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Hiva Oa

This serpentine island holds a heady, dramatic mix of lush jungle, sea-battered coastal cliffs and towering volcanic peaks. The bays that fret the coastline are lined with white-sand, black-sand or pebble-stubbled beaches that are lapped by indigo waters and fringed by nodding palms. Behind sit silent, pastel Marquesan hamlets where time has stood still. After a few days, you’ll understand why the artist Paul Gauguin and the Belgian singer Jacques Brel chose to escape the modern world here and make it their home. Hiva Oa has a wild feeling that inspires shutting off your wi-fi and focusing more on important things, like enjoying a perfect mango or sunset.

Hidden like Easter eggs in this tropical jungle dreamland are some of the most intriguing and enigmatic archaeological sites in the South Pacific, including massive, moss-covered stone tiki and unexplained petroglyphs that will keep you pondering about their meanings for days.

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

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Hiva Oa.