Nuku Hiva Island (aka Nukahiva) is the biggest of Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia (overseas territory of France in the Pacific). Nuku Hiva (formerly named "Ile Marchand" and "Madison Island") has population around 3,000 and covers a total area of 339 km2 (131 mi2).
Administratively, Nuku Hiva is part of the municipality (commune) of Nuku-Hiva, itself in administrative subdivision of Marquesas Islands. Administrative centre of Nuku-Hiva commune and also of the administrative subdivision of Marquesas Islands is Taioha'e, a settlement located on Nuku Hiva's south side, at the head of a bay of the same name.
The central part of Nuku Hiva Island is a high plateau named To'ovi'i, covered by a tall-grass prairie. Cattle raising experiments are taking place on it for the first time. Fifteen years ago the cattle here were feral and had to be hunted with rifles. The island's highest peak, Tekao (1224 m / 4016 ft) rises on the western edge of To'ovi'i. The northern and western edges of Toovii are a mountain ridge, catching much of the rain which waters Nuku Hiva Island.
Typee (book by Herman Melville) is based on his experiences in Taipivai Valley (Nuku Hiva's eastern part). The first landfall of Robert Louis Stevenson on his voyage on Casco was at Hatiheu, on the north side of the island, in 1888. In 2001, Nuku Hiva Island was used as the filming location for the 4th season of 'Survivor', American reality competition series, airing in the USA in 2002. Ben Fogle, British explorer and presenter, in 2015 filmed an episode of 'Ben Fogle: New Lives in the Wild' with a nomadic couple residing on a boat, moored off Nuku Hiva Island at the time of his visit. In his science fiction novel written in 1863, 'Paris in the Twentieth Century', Jules Verne describes Nuku Hiva Island as one of the world's main stock exchanges of 1960.
Nuku Hiva Island is visited by the cargo cruise ship Aranui 5 (2015-built). Next are listed all ports of call (scheduled day visits) on the ship's 14-day roundtrip cruise itinerary from Papeete Tahiti.
- DAY 1 - embarkation in port Papeete at ~10 am. Activities include "Welcome Aboard" party with fruit punch and Marquesan dance show by the swimming pool.
- DAY 2 - Takapoto Atoll (Tuamotus) - activities include swimming, lagoon snorkelling, scuba diving.
- DAY 3 - At Sea
- DAY 4 - Nuku Hiva Island. Activities include stops in ports Taiohae and Hatiheu, cathedral tour, Kamuihei (archaeological site, sacred dance performance), ashore lunch at Yvonne's Restaurant (traditional dish is Hima'a / pig cooked in underground oven), meae (sacred ritual sites, sacred dance performance), paepae (huge stone boulders), optional hiking (trail to Paeke site).
- DAY 5 - Ua Pou Island (Hakahau-Hakahetau). Activities include stop in port Hakahau, the ship's crew unloads here supplies (including cement and sugar) and loads copra (dried coconut meat), Hakahau town exploration (handicrafts centre, stone carvings shopping, church visit, ashore lunch at Rosalie's Restaurant (special dishes are breadfruit, island staple, curried goat, the poisson cru / raw fish marinated in lime and coconut milk, also fei / red bananas and fruit poe). Dining includes traditional Bird Dance performance.
- DAY 6 - Tahuata Island, and Hiva Oa Island. Activities include a stop in port Vaitahu (Tahuata), visiting handcrafts centre (bone carvings, shell carvings), stop in port Atuona (Hiva Oa), visiting Paul Gauguin burial site, ashore lunch at Hoa Nui Restaurant, visiting the "House of Pleasure" and museum, optional hiking tour.
- DAY 7 - Fatu Hiva Island. Activities include stops in ports Omoa and Hanavave, demonstration (local women make tapa), demonstration (kumuhei making / herbal bundles used by local women as perfume), visiting arts-crafts centre (tapa, carvings, monoi coconut oil), optional hiking (16 km / 10 ml from Omoa to Hanavave), ashore lunch.
