The biggest of the Marquesas Islands, Nuku Hiva is a rugged, mountainous island with steep cliffs, thick forests and beautiful beaches. It is a place that leaves its mark on visitors, due to its magnificent scenery and thriving ancestral culture. Here is our suggested itinerary for a three day break in Nuku Hiva.
Meet the locals
Start your visit with a stroll round the main village of Taiohae. Go to the municipal market where you’ll find all sorts of local produce on the dozen or so stalls, including fruit, honey, pineapple vinegar and jams. A short distance away is the fare artisanal (craft market) where you can admire sculptures in wood or bone, shell necklaces and other examples of the famous Marquesan artistic skills. If it’s early in the morning, go down to the quayside to see local fishermen proudly displaying their catches for sale.
Continue your stroll in the village of Taiohae, which is spread out over several kilometers and goes round the entire bay. Among the sites to visit is the paepae Piki Vehine-Temehea Tohua, which is home to several gigantic tiki. Carry on to the Notre-Dame Cathedral, built of stones from each of the six Marquesas Islands. Then go on to Fort Colet, where a tiki 40 feet high was erected in 2016. The site also offers superb views over the whole bay.
Explore the interior of the island
Nuku Hiva is an excellent destination for hikers. There are several trails which you can hike with a guide or on an excursion.
Try the trails that lead to magnificent Hakatea bay and the waterfall at Hakaui, or the path that follows the ridge at Taiohae or Aakapa. You can also hike to some of the most beautiful bays on the island, such as Anaho. All the trails take a full day and are suitable for anybody in good physical condition. You’ll need sturdy footwear, suncream and a hat.
If you’re the adventurous type, try a tandem paraglide. Take off from the antenna at Moakai for an hour-long flight with breathtaking views over the bay of Taiohae. Reserve in advance to avoid disappointment.
The island of horseback
Explore the island’s interior on horseback. Riders of all levels, even beginners, can take a half-day excursion through Hatiheu valley, with a halt on the beach at Anaho. More experienced riders can go on a two-day camping trail. There is another ride which takes you to the Toovii plateau, where the views are magnificent, including over the island of Ua Huka in fine weather.
Hakaui is one of the most beautiful sites on the island. Take a boat from the small quay at Taiohae to Hakaui bay and then hike round the bay as far as the Vaipo waterfall. The hike will take about three hours, so you should allow a full day for the complete tour.
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Fakarava, Marquesas Islands, Rangiroa, Tahiti
Fakarava, Marquesas Islands, Other Tuamotu Islands, Rangiroa, Tahiti