It is nicknamed “the garden of the Marquesas”. It is an island in the Marquesas Archipelago in French Polynesia. The island has several centers of interest, such as archeological sites where you can see the largest tikis of Polynesia, a museum dedicated to the painter Paul Gauguin and the tomb of singer Jacques Brel.
We visited Hiva Oa in August 2019 (lack of luck it was the rainy season) for a good week.
You can rent cars (about 10,000 xpf at Make Make) or electric bikes. Negotiate well. If they have no vehicle they put you in contact with other tenants.
Otherwise you can visit by taking the services of a guide. We recommend Jean Saucourt (tel: 927333 or 728206).
Il y a certains endroits que vous pouvez visiter à pieds si vous avez du temps et faire du stop.
We rented a small studio bungalow at Jean and Aline Saucourt on Atuona. It’s very good, comfortable, spacious and clean. There is everything to cook. Jean and Aline are super nice, helpful and Jean is also a guide (he is very famous).
Contact: 927333 or 728206 / https://jeansauc.wordpress.com
Price: it is decreasing prices depending on the number of nights.
Here is a small list that was provided to me before my departure.
FEIAU-HINA PENSION Mr. Etienne HEITAA B.P. 163 – 98741 Atuona – Hiva Oa Tel. : (689) 184.108.40.206 GSM: (689) 220.127.116.11 firstname.lastname@example.org No credit card
TAHAUKU HOLIDAYS Tahauku Valley Mr. Dominique FRANCOIS PO 205 – 98741 Atuona – Hiva Oa Tel. : (689) 18.104.22.168 GSM: (689) 22.214.171.124 email@example.com fb: Guest House Tahauku No credit card
KANAHAU PENSION On the heights of Tahauku Bay Ms. Stephania DUBREUIL B.P. 250 – 98741 Atuona – Hiva Oa Tel. : (689) 126.96.36.199 Fax: (689) 188.8.131.52 GSM: (689) 184.108.40.206 firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com No credit card
PENSION MARIE-ANTOINETTE Puamau Mrs. Heitaa Marie Antoinette KATUPA B.P 163 – 98741 Atuona – Hiva Oa Tel. : (689) 220.127.116.11 GSM: (689) 18.104.22.168 / (689) 22.214.171.124 No credit card
RELAY MOEHAU Atuona Mr Georges GRAMONT B.P. 50 – 98741 Atuona – Hiva Oa Tel. : (689) 126.96.36.199 / Fax: (689) 188.8.131.52 GSM: (689) 184.108.40.206 firstname.lastname@example.org /www.relaismoehau.pf Credit cards: Visa, JCB, MasterCard
TEMETIU VILLAGE Hiva Oa Mr. Gabriel HEITAA B.P. 52 – 98741 Atuona – Hiva Oa Tel. / Fax: (689) 220.127.116.11 GSM: (689) 87.70.01.71 / (689) 87.70.72.07 email@example.com / www.temetiuvillage.com
There are several mini markets on Atuona. It’s quite expensive so if you come from Papeete think about buying some stuff before you come.
Take a local guide to visit the island
You will probably be offered the services of guides if you are in a hotel. Learn a little about the guide to be certain that he or she knows the island and its history, if not go through Jean Saucourt (Contact: tel: 927333 or 728206). I do not tell you that because I stayed at his place and because he is very nice but rather because he is passionate. He arrived on the island before the roads were built and he was responsible for their construction. To do it he had to dig right and left and explore the corner. He is very educated and aware of a lot of things about the Marquesas. He met lots of passionate people and worked with them including archaeologists. He has found many sites and will take you to places where other guides will not bring you. He gives valuable advice and information on everything! He takes the time to tell you things, shows you objects and pictures. It was he who discovered Gauguin’s teeth in the well! You will not lose your time or money. He knows almost everyone on the island and has been a guide for many personalities and he and his wife knew Jacques Brel.
There are other guides on the island of course 🙂 I had discussed with the boss of the diving club. He is friendly and is very familiar with the culture of his island and suddenly he can also give you an approach other than that of Jean!
- Tombs of Gauguin et Brel
- ``Espace culturel`` Paul Gauguin & Centre Jacques Brel
- Old Cimetary: Tevitete
- Tiki Souriant
- Taaoa & Upeke
- Marquisian dance
- Horse Riding
What: The tombs of the painter and the singer dominating the valley. It is interesting to know that Gauguin’s grave was redone and that the body rests diagonally under the grave. The sculpture is a reproduction because the original is not found.
Where: In the new cemetery.
How: When you are in front of the tourist office, continue towards the post office (on the left if you face the tourist office). At the roundabout with the war memorial, turn left and go up the street. You will see a sign a little further.
What: A museum that tells the life of Paul Gauguin and his arrival in the Marquesas with reproductions of many of his paintings. There are also old tools used by the ancient inhabitants of the island. Outside you will see a reconstitutuin of Paul Gauguin’s house with old photos. In another building there is the space Jacques Brel with “Jojo” his restored plane and some explanatory panels.
Where: In the city center of Atuona.
How: When you are in front of the tourist office, turn right is the building next door.
Price: 1100 xpf for two otherwise you can do only one of the museums.
What: Often forgotten visitors this cemetery offers a beautiful view of the valley and mountains and the bay. There are old graves with well cut stones and red stones. Venture into the graveyard and look for the tiki: there is one on a stone fell open and another next to the tree trunk at the end of the grave.
Where: In the valley of Atuona
How: After the tourist office, continue the road that goes to the bank Socredo. Turn right just before the bank; on your left you will see the gendarmerie. Continue and cross the bridge then take the first left. You will pass the restaurant “Hoa Nui”. Continue and follow the sign hanging on a tree. The road will be in the ground. The cemetery will be on your left.
