The Marquesa Islands: A Remote Paradise in French Polynesia




The Marquesa Islands: A Remote Paradise in French Polynesia


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The Marquesa Islands, or “Les Marquises” as they are known in French, are a group of volcanic islands situated in the Pacific Ocean, forming a part of French Polynesia. Unlike their more famous counterparts, Tahiti and Bora Bora, the Marquesas are less frequented, making them a perfect destination for those seeking a more secluded and authentic Polynesian experience.


Geographically, the Marquesas are divided into two groups: the northern and southern Marquesas.

The islands are characterized by their rugged terrains, high cliffs, and deep bays.

The absence of protective reefs around these islands has led to the formation of dramatic coastlines, with waves crashing directly onto the shores.


Historically, the Marquesas have been inhabited for over a millennium, with early Polynesians navigating vast oceanic distances to settle here.

The islands have a rich cultural heritage, with unique traditions, art, and dance that differ from other Polynesian islands.

European explorers, including the famous Captain James Cook, visited the islands in the late 18th century, leaving behind tales of their beauty and charm.


For visitors, the Marquesas offer a plethora of activities. Hiking is particularly popular, given the islands’ mountainous landscapes and ancient stone pathways.

The valleys hide archaeological treasures, including tiki statues and ceremonial sites.

The waters surrounding the islands are teeming with marine life, making diving and snorkeling a must-do for underwater enthusiasts.


The Marquesa Islands have a population of approximately 9,000 inhabitants. The majority of the residents live on the islands of Nuku Hiva and Hiva Oa.

When to Go

The best time to visit the Marquesas is between May and October, during the dry season. The weather is cooler and less humid, making it ideal for outdoor activities.

How to Get There

The Marquesas are accessible by air, with regular flights from Tahiti to Nuku Hiva and Hiva Oa. Additionally, cargo ships and cruise ships occasionally include the Marquesas in their itineraries.


Nuku Hiva: Known for its breathtaking landscapes, including the Hatiheu Valley.

Hiva Oa: Home to the graves of famous artist Paul Gauguin and singer Jacques Brel.

Tiki Statues: Scattered across the islands, these ancient statues are a testament to the Marquesas’ rich history.

Horseback Riding: A unique way to explore the islands, especially in Ua Pou.

What You Should Know

Currency: French Pacific Franc (XPF).

Language: Marquesan and French.

Safety: The Marquesas are generally safe, but it’s essential to take precautions when hiking or swimming due to the rugged terrain and strong currents.

FAQs about The Marquesa Islands

Are there accommodations available on the Marquesas?

Yes, there are a few hotels, guesthouses, and family-run lodges available, especially on Nuku Hiva and Hiva Oa.

Is it possible to island-hop in the Marquesas?

Yes, small local airlines and boats offer inter-island services, making it feasible to visit multiple islands during your stay.

What is the local cuisine like?

The Marquesas offer a blend of traditional Polynesian dishes with local ingredients. Seafood, especially fish, is a staple, along with fruits like breadfruit and coconut.

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