Nuku Hiva is the gateway to the northern group of the Marquesas Islands and is the largest of the archipelago, covering 387 km². It is renowned for the beauty of its contrasting landscapes, overlooked by mountains with vertiginous peaks. After Hiva Oa, continue your journey to the north of Tahiti!
Welcome to Nuku Hiva
Nuku Hiva is a relatively young volcanic island and has no lagoon. The island has arid and deserted landscapes in the north and a lush inland nature. This contrast is all the more obvious when you arrive at the airport, lost and remote at the end of a huge canyon.
Its 3,000 inhabitants are spread over three main villages: Hatiheu in the north, Taipivai in the east, and especially Taiohae in the south. The latter is the administrative capital of the archipelago. Its magnificent and gigantic bay opens on the Pacific Ocean. The population is mainly turned towards crafts and agricultural work.
Regular flights establish a daily connection with Tahiti, located almost 1500 kilometers away. It takes more than three hours to get there. Accommodation on Nuku Hiva is qualitatively very attractive. You can choose between traditional guesthouses, such as the excellent Pension Koku’u, and the only luxury hotel in the Marquesas Islands: the Nuku Hiva by Pearl Resorts, whose location high in the hills offers a breathtaking view of Taiohae Bay.
Why Go to Nuku Hiva
Nature gave Nuku Hiva a diversity of landscapes, each more impressive than the last. Above the steep cliffs falling into the bays, appear peaks with improbable relief. The luxuriant and overflowing vegetation then gives way to desolate, deserted and lunar territories. The black sand or pebble beaches complete this fascinating picture.
The interest of a stay on Nuku Hiva is to understand that the natural elements, although extremely opposed, are complementary and form a whole. This is best experienced during excursions on foot, horseback or by car around the island and inland. Visiting the different villages also makes you realize that the journey is even more important than the destination.
You will discover the architectural and archaeological heritage of Nuku Hiva: the beautiful Cathedral Notre-Dame, the improbable Tiki Tuhiva, a modern work of art 12 meters high, or the many vestiges of the pre-European Marquesan civilization. On the way, you will meet craftsmen and artists, renowned for their wood carvings.
Things to Do in Nuku Hiva
Hakaui Valley Hike
Nuku Hiva offers an exceptional terrain for hiking. One of the most impressive hikes is located west of Taiohae Bay and takes you to the Vaipo waterfall, the highest in French Polynesia. The walk starts from Hakatea Bay, which is only accessible by boat.
You will follow the old royal road, a paved path now covered with moss, the one once used by the dignitaries of the island. Between the imposing mountains and the very dense vegetation, the scenery is grandiose. On the way, the vestiges of the ancient civilization appear: the foundations of the dwellings, the ceremonial and community places, the royal tombs on the cliff side.
After two hours, the Vaipo waterfall finally appears from the top of its 350 meters. This experience mixing sport, archaeology and nature, requires to be accompanied by a professional guide. As such, Te Amoka Transport is an excellent address to visit the Hakaui valley.
Archaeological Sites of Hatiheu
From the village of Hatiheu, go to the large Tahakia Kamuihei Teiipoka complex for a dive into Marquesan legends. Dense vegetation covers the site, giving it a solemn and mystical dimension. The presence of a huge Pacific banyan tree reinforces the immersion even more.
The cultural heritage consists of several zones where the ground markings of the houses, the community or religious spaces of the ancient civilization are distinguished. All the organization of the Marquesan society raises from the original stone and the stories of your guide. This will be the moment to initiate yourself to the ancient cults, rites and festivals of yesteryear.
To fully experience this Marquesan adventure, return to Pension Koku’u, which organizes its own guided tours in the Hatiheu Valley. This is the best way to decipher the enigmatic drawings engraved in the stone and representing men and women, gods and animals.
Nuku Hiva, the Mana of the Marquesas
Nuku Hiva offers a unique experience, bordering on an introspective journey. The rugged and sublime landscapes exude an intensity that does not leave one indifferent. As such, at least four nights on site are necessary to feel the Mana of Nuku Hiva. Discover how to go to the Marquesas Islands and choose the best period to visit the archipelago. Then, contact us to prepare your trip to French Polynesia.