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Introducing Hiva Oa

Scenery- and atmosphere-wise, Hiva Oa is worthy of an Oscar. This serpentine island is a picturesque mix of lush jungle, sea-smashed coastal cliffs and towering volcanic peaks. Many of the bays that fret the coastline make wonderful photo ops with their combinations of indigo water, white- or black-sand or pebble-stubbled foreshores and nodding palms – not to mention a smattering of typical Marquesan hamlets where time has stood still. After a few days here, you’ll understand why the artist Paul Gauguin and the Belgian singer Jacques Brel chose to call it home.

But wait! There’s more to Hiva Oa than grandiose landscapes and laid-back vibes. Pre-European history is achingly prominent here, with a collection of enigmatic archaeological sites scattered in the jungle, including the most intriguing tiki in French Polynesia, which will give you plenty to ponder.

Hiva Oa is also the optimal launching pad for exploring Tahuata and Fatu Hiva.