“In those islands of pure solitude, I have found a sort of peace” wrote Jacques Brel who spent his last years in Atuona on Hiva Oa. Lying nude beside the ocean, “the garden of the Marquesas” has no reef and offers her fertile coastlines to the deep currents of an unleashed sea in which one can neither see the bottom, nor colored shades, nor coral. It is into this dark expanse that the sharp cliffs which decorate the impressive mountains of Hiva Oa plunge. High on the hills, among the clouds, sits the small airport of Hiva Oa.
This wrinkled land, whose virginal beauty remains untouched by the 20th century, tells the long and captivating story of the Marquesas which can be discovered while strolling among papaya and banana trees and into the secret valleys. In Puamau Valley, the biggest “tiki” in Polynesia was found, strange statues surrounded by pebbles which speak the language of ancient times.
From the valley of Taaoa to Hanaui, Hanapeteo and Hanatekua, thousands of cult sites, “Meae”, spring up from lava stones. Paul Gauguin's island has retained her savage characteristics and the tranquil rhythm of tradition and seduced the painter who came to spend the rest of his life in the capital. Walk in his footsteps, visiting the museum where some copies of his paintings remain as well as the “Maison du Jouir” (the house of pleasures) where he lived; but also experience the hospitality of the Marquesan people who welcome you with a thundering “kaoha Nui” (hello).