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.

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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