The Marquesas islands



This archipelago is one of the 5 of the French Polynesia with the Tuamotu, the Gambier, the Austral and the Society islands. The French Polynesia is driven daily by a local government linked with France, as for example, the bobbies coming from the French Gendarmerie.

The official language is the French but a lot of local language exists. The money is the pacific franc (1 euro corresponds to 120 CFP).

This archipelago is the most recent of all the French Polynesia archipelagos. Based on the north east of the Polynesia, it is the first point of arrival for the sailors arriving from Panama or the Galapagos islands (except few which arrive on Gambier).

We arrive here after 2 months of quarantine in Galapagos and 3 weeks of sailing, in Taiohae the main city in Nuku Hiva island.

This island can be seen at 30nm with these green mountains, these waterfalls... the landscapes are incredible!!!!

On land, the local are very friendly and available to help ! We are very well welcome : a lot of locals give spontaneously some bananas for the kids, propose to drink a coffee or a local beer “hinano”!

Here, we can find everything we want in the market, in the store or in the pier for the fishes. Everyone cultivate bananas, grapefruit, lemons, coconut, mangoes, passion fruits, green beans, tomatoes, onions, potta (as the chinese cabbage)... the weather conditions permit all the year the production of vegetables but its limitation is more due to the land indivisible than technical constrain.

The main activity is the « coprah » (collection, preparation and selling of the coconut cleaned : the price is 70CFP and the double for dried one. This coprah is used in the main oil factory in Tahiti.

The other main activity is the tourism. The airport is used with the ATR72 of Tahiti Nui in Nuku Hiva and a Twin Otter is used between the smaller islands. No international flight is permitted due to lack of infrastructure. To go there, you need to go via Tahiti or take the mixed Aranui Boat (passengers and fret) : only 20 travels per year.

In the Marquesas islands, the life is expansive even if the level of unemployed person is high.

There are primary schools in most of the village, a secondary school in the main city as Taiohae or Atuona on Hiva Oa island. So, most of the children have to be in some family or stay at school. Then, they have to go in Tahiti at more than 1400 km from their island. Some local dispensaries can be found in all the valleys and the hospital is in Nuku Hiva. No specialists are available on the islands : you have to go on Tahiti in case of special needs. Only one helicopter can be found in Nuku Hiva.

Due to the distance, the products and the flight are more expansive (300 euros to go to Papeete). The two main cities are less than 2000 persons : so no cinema nor theather. There are few roads inside the islands and few regular bus... walking or taking a boat remains the best solution...

The marquesas culture with its own language, its symbols, its story is very strong but less and less persons speak this language. One ONG Patutiki and its president Teiki work on the recognition of this culture by the world through the Unesco.

One tricky point remains the position of this islands towards the french government : some would like to be totally independent, some would like to be autonomous towards Tahiti but not the France, some would like to stay as today.

The marquesas islands are divided between the modern world and the ancestral traditions.

You can still find people living in total isolation in some bay or some mountain. They cultivate some fruits, some vegetables, hunt and share what they have with the people who visit them.

After 6 weeks here, we go for a 4 days sailing to the Tuamotu.

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