Marquesas Islands lie 1,400kms northeast of Tahiti and comprise twelve
volcanic islands, the smaller six are uninhabited, the other six are home
to 7,000 people.
Farther from a continental landfall than any
other group of islands on earth, the twelve Marquesas jut out of the open
Pacific just south of the equator, shrouded in a constant cloud cover.
Brooding volcanic pinnacles pierce the landscape, while the lush
vegetation overflows with sweet-smelling plumeria, bougainvillea, orchids,
spider lilies, flamboyant, ginger, ylang-ygland, jasmine and tiare flowers.
Spanish explorer Alvaro de Mendana arrived at
this Eden in 1595 and stayed long enough to name the islands Las Marquesas
de Mendoza for the wife of his patron. Later, whalers, missionaries, and
explorers wreaked havoc upon the population of 50,000 with rifles and
diseases. Today, some 7,000 people inhabit six of the islands, while six
France helps support the Marquesas, providing the
basics of modernization, from schools to rustic roads. The beneath these
civilized trappings, a wild pulse still leaps in the streams and the
fierceness of the old religion remains alive in the ruins and tikis half
devoured by jungle.
The Marquesas Islands, named by its people ěTe
Henau Enanaî (Land of the Men), consist of six inhabited islands and six
smaller unpopulated islands.
They are divided into two distinct groups about
60 miles apart. Nuku-Hiva, the administrative and economic center of the
Marquesas, lies 932 miles northeast of Tahiti, in the northern group. Ua
Huka and Ua Pou are also in this group, with the southern Marquesas
including Hiva Oa, Tahuata and Fatu Hiva.
How to get there:
AIR TAHITI has 5 flights a week from Tahiti to Nuku Hiva (3 1/2 hour
By boat: the mixed-freighter
ARANUI takes up to 100 passenger in air-conditionned
cabins for a 16 day cruise from Tahiti to the Marquesas through the Tuamotu
archipelago and back. It offers deluxe accomodation and meals as well as
land excursions in the various islands.
Where to stay
Accommodations are available in only a few hotels (Nuku
Hiva and Hiva Oa) and small pensions and family homes on each island, and
activities include Landrover excursions, horseback riding, hiking over
mountain trails and to inland cascades, picnics on the beach or mountains,
deep-sea fishing, sailing, motorboat rides, visits to archaeological sites,
visits to artisansí workshops to buy wood carvings, tapa hangings and monoi
more regional information
on the Marquesas Group, go to:
For hotels on the Marquesas Islands, go to:
more general information
on French Polynesia, go to: