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.