Getting to the Marquesas Islands is mainly by plane or boat. However, connections are not easy from Tahiti, the gateway to the northernmost archipelago of French Polynesia. Head to the Marquesas Islands and choose the right route!
Getting to the Marquesas Islands by Plane
Travelling From Tahiti and Between the Islands
Whether they come from Europe or North America, people wishing to go to the Marquesas archipelago will have to transit via the island of Tahiti. They can then take a daily flight to Nuku Hiva or Hiva Oa. Four of the six inhabited Marquesas islands have airports, but only the regional capitals have direct flights to Tahiti.
If you land in Nuku Hiva (3 hours), you will reach the north of the archipelago. There are local connections to the islands of Ua Pou (20 mins) and Ua Huka (25 mins), and between these two islands as well (20 mins). However, these flights are not regular and their capacity is very limited. For example, Ua Pou’s airfield is deep in the mountains and only small aircraft carrying as few as 20 people can land on its short runway.
If you land at Hiva Oa (3.5 hours), you will be in the centre of the South Marquesas Islands. However, there is no airfield on Tahuata and Fatu Hiva. If you want to get there, you will have to consider another means of transport: the boat. The Te Ata O Hiva boat shuttle links the southern islands. It costs between $45 and 70 per return trip from Hiva Oa depending on the destination. For more information on booking, please contact the Marquesas Islands Communal Association (Communauté de Communes des Îles Marquises).
Prices for the Different Itineraries
Itinerary n°1: you wish to visit the whole archipelago. The Marquesas pass from Air Tahiti at $900 in high season is cheaper than single plane tickets ($1,080) to and between Nuku Hiva and Hiva Oa. Including flights to Ua Huka and Ua Pou and the shuttle bus to Fatu Hiva and Tahuata, this complete itinerary costs around $1,400.
Itinerary 2: You want to visit the North Marquesas. A return flight from Tahiti to Nuku Hiva for $750 is sufficient. If you include Ua Pou and Ua Huka, this itinerary comes to about $1,300.
Itinerary n°3: you wish to visit the South Marquesas. A return flight from Tahiti to Hiva Oa at $700 is enough. Including Fatu Hiva and Tahuata, this itinerary costs about $930.
Getting to the Marquesas Islands by Boat
Cruising on Board the Aranui
The difficulty of travelling between the Marquesas Islands raises the question of your itinerary. An excellent alternative to flying is to discover the Marquesas Islands by water. Because of its longevity and the link it maintains between the archipelago and Tahiti, the Aranui is both an original means of transport and an emblematic object of Marquesan culture. Indeed, this mixed cargo ship carries passengers but also the essential supplies for the populations of the six inhabited islands.
From Tahiti, embark on a 12-day cruise to the world’s most beautiful coves. The particularity of a boat trip allows you to relive the emotions of the ancient explorers when they approached each new island. Enjoy the magnificence of Taiohae Bay on Nuku Hiva, Hakahau Bay on Ua Pou and the well-named Bay of Virgins on Fatu Hiva!
You will visit a new island every day. Each stopover is subject to activities included in your package: hiking in the mountains, meeting the locals in the villages, cultural visits to historical sites… There is nothing to prevent you from doing different excursions or taking some free time. The only requirement is to be present two hours before the departure of the Aranui in the evening.
Advantages of a Cruise on the Aranui
A cruise is not for everyone. Firstly, you won’t be staying with local people. Secondly, the experience on board may be as important as the destination: the pace is leisurely, especially during the two full days at sea. Finally, you will have to respect the imposed schedules for meals, activities and free time. It is also a collective experience as you will share your daily life with other passengers.
However, the benefits of a cruise are numerous. Firstly, the Aranui has a real Marquesan feel to it, where the journey and activities are primarily focused on discovering and experiencing the richness of the local culture. Secondly, you’ll travel with a free mind, without having to think about booking hotels, restaurants, activities and domestic flights. Let yourself be carried away! Finally, life on board will be punctuated by activities, conferences and meetings.
The basic prices are very high: from $5,000 in a standard cabin. For a comfortable trip in a suite with a balcony, expect to pay around $5,500 per person. The high cost of the experience should be put into perspective as it includes transport, visits to six islands with as many activities on each, meals and of course the complete organisation of your trip.