island is Ua Pou, the third island in size. It has huge basalt columns, product of volcanic activity, which have been baptized with the name of legendary warriors, Poumaka and Poutetaunui. In 1888 it was these pillars that inspired Robert Louis Stevenson to say that they resembled volcanic arches that look up to a church steeple, as they look out over the bay of the Hakahau village, the most important on the island.
Ua Huka is of incredible beauty, almost virgin. There are wild horses, lands the color of the desert, goats ... Tahuata is for its part the smallest island of which it is inhabited. But it is known for the famous British explorer, Captain Cook, who visited it in the XNUMXth century. Only accessible by water from Hiva Ova so it is a recommended excursion. Its fertile valleys overlook bays with clear waters, you live peacefully and take home the local perfume, the Love potion as they say here, a centenary oil.
Fatu hiva it has towering cliffs that plunge into the sea and provide dramatic views from above. In 1937 the explorer Thor Heyerdahl and his wife, stayed for a time to live here and summarized their experience in a book. It seems that since then little has changed. Most of its inhabitants live in the village of Omoa and its surroundings, a port. The Hana Vave area is protected by the famous Bay of virgins, beautiful where you look at it, especially at sunset ...
Do you like these islands? If you feel like meeting them in person then pay attention to the practical information which I leave below, always knowing that they are islands that are not in the classic French Polynesia tourist route: Society Islands, Bora Bora, Moorea, the Tuamotu Atolls and the Leeward Islands.
- there are six inhabited islands and four have an airport, but local, so you can get there by plane or boat. If you choose the plane you fly from Tahiti with daily flights to Nuku Hiva and Hiva Oa. To go to the other islands, you must go through one of these two. If, on the other hand, you choose to go by boat, the reality is that anyone who sails through Polynesia takes you, you just have to look for options, for example Tahiti Voile et Lagoon or Poe Charter or the Aranui 5 luxury cruises, which sail once a day. month but they are around 3 euros a week. If you have your own sailboat then you can depart from the Galapagos or the Cook Islands.
- to move between the Marquesas Islands you can fly, between the two main islands there are between one or two flights per day. The islands of Ua Pou and Ua Huka have no luck with daily flights. A good idea is to buy the Marquesas Pass with Tahiti Air. You can also move by boat, hire a local, rent your boat. There is a communal boat within the Marquesas del Sur, which goes to the island of Tahuata and Fatu Hiva (for around 65 euros round trip for a five hour trip).