Visit the Marquesas Islands

The Marquesas are as wild and untamed as the horses roaming freely through their rugged terrain. 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. Flight time to get here from Tahiti is approximately 3.5 hours.

Why go?  Known as Te Henua Enata, “The Land of Men,” these primitive islands will call to your innermost savage. 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.

The islands include Nuku Hiva, Hiva Oa, Fatu Hiva, Ua Pou, Ua Huka, Tahuata and other small, uninhabited islands. Nuku Hiva and Hiva Oa are the only two islands with hotel accommodations, and they are just a handful of pensions and guesthouses.  The Marquesas, more than any other island in French Polynesia, beckon a very different type of traveler—one with an innate thirst for adventure. As you ride horseback through these wild and untamed landscapes, you will fall completely captive to their powerful and dreamlike qualities.  For more information on the wonderful beaches of French Polynesia and the Marquesas Islands, click here.

Marquesas Islands Weather – When to Visit

The Marquesas Islands are closer to the equator than the rest of French Polynesia, so the climate is a bit different. Temperatures and humidity tend to be slightly higher than in Tahiti.  There is no bad time to visit.  Usually June to September sees heavier rain while November to March is drier (exactly opposite from the rest of French Polynesia) and they experience calmer seas (better for boat excursions and diving).  In odd number years in December, try to catch the Marquesas Festival or mini Marquesas Festival.

Marquesas Islands Attractions

Iipona - Puamau, Marquesas Islands, things to do in the Marquesas Islands, best hotels in the Marquesas Islands, Visit the Marquesas Islands, Marquesas Islands Travel Guide, Marquesas Islands Attractions, best restaurants in the Marquesas Islands, beach travel, beach travel destinations, best beach townsIipona – Puamau

Iipona is one of the best-preserved archaeological sites in French Polynesia. You’ll be moved by its eeriness and impressed by the five monumental tiki – it pulsates with mana.

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Kamuihei, Tahakia & Teiipoka - Nuku Hiva, Marquesas Islands, things to do in the Marquesas Islands, best hotels in the Marquesas Islands, Visit the Marquesas Islands, Marquesas Islands Travel Guide, Marquesas Islands Attractions, best restaurants in the Marquesas Islands, beach travel, beach travel destinations, best beach townsKamuihei, Tahakia & Teiipoka – Nuku Hiva

These three connecting sites make up the largest excavated archaeological area of Nuku Hiva.   With its large moss-covered basalt rocks and huge banyans, the largest of which has been estimated to be more than 600 years old, Kamuihei exudes spiritual power.  A little higher, on Teiipoka, are two large rocks about 2.5 m high by 3 m wide and decorated with petroglyphs that represent turtles, fish and the eyes of a tiki, along with human figures. It’s estimated that the valley contains more than 500 other petroglyphs like these.  On the other side of the track is the restored tohua Tahakia, one of the biggest in the Marquesas, as well as some pae pae.

Tohua Kuhoueva - Taiohae, Marquesas Islands, things to do in the Marquesas Islands, best hotels in the Marquesas Islands, Visit the Marquesas Islands, Marquesas Islands Travel Guide, Marquesas Islands Attractions, best restaurants in the Marquesas Islands, beach travel, beach travel destinations, best beach townsTohua Kuhoueva – Taiohae

This is a peaceful spot full of massive banyan trees and flowers. All the stone carvings are contemporary. This massive tohua (open-air gathering place) is just over 1.3k m up the Pakiu Valley on the Taipivai road, and 700 m along a dirt track. Turn east from the main road at the ‘Koueva’ sign.

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Hanahevane Bay - Tahuata, Marquesas Islands, things to do in the Marquesas Islands, best hotels in the Marquesas Islands, Visit the Marquesas Islands, Marquesas Islands Travel Guide, Marquesas Islands Attractions, best restaurants in the Marquesas Islands, beach travel, beach travel destinations, best beach townsHanahevane Bay – Tahuata

This glorious bay is caressed by jade-green waters and is studded with a broad strand of golden sand. It’s a good picnic spot and has shallow, calm waters and a few coral formations, making it suitable for snorkeling. It’s accessible by boat only.

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Hikokua - Hatiheu, Marquesas Islands, things to do in the Marquesas Islands, best hotels in the Marquesas Islands, Visit the Marquesas Islands, Marquesas Islands Travel Guide, Marquesas Islands Attractions, best restaurants in the Marquesas Islands, beach travel, beach travel destinations, best beach townsHikokua – Hatiheu

One of the most powerful archaeological sites in the Marquesas, Hikokua was discovered by the archaeologist Robert Suggs in 1957 and has been restored and maintained by Hatiheu locals since 1987. It dates from around AD 1250 and was in use until the 1800s.

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Calvaire Cemetery - Atuona, Marquesas Islands, things to do in the Marquesas Islands, best hotels in the Marquesas Islands, Visit the Marquesas Islands, Marquesas Islands Travel Guide, Marquesas Islands Attractions, best restaurants in the Marquesas Islands, beach travel, beach travel destinations, best beach townsCalvaire Cemetery – Atuona

A must-see for Gauguin and Brel devotees is the Calvaire Cemetery, perched on a hill overlooking Atuona. You will find this frangipani-filled graveyard an appropriately colorful place for Paul Gauguin’s tomb. While most of the tombs are marked with white crosses, Gauguin’s is a simple round stone with his name painted in white. Right behind, a replica of his statue Oviri stands guard.

