The Best of the Marquesas Islands

The Best of the Marquesas Islands – Imagine seeing rays of sunshine filter through the clouds over sharp mountain peaks, creating a scene you’ve only experienced in a photo or painting. Luscious islands emerge from the Pacific Ocean, a land of history and legends, each one more fascinating and unforgettable than the last. Welcome to the magnificent Marquesas Islands. The Marquesas are an archipelago located 932 miles northeast of Tahiti and spread out over 12 islands, of which only six are inhabited. Unlike the other islands in French Polynesia, there are no lagoons or protected coral reefs surrounding these landscapes. Instead, steep volcanic mountains plunge straight into the pounding Pacific Ocean, while jagged ridges lay interspersed between deep valleys and thriving jungles.  The Marquesas Archipelago is one of the most remote island groups in the world. These distant volcanic islands are located farther away from a continental landmass than any other island in existence. They are so isolated they even have their own time zone.

Why go?  You can explore their rugged terrain and discover a land that few people have seen before you. Throughout the islands, there are many archaeological and ceremonial sites including houses, shrines, stone statues, agricultural terraces and burial grounds that testify to the existence of an ancient civilization.  For more information on the wonderful beaches of French Polynesia and the Marquesas Islands, click here, or visit us on Pinterest.

Marquesas Islands Weather – When to Visit

The archipelago of the Marquesas is much closer to the Equator than the rest of French Polynesia; hence its climate slightly differs from Tahiti and the other islands, it tends to be hotter. Generally speaking, the northern Marquesas Islands (including Nuku Hiva) are drier, and the southern Marquesas Islands (Hiva Oa & Tahuata) are wetter.

The rainy season is from January to the beginning of March, which is also when the temperatures are at the hottest with an average of 28°C. The common recommendation is to visit the Marquesas Islands between September and December.

In my case, at the end of September:

  • in Hiva Oa, I had one full day of rain for two with an average temperature of 25 C.
  • In Nuku Hiva, I only saw the sun, but due to the altitude, the temperature varied from 30°C at the sea level to 18°C at 1,200 m.

Water temperatures remain stable between 27 and 29°C all year long. From a marine life point of view, you might want to consider these migratory seasons:

  • From July to September, it is the hammerhead shark season. Indeed, I saw one at Kui Point.
  • From October to December, it is the humpback whale season. Indeed, I heard a male singing on my 2nd dive.
  • From November to April, it is the melon-headed whale season. For this, I will need to come back!

The Islands of the Marquesas

Nuka Hiva, Marquesas Islands French Polynesia, The Best of the Marquesas Islands, When to visit the Marquesas Islands, best Marquesas Islands Accommodations, best Marquesas Islands Tours & Activities, Best Marquesas Islands RestaurantsNuku Hiva

On Nuku Hiva, excursions include trips to Hakaui, where a hike can be undertaken to visit a waterfall, or to Taipivai, the “Typee” of Melville’s writings. Taiohae is also a pleasant village for strolling, where one is just as likely to encounter a wayward horse nibbling grass at the bus stop as a local resident stopping into a local shop or pizza joint.

Near the pier, there’s an artisanal center where local craftsmen sell their wares, with a focus on Marquesan wood carvings—a skill for which the islands’ master carvers are renowned throughout the Pacific. There are also produce stalls and a snack bar.

Four-wheel drive excursions are also popular on rugged Nuku Hiva, to various points on the island to visit archaeological sites and enjoy the vistas from scenic overlooks at many points on this mountainous island.

Any and all excursions are arranged through hotels or pensions, and it’s customary to book them upon arrival in Nuku Hiva as availability and conditions can vary.

Visit TripAdvisor for the Best Nuka Hiva Tours & Activities

HIva Oa, Marquesas Islands French Polynesia, The Best of the Marquesas Islands, When to visit the Marquesas Islands, best Marquesas Islands Accommodations, best Marquesas Islands Tours & Activities, Best Marquesas Islands RestaurantsHiva Oa

On Hiva Oa, a popular excursion is a day trip by boat to the neighboring island of Tahuata. As you explore the town of Vaitahu (which features an impressive stone church) and the hamlet of Hapatoni (renowned for its wood carvers and local crafts), your guide will share aspects of Marquesan culture. The tours typically include a stop at a beach for lunch and snorkeling before returning to Hiva Oa.

Another popular excursion is a quick trip through the village of Atuona to see sights pertaining to its two most famous denizens: the painter Paul Gauguin and singer Jacques Brel, both of whom are buried in the island’s small cemetery. The Paul Gauguin Cultural Center in Atuona sits on the site of the painter’s house, and includes an air-conditioned gallery of replica works by the artist. The grounds feature a replica of his house (the original wood entrance arch—carved by Gauguin himself—is at the Musee d’Orsay in Paris). A nearby hangar houses JoJo, the private aircraft of Jacques Brel, alongside historic displays (in French) of the singer’s career.

