The Marquesas Islands are situated 1,500 km to the northeast of Tahiti. A land of tales and legends, called Te Henua ‘Enata in the Marquesan language, which means ‘The Land of Men’. The rugged landscape with its craggy mountains, cascading waterfalls and majestic bays, is home to an impressive number of archeological sites. Everywhere you go in these mystical islands, you are envelopped in the spiritual force that is part of Marquesan culture, the mana.

Why visit the Marquesas Islands?

Nuku Hiva Bay © Stéphane Mailion Photography

Nuku Hiva

The biggest island in the archipelago with lofty mountain peaks which slope steeply down into the blue Pacific Ocean. The island’s main village, Taioha’e, is situated in a large bay which bears the same name. Taioha’e is also also the regional capital. The local population is famed for the warm and friendly welcome it gives visitors to this rugged island. Rich in archeological sites and ancient legends Nuku Hiva is home to a thriving ancestral culture.

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Hiva Oa cliffs © Holger Leue

Hiva Oa

Hiva Oa is known as the ‘garden of the Marquesas Islands’ because of its very fertile soil and lush vegetation. The intense green countryside hides roads and houses from view. The craggy mountains and deep valleys are home to a multitude of archeological sites and vestiges of an ancient civilization. Among these are the biggest tiki statues in The Islands of Tahiti. The beaches of Hiva Oa are of volcanic black sand and lie in the shade of rocky cliffs. Atuona, the main village, is deep in Taaoa Bay, at the foot of Mount Temetiu, which rises to 1,276 meters and Mount Fe’ani which is 1,016 meters high. The village cemetery is the last resting place of the artist Paul Gauguin and the singer Jacques Brel.

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Ua Pou, Vaiehu Bay © Bertrand Duquenne

Ua Pou

There are four immense basalt pillars in Ua Pou, two of which, Poutetaunui and Poumaka reach high into the sky. In 1888, Robert Louis Stevenson described them as two ‘volcanic arrows like church bell-towers’. They are said to represent ancient warriors and they stand guard over the island’s main village of Hakahau in the bay below.

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Ua Huka from the sky © Grégoire Le Bacon

Ua Huka

Ua Huka is reputed for its dry soil and magnificent countryside. Wild horses gallop around on the arid plains and wild goats climb the slopes and ridges of this mystical island. Ua Huka is unspoiled and authentic, a land where the ancestors are part of the everyday life of the islanders.

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Tahuata's Hanamoenoa beach © Bertrand Duquenne

Tahuata

Accessible only from the sea, Tahuata is a haven of peace and tranquility, full of pleasant surprises for the visitor. A mountainous island with fertile valleys and crystal clear waters, where the local inhabitants earn their living by selling superb sculptures in bone or miro (rosewood). They also produce mono’i, the famous Tahitian oil extracted from dried coconuts and perfumed with flowers such as the tiare Tahiti or frangipani.

Fatu Hiva, Marquesas c Tahiti Tourisme

Fatu Hiva

Fatu Hiva is the most isolated of the inhabited islands in the archipelago. Accessible only from the sea, it is a small, but beautiful island with high mountains and lush green valleys. In 1937, Thor Heyerdahl and his wife exchanged their modern lifestyle for the natural authenticity of Fatu Hiva. It was here that he developped his erroneous theory that the Polynesians originally migrated to these islands from South America. The inhabitants live close to the village of Omoa, where they make traditional tapa cloth from the bark of the mulberry tree. One of the most picturesque sites in the South Pacific is the ‘Bay of Virgins’ at Hanavave, where the setting sun makes the mountain peaks glow like burning embers.

Not to be missed

What to do in the Marquesas Islands

Rugged and mystical, the Marquesas Islands are a land where the ancestral culture thrives to this day. Hiking, horseback riding, superb dive sites, and an immense wealth of archeological treasures, will fill your vacation with unforgettable moments and wonderful souvenirs.

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Couples hiking in Nuku Hiva, Marquesas Islands © Grégoire Le Bacon
Horseback riding in the Marquesas Islands ©Grégoire Le Bacon

You’ll also enjoy

Activities in the Marquesas Islands

Follow in the footsteps of Brel and Gauguin, or explore the hills and valleys on horseback. There are a multitude of activities to help you discover and appreciate the ‘Land of Men’.

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Rock rising out of the sea on Ua Huka © Tahiti Tourisme
Marquesas Bird Dance © Tahiti Tourisme

The Most Beautiful Sites in the Marquesas Islands

There are so many magnificent sites to visit in the Marquesas Islands that’s it’s almost impossible to select just 10 of them. The rugged, beauty, thriving culture and fascinating history of these islands make them a unique and captivating destination. Here is a selection of just some of the superb sites to visit in the “Land of Men.”

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Transport

Getting there and getting around

It’s a long way to the Marquesas Islands, wherever you’re coming from. You can get there by plane in a few hours, or by boat in a few days.

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A couple in front of a splendid view in the Marquesas archipelago© Grégoire Le Bacon
Horseback riding in the Marquesas© Grégoire Le Bacon

Vacation packages for the Marquesas Islands

Book your trip

See our selected vacation packages for French Polynesia. Meet the local population, explore their unspoiled environment and discover their enviable way of life.

All the vacation packages

11 days

Aranui Cruises

Austral Islands, Bora Bora, Fakarava, Marquesas Islands, Other Tuamotu Islands, Raiatea, Tahiti

From 6912 NZD per person

11 days

Silversea Society Islands, Tuamotus and Marquesas Cruise

Bora Bora, Fakarava, Marquesas Islands, Moorea, Raiatea, Rangiroa, Tahiti

From 10759 NZD per person

10 days

Oceania Tahitian Legends Cruise

Bora Bora, Fakarava, Marquesas Islands, Moorea, Raiatea, Rangiroa, Tahiti

From 5520 NZD per person

15 days

Discover the Marquesas islands by sea

Marquesas Islands, Other Tuamotu Islands, Rangiroa, Tahiti

From 11016 NZD per person
All the vacation packages
Vue aérienne sur l'atoll de Tetiaroa © Tahiti Tourisme

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