The South Pacific’s Marquesas Islands are a treasure trove of off-the-beaten-path experiences just waiting to be had. A cruise through the Marquesas is a wonderful way to learn about the history and culture of the islands.
The South Pacific Ocean is home to the volcanic Marquesas Islands. The islands are located about 1,400 miles northeast of Tahiti and are a part of French Polynesia, which is an overseas territory of France. The natural beauty, distinct culture, and rich history of the Marquesas Islands are well-known.
Around 2,000 years ago, Polynesians began settling on the Marquesas Islands, where they would go on to create a culture that evolved separately from other Polynesian societies. The Marquesan people are renowned throughout the Pacific for their exquisite tattoos and intricate carvings. The native language of the Marquesans is also distinct to these islands; it is simply called “Marquesan.”
The religion of the Marquesans is a fascinating part of their culture. Traditional Marquesan religion centered on a pantheon of deities thought to have dominion over the elements of the universe. Sacred wooden statues depicting these deities were a common form of worship. Archaeological sites all over the islands still display many of these carvings.
In 1595, the Spanish explorer lvaro de Mendaa de Neira was the first European to see the Marquesas Islands. However, European explorers didn’t start regularly visiting the islands until the late 18th century. During his second voyage to the Pacific, British explorer Captain William Bligh—famous for his part in the mutiny on the Bounty—visited the Marquesas Islands in 1791.
The Marquesas Islands experienced a renaissance in the 19th century due to the influence of missionaries, traders, and whalers. New diseases brought to the islands by Europeans wiped out the indigenous Marquesan population. The Marquesan population had been severely weakened by disease by the end of the 19th century and was on the verge of extinction at that time.
The people of the Marquesas are making efforts at the present time to ensure the survival of their rich cultural heritage. Cultural demonstrations and visits to archaeological sites provide insight into the past and present of the Marquesas for cruise ship passengers.
Time of Year to Cruise the Marquesas
The Marquesas Islands are in the tropics, with year-round highs of 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Since the islands are in the South Pacific, they are vulnerable to tropical storms and cyclones during the wet season (November–April).
The dry season in the Marquesas lasts from May to October, making that time of year ideal for a cruise. There is little chance of rain at this time of year, and the weather is usually sunny and dry. During the dry season, the ocean is less turbulent, making for a more pleasant voyage.
In addition to being the peak tourist season, the dry season is also a great time to visit the Marquesas Islands. There is a greater variety of cruises to the Marquesas to choose from at this time. However, during the high season, cruises to the Marquesas tend to sell out quickly, so it’s best to plan ahead if you want to go.
You should be prepared for anything if you plan to cruise the Marquesas during the wet season. During the wet season, the islands are still stunning, but there is a greater chance of rain and even tropical storms. If you don’t mind getting wet, the rainy season in Marquesas can be a great time to go on a cruise because there are fewer people there and the rates are lower.
The water temperature is something else to think about when preparing for a cruise to the Marquesas. The water in the Marquesas Islands is a pleasant 80 degrees Fahrenheit on average throughout the year. However, the water temperature drops during the winter, which may dampen your enthusiasm for swimming and other water activities.
Your ideal time for a cruise to the Marquesas will ultimately be determined by personal choice. The dry season is ideal if you’re hoping to soak up some rays and enjoy some smooth sailing. However, the wet season may be preferable if you’re looking for lower prices and fewer tourists.
Activities on a Marquesas cruise include sightseeing and learning about local culture and traditions. Some common choices are as follows:
Hiking: The Marquesas Islands are a popular destination for hikers due to their breathtaking scenery. A wide variety of trails, from casual strolls to strenuous climbs, provide access to the islands’ stunning scenery.
Some of the best snorkeling and scuba diving in the Pacific can be found in the Marquesas Islands. Marine life abounds in the waters surrounding the islands, from vibrant coral reefs to schools of tropical fish to even sharks.
Cultural demonstrations give cruise passengers an authentic taste of Marquesan life and traditions. Dance, music, and handiwork from the native culture are all fair game for these displays.