Visit Trip Advisor for the Best Hiva Oa Tours & Activities

Best Maquesas Islands Restaurants

Ti Piero – Hakahetau

This family-run eatery does a wonderful job of preparing well-executed international specialties with a true Marquesan touch. Go the chèvre de sept heures (goat cooked for seven hours) and breadfruit rolls. A good place to recharge the batteries after the Hakahau–Hakahetau walk. Telephone:  689 40 92 55 82

Snack Kaupe – Chez Kahu

Blink and you’ll miss this discreet venture conveniently positioned across from Espace Culturel Paul Gauguin. No culinary extravaganza here, just a few classics faultlessly prepared (grilled sirloin, grilled fish, shrimps with tomato sauce). Kahu himself is something of a star in the Marquesas – he’s one of the best Haka Manu (Bird’s Dance) dancers.  Telephone:  689 40 92 71 61

Hotel Hanakéé Pearl Lodge Restaurant Hiva Oa

Probably the number-one spot for fine dining in Hiva Oa, and certainly the most suitable place for a romantic soirée. The sweeping views from the terrace are impressive enough, but the excellent French-influenced cuisine is better still, and makes imaginative use of the island’s rich produce.  Telephone:  689 40 92 75 87  Web:  Hotel Hanakee Pearl Lodge Restaurant.

Bella Pizza – Taiohae

Best pizza ever.. they deliver within 30 minutes! Be careful of their margaritas … they are strong! Telephone:  689 87 23 29 66  Web:  Bella Pizza.

Chez Yvonne’s  Nuku Hiva

Yvonne is an institution on the island.  All the dishes are delicious and the portions are HUGE.  The prices are not the cheapest, but great food, good people and humongous portions.  Telephone:  689 92 02 97  Web:  Yvonne’s.

Restaurant Moana Nui

Located on the piece of road that faces the shore, this small restaurant has the advantage of being one of only 5 eating places in Taiohae. Pizzas and rather good French food is served either inside or on the large terrace fronting the sea.  Telephone:  689 92 03 30  Web:  Restaurant Moana Nui.

Best Marquesas Islands Accommodations

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Hanakee Lodge – Hiva Oa

If you’re looking for a family-friendly hotel in Hiva Oa, look no further than Hanakee Lodge Hiva Oa. Wifi is offered to guests, and rooms at Hanakee Lodge Hiva Oa offer air conditioning and a minibar. During your stay, take advantage of some of the amenities offered, including a concierge, currency exchange, and baggage storage. Guests of Hanakee Lodge Hiva Oa are also welcome to enjoy a pool and a lounge, located on site. For travelers arriving by car, free parking is available. Hiva Oa is also home to Gauguin Museum, a popular history museum that is not too far from Hanakee Lodge Hiva Oa. The staff at Hanakee Lodge Hiva Oa looks forward to serving you during your upcoming visit. More Hanakee Lodge Hiva Oa Information Here.

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Pension Villa Enata – Hiva Oa

Kaoha Nui! Welcome to the “Villa Enata” guesthouse. Ideally situated 3-min drive away from the village of Atuona and 10-min drive from the airport, located in calm and fresh surroundings, on the heights of Tahauku, Villa Enata provides you with a stunning panoramic view of the mountains and the sea. With us, the ambiance is laid back. You will be welcomed warmly and our only concern will be to make your stay pleasurable thanks to a quality accommodation including on request catering. Two luminous rooms with private bathrooms are available in the main house and can accommodate respectively 5 and 2 guests. Two independent bungalows (room and bathroom) are also available next to the pool and can accommodate 4 and 2 guests. You will surely appreciate our lounge too, next to the pool, where you will be able to have a drink or simply relax with a good book. More Pension Villa Enata Hiva Oa Information Here.

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Pension Areke Chez Kayser – Hiva Oa

Get your trip off to a great start with a stay at this property, which offers car park free of charge. Conveniently situated in the Hiva Oa part of Marquesas Islands, this property puts you close to attractions and interesting dining options. Don’t leave before paying a visit to the famous Ua Huka Airport. Restaurant and outdoor pool are among the special facilities that will enhance your stay with on-site convenience. More Pension Areke Chez Kayser Information Here.

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Le Nuku Hiva by Pearl Resorts – Nuka Hiva

The value of time is the first and foremost gift that the Marquesas offers to travelers. Located in a magnificent tropical garden, Le Nuku Hiva by Pearl Resorts overlooks the bay and village of Taiohae and the black sandy beach lying 50 steps below. Each bungalow are built with local materials and each of them have carvings by a different artist from the Marquesas Islands. Appreciate this typical atmosphere found in the Marquesas with modern comforts. More Le Nuka Hiva by Pearl Resorts Information Here.