Little more: If you take the road and continue, in addition to the beautiful view of the valley you will fall on the remains of an old house.
What: Beautiful white sand beach and turquoise water in a bay full of coconut trees. It is a private lot but the owner is super nice.
Where: In the north-east of the island. Follow the road that goes to the airport, continue straight and at the other roundabout turn left and go down to Hanaiapa.
How: once in Hanaiapa, park in front of the sea. Take a right. There is a house where the proprietors have written “forbid to enter, take the public road” or something like that; if the owners are there, ask them permission to pass; otherwise, continue on the right. You will pass in front of unfinished horse box species in bricks. Make another few meters; you will see a rather large gray stone on your left, the path is not yet paved; it’s the beginning of the trail. Go up then turn left and follow the path. You will pass the houses where the owners did not want you to go, continue the path that goes up behind. At one point the path will separate in two; continue on your right and go up. You will pass in front of a portal; open it and close it so that the animals (goats) do not escape! Continue the trail for a long time. There are several cool points of view. At some point you will have to go down to reach the bay.
Difficulty: Easy-Average (slippery parts lais nothing insurmountable)
Duration: Approximately 3 hours return.
What: Archeological site with very large tikis.
Price: 300 xpf per person (free with a local …)
Where: Northeast of the island at the end of the road. It is about 2.5 hours from Atuona by car (in dry weather).
Little more: Once you have visited the site, go behind the big tikis at the bottom and take the “path” just behind that goes a little in the forest. There are two tikis very pretty a bit high.
What: This tiki is a feminine tiki (we see it because it has tattoos under the lips). He has a form of phallus. He represents the women who circumcised. In front of him you will be able to see a Me’ae.
Where: Take the road that goes to the airport. It’s not very far from the roundabout that leads to the airport. On your right you will see a sign indicating the path.
How: Once parked, go down the path after passing the barrier (it’s a private area). Walk until you reach a crossroads. Take a right, just 5m; you will see two curved coconut trees that seem to meet. Go between the coconut trees and go down the path for two minutes. The tiki will be on your left.
What: There are petroglyphs (they would represent childbirth scenes and placentas because the women had to give birth in the corner near the river.) And tikis to see but the tikis are now in a private area where there are big bulls … you can venture there but he is careful and find a way to cross the barbed wire.
Where: In the Tahauku Valley, southwest of Hiva Island.
How: The sign is in the bush on the left. Take the path and go straight. There will be a first path that will go to the left, continue to the right. Continue right at the second intersection. Then you will see the river on your left. Continue until you have to cross it on foot. Normally just before you will see a kind of fountain (big black wall with water flowing on and beside) on your right. Continue straight for five minutes and there you will see a fence with barbed wire. Walk along the barbed wire on your left. You should see ribbons, stacked stones and small arrows from time to time to point the way (this is a sign made by Jean Saucourt, great host and guide!). You walk in the bush a few minutes then you will find yourself in front of a huge stone (if you miss it you are really not good!). This stone was moved 300m because of an overflow of the river. So the only petroglyphs you will see will be in front of you and on one side. If you want to try to see the tikis you will have to venture into a private area with big oxen. It can be a little dangerous if the oxen see you. The owner had the good idea to put barbed wire everywhere and prevents people from going to see petroglyphs and tikis … If you’re interested, you go behind the big stone. You then have two choices: the first is to go right and find the sign that indicates the site but this is where people leave the food for the oxen; the second choice is to go left, go over the tree, follow the barbed wire until you find a place to go to the other side. You go a little up the hill, there are very large trees with very clear trunk, go a little to the right and reach the kind of road. Go back down a little and check that there are no oxen. The site will be on your left a little higher.
What: Private archaeological site with a tiki and petroglyph.
Where: At Taaoa.
How: See you in Taaoa. Before the church you will see a road that goes up to the right. Take it and continue until you arrive at the site. Once on the site follow the red arrows. When they stop, venture a little into the forest, the tiki is on a kind of stele between the trees. The petroglyph is near the road.
What: Tour of the island by boat and visit the village with very talented sculptors. Swimming on a beautiful beach. Stop in a super spot with lots of manta rays. In all honesty it’s expensive for what it is; it is not an essential excursion, especially if you do not have much time and / or money.
Where: Island less than an hour by boat from Atuona.
How: You have to go through a “guide” if you can not find anyone to get you there (I’m talking about sailing captain, for example).
Price: Variable and negotiable but around 13000 xpf the day with lunch included.
Tip: Do not go through your hotel because it will certainly be much more expensive. Guiders rent a holy water font that leaves only if they have enough people for the excursion. There are no exits every day so ask immediately when you arrive. We were put in contact with Pifa (tel: 87727633). Do not tell him that you stay a long time if he does, otherwise he will take his time to do the excursion at the risk that you can not do it! Alternatively, you can go directly to the port or contact the Atuona diving club (tel: +689.87241995). The dive club that makes this tour is top and reliable; they are in good standing and have insurance (unlike Pifa).
What: Traditional dance show. We heard that it was blah at the hotel, but you can try to attend the rehearsals though!
Where: Pearl Lodge Hotel.
When: Every Friday night.
Price: 3500 xpf per person. It’s a show buffet.
What: Diving to Atuona among others. Manta rays at the rendezvous!
Tel : +689.87241995
What: Horseback riding in the mountains or on the coast. There are two providers, one near the airport and one on Atuona (Jérémy).
Tel aéroport : 40927057 / 87286821
Tel Jérémy : 87230158 / 40927380
Price: Environ 7000 xpf les 3-4h.