The Marquesas Islands are home to numerous archaeological sites that can be visited to learn more about the islands’ fascinating past. Temples, stone sculptures, and petroglyphs are all examples of such places.
Swimming, sunning, and other beach activities can all be enjoyed at one of the many stunning beaches in the Marquesas. Anaho Beach and Hakaui Beach are two of the most well-known beaches on the island.
The local cuisine of the Marquesas Islands is a fascinating blend of Polynesian and French techniques and flavors. Seafood, roasted pig, breadfruit, and various tropical fruits are examples of what can be found in local cuisine.
Cruise Choices for the Marquesas
Several different cruise lines offer trips to the Marquesas, and each one has its own distinct itineraries and activities to offer. Consider some of these recommended Marquesas cruises:
The Marquesas Islands are a stop on the 14-day Paul Gauguin Cruises itinerary that also visits the Tuamotus and the Society Islands. The cruise line provides high-end lodgings and numerous on-board facilities, such as a spa and a gym.
The Marquesas Islands and other islands in French Polynesia are just a small part of what you can see on a 10-day cruise with Windstar Cruises. Watersports and cultural performances are just two of the many on-ship offerings from this cruise line.
Aranui Cruises: Aranui Cruises provides a one-of-a-kind cruise experience for visitors to the Marquesas Islands by combining cargo and passenger transportation. The cruise line provides plush rooms and numerous on-board facilities, such as a pool and a lounge.
Silversea Cruises: Silversea Cruises offers 10-day itineraries to the Marquesas Islands and other islands in French Polynesia, including the Tuamotus and the Society Islands. The cruise line provides first-class services and facilities, such as a spa, a fitness center, and excellent dining venues.
The Marquesas Islands are a stop on the 14-day Ponant Cruises itinerary that also visits the Tuamotus and the Society Islands. The cruise line provides plush lodgings and a wide variety of onboard activities, such as educational presentations and cultural performances.
It’s important to think about what’s most important to you when selecting a cruise to the Marquesas. While some cruise lines focus on providing an immersive cultural experience, others provide more opulent accommodations and amenities. You should also compare the cruise lines’ offerings of activities and shore excursions to find the best fit for your vacation.
Natural splendor, native culture, and leisurely pursuits all come together in one unforgettable way on a cruise through the Marquesas. What to do and see on a cruise to the Marquesas:
With their rugged mountains, lush rainforests, and crystal-clear waters, the Marquesas Islands boast some of the world’s most breathtaking natural scenery.
Cultural Experiences: Cultural demonstrations and visits to archaeological sites offer insight into the customs and traditions of the people who call the Marquesas Islands home.
A cruise to the Marquesas is the perfect way to unwind and recharge because of all the time spent lounging on the beach, in the spa, and enjoying the ship’s entertainment.
The weather in the Marquesas Islands can be erratic, with heavy downpours and gusty winds appearing out of nowhere. Be sure to bring along the right attire and equipment in case the weather takes a turn for the worse.
Exotic birds, sea turtles, and even wild horses are just some of the unique species that call the Marquesas Islands home.
In sum, a cruise through the Marquesas is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to unwind amidst breathtaking scenery and fascinating local culture. You can make a vacation that you will never forget by picking the perfect time of year, cruise line, and activities.
Our Top FAQ's
The best time to take a Marquesas cruise is between March and November, during the dry season when the weather is most favorable. However, be prepared for unpredictable weather conditions.
Some must-see destinations in the Marquesas Islands include the island of Hiva Oa, which is home to the famous artist Paul Gauguin’s final resting place, and the island of Nuku Hiva, which offers stunning natural beauty and cultural sites.
It’s important to pack appropriate clothing and gear for changing weather conditions, including rain gear and sturdy shoes for hiking. Sunscreen, insect repellent, and a hat are also recommended.
Activities on a Marquesas cruise may include snorkeling, hiking, cultural demonstrations, and visits to archaeological sites. Some cruise lines may also offer onboard amenities such as spa treatments, fitness centers, and fine dining options.