The Marquesas – A Hidden Gem

G’day mates!  This week we want to explore a little known hidden gem in French Polynesia- the Marquesas Islands.  A vacation in the Marquesas is like no other, discover wild and untamed horses roaming freely through rugged gorgeous terrain, steep volcanic mountains plunging straight into the ocean, and thriving jungles with ancient relics and deep valleys throughout.

Local Child in Traditional Clothing on Hiva Oa Island
Local child in traditional clothing on Hiva Oa. Image: Tahiti Tourism

Ancient Carvings on Ua Huka Island
Ancient stone carving on Ua Huka. Image: Tahiti Tourism

Located about a 3-hour flight from the Society Islands, these volcanic islands are the most remote islands in the world, they’re so isolated they even have their own time zone.  Unlike other French Polynesian islands, the Marquesas aren’t protected by coral reefs and have no lagoons. Steeped in ancient culture and boasting a mythical and magical reputation, it’s no wonder that these islands are considered the Islands of Mystery.  This explains why such historical creatives as French painter Paul Gauguin and American writer Herman Melville decided to call it home.  Paul Gauguin managed to settle here permanently and Herman Melville was on a whaling journey when he jumped ship at Nuku Hiva to live among the natives for a month!

There are two main islands in the Marquesas that offer hotel accommodations, Nuku Hiva and Hiva Oa.

Nuku Hiva

Ocean Views from Nuku Hiva Island
Ocean views from Nuku Hiva. Image: Tahiti Tourism

Nuku Hiva is located on the northwestern edge of the Marquesas and is the largest of the islands.  Here you’ll find the gorgeous black sand beach of Anaho, the Hakaui Valley Waterfall (third tallest in the world!), and the Cathedral of Notre Dame- home to intricate stone and wooden carvings from each island.  Plus there are loads of underwater caverns to explore!

Hiva Oa

Boat Off the Shore of Hiva Oa
Small-group adventure cruise vessel Aranui 5 off the shore of Hiva Oa. Image: Tahiti Tourism

Hiva Oa is the second largest island in the Marquesas and is located in the southeastern group.  Home to the harbour town of Atuona, this island is usually the first port call for sailboats making their way west over the Pacific.  Known as Paul Gauguin’s Island, it is the island that the French painter settled on and spent his final days here.  You’ll find his resting place in the Calvary Cemetary overlooking Atuona, as well as that of the poet Jacque Brel.

Paul Gauguin's Resting Place on Hiva Oa
Resting place of famous painter Paul Gauguin on Hiva Oa. Image: Tahiti Tourism

The wild beauty of these islands is like a siren call to a specific type of traveler, one with a thirst for adventure and remote locales.  From riding horseback through the untamed landscape to the unique experience of an adventure cruise, you’ll fall completely captive to the islands’ dreamlike quality.

Give us a call today and start planning your next handcrafted vacation! 312-951-8517 Need a little more inspiration? Check out our other unique and exciting destinations here.