Nuku Hiva - the largest island in the Marquesas



If you have the chance to visit the Marquesas Islands, Nuku hiva is the island not to be missed. With its breathtaking scenery and unique culture, Nuku hiva is arguably one of the most fascinating destinations in the world. Its white sandy beaches, lush jungle and friendly people make it a must-see destination.

Where is Nuku Hiva?

Imposing and mystical are the words that come to mind when you look at the impressive cliffs of this land in the Pacific. Nuku Hiva is the largest and most important of the Marquesas Islands and is the economic and administrative centre of the archipelago. Two twin islets nicknamed "The Sentinels" mark the entrance to Nuku Hiva Island and this ancient volcanic crater with its green walls streaked with waterfalls and topped with basalt cones is popular with hikers and horseback riders.

What is the best season to visit Nuku Hiva?

The climate in the Marquesas is subtropical, warmer, and more humid than the Society Islands. While they are not affected by cyclones, they do experience more variable temperatures and more occasional rainfall. Generally speaking, the Northern Marquesas Islands, including Nuku Hiva, are rather arid, sometimes experiencing severe droughts. The wet season is from January to early March, when temperatures are warmest with an average of 28°C. The best time to cruise the Marquesas Islands is therefore between May and December, when there is the least amount of rain. However, it should be noted that any time of the year is a good time to visit the Marquesas Islands with Aranui 5, as the experience is primarily based on the discovery of Marquesan culture and traditions.

How much time should I allow on Nuku Hiva?

Nuku Hiva is the largest island in the Marquesas with something for everyone. Nuku Hiva is an island to be discovered at length as much for its landscapes as for its cultural wealth, its white sand beaches, and the treasures of its underwater world. Ideally, you should allow three or four days to explore Nuku Hiva. However, Aranui 5 makes a one-day stopover, which gives you a good overview of the island's main attractions.

What to see on the island of Nuku Hiva?

visit nuku hiva

A mystical island, Nuku Hiva is a must-see for any visit to the Marquesas, from the Hakaui waterfall, the second highest waterfall in the world, to the beautiful Anaho Bay with its basalt ridges and deep canyons. It was in the Taipivai valley, dotted with tikis and places of worship, that Herman Melville stayed, before writing "Moby Dick", after deserting his whaling ship.

Be sure to include these must see places on your visit to the island: a visit to the Notre-Dame cathedral, a museum dedicated to Polynesian art with monumental sculptures created by the best Marquesan artists, an ascent of Mount Muake (864 m), which offers an imposing view of the bays, a walk to discover Tohua Hikokua (traditional festival place) and Mea'e Kamuihei, a place famous for its giant banyans and petroglyphs...

During the day, travellers can also explore the remarkable Paeke Marae archaeological site. Located two hours' walk from the village of Taipivai, the stone platforms of the altars, made of volcanic turf, decorated with TIKI, the sacred statues representing pagan deities, bear witness to the spiritual life of the ancient Marquesan’s. A mystical atmosphere guaranteed!

What activities can you do?

Discovery, authenticity, culture, and nature are the key elements of a visit of Nuku Hiva. The planned excursion for passengers travelling aboard Aranui 5 includes a visit to Notre Dame Cathedral followed by a 4WD ride in the Hatiheu Valley with a tour of the Marquesan art museum. After a traditional lunch, the visit concludes back at the beautiful Taiohae Bay.

How to get around Nuku Hiva?

The wild nature of Nuku Hiva makes you want to get lost in it, either on foot, on horseback or during a 4WD tour. It is the latter that allows passengers travelling with Aranui 5 to better discover this island through lush forests to panoramic cliffs and numerous waterfalls.

nuku hiva on aranui 5

Is life expensive on the island of Nuku hiva?

In Polynesia, and especially in the Marquesas archipelago, many everyday goods are expensive as they have to be imported from far away and in small quantities. It is therefore strongly advised to discuss the price before buying. In addition, taxation on certain products is 160%.

What to pack to visit the island of Nuku Hiva?

In Nuku Hiva, casual is the rule. Shorts, T-shirts, shirts, swimming costumes and an evening outfit (dress, light trousers, and shirt) will do. For your feet, you should bring boat shoes, a pair of tennis shoes for walking, a pair of aqua shoes for use in the sea and a pair of flip-flops.

Where to shop?

The Marquesas are renowned for their handicrafts, so don't hesitate to shop locally and bring back some small souvenirs (stone carvings, wood, bone, tapa, etc.). Near the jetty there is a craft centre where local artisans sell their handmade products. The island is known for its woodcarvings, and it is a skill for which the islands' master carvers are renowned throughout the Pacific.

Is there internet access on the island of Nuku hiva?

The Marquesas archipelago has been connected to high-speed internet since December 2018. Nuku Hiva Island is connected directly to the Natitua cable, and their main villages, Atuona and Taiohae, have had a fixed fibre optic network and a 4G mobile network since the first half of 2020.

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