- DAY 8 - Hiva Oa Island. Activities include stops in ports Puamau and Hanaiapa, guided tour visiting Meae Ipona (archaeological site) and Puamau ruins.
- DAY 9 - Ua Huka Island. Activities include stops in ports Vaipaee, Hane, and Hokatu, optional (4x4 or horseback riding) tour, visiting a museum, gardens, ashore lunch, visiting woodcarving workshops black and white coconuts carvings), onboard "Polynesian Night" (themed events, traditional dancing and chanting lessons, buffet dinner on pool deck, themed entertainment).
- DAY 10 - Nuku Hiva Island. Activities include morning stop in port Taiohae (arts-crafts centre), afternoon stop in Hakahau (Marquesan souvenirs shopping).
- DAY 11 - At Sea
- DAY 12 - Rangiroa Atoll. Activities include lagoon swimming-snorkelling-scuba diving, visiting pearl (pearl and shell jewellery shopping).
- DAY 13 - Bora Bora Island (Society Islands). Activities include white-sand beach, snorkelling, picnic lunch (with traditional Tahitian dishes), optional excursions (scuba diving, outrigger boat tour, swimming with sharks and manta rays, a helicopter tour over Bora Bora Lagoon).
- DAY 14 - disembarkation in Port Papeete at ~9:30 am.
As cruise port, Nuku Hiva Island (Taiohae) is also included in the Paul Gauguin ship cruise itinerary "Marquesas, Tuamotus and Society Islands".
|Date / Time||Port|
|Day1 23:55||Departing from Papeete, Tahiti Island|
|Day2 08:00 - 17:00||Fakarava Atoll, Tuamotus|
|Day3 08:00 - 18:00||Fatu Hiva Island, Marquesas|
|Day4 08:00 - 18:00||Hiva Oa Island (Atuona)|
|Day5 08:00 - 18:00||Tahuata Island, Marquesas|
|Day6 08:00 - 18:00||Nuku Hiva Island (Taiohae)|
|Days 7-8-9||At Sea|
|Day10 08:00 - 17:00||Huahine Island, Society Islands|
|Day11 08:00 - 23:00||Bora Bora Island, Society Islands|
|Day12 09:00 - 17:00||Tahaa Island, Society Islands|
|Day13 08:00 - 17:00||Moorea Island, Society Islands|
|Day14 Sep||Arriving in Papeete, Tahiti Island|
The 14-day roundtrip Papeete voyage is priced from USD 8150 pp (double-occupancy cabin rates).
Nuku Hiva Island cruise terminal
Cruise ships to Nuku Hiva Island dock (anchor) at Taiohae - port town on the southern coast.
Marquesas Islands' highest elevation point is Mt Oave (on Ua Pou island) - 1230 m (4035 ft) above sea level. The Marquesas are one of French Polynesia's all 5 administrative divisions. Their capital is Taiohae (on Nuku Hiva). Group's total population is around 10,000.
The islands are divided into two groups:
- Northern - Eiao, Hatutu, Motu Iti, Motu Oa, Motu One, Nuku Hiva (388 km2, pop 3000), Ua Huka (83 km2, pop 600) and Ua Pou (106 km2, pop 2200)
- Southern - Hiva Oa (327 km2, pop 2200), Fatu Hiva (85 km2, pop 600), Fatu Huku, Moho Tani, Motu Nao, Tahuata (61 km2, pop 700) and Terihi.
The islands were named by the Spanish explorer Alvaro de Mendana (1542-1595). The Marquesas are served by all 4 airports (on Nuku Hiva, Ua Pu, Ua Huka, Hiva Oa). Follows the list of Marquesas cruise ports (docking / bay anchorage points) by island:
- Fatu Hiva Island (Hanavave or Omoa)
- Hiva Oa Island (Atuona, also anchoring at Pau Mao Bay)
- Nuka Hiva Island (Tiaohae)
- Tahuata Island - either at Vaitahu (central) or Hapatoni (south) - both port towns on the western coast
- Ua Pou Island (Hakahau)
Note: For detailed info on exact island destination (port stops) in the Marquesas please contact your cruise booking / travel agent.