Hiva oa

Hiva Oa is the largest of the southern islands – has always been the rival of Nuku Hiva which is now the administrative capital of the Marquesas. However, Hiva Oa still has a pre-eminence within the southern group.

Hiva Oa is shaped like a seahorse and has a mountain range running southwest to northeast whose main peaks, Mt Temetiu and Mt Feani form a real wall around Atuona. As a consequence access between the different valleys is quite difficult but the landscape is impressive.

Atuona, peaceful little port at the head of the Taaoa bay, has emerged from obscurity for being the last resting place of Paul Gauguin and of the singer Jacques Brel. The tombs of these famous personalities, places of great pilgrimage, are on the side of the Calvary cemetery. In the village, the Gauguin Museum displays items related to the painter’s stay and has copies of his works. The very famous “House of Pleasure” where Gauguin lived has been rebuilt near the museum.

In the outskirts of Atuona, heading towards the airport on a site dominating Tahauku bay and Hanakee Islet a memorial to the singer Jacques Brel has been erected. Near the airstrip, Brel’s little Beechcraft Bonanza airplane, baptized “Jojo”, is on display. Also, very close to Tahauku, a track leads to Tehueko, a petroglyph site.


  • Archaeological sites
  • Gauguin’s island of residency (1901-1903)
  • Jacques Brel ‘s island of residency (1966-1978)
  • Hiking, horseback riding
  • Deep-sea fishing
  • Luxuriant mountains
  • A place of pilgrimage : Paul Gauguin and Jacques Brel
  • The Gauguin museum
  • Wood carvers, tapa cloth makers, tatoo artists, singers and dancers

Activities and Sightseeing

  • Museums and memorial : Gauguin Museum, the House of Pleasure, Jacques Brel’s memorial, the Calvary cemetry
  •  Archaeological sites : Tehueto (petroglyphs), Taaoa, Pekekae and Ipona sites
  • 4WD safari & hiking
  • Horseback riding : rent horses to visit the island in an original way
  • Water sports : practice deep-sea fishing or have a swim in Vainako falls
  • Walking paths
  • Horseback riding
  • The village of Taaoa

    Archipelago  : MARQUESAS ISLANDS

    Surface  : 123 sq.mi.

    Location : 932 miles to the northeast of Tahiti

    Population  : + 2,447

    Highest peak :
    Mount Temetiu (4,186 feet)

    Capital city : Atuona

    HIva oa

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