Aerial View of Nuku Hiva - Tahiti TourismeAerial View of Nuku Hiva - Tahiti Tourisme
©Aerial View of Nuku Hiva - Tahiti Tourisme|Karl Shakur
Short break

Four days in Nuku Hiva

Nuku Hiva, the mystical island

The biggest of the Marquesas Islands, Nuku Hiva is stunningly impressive with its jagged coastline of steep cliffs, dense vegetation, lush forests and unique, glorious beaches. A landscape that awes and inspires, humbles and overwhelms, but leaves no one indifferent. Here are some suggestions for an unforgettable four-day break on the island.

Cliffs in Nuku Hiva Tahiti Tourisme © Stéphane Mailion PhotographyCliffs in Nuku Hiva Tahiti Tourisme
©Cliffs in Nuku Hiva Tahiti Tourisme|Stéphane Mailion Photography

Day 1

The village of Taiohae is the ideal place to begin your exploration of Nuku Hiva. Stroll to the communal market where a dozen or so stallholders sell all kinds of local produce: fruit, honey, pineapple vinegar, jams… A few yards past the market is the fare artisanal (craft workshop) where you can admire sculptures in wood and bone, seed necklaces and all the many other examples of Marquesan art.

The village of Taiohae stretches for several kilometers along the bay and makes for a very pleasant stroll. Among the sites to be seen in the village are the archeological remains of the paepae(large stone platforms) Piki Vehine and Temehea, watched over by several huge tiki. There is also Notre-Dame des Marquises Cathedral, which was built using stones of different colors and grades which come from all six of the Marquesas Islands. And not to be missed is a visit to Fort Colet where an immense tiki,12 meters tall, was put in place in 2016. It is a magnificent site with superb panoramic views over the bay.

Day 2

There’s no better way to discover the lush vegetation of Nuku Hiva than on foot. There is a large choice of hiking trails that you can take on your own or as part of an excursion. Naturally, it’s always advisable to be accompanied by a guide.

As a suggestion, try the trail that takes in the magnificent bay and waterfall at Hakaui, and the ridge at Taiohae, or at Aakapa. Otherwise, you can explore the island’s best bays and beaches, such as the one at Anaho. All of these trails can be completed in a day by hikers of all ages, but you do need to be in good physical condition. Wear solid hiking shoes and don’t forget your sunscreen and a hat.

For a more thrilling experience, why not try a tandem paraglide flight over the island. Taking off from the summit of Mount Moakai, the descent over the bay of Taiohae lasts about an hour. It’s best to reserve your flight at least twenty-four hours in advance.

Day 3

There are two choices for those wishing to explore the island on horseback. The first is a three hour circuit that takes you through the valley of Hatiheu with a stop on the beach at Anaho. It’s an easy ride suitable even for complete novices. More experienced riders can go on a two-day, bivouac excursion. There are also horseback excursions on the other side of the island, which take you to the Toovi plateau from where the panoramic views are really spectacular. On a clear day you can even see the island of Ua Huka floating on the ocean in the distance.

Hakaui is one of the most beautiful sites on the island. You can only get there by boat, which leaves from the quay at Taiohae. From Hakauia guide will lead you on a three-hour hike to the waterfall of Vaipo, so the trip lasts for the whole day ! However, if you don’t feel up to it, it’s always possible to arrange a shorter hike.

Day 4

Why not round-off your break with a round-island safari tour in an ATV? As well as showing you the sights, your guide will entertain you with the tales and legends of Nuku Hiva. You’ll visit the village of Taipivai where the author Herman Merville once lived. Then you continue on to the archeological site at Te Aitua, followed by the site at Kamuihei, and the scenic viewpoint at Aakapa. After coming back for lunch and a swim at Hatiheu, you head for the bay of Hooumi that’s dedicated to the Virgin Mary. A day rich in emotions and one that you’ll remember for a very long time!