32 Comments

  1. Robert

    I am really happy to find this post on the beautiful Marquesas Islands in the central south Pacific Ocean. I have been discussing with my girlfriend for months now where we want to go for vacation. We both love the outdoors and wanted to go to an island that is far less developed than all the ones we have been to in the Caribbean.

    We were looking for something exotic yet still untouched and a bit rugged. I believe we will be visiting the Marquesas Islands of French Polynesia. We loved everything you described and was wondering. Do you happen to know if the airport on Nuku Hiva is an international airport or would we have to go to another nearby island? Thanks Leahrae for this post.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Thanks for stopping by Robert.  Yes, the airport on Nuku Hiva is an International Airport, so you are good to go.  You will have a fantastic time.  Let me know if you need any additional information.  

      Reply
  2. Stella

    This is a very interesting place to visit. Marquesas island will be on my next vacation list. I will like to embark on their diving tour and have a taste on their pizza. I want to know how the taste of their pizza and other foods look like. Excursions in this island would be an amazing excursion one will ever have, I guess. Although, am just hearing about this place for the first time but your distribution about many funfilled places have caught my attention already. I love to see and explore many ancient signatories. I need to do more research on how the trip to this amazing island look like.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Great Stella, glad you learned about a new and wonderful beach destination!

      Reply
  3. ayihe1

    Hi, thank you for an amazing website. I am a beach lover and these articles are gold for me! I love how your website is well organised and it has so much details and information. I will definitely use this website as a checklist before I embark on my next trip. keep up the great work and I can’t wait for more articles from you. 

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Thank you so much 🙂  I am glad you have enjoyed visiting beach travel destinations.

      Reply
  4. Robert Trevor

    As a place of peace,far from the beaten track,where one can relax and enjoy a quiet holiday, the Marquesas seem to be the right place.

    The climate seems to be the best, to visit from November to March,and as a tropical paradise,with many historic stone statues,it would be a very interesting place to explore.

    Visitors seem to be well catered for, with the five tour guide companies,where one has a choice of boating, kayaking,

    paddles,4 by 4,or walking tours.or diving with the Marquisas diving Hiva Oa,

    There seem to be five very diverse restaurants,with local dishes such as goat at the Ti Piero ,or international dishes at the Snack Kaupe,or the Hotel Hanakee Pearl Lodge Restaurant,or pizza at the Bella Pizza.

    The accommodation at the five hotels ,lodges,pensions,and chalets, seems to offer a delightful diversity of places to stay,to suit most peoples requirements.  

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      I love the Marquesas just for the remoteness.  Then you get the whole package vacationing here as you say.  the best of everything and wonderful beaches with plenty to do.  What is not to love.  I agree with you!  Hopefully you can visit the Marquesas Islands soon 🙂

      Reply
  5. Sondra M

    The Marquesas Islands sound like a wonderful place to vacation for people that want to get away from crowds and parties.  I have been in the mood for someplace quiet.    You mentioned that wild horses roam the island.    Do you know whether it is possible to actually see any of them?  I would love to photograph them.  I am interested in learning more about the wild horses on the islands and comparing them to the wild mustangs in the United States. 

    Thank you for the hotel recommendations.  Maison Heipua a Hiva Oa sounds like it could be a perfect place to stay and relax and enjoy some quiet time.   

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      You are very welcome Sondra.  I am sure that you can find a tour where you would be able to see the wild horses.  What a beautiful site for sure!  It is a unique and wonderful destination.  Thanks for stopping by beach travel destinations.

      Reply
  6. Aabidah Ahmed

    It would be a dream for me to visit the Marquesas islands! It is a great place for people that love nature and the outdoors, such as myself.

    I like the private tour idea to show people around. The pictures of what you’ll find on these islands are so beautiful, especially the statues that look really old. Looks like these statues were there for 100’s of years. 

    My favorite stay will be the pearl lodge. I love the woodwork.

    This is honestly a dream so thank you for sharing.

    All the best to you.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      You are very welcome and sounds like you would enjoy a vacation here.  I hope you can visit the Marquesas Islands soon!  Thanks for visiting beach travel destinations.

      Reply
  7. Nuttanee

    Marquesas Islands takes my breath away, it is so pretty. Makes me think of the southern part of Thailand like Phuket or Krabi or many islands in Hawaii. Thank you for sharing all the places that I should visit. I will definite make Marquesas Island on my vacation list. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Great !  I am glad you enjoyed and will be vacationing to this wonderful beach destination.  Thanks for stopping by.

      Reply
  8. Chris

    The Marquesas Islands look like a quite wonderful holiday destination, and I’m quite surprised that I haven’t heard that much about them before (I consider myself quite well travelled!). 

