Points Of Interest
Paul Gauguin & Jacques Brel
Post-Impressionist painter Paul Gauguin spent the final years of his life on this island, and the Espace Culturel Paul Gauguin in Atuona is dedicated to his life and work. In addition to letters and other exhibits is a replica of his home, complete with a life-size statue of the artist at work. Behind the Espace Culturel Paul Gauguin, you’ll find the Centre Jacques Brel, honoring the singer/songwriter who also made his home on Hiva Oa. Featured is his newly restored twin-engine airplane, as well as posters and recordings of his music. You can pay final respects to these artists at Calvary Cemetery (Cimetière Calvaire), which offers breathtaking views in addition to the gravesites of both Gauguin and Brel.
Hiva Oa’s main settlement is set on a black-sand beach on the northern shore of Traitors Bay, against the backdrop of Mount Temetiu—the tallest peak in the Marquesas. In addition to the Paul Gauguin and Jacques Brel cultural centers, you’ll find the gendarmerie (police station), the Catholic church, the Magasin Gauguin—an old general store when the painter once bought his supplies (including his liquor)—and the Fae Artisanal arts and crafts market. Marquesas craftspeople are particularly renowned for their wood carvings.
Polynesia’s largest concentration of ceremonial sites lies about four miles from Atuona and can be reached by off-road vehicle. The Taaoa Bay itself fills a former volcano and is known for its wild beach and picturesque Catholic church. Nearby is Ohua Upeke—the ruins of a huge marae (temple) complex. Taaoa Valley is available as a shore excursion from The Gauguin.
Puamau Archaeological Sites
The village of Puamau sits nearly surrounded by a volcanic crater, a black-sand beach forming its other side. Here you’ll find Iipona—one of the most significant ancient temples in French Polynesia. The stone tikis at this site have been compared to those on Easter Island, whose immense stone carvings may have been crafted by explorers from Puamau. The most famous tiki at Iipona are the image of an eight-foot-tall Polynesian chief and of a woman who is believed to be giving birth.
Note: This location is located a long distance and may require special arrangements, see the Travel Concierge for details.
Population: 2,190 (2012)
Language: French, Marquesan
Scheduled Docking Location: Anchored, tendered to the pier Shuttle into Atuona (town).
Tourism Office: On the pier and in town (Atuona), +689 40 927 964.
Shopping: Shops are generally open Mon-Fri 7:30am to 5:30pm with a long lunch hour, Sat 7:30am to noon. Closed Sundays.
Banks / ATMs: Socredo Bank, located on the main street in Atuona, open Mon-Fri 7:30am to 11:30am, 1:30pm to 4:00pm; ATM available only during banking hours. ATMs are also available in most local post offices. Cash: best to have local currency (XPF).
Post Office: The post and telecommunications office is located in the mairie (town hall) complex in the center of Atuona. Mon–Thu 7:30am to noon and 12:30pm to 4:30pm; Fri 7:30am to noon and 12:30pm to 2pm. There is also a post office in the village of Puamau.
Airport Transportation: There are daily flights to Nuku Hiva, where the main airport for the Marquesas is located.
Make Make Car Rental: +689 (87) 797-718 or +689 (87) 757-400
Port Agent Contact:
Office: +689 (40) 86-51-32
Mobile: +689 (87) 29-25-02