Marquesas Islands: discover this destination in French Polynesia

Marquesas Islands - where is this part of the Garden of Eden?

The Marquesas Islands, formerly also called Mendaña Islands, are an archipelago of Oceania, part of French Polynesia (it extends over 4 million km² in the South Pacific).

The Marquesas archipelago is 1,500 kilometers northeast of Tahiti. With their sandy beaches and turquoise waters, these islands attract tourists from all over the world. The beautiful landscapes, the waterfalls and the tropical forests have inspired artists like Paul Gauguin and Jacques Brel who stayed there for eternity.

Choose French Polynesia for your paradisiac holidays

The Marquesas are high islands of volcanic origin. Most consist of a central mountain range, exceeding 1,000 meters. The dominant landscapes are basaltic peaks, valleys covered with tropical vegetation and black cliffs. Since these islands do not have barrier coral reefs, they are the most exposed to the cold currents coming from Antarctica.

The Marquesas Islands gather a dozen islands of which six are inhabited. Nuku Hiva, Hiva Oa, Huka Ua, Ua Pou, Tahuata and Fatu Hiva lie on a diagonal of nearly 400 km. Very close to the equator, the climate is warmer and more humid than in other Polynesian archipelagos.

Each of the islands of the archipelago has an authentic character

The islands are attractive thanks to their mountains rich in natural circuits of excursions on horseback or on foot. In addition, the Marquesas have a rich past. Large Tiki, votive statues, large pahu, traditional drums, tatau constitute a part of the archipelago's particular culture. Even the language of the Marquesans is different from other languages ​​spoken in Polynesia.

The inhabited islands

Nuku Hiva

It is the northernmost island of the archipelago which is actually the main one. It is also the second largest island of Polynesia that offers multiple landscapes. Nuku Hiva is a place where you can go mountain biking, hiking or horse riding and even paragliding. The Hakaui waterfall, 350 meters, is one of the highest in the world.

The Marquesas Islands offer sumptuous landscapes, very different from the other islands

Discover the immense archipelago in all its splendor

Hiva Oa

Second in the archipelago by its size, it has an airport that can accommodate large aircraft. In the bay of Puamau we discovered the largest tikis of Polynesia (statues of stone in human form).

The splendid island Hiva Oa

Ua Pou

The island of Ua Pou is one of the most beautiful and wild of Polynesia. It is recognizable by its spectacular peaks, like fingers pointing to the sky.

50 km south of Nuku Hiva, Ua Pou is the most populated island of the archipelago

Ua Huka

It is the smallest island of the archipelago. Its desert plateaus are inhabited by horses and goats. The variety of tropical plants is completed with 300 species of trees. In the village of Hane one can visit the small museum of the sea where is exposed a collection of canoes. The mysterious petroglyphs engraved on the stone have made the archaeological remains of Vaikivi, and Mount Hitikau, with its ancient paepae and red stone tikis famous.

The charm, kindness and hospitality of the inhabitants of the Marquesas Islands are well appreciated by visitors

Fatu Hiva

The island with two volcanoes, Fatu Hiva has the wettest climate of all the archipelago. The abundant rains give birth to a rich vegetation and especially to fruit trees. The specialty of the island is the tapa, fibers of trees on which one draws tattoos Marquesas.

Here, the traditional arts (sculpture, tapas and tattooing) are more developed than elsewhere


Tahuata means dawn. It is the only island in the archipelago that is lined with coral formations, with beautiful white sand beaches.

Lagoons, coconut palms, waterfalls and peaks are among the attractions that attract tourists

Transport and prices

The ways to visit the Marquesas Islands are two: by plane or boat. Once arrived on site, the transport from one valley to another, from one village to another is a little difficult: on horseback, by bike or 4 × 4.

A grandiose nature that we discover by boat, on horseback, on foot or in 4 × 4

It must be said that French Polynesia is an expensive destination, especially if you do not prefer campsites or pensions, but opt ​​for the big ones hotels . Indeed homestay accommodation is more and more appreciated by visitors. This type of accommodation allows to know more about the culture and daily life of Polynesians.


It is hot all year round in the Marquesas. There are mainly two seasons, typical of the archipelago: the hot and humid Austral summer (January-August) and the southern winter, which is a little cooler (September-December).

Rocky peaks dominate the horizon


The dishes on the Marquesas Islands are a mixture of Polynesian and French cuisine, but also with a Chinese influence. Raw fish marinated in lemon juice and drizzled with coconut milk is a famous specialty. Suckling pig, chicken, fish, fafa (taro leaves), uru (jackfruit), fei (red bananas) and poe (dessert made from papaya cooked with coconut milk) are very popular dishes. You can also find goat, pork, crab and lobster.

Flora and fauna

In the Marquesas there is a very diverse flora and fauna. Numerous species of coconut palms on the coast, as well as many exotic flowers and fruits are present. As for wildlife, there are many species of insects and birds in the Marquesas Islands. In addition, the Marquesas Islands have a unique marine ecosystem in the world.

The Marquesas are a remarkable natural ecosystem

History and culture

The Marquesas Islands are impressive because of their geographical diversity and their atmosphere. Indeed, they have an ancient culture. You can see temples in the jungle, tiki almost as big as the statues of Easter Island, places of worship and many archaeological remains dating from 1100 to 1400 AD.

Hiking or horseback riding is the best way to access ancient places of worship in dense forests

The sculpture on wood or stone is a specialty of the Marquesas

Polynesians are very hospitable and friendly. They express their joy of living in their songs and music that are inspired by everyday life.

The Marquesas artists are very creative. For example Ua Huka Island is famous for its wood carvers. The tattoo artists of Fatu Hiva are among the best in the Marquesas. We immediately recognize Marquesan tattoos. They celebrate animals, weapons of war, gods.

Polynesia is an area conducive to sport, including water sports. The dance is in turn a local tradition. Among the popular attractions is also the wedding which is a wedding alternative in Las Vegas.

If you visit the Marquesas Islands, do not hesitate to shop at Taiohae Market in Nuku Hiva. There you can find original gifts: scented soaps, exotic jams, hats, pandanus woven baskets, colorful shirts, sculptures, wooden dishes.

Nestled in the heart of the Atlantic Ocean, French Polynesia is certainly one of the best destinations for your holidays

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