Atuona, Marquesas, French Polynesia Cruise Port

Art lovers, take note: the cruise port of Atuona, Marquesas in French Polynesia was the final home of Paul Gauguin, who died here in 1903. He's buried in Calvary Cemetery, which overlooks the town; in 2003, construction on the Paul Gauguin Cultural Center was completed. Belgian singer Jacques Romain Georges Brel is also buried here, and his Beechcraft Bonanza airplane is on display near an airstrip in the outskirts of Atuona. Once the capital of all the Marquesas Islands, Atuona has since been replaced by Taiohae. However, It’s still the administrative center of the municipality of Hiva-Oa, and enjoys consistently warm temperatures all year long. It’s also an excellent spot for water sports. You'll also find the picturesque Temeti, the highest point on the island at 3,980 feet. Small in population but full of culture, listed below are a handful of our favorite experiences while cruising to Atuona, Marquesas, French Polynesia:
 
  • Diving in the tropical waters is different than in other areas of French Polynesia, as the Marquesan coast doesn't have the pretty coral reefs or lagoons you might see elsewhere. Instead, geology fans will delight in the island's volcanic makeup, consisting of eroded and semi-submerged extinct volcano peaks.
     
  • Shoppers on the lookout for handcrafted items (such as locally made clothing, wood carvings, stone carvings, tapa, and jewels made of bone) can find them in the few shops in Atuona.
     
  • A visit to the Tehueto petroglyphs is a must for anyone interested in ancient Marquesan civilization. High up in the Tahauku Valley, they are a good walk from Tahauku Bay; if your cruise line offers shore excursions along with a guide to get you there, definitely take advantage of it. Look for the carvings on either side of the large rock, and follow the trail uphill to find a tiki carved in on the side of the stone platform.
     
  • Of course, an island is bound to have fresh seafood, so dining here includes a lot of this – as well as goat, another Marquesan specialty, and fresh island produce.
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