Atuona, Hiva Oa, Marquesas Islands


Atuona, Hiva Oa, Marquesas Islands



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. 

Taaoa Valley 
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



Click to enlarge
Hiva Oa Port Map

Population: 2,190 (2012)

Language: French, Marquesan

Currency: XPF

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. 

Rental Cars
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

Atuona to Taaoa
2.5 Hours - $149

Discover the ancient tribes of the Taaoa Valley during this memorable journey to their archaeological ruins.

Depart the pier for the ride to Taaoa, located approximately 7 miles southwest of Atuona on the coastal road. The Tiu, ancestors of most of the Hivaoan tribes, and several other tribes once lived in the Taaoa Valley. Their archaeological ruins can be reached by off-road vehicle or on foot. During your ride, you will visit the Upeke Ceremonial Center, which comprises house platforms, a tohua (tribal ceremonial center), public and sacred meae (archaeological ruins), and storage pits of breadfruit paste for feasts. The tohua was restored for the Third Festival of the Marquesas in 1991.

The remaining area is in the same state in which archaeologist Ralph Linton found it in 1920. Among the objects you might see is a tiki measuring 4 feet by 5 feet, with the eyes, part of the right arm, and the right ear carved in bas relief. According to Linton, this stone was an altar stone on which sacrificed victims were placed after being killed at the tohua and carried up to the meae. Directly below the platform is an irregular round head carved from a porous black volcanic stone (which may have been moved from its original position). On another platform in the tohua section, you can see a row of worked ke’etu stone slabs. One of them has some carved lines; the design is very difficult to see in sunlight. Locals say it is a whale or canoe, but it is actually a tiki face carved in bas relief.

Following your visit, you will reboard your off-road vehicle for the return ride to the pier.

Please note: This tour involves driving over rough roads. Access to the site involves a path over slippery stones and negotiation of high stone steps up to the tiki. This tour is not recommended for guests with back or neck problems. Each vehicle will accommodate four guests. Families and friends are advised to contact the Travel Concierge desk aboard ship in order to be assigned to the same vehicle. Although the drivers used are the best available, they are not guides, and their command of English is poor. Your patience and understanding are greatly appreciated.

Excursion Code:
SCUBA 2 Tanks Hiva-Oa w/outside operator - Active Advanced Certified Divers w/ Deep Diver Specialty
  • A certified SCUBA diving tour of Opunohu Bay.
5 Hours - $230

This dive is operated by an outside operator. Please meet at the lobby with one of the marina staff that will escort you on the tender to shore where you will meet the local dive staff. After a very short walk to the pier, you will board the dive boat (a large aluminum covered diving boat) and will be asked to check your SCUBA gear.

After a brief welcoming ceremony, you will proceed to the first dive located along the Hanake Rock just behind The Gauguin`s anchoring position. On this first drift dive, the maximum depth will be around 100 feet and you will follow the drop off. The water is very rich in plankton can affect the visibility. You will most likely have the chance to see manta rays, endemic stingrays, octopus and big pelagic fishes.

During the surface interval, you will move to the second dive site. Fruits, biscuits, tea and lemonade will be available between dives. The second location will take you all the way down to 80 feet. Follow the shoreline to reach a pinnacle where you can spot schools of little fish, endemic dragon moray eel, pelagic fishes and rays. After the second dive, you will be sailing back to the pier and take the tender back to the ship.

Please visit the Dive Desk on Deck 4 for more information. Not available for pre-reserve.

Excursion Code: