Approximately 1500 km northeast of Tahiti, the island of Ua Pou belongs to the northern group of the Marquesas Islands, which also includes Nuku Hiva, Ua Huka and several uninhabited islands. With a surface area of 106 km², it is the third largest island in the archipelago, after Nuku Hiva and Hiva Oa.
Whereas the southern group was visited for the first time by Spanish explorers in 1595, Ua Pou and its neighbours did not enter European history until 1791: in May of that year, the American Captain Joseph Ingraham sighted them without stopping and, a few weeks later, in June 1791, the Frenchman Etienne Marchand went ashore and claimed them for King Louis VI.
Ua Pou's enchanting outline is formed by spectacular basalt peaks which dominate the centre of the island, overhanging deep valleys, among them Hakamoui, or the Valley of Kings, with its many archeological remains.
The coastline is also steep-sided, with high cliffs dropping down sharply to the sea in the west, and a very jagged shoreline dotted with islets and rocks in the east. Ua Pou has beaches of black and white sand or pebbles, such as that of Hohoi, famous for its "flower stones". The island has many bays, including some which offer some shelter, like Hakahau Bay, where the village of the same name is situated. It is home to a museum and several churches, and is where most of the population lives. Ua Pou is the most populated of the Marquesas, with some 2000 inhabitants who live mostly from fishing, coprah, tourism and crafts. The traditional arts reflect the talent of these unrivalled artists: sculptures in stone, wood and bone, jewellery in wood, bone or shells, and many other sophisticated objects.
Charming villages, nestled in the valleys or in the heart of the bays, make interesting stopoff points for visitors looking for authenticity on 4x4 tours through the lush vegetation. Ua Pou has abundant natural and cultural treasures just waiting to be discovered. It is also the home of Marquesan singer Rataro, who has done much to promote the music and dance of the Marquesas.
A timeless journey in a land of great beauty, off the beaten track.