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Tohua Mauia - Hohoi, Marquesas Islands, things to do in the Marquesas Islands, best hotels in the Marquesas Islands, Visit the Marquesas Islands, Marquesas Islands Travel Guide, Marquesas Islands Attractions, best restaurants in the Marquesas Islands, beach travel, beach travel destinations, best beach townsTohua Mauia – Hohoi

Situated above the village, the magnificent Tohua Mauia comprises a huge L-shaped stone platform as well as numerous pae pae dotted around the main complex. Even if your interest in ruins is only slight, the enchanting setting and the almost mystical hush are reason enough to come here.

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Tehueto Petroglyphs - Atuona, Marquesas Islands, things to do in the Marquesas Islands, best hotels in the Marquesas Islands, Visit the Marquesas Islands, Marquesas Islands Travel Guide, Marquesas Islands Attractions, best restaurants in the Marquesas Islands, beach travel, beach travel destinations, best beach townsTehueto Petroglyphs – Atuona

Anyone with an interest in ancient Marquesan civilization shouldn’t leave Atuona without a visit to the Tehueto petroglyphs. You’ll find a massive rock with prolific carvings on two sides, including stylized human figures.

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Paeke - Nuku Hiva, Marquesas Islands, things to do in the Marquesas Islands, best hotels in the Marquesas Islands, Visit the Marquesas Islands, Marquesas Islands Travel Guide, Marquesas Islands Attractions, best restaurants in the Marquesas Islands, beach travel, beach travel destinations, best beach townsPaeke – Nuku Hiva

Paeke features two well-preserved me’ae (traditional sacred sites) flanked by a set of brick-colored tiki. The me’ae further up the hill has a pit into which human remains were thrown. From the main road, it’s a 20-minute walk uphill on a path.

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Meiaute - Ua Huka, Marquesas Islands, things to do in the Marquesas Islands, best hotels in the Marquesas Islands, Visit the Marquesas Islands, Marquesas Islands Travel Guide, Marquesas Islands Attractions, best restaurants in the Marquesas Islands, beach travel, beach travel destinations, best beach townsMeiaute – Ua Huka

High up in the valley of Hane, the site of Meiaute includes three 1m-high, red-tuff tiki that watch over a group of stone structures, pae paeand me’ae, which are partly overgrown. Two of these tiki have projecting ears, one has legs and a phallus, while the other two have only a head and trunk.

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Things to Do in the Marquesas Islands

Marquises Excursions Private Tours

Tours in nuku hiva with a boat, 4×4 or on foot. Trip to see the Hakaui waterfall, the valley ( taipivai, hatiheu, anaho …), archaeological sites and Sandy Bay. Small trek over the crest of the small volcano.  Telephone:  689 87 73 23 48  Web:  Marquises Excursions Private Tours

Pacific Water Sports Nuku Hiva

Paddles and Kayak rental. Kaoha harmed, I propose the rental of water equipment (stand up paddles and kayaks) in the beautiful quiet bays of Nuku Hiva in the Marquesas. For sport or fun, spend a magical moment in the heart of Taiohae Bay heart of an ancient volcano.Excursion possible on Taipivai.  Telephone:  689 87 28 82 47  Web:  Pacific Water Sports Nuku Hiva

Nuku Hiva Tours

They are an independent tour operator and limit their tour to a maximum of 12 guests in three cars. All drivers speak English. They leave at 9:00 am and are normally back by 4:00 pm. You will see the major sites around the island and stop for lunch at the famous Chez Yvonne’s.  Telephone:  689 40 92 07 50   Web:  Nuku Hiva Tours

Nuku Hiva Adventures

They offer different activities starting with your pick up from the airport to your hotel. They also do excursions in 4×4 around the island and can also personalized your tour. All you need to do is ask and they will do their best to satisfy your wishes.  Telephone:  689 87 26 83 30  Web:  Nuku Hiva Adventures

Marquises Diving Hiva Oa

Marquesas Diving invites you to explore the underwater world of the islands of Hiva Oa and Tahuata to observe the many Manta rays that live here. Marquises Diving also offers you to dive into the heart of the Marquesan culture during an excursion, just after the dives, on the island of Tahuata.  Telephone:  689 87 24 19 95  Web:  Marquises Diving Hiva Oa

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 Hotels

Nuku Hiva Keikahanui Pearl Lodge

Located in a magnificent tropical garden, the Keikahanui Nuku Hiva Pearl Lodge 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.

Pension Mave Mai


The hotel features 6 beautifully appointed guest rooms, many of which include linens, towels, non smoking rooms, air conditioning, wake-up service. Besides, the hotel’s host of recreational offerings ensures you have plenty to do during your stay.

Chalets Hanakee

Featuring a garden and a terrace, Chalets Hanakee provides accommodations in Atuona with free WiFi and sea views.  The chalet has 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, a flat-screen TV with satellite channels, a dining area, a fully equipped kitchen, and a balcony with garden views.  For more information, pricing,  or to reserve your room visit Chalets Hanakee.

Maison Heipua à Hiva Oa

Located on the beachfront, this property features a garden, a shared lounge, barbecue facilities and free WiFi.  The vacation home has 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, a flat-screen TV with cable channels, a dining area, a fully equipped kitchen, and a balcony with garden views.  For more information, pricing,  or to reserve your room visit Maison Heipua a Hiva Oa.

Pension Villa Enata

At the guesthouse, every room comes with a balcony with a pool view. With a private bathroom equipped with a shower, rooms at Pension Villa Enata also provide guests with free WiFi, while some rooms here will provide you with a patio. All guest rooms include a closet.  For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room visit Pension Villa Enata.

14 Comments

  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. 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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