Marquesas Islands
Best months:
April to October

Marquesas Islands

French Polynesia
LAST UPDATED 07/01/2008
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Bredt: Flag of the Marquesas; 2006

The Marquesas Islands are the northern group of Islands in French Polynesia.  These islands are the most remote from any continent in the world. Yet to be fully explored by surfers, the main island of Nuka Hiva would seem to offer most promise. Of the fourteen islands on the group, only 6 are inhabited, a few such as Motu One are little more than sand and coral quays a few metres above sea level.

Many of the islands are wildlife sanctuaries and offer protection to the regions rare endemic birds and fauna. The region was originally slated to be a nuclear testing site by the French in the 1960’s; I'm betting that the locals are pretty happy that those plans were shelved.


Semhur: Hiva Oa, Marquesas, French Polynesia; 2006

This island region lacks a littoral shelf and as such a lot of the islands coastlines plunge straight down into the sea. The result is that you end up with waves just smashing into rock shelf as opposed to peeling across them. Still, there are numerous reefs in the area that would reward further investigation for those with the inclination. The main known break of Nuku Hiva includes the black sand beaches of Taaoa to the south. The northerly bays are pretty but lack exposure to the predominant swell.




Semhur: Ua Huka, Marquesas, French Polynesia; 2006

The predominant south easterly trade winds are the major weather factor in play for the region. This ensures regular swell to the southern facing areas of the islands albeit it low period windswell. The larger swells from the South west are most common from May through to September. These will light up all of the reefs, passes and points on the islands. If somewhere looks too big or you aren’t that comfortable in surfing large waves on reefs then travel, chances are if you head a little further around the corners of the island you will find something to your liking and ability. Tropical cyclones can pass through the area though rarely make landfall. The rarer northerly breaks really come to life if the system passes far enough to the north to generate some solid groundswell.


Semhur: Hanavave, Marquesas, French Polynesia; 2006

Flying is the most common method of arrival in the Islands. The airport at Atuona is a small strip with basic facilities. Boats and yachts anchor in the nearby Bay of Traitorts. This will place you right next to Taaoa.

where to stay

Makemake: Hakahau, Marquesas, French Polynesia; 2006

There is one hotel on the island, Hotel Hiva Oa Hanakee Pearl Lodge, rates for rooms start from $222 USD per night.




what to pack

Rich Niewiroski Jr.: 62 mm ultra-violet, fluorescent, and polarizing lens filters; April 9, 2007

Islands are inhabited, but still it's better to take the things you might need with you. Everything that keeps you surviving, such as water, medication, insect repellent, good sunscreen and sunglasses! All the gear if you plan to camp: a good waterproof sleeping bag and tent; special gas container u can use for heating food and water; a sturdy backpack or a cargo pack with a good daypack. Invest in a portable water filter or at least take some puri-tabs or boil the water.

Bring along your beach gear as well, as the weather tends to be nice and warm! And of course, bring a camera, there're plenty of photo opportunities here to impress your mates with back home. And take a good protection for your camera from the sand.


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