Introduction

Grand, brooding and powerful, nature’s fingers have sculpted the Marquesas Islands into sharp silhouettes that jut up dramatically from the cobalt-blue ocean. Waterfalls taller than skyscrapers trickle down vertical canyons, the ocean thrashes towering cliffs, basalt pinnacles project from emerald forests, and scalloped bays are blanketed with desert arcs of white or black sand.

Some of the most inspirational hikes and horseback rides in French Polynesia are found here, allowing walkers and horse riders the opportunity to explore the islands’ rugged interiors. Here the past is almost palpable, thanks to a wealth of archaeological remains dating from pre-European times.

Another highlight is the culture. In everything from cuisine and dances to language and crafts, the Marquesas do feel different from the rest of French Polynesia. But don’t expect turquoise lagoons, swanky resorts and an electric nightlife – the Marquesas are an ecotourist’s dream, not a beach-holiday destination.