Marquesas Islands

The Land of Men

The Marquesas - Fenua Enata in Marquesan, "Land of Men" - are a group of islands situated more than 1,300 kilometers northeast of Tahiti. Divided into two different groups, they are one of French Polynesia’s five archipelagos.

The Northern Marquesas are clustered around the large island of Nuku Hiva, including both Ua Pou and Ua Huka, while the Southern Marquesas are distributed around the main island Hiva Oa, and include Fatuiva and Tahuata.

marquesas islands
horses in the marquesas islands

A well preserved archipelago

Extremely isolated and thus well preserved, the archipelago has only around ten thousand inhabitants scattered over the dozen islands and rocks, it is nonetheless known worldwide, mainly because it has been the refuge of artists such as the Belgian singer Jacques Brel and French painter Paul Gauguin, both buried on Hiva Oa.

A mystical aura

The craggy landscape, made up of volcanic summits, sometimes reaching over 1,200 meters into the sky, with dramatically steep cliffs plunging abruptly into the ocean, emanating an aura that is often described as mystical.

birds on a palm tree in the marquesas islands
Nuku Hiva

Nuku Hiva

The legend of the Marquesas Islands tells the story of how God made a “big house” represented by the Marquesas Islands, the largest of them–Nuku Hiva–at the top of them all. Its own universe, the staggering volcanic peaks and amazing slopes blend with the blue of the Pacific Ocean. The archipelago’s regional capital, Taioha’e, is situated on a past volcanic crater. A bay by the same name was formed when part of this crater broke apart into the ocean. With amazing views, endless artifacts for history buffs, and a jovial community with a colorful culture, Nuku Hiva is a can’t miss on any visitor’s to-do list.

Nuku Hiva Images1
Le Nuku Hiva by Pearl Resorts
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Hiva Oa

Today, this island, Hiva Oa, is commonly referred to as the “Garden of the Marquesas” thanks to its fertile and lush land. The island could be referred to as rugged, and if you’re lucky, you could stumble along one of the many archaeological sites that remain tucked away, even after hundreds of years.  Although its coasts are lined with beaches and diving cliffs, Hiva Oa feels remote and secluded. There are areas where visitors cannot see any signs of civilization, perfect for a hike away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. This island is also home to the largest tiki statues of The Islands of Tahiti.

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Hôtel Hiva Oa Hanakee Lodge
Nuku Hiva Images2
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The Marquesas embody a sense of ancient tradition coupled with the natural beauty of rolling hillsides and dramatic coastlines.

whale in the water of the marquesas islands

An endemic fauna

Mostly clothed in humid tropical forest, rich with a fauna that is sometimes endemic, the archipelago has the most ancient identity of all the Polynesian island chains, strengthened by the vibrant culture and a powerful reputation for tapa, tattooing and wooden sculpture.