Today’s craftspeople work their magic in wood and bone. In Atuona, two world famous artists, Jacques Brel and Paul Gauguin, left their mark.
What makes it so special
Why visit Hiva Oa?
The island that made Brel and Gauguin dream
Lying northeast of Tahiti, Hiva Oa is one of the two largest of the Marquesas Islands. The village of Atuona with its bay of black sand is the last resting place of two world famous artists: the painter Paul Gauguin and the singer Jacques Brel.
Visitors can pay their respects at their graves which are on the high ground above the village. The village has a cultural center dedicated to Paul Gauguin, and at the Espace Jacques Brel museum the exhibits include the small plane that belonged to Jacques Brel.
A rich and vibrant culture
The names of Brel and Gauguin will be forever assocated with the island, but the spirit of Hiva Oa lies in the valleys of Taaoa and Puamau. Opposite the village of Atuona, a road winding along the side of a mountain leads to the valley of Puamau, which is home to the impressive archeological site of Lipona.
The site is famed for its tiki, of which the tallest is 2,57 meters high. To the west of Atuona, the vast archeological site of Upeke is in the valley of Taaoa.
« I am beginning to think simply, to feel only very little hatred for my neighbor— or rather, to love him. All the joys—animal and human—of a free life are mine. I have escaped that which is artificial, I am entering into the truth, into nature. »
Not to be missed
Hiking and relaxing
The mountainous topography of Hiva Oa offers several hiking trails which lead to magnificent scenic viewpoints. It is best to explore the island in the company of a guide, because he’ll be able to point out the sites of some of the island’s myths and legends.
If you want to take things easy for a day, then the ideal spot is Tahuata Island, just a few minutes by boat to the southeast of Hiva Oa. It isn’t a motu like you find in Bora Bora or Moorea, but it does have magnificent, deserted white sandy beaches which bear comparison with them.
Four days in Hiva Oa
Known as the Garden of the Marquesas Islands because of its lush vegetation, Hiva Oa is a land of rugged mountains and steep cliffs, with beaches of black sand and some of white sand. It is also a destination of pilgrimage for admirers of the artist Paul Gauguin and the singer Jacques Brel, both of whom are buried in the local cemetery. Hiva Oa is a place of much archeological interest with many tiki, paepae and other vestiges of its ancient civilization, as you will discover on our suggested itinerary for a four day break on the island.
Learn more about the artist Paul Gauguin and his love for The Islands of Tahiti or discover why Jacques Brel wrote “Gémir n’est pas de mise aux Marquises” (The Marquesas Islands is no place for whining)
Vacations in Hiva Oa
Book your trip
Make your reservation for an unforgettable vacation in Hiva Oa. Stay in a comfortable lodge in the hills above Atuona, or in a Tahitian Guesthouse nestled in one of the island’s lush green valleys. Take to the hiking trails to explore the magnificent countryside, or simply relax on Atuona’s beach of soft black sand.
Fakarava, Marquesas Islands, Other Tuamotu Islands, Rangiroa, Tahiti
Staying in Hiva Oa
When you visit Hiva Oa you can stay in a hotel, Tahitian Guesthouse, or on board your chartered catamaran or cruise ship. Wherever you decide to spend your nights, you’re certain to have a dream vacation.
Getting there and getting around
The domestic airline company flies to Hiva Oa, but you must organize your own transport from the airport with your accommodation before you arrive. If you enjoy boat travel, then you can embark on the mixed cargo vessel, Aranui 5, which delivers merchandise to the islands as well as passengers. There are also several sailboat charter companies which visit this island of myths and mystery. Once you’ve arrived, you can rent a car to visit the island. A four-wheel drive car will prove useful on the steep slopes of Hiva Oa. To get to some of the more remote valleys, it is easier to go by fishing boat or motor boat. If you’d prefer to explore the island at a gentler pace, then you can always hire a horse.
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