The Marquesas, archipelago at the end of the world

In the middle of the Pacific Ocean, this blue, green and golden paradise has a powerful magnetism. We come back dazzled, intoxicated, forever in love.

Among the 118 islands of French Polynesia grouped into 5 archipelagos, the Marquesas occupy a place apart. Lost in the Pacific Ocean, they all have a postcard dotted with lagoons, atolls, sandy beaches shaded by palm trees. We can imagine less that these confetti rise to surprising heights on old sunken volcanoes. Their flanks are covered with forests while their heart spreads in meadows where cows and half-wild horses are frolicking.

Tahiti, more than a stopover
Tahiti is the perfect base to jump from island to island. It is discovered in Papeete, modern, lively, noisy. Musicians scratch their guitar at street corners, sing and dance. A stroll on the seafront can admire the Bougainville Park, the palace of Queen Pomare IV - home of the last Polynesian king - and the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. We scan the pearl shops, before hitting the market to taste an infinite number of exotic fruits. By 4x4, we take the track to Papenoo, north, then Lake Vaihiria, in the center of the island. Surrounded by hibiscus, a torrent invites us to a refreshing bath. In this living water, one feels the famous Polynesian "mana", this vital energy that emerges from the cascades, the marae Vaiotea - ceremonial site - and the archaeological remains near the Maroto waterfall. Then we go down to the coast, frequented by the whales in season, and we take advantage of the last rays that glitter gold of the island of Moorea.

Bewitching Nuku Hiva
The twin engine drops us off at Nuka Hiva, on the cliff edge track. The only road leads to Taiohae, a town wrapped around the harbor dug into a collapsed volcanic crater. Sailboats sway there, manta rays spawn in the middle of dolphins Electre players. Most of the island's 3,000 inhabitants live here, between the marina, the market and the auction. At dawn, a crowd pulls out the bluefin tuna deposited by the fishermen, a delicious meal cooked with coconut milk. At the craft center, we sell a necklace of shells. The hiker is king in this exceptional landscape that entangles cliffs and canyons, coves and volcanic peaks framed by a fantastic blue sky. Above the majestic cliffs of Aakapa are endemic birds, such as the ptilope or the salangane. An equestrian ride takes us to the Toovii plateau. Among the white acacias, one reaches the waterfall of Vaipo, 350 m high and which falls steeply in a basin. Then we reach by boat the bay of Hakatea. In a hidden cove, the deserted beach is waiting for us. Near Hatiheu, we explore the remains of Kamuihei, guarded by huge banyan trees with aerial roots, as well as Hikokua, which for six centuries was the sacred place of human sacrifice. In the evening, canoes compete in the harbor with speed.

Hiva Oa, the artistic
A 40-minute flight, Hiva Oa, wild and lush, was the ultimate refuge for Paul Gauguin and, later, Jacques Brel. Both rest at the cemetery of Calvary. We visit of course the Paul Gauguin Cultural Center mixed with cultural space Jacques-Brel, before continuing with a tour to Hanaiapa where we discover the Vanilla Vaatete - vanilla Marquesan is very famous. The road between Atuona and Puamau runs along vertiginous cirques and offers breathtaking views of the open sea. On the way, to Lipona, site of the pre-European Marquisian civilization, we salute five monumental tikis, these ancient statues, rare because often destroyed, which symbolize the being half-human, half-god, ancestor of all men.

GO
Air Tahiti Nui serves Paris-Papeete via Los Angeles. From € 1,747 return. Visa Esta USA required for stopover in Los Angeles. airtahitinui.com.

STAY

In Tahiti. Fare Switzerland. 6 air-conditioned rooms impeccable. From 80 € the double room. Service deposit and shuttle airport or ferry terminal (from 40 €). fare-suisse.com.

A Nuku Hiva. Keikahanui Pearl Lodge. Chic bungalows with views. From € 217 / night. pearlodge.com.
Mave Mai. Pension very neat. 70 € in a double room. [email protected]

A Hiva Oa. Moehau Relay. 70 € in a double room with breakfast. relaismoehau.pf.

Advice : take a quality mosquito repellent.

INFO
Tourist Office: tahiti-tourisme.pf.

Discover other islands

Haiti, the original Caribbean

New Caledonia

Sri Lanka

The Philippines

Video: Voyage to Marquesas Islands on the Aranui Freighter (January 2020).

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