There are so many magnificent sites to visit in the Marquesas Islands that’s it’s almost impossible to select just 10 of them. The rugged, beauty, thriving culture and fascinating history of these islands make them a unique and captivating destination. Here is a selection of just some of the superb sites to visit in the “Land of Men.”

Takaii, the largest tiki on Hiva Oa, arouses the curiosity of visitors © Tahiti Tourisme


The Puamau tiki in Hiva Oa

Standing at the foot of the Toea piton next to a mountain stream, the magnificent Lipona archeological site close to the village of Paumau is home to the biggest collection of tiki in The Islands of Tahiti. Sculpted from volcanic rock, the tallest is 9 feet high. It is named Takai’i after an ancient warrior chief, and it seems to be standing guard over all the other tiki on this 13,000 feet squared site.

Le marae de Upeke à Hiva Oa © Tahiti Tourisme


Upeke marae in Hiva Oa

Upeke is considered to be one of the most important ceremonial sites in French Polynesia. It is located in the spectacular Ta’aoa valley, which is itself a supremely important site in Marquesan mythology. The marae is a very large square, or tohua, 160 feet wide, surrounded by numerous paepae stone platforms. The site is reputed for its Mana, the strong spiritual presence that makes the hair on your arms stand up.


La plage de Atuona à Hiva Oa © Tahiti Tourisme


Atuona beach in Hiva Oa

Overlooked by the majestic, 4,000 feet high, Mount Temenui, the beach at Atuona is the perfect setting for basking in the sun, having a swim and admiring the sporting prowess of local surfers. The black sand beach stretches around the vast Ta’aoa bay, known as the bay of traitors, with Hanakee rock standing proudly in the center.

Hiva Oa © Tahiti Tourisme


Hanatekuua beach in Hiva Oa

It’s not very easy to get to, but the white sandy beach at Hanatekuua is really worth the effort. It’s a two hour hike to this idyllic spot, where you can spend the day swimming, snorkeling and enjoying a picnic lunch. If you don’t feel like hiking, you can also get to the beach by boat.

Le grand Canyon à Nuku Hiva © Grégoire Le Bacon


Nuku Hiva Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon of Nuku Hiva is a site not to be missed during your stay. It has one of the best views over the rugged landscape of imposing mountains, deserted plateaus and deep valleys on this majestic and imposing island.

Le site archéologique de Kamuihei à Nuku Hiva © Tahiti Tourisme


Kamuihei archeological site in Nuku Hiva

The giant banyan tree, grand paepae platform of flat stones, and ancient petroglyphs, share the Kamuihei archeological site with a strong spiritual presence, the Mana. This ancient ceremonial site was once the setting for festivities, religious ceremonies and sacrifices.

La plage du village de Hatiheu à Nuku Hiva © Grégoire Le Bacon


Hatiheu village beach in Nuku Hiva

The bay of Hatiheu is surrounded by lush green vegetation and basalt peaks. If you look up from one of the long beaches of soft black sand, you’ll see a tohua ceremonial square decorated with sacred petroglyphs about a hundred feet from the shore.

Le Pic de Poumaka de Ua Pou © Grégoire Le Bacon


Poumaka piton in Ua Pou

With its two-headed summit, Poumaka piton is an important geological and cultural feature of Ua Pou. Legend has it that the warrior Poumaka knocked down the warrior Matafenua from Hiva Oa at this site. A very pleasant hike takes you to the foot of the piton from where the views over Ua Pou are stunning.

La baie des vierges de Fatu Hiva avec le Aranui © Lionel Gouverneur


Bay of virgins in Fatu Hiva

Robert Louis Stevenson called it the most beautiful bay in the world. A stunning, mystical place which was originally called ‘baie des verges’ (Phallus Bay) because of its tall pitons. The name was changed to ‘baie des vierges’ (Bay of Virgins) by modest missionaries in the 19th century.

La plage de Hanamoenoa de Tahuata © Bertrand Duquenne


Hanamoenoa beach in Tahuata

Crystal clear water, soft white sand and endless coconut palms, Hanamoenoa bay is a sublimely beautiful site. Despite being the smallest of the Marquesas Islands, Tahuata has some of the archipelago’s most magnificent scenery. Far away from the main tourist circuits, this magical island is a haven of peace and tranquility.

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