Above the steady rumble of the Pacific surge, the sharply sculpted mountains of Hiva Oa hide their summits in the mists of rain-filled clouds. The largest and most fertile island in the southern group of the Marquesas, Hiva Oa has deep valleys, lush plateaus and thickly wooded forests.
Its name means “sunrise” in Marquesan, and this tiny, 19-square-mile island in the Marquesas archipelago is just as beautiful as the name suggests. Visitors arrive via the charming seafront village of Hapatoni, with tamanu trees shading an ancient paved royal walkway and the air smelling of tiare and frangipani.
The southernmost island in the Marquesas, Fatu Hiva may also be the most beautiful. This remote paradise has no airstrip, only one road, and just 500 residents. A century ago, the island was known as a haven for sailors looking to avoid the attention of the authorities.
A charming seafront village, Taiohae is the administrative, economic, educational, and health center of the Marquesas Islands and the gateway to the island of Nuku Hiva’s natural beauty. Visitors are enchanted by lush valleys, impossibly blue bays, sky-high waterfalls, and ancient ruins—it’s no wonder Nuku Hiva is called “Mystic Island.”