French Polynesia’s Marquesas Islands are well-known for their breathtaking natural beauty, fascinating culture, and excellent surfing. There are surf breaks on the islands suitable for surfers of all skill levels.
Located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the Marquesas Islands are a cluster of 12 volcanic islands. The natural scenery, cultural history, and surf spots there are all top-notch. The islands’ isolation and lack of tourist amenities make them perfect for surfers in search of a one-of-a-kind, uncrowded wave.
Polynesians have lived on the Marquesas Islands for over a millennium, long before they were discovered by Western explorers in the 16th century. Extremely rough terrain, unspoiled beaches, and gin-clear waters have made these islands famous. Traditional music, dance, and art all reflect the Polynesian culture, which the islands have preserved over time.
The first surfers arrived in the Marquesas in the 1960s, making surfing a relatively new sport on the islands. Surfing is now a common pastime for both residents and tourists. There are surf breaks on the islands suitable for surfers of all skill levels.
Surf Breaks in the Marquesas
There are waves suitable for surfers of all skill levels in the Marquesas Islands. Among the most frequented surf spots are:
Hakaui is a left-hand reef break on Nuku Hiva’s northern coast. Only reachable by boat, it is widely regarded as one of the best surf breaks in all of French Polynesia. The wave can get up to 12 feet high, so only advanced surfers should attempt it.
Teahupoo is a reef break on the southeastern coast of Hiva Oa that has gained international renown. Its massive waves, which can reach heights of 30 feet, have made it famous. Only the most skilled surfers should attempt to ride this wave, as it is widely regarded as one of the world’s most treacherous surf breaks.
The northeastern coast of Ua Huka is home to the right-hand point break known as Hanamenu. Surfers of intermediate to advanced skill levels will enjoy the long, peeling waves at this spot. During the dry season, the wave reaches its maximum height of 10 feet, making it ideal for surfing.
Located on the northern coast of Nuku Hiva, Hakatea is a left-hand reef break. It can get up to 10 feet in height, making it perfect for more experienced surfers. During the dry season, surfers can take advantage of the wave’s long, fast walls.
The south coast of Tahuata features a right-hand point break known as Tahuata. With a potential height of 8 feet, it is best for more experienced surfers. This wave is best surfed in the dry season because of its long, fast walls.
The dry season (April-October) in the Marquesas is prime time for surfing. During this time, the winds are ideal for surfing and the waves are reliable. You can surf in a bikini or board shorts because the water temperature is typically around 27 degrees Celsius.
From November through March, the Marquesas experience their wet season, when the waves are less reliable and the winds are less ideal for surfing. As a result, a wetsuit is often required when venturing into the water.
If you’re planning on going surfing in the Marquesas, it’s crucial that you first check the weather and surf conditions. It is imperative to surf with caution and pay attention to any hazards such as rocks, coral reefs, and strong currents, as the islands are well-known for their challenging surf breaks and rugged terrain.
The Marquesas Islands are located far from other inhabited areas and can be difficult to reach, both of which add to the sense of adventure and necessitate advance preparation. There are three airports in the Marquesas, and most surfers fly in from Tahiti. To get to the surf spots from there, they can either rent a boat or a car.
Local Culture and Surfing in the Marquesas
When you go surfing in the Marquesas, you’ll get a taste of the local culture and way of life in addition to riding the waves. Traditional music, dance, and art all reflect the Polynesian culture, which has a long history on the islands. Locals take great pride in the way surfing has become ingrained in their culture.
Many surfers who travel to the Marquesas appreciate the chance to learn about and interact with the island’s unique culture. It’s not unusual for surfers to be invited to community events like feasts and ceremonies where they can learn more about the Polynesian culture.
Many people in the Marquesas now rely heavily on surfing as a means of supporting themselves and their families. Some islanders cater to visiting surfers by providing lessons, boat rides, and other services. Buying from these shops is a great way to keep money in the community and maintain the local culture.
There are many plant and animal species that can only be found on the Marquesas Islands, making this ecosystem rare and delicate. The Marquesan kingfisher and the Marquesan ground dove are just two of the many threatened species that call these islands home.
Visitors to the Marquesas should adopt environmentally friendly surfing practices and reduce their negative effects on the local ecosystem. This involves doing things like not littering and using eco-friendly products when you can.
Surfers can help local conservation efforts by volunteering for or donating to conservation groups in their areas. When it comes to protecting the ocean and its inhabitants, some surfers have even launched their own initiatives.
In conclusion, the Marquesas Islands provide surfers looking for a secluded and uncrowded destination with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a truly unforgettable surfing adventure. The Marquesas Islands are a destination worthy of respect and care due to their world-class surf breaks, rich cultural heritage, and fragile ecosystem. Surfers can play an important role in ensuring that this spectacular and special place is preserved for future generations by engaging in sustainable surfing practices and showing their support for the local culture and economy.
Our Top FAQ's
The best time to surf in the Marquesas Islands is during the southern hemisphere winter months, from May to September. During this time, the swell is consistent and the winds are favorable for surfing.
Surfers can access the Marquesas Islands by taking a flight from Tahiti to one of the three airports in the Marquesas. From there, they can hire a boat or a car to get to the surf breaks.
The Marquesas Islands have a rich cultural heritage, with traditional music, dance, and art that reflect the Polynesian culture. Surfing has become a part of this cultural heritage, and the locals take pride in their surfing traditions.
Surfers can practice sustainable surfing in the Marquesas Islands by respecting the local culture, avoiding littering, and using eco-friendly products whenever possible. They can also support local conservation efforts by getting involved in local projects or by making a donation to a local conservation organization.