If you decide to travel to Polynesia, you choose a destination that stretches over a gigantic sea area in the eastern Pacific – from the Hawaiian Islands to New Zealand to the Easter Islands. Within this “Polynesian Triangle” there are countless islands and archipelagos with a total land area of around 294,000 square kilometers… of which the largest part is in New Zealand, which is also the only island in Polynesia that is not of volcanic origin. Many of the islands are roughly the size of a federal state, but the volcanic activity is also due to hundreds of small to tiny coral islands, most of which are arranged in the form of atolls. Most of the islands of Polynesia are barely inhabited or not habitable. But where you are inhabited you can immerse yourself in the Polynesian cultural area – which differs significantly from Melanesia and Micronesia, which also belong to Oceania. Exploring Polynesia means, among other things, encountering the most varied of developments in politics and economics, culture and religion, as due to the large spatial separation of the individual islands, a uniform development was not possible. In addition to regions with an almost archaic way of life, there are also regions that were clearly shaped by the colonial interventions in the 18th and 19th centuries. In the Cook Islands, for example, the significant role of the British Empire in terms of political and historical development can be seen. Apart from the diversity linked to civilization, Polynesia also has natural spatial diversity.
Nuku Hiva belongs to the Marquesas in the Pacific Ocean, a group of volcanic islands in French Polynesia. Of the rugged, mountainous main islands, Nuku Hiva is the largest and well-developed for tourists. The green, lush island is dominated by a long mountain range and offers on the coasts not only rough, craggy cliffs but also palm-fringed bays and dream beaches with predominantly black lava sand. The port of the island in Taiohae Bay is particularly popular with people who sail around the world as a stopover.
Nuku Hiva, “The Mysterious”
In addition to the wild, rugged landscape, Nuku Hiva is also an attraction for many study trips and tourists interested in culture. Numerous sacred remains such as places of worship with fascinating Tiki statues earned her the nickname “The Mysterious”.
Hikokua is the best preserved place of worship (Me`ae) on the island. There you can visit a huge platform that was used for ceremonies and dances, as well as two huge Tiki statues. One of them stands for fertility and legend has it that any woman she touches will become pregnant immediately.
The island is also known for its art of carving from fine sandalwood and miro wood and is therefore a popular souvenir of many trips to Nuku Hiva. A tattoo, on the other hand, would be a lasting memento, because this traditional Polynesian art form is still practiced to perfection in the Marquesas today.
Hike to the Vaipo waterfall
The Vaipo waterfall (also Ahuii waterfall) is the largest in Polynesia and plunges 350 meters down in the middle of the Hakaui Valley. The starting point of the hike is Hakatea Bay, which can be reached by boat from Taiohoe. From there it goes past mighty banyan trees, statues of gods, stone slabs and ruins, until the view opens onto a spectacular gorge with narrow high walls, between which the Vaipo waterfall rushes into the depths. At the end of his fall, he encounters a pool made of black basalt, which invites the tired hiker to take a refreshing bath and thus turns this optical natural spectacle into a tangible experience.
At 320 square kilometers, Hiva Oa is the second largest island in the Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia, an overseas territory of France in the Pacific Ocean. It is the largest island in the southern Marquesas group and around 2,200 people live here. Temetiu volcano is the highest point of Hiva Oa at 1,200 meters. The island is famous as the last home of the French painter Paul Gauguin and the Belgian singer Jacques Brel, both of whom are buried in Calvary Cemetery overlooking the capital, Atuona. Hiva Oa is also known for the largest tiki sculptures in French Polynesia.
The island of Hiva Oa offers holidaymakers beautiful landscapes, rugged rocks that protect against the violence of the Pacific Ocean and an impressive mountain range, which is also home to the small island airport high above the clouds.
The heart and capital of the island is Atuona. There is also a small hotel and several guest houses here. From there, holidaymakers have numerous hiking and excursion options at their disposal – through the green nature with clear rivers and waterfalls or on the Temetiu mountain at an altitude of 1,200 meters. A special highlight of the island are the archaeological sites, which testify to the long and fascinating history of the island. In remote, mysterious valleys you can find archaeological sites with the mightiest stone figures in Polynesia. Especially the most unusual place “Puamau and Iipona” is worth a visit during your vacation.
On Hiva Oa, tourists not only have the opportunity to hike or relax on the beach, but can also explore the island by rented 4×4 or on horseback.