According to legend, Hiva Oa is the main beam of Gods’ “big house”. Nowadays, it is commonly named the “Garden of the Marquesas” thanks to its fertile and lush land. The island features endless untouched nature: green, invading and bright. Roads and houses are hardly seen. The island’s rugged landscapes blend sharp ridges. Peaks and valleys scattered with archeological sites and ruins, boast home to the largest tiki statues of French Polynesia. Hiva oa is lined with black sand beaches and sharp cliffs diving into the Pacific Ocean.
The island’s main village, ‘Atu’ona, is nested at the end of Ta’a’ao’ Bay and is overlooked by the highest mountains (Mount Temetiu – 1276 m and Mount Fe’ani – 1026m). This is also the place where two famous artists chose to live their lives: the French painter Paul Gauguin and the French poet, singer and actor Jacques Brel.
In 1901, Paul Gauguin and later in 1975, Jacques Brel, both came to Hiva Oa in quest of what could be referred to as “personal inner peace”. Nobody knows if they ever found it but every morning, as the sun rises, the light over the island is breathtakingly pure, so pure that one feels part of eternity. This is an unspeakable feeling that every traveler will experience. Walking these same artistic footsteps involves visiting their graves at the Calvaire cemetery where they both rest facing Ta’a’oa’s Bay under the sweet fragrance of frangipani trees. Then visit the replica of Gauguin’s “Maison du Jouir” and the small museum dedicated to the painter and his house. While he lived in the Marquesas, he painted some of his most famous artwork, sourcing his inspiration through the islanders’ every day life but also legends and old religious traditions representing imaginary scenes.
Hiva Oa is worth visiting for its various archeological sites such as me’ae in Puama’u, hosting the largest tiki statue of Tahiti and her Islands. “Taka’i’i” (2.43 m) is a one-of-a-kind smiling statue, hidden in lush vegetation. Petroglyphs, such as the female travel Chief’s polished stone mirror, are in the surrounding area. In Ta’a’oa lies a huge cult area featuring lithic structures and tiki statues nicely blending within the untouched and primitive nature around them: giant banyan trees, breadfruit trees, coconut and papaya trees.
Whether it is hiking, horseback riding or on a 4WD ride, explore the pristine and breathtaking landscapes of Hiva Oa featuring waterfalls, peaks, fording and crossing rivers…320km2 of amazing enjoyment for nature lovers!