Good reasons to visit
- Exceptional, captivatingly beautiful scenery: 123 sq. miles of lush mountainsides, contrasted by lovely valleys where wild horses roam.
- A place of pilgrimage: visitors come and contemplate the graves of Brel and Gauguin.
- Impressive archaeological sites: Puamau and its tikis, the biggest in French Polynesia, or Taaoa and its countless paepaes (stone platforms).
- Cultural centres: the Gauguin Museum, Jacques Brel Cultural Centre and Atuona craft centre.
- A multitude of artists: sculptors, tattoo artists, artisans, singers and dancers.
- Lots of options for days out, on foot, by 4x4 or on horseback.
- A day trip (by boat) to the charming neighbouring island of Tahuata.
Do not miss
- The Cimetière du Calvaire, in Atuona, where Gauguin and Brel are buried,
- The tohua Pepeu and the Atuona craft centre,
- The Gauguin Museum in Atuona,
- The Jacques Brel Cultural Centre in Atuona,
- The village of Puamau and its giant tikis (the biggest in French Polynesia),
- The huge paepae of Taaoa, "Tahua Upeke", and the neighbouring village and church,
- The Eiaone and Punae rock carvings,
- The picturesque village of Hanaiapa,
- The Tahauku rock carvings,
- The island of Tahuata.
Did you know that?
- The biggest tikis in French Polynesia were discovered in the bay of Puamau: the largest, known as "Taka'i'i", is 2.43 metres tall (almost 8 feet).
- One of the Puamau tikis represents a woman lying down.
- Paul Gauguin and Jacques Brel are buried in Atuona's main cemetery.
- With an area of 123 sq. miles, Hiva Oa is the third largest island in French Polynesia, after Tahiti and Nuku Hiva.
- There is a time difference of half an hour between Tahiti and the Marquesas Islands.
Hiva Oa, the island dear to the hearts of Paul Gauguin and Jacques Brel, lies 1,184 km northeast of Tahiti. This rocky island with its beautiful beaches of black sand exudes a unique power and charm. Goats frolic freely in this vast landscape, still inhabited today. Lush green valleys, ideal for exploring, are home to impressive archaeological sites, such as the huge complex of Taaoa and that of Puamau, where the biggest tikis in French Polynesia are to be found.
This very fertile island is considered the "Garden of the Marquesas". The main village, Atuona, nestled at the foot of the dizzyingly steep slopes of Mont Temetiu and Mont Feani, has a number of places of interest: the cathedral; the tohua Pepeu, which hosts dance performances for the Marquesas Festivals; the Gauguin Museum, which displays a number of copies of his works and a reconstruction of his "Maison du Jouir", in a modern, interactive setting; and finally, the cultural centre devoted to singer Jacques Brel. The graves of these two world-famous artists are found in the hills above the village.
In the neighbouring valley, rock carvings evoke a mysterious past. This peaceful island offers a safe haven for the many vessels which stop off here. It is also a base for exploring the beautiful nearby island of Tahuata, where you can have an unforgettable day out, in contact with the locals, who are reputed to be talented sculptors. For all these reasons, Hiva Oa is an essential destination in the Marquesas Islands.
Things to do
- Boat trips out to sea,
- Guided horseback riding tours,
- 4x4 safaris,
- visits to archaeological sites,
- car hire.
- Surface area : 123 sq. miles.
- Circumference : Some villages are linked by tracks.
- Highest peak : Mount Temetiu (1216m approx 3989 feet).
- Districts : Atuona (main village), Tahauku, Puamau, Nahoe, Hanapaaoa, Hanaiapa and Taaoa.
- Population : approx. 2009 inhabitants.
- Airport : Located in the mountains, 13 km from the main village of Atuona.
- Tourist office: In Atuona.
- Bank(s): Socredo Bank.
- Post office(s): In Atuona and Puamau.
- Public phone(s): In Atuona and Puamau.
- Shop(s): Several grocers. Sculptures and crafts can be purchased.
- Restaurant(s): Several snack bars and restaurants.
- Medical services: Health centres in Atuona and Puamau.