Fatu Hiva
French Polynesia

personal experience

About half of my trips through French Polynesia in the last two decades have stopped at the Marquesas, the most spectacular islands of this country. I was last on Fatu Hiva in 2023. 

the island

Fatu Hiva is in French Polynesia. The "H" in the second part of the name is usually not pronounced. It is one of the Marquesas Islands. This group is the most equatorial of the French Polynesian islands. They are also the most scenic and spectacular. Like others in the this northerly group, the island is dissected by high sharp ridges and into separate steep valleys. 


Historically, the Polynesians in these valleys probably conflicted with each other. German anthropologists recorded nine tribes in six separate valleys. There are less of the large statues that characterise some of the other Marquesas Islands. Today, the island is well known for it's artistic tattoos. The first recorded European was Spanish explorer Alvaro de Mendana in 1595. Norwegian adventurer Thor Hyerdahl lived here for a year and a half in 1937.


Being an island, there is not a huge diversity of land wildlife. However, there are some special birds to look for. The Marquesas is home to the beautiful and not uncommon 'White-capped Fruit Dove'. 


The Ultramarine Lorikeet is recorded here. The most famous target species is the...

the Fatu Hiva Monarch 

Pomarea whitneyi is one of the rarest in the world. I was lucky enough to see two individuals in 2023, of a population of less than 50, and perhaps as less as 17. 

fatu-hiva-monarchFatu Hiva Monarch, one of the rarest birds in the world!

These birds were once more widespread, but due to people and Black Rats, they are now restricted to one small forested reserve on one island. In the last half a century, the population has dropped 90%.To see them you have to go out with the folks that manage the reserve.


They are also very remote islands, with flights from Papeete being the main way locals reach the islands. However, several expedition companies have been there, and that is how I have visited the island in the past. I have been there with Society Expeditions, Noble Caledonia, and most most recently with Silversea.

to search this website (and the internet):