    You mention that there is no bad time to visit this area of the world, but I am wondering if there are any points in the year where the overall journey etc will be cheaper than other times?

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Hi Chris and good question.  I think you will find the hotel rates to be pretty constant throughout the year.  And yes, this is a wonderful beach vacation destination!  Plus so much more for sure.

      Reply
  9. Aly

    Wow! This looks absolutely beautiful. Plus, with the extremely remote location, I can’t even imagine how amazing the night sky must be… I’d love to visit when there is less chance of rain and cloud cover in order to view the stars and milky way at night… thanks for pointing out that the weather is rainier in June to September. This is very helpful to plan the perfect time to visit!!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Ok great Aly!  Thanks for stopping by.  Please let me know if you need any additional information.

      Reply
  10. Ciara

    The Marquesas look so beautiful and remind me of the Big Island of Hawai’i with the stunning volcanic features and the rugged terrain. I’d absolutely put these islands on my list of places to visit! Thank you for sharing this post with lots of helpful information on ways to travel, like getting an Air Tahiti Pass and staying in guest houses around the islands.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      You are very welcome, and I am glad you found the information informative and useful for you.  Yes, I would say that the terrain is very similar.  It might even be comparable as far as price goes… travel accommodations and such.  Thank you for visiting BeachTravelDestinations.com!

      Reply
  11. W Tucker

    Wow, the Marquesas are on my bucket list, so I’m so glad to find your article on the islands. I really didn’t know much about them, but your guide is fantastic.
    I guess you have to fly to Tahiti first? It sounds like quite an adventure, and the most appealing part is the remoteness, thus making it less accessible for the mass crowds you find in many tourist destinations.
    I find it very interesting that there are giant tiki statues. How interesting. You say that not much is known about them? Um…
    Thanks for the article and all the info about rental cars and where to stay. I’m kinda shocked they have Wifi.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Yes, definitely a bucket list location and I love that it is remote and, as you say not crowded at all.  Beautiful place for sure and yes, WiFi!  Thanks for reading about the Marquesas Islands!

      Reply
  12. Bobby

    Wow! How beautiful is that? I learned so much from your site and the pictures are so nice. Makes me wish I was there. Great site.
    Would there be any kind of shots or medical evaluation required to travel there? How about a passport? Do children under the age of 18 require anything special?

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Only thing required is a passport, and that includes children.  As long as everyone has a passport, you are good to go 🙂  Yes, I wish I was there right now too!

      Reply
  13. Robert

    What a beautiful looking place to visit. The weather sounds just wonderful.

    Do you have any idea what the air fare from the west coast would be? How long would the travel time be? I’m guessing 10+ hours.

    Thanks for sharing this helpful and through article. I enjoyed reading it and dreaming about going there.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Yes, flight time from the west coast is going to be 9 hours or more, depending on layovers.  Boy, to give ticket pricing would be difficult as it really depends on when you go, how long you stay, and how much in advance you buy your tickets.  Dreaming is the beginning of going you know 🙂  Glad you enjoyed!

      Reply
  14. DianaDM

    Dear Mattysmom,

    I just viewed your site and its among the best that i have come across so far.

    I particularly liked your niche and the way you have integrated travel packages along.

    Its really well thought about,organised and easy to searches too.Seems you have really taken really some time to create it but for sure its a nice one

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Thank you so much Diana!  I have worked hard and it is a passion that I have for sure!  Thanks for visiting!

      Reply
  15. Jodi

    Wow! I sure want to pay a visit to the Marquesas Islands! You have offered a wealth of information on weather, transportation, motels, dining and things to do. Visiting from the United States, would I need anything more than a passport? The video makes me want to visit right now! I love that you offer a vast array of other places to visit as well.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      No, that is all you need is a passport, then you are good to go.  The French Polynesia is one of those places that most dream about, really it is pretty affordable once you get there.  Especially on the Marquesas Islands, which is much less than staying at the other islands of French Polynesia.  Thanks for reading!

      Reply
  16. Aaron Brown

    I love how informative this website is on traveling around the world. The tips and tricks are also very helpful when trying to save money on booking flights. The reviews are very helpful and help with buying stuff for my trip. When booking wit Hotwire, you said you didn’t have the best experience. What exactly was the issue? Regardless, thank you for all the work you’ve put into this. it helps a lot! I also look forward to hearing from you.

    Thank you.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      I am glad you like beachtraveldestinations.com 🙂  Well with Hotwire, you don’t know what hotel you are getting or what exact flights you are getting.  I guess if you like surprises, it is okay.  I requested a 4 star hotel and that was what I paid for.  I really only got about  a 2 star hotel.  Not at all what was advertised.  Live and learn….thanks for reading!

      Reply

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