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Tiki statues in the jungle, black-rock mountains, and a laid-back culture, all on the undeveloped Marquesas Islands.

For a glimpse into the jungle-snarled landscapes and Polynesian culture that existed before the French, you might consider a visit to the Marquesas. Steep basaltic mountains, a laid-back culture, and very few other visitors make this a great place to unwind for a week or so, without the crowds that you'll find on Tahiti, which is located about a four-hour flight away.

These islands are unprotected by barrier islands and the shores are mostly battered by the deep-blue rollers of the Pacific. This, combined with their mountainous interiors, means the islands have largely been bypassed by resorts and other visitor infrastructure. You can enjoy a rustic stay at the simple hotels here or visit via cruise from other islands, combining the luxury of a ship with the adventure of visiting this undeveloped archipelago.

Things to see and do in the Marquesas Islands

Explore Nuka Hiva on a 4x4 tour

Nuka Hiva, Marquesas IslandsThe largest of the Marquesas, Nuka Hiva has few people but a wealth of untrammeled tropical landscapes and historic ruins. You can explore on your own, or we can arrange for a guided Jeep tour of the island’s highlights. You’ll meet local craftsmen, traverse a lush valley planted with banana trees, and visit several of the tiki (sacred statues) and tohua (sacred gathering places) that dot the island.

Perhaps the most impressive of these is Hikokua. Dating to the 13th century, this gathering space boasts a collection of powerful statues, some original and others carved by modern artists. They surround several platforms that were (and are) used for dance performances and other important community gatherings. Your guide can unpack the complex cultural uses of this space on your tour.

Tour Tahuata Island

For a contrast, you can also take a day-long tour of Tahuata Island, the smallest inhabited island in the Marquesas. You’ll visit the small villages of Vaitahu and Hapatoni, both a short boat ride from Hiva Oa, where you can explore a church, a museum, and meet the craftspeople who live here. Hapatoni is particularly known for its sculptors who create art from rosewood, bones, and even swordfish beaks. You’ll also have time to relax on the golden-sand beach and swim in the sparkling bay.

Best time to visit the Marquesas Islands

You’ll encounter the least rain between June to October, making it an ideal time to visit.

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who's been there
Audley specialist Haley

Start planning your tailor-made trip to Marquesas Islands by contacting one of our French Polynesia specialists

Map of Marquesas Islands

Places & hotels on the map

    Our expert guides to exploring Marquesas Islands

    Written by our specialists from their own experiences of visiting Marquesas Islands, these guides will help you make the most of your time there. We share both our practical recommendations and the best ways to appreciate Marquesas Islands at its best.

    • Cruises in French Polynesia
      Aranui V, Tahiti

      Cruises in French Polynesia

      Cruises in French Polynesia

      South Pacific specialist Joshua reviews the Aranui, which, for him, is the best cruise vessel around French Polynesia. He explains what to expect from life on board, and why the out-of-the-way Marquesas and Tuamotu Islands are such intriguing places to explore.

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    • French Polynesia honeymoons
      Over-water bungalows in Bora Bora

      French Polynesia honeymoons

      French Polynesia honeymoons

      Country specialist, Lisa, offers her expertise on getting the most out of your honeymoon in French Polynesia. Swim in clear lagoons with manta rays, stay in an overwater bungalow and take a guided walk in a rainforest.

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    • Luxury vacations in French Polynesia
      Marquesas Islands lagoon

      Luxury vacations in French Polynesia

      Luxury vacations in French Polynesia

      If you're planning a luxury vacation to French Polynesia we have a wide range of luxury vacation resorts and luxury hotels we can recommend.

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    Accommodation choices for Marquesas Islands

    We've selected a range of accommodation options for when you visit Marquesas Islands. Our choices usually come recommended for their character, facilities and service or location. Our specialists always aim to suggest properties that match your preferences.

    Ideas for experiencing Marquesas Islands

    Our specialists seek out authentic ways to get to know the places that could feature in your trip. These activities reflect some of the experiences they've most enjoyed while visiting Marquesas Islands, and which use the best local guides.

    • Tahuata Island Full Day Tour
      Hiva Oa

      Tahuata Island Full Day Tour

      Tahuata Island Full Day Tour

      Set sail for Tahuata, the smallest inhabited island in the Marquesas archipelago, where you will have the chance to see dolphins and rays before disembarking to take in the island's culture and art.

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