Skip to Content

How to Visit Nuku Hiva: Marquesas Islands with Toddler and Baby

How to Visit Nuku Hiva: Marquesas Islands with Toddler and Baby

Nuku Hiva and other islands of the Marquesas are very different different experiences from the iconic French Polynesian vacation. There’s no turquoise waters or lagoons, it’s more of a volcanic remote island with a tiny windy road.

Located 1500 km from Tahiti, it’s one of the most remote islands in the world. This is where one of the Survivor seasons was filmed.

Ironically, we decided to venture there with a 6 month old baby and a barely 2 year old toddler. It was the most wonderful unique experience for all of us.

How We Ended Up in Niku Hiva with a Baby and Toddler

I admit, visiting Nuku Hiva or Marquesas wasn’t originally the plan. I had my dream trip to Moorea and Bora Bora planned that we planned on bringing our toddler on, but then 2020 happened and the trip got canceled.

A year later, now with another baby and toddler in tow, we rebooked the trip as I planned my perfect birthday getaway. It’s safe to say that things didn’t go as planned this time either. French Polynesia was fully opened by then and everyone was enjoying their holidays… until the day we got on the plane we found out that it re-closed again.

Tourists were still allowed to come in, hence why they let us fly (or I should say forced to, as the refund option arrived a day after our flight), but we weren’t allowed to leave the hotel premises. To the extend that we couldn’t even swim out to the reef, because it was outside of the hotel zone.

We didn’t want to waste our time and keep spending money to be locked in a hotel, so after 20 hours in Moorea we turned back and flew back home.

I was about to give up on my dream trip just yet, so I rebooked it for a few months later. But, as the date of the trip approached I didn’t want to experience another “can’t leave the resort” kind of trip. I began to research our options and… this is how I discovered Marquesas.

Marquesas has never locked down, because the 100% of the population got vaccinated. Being located so remotely, the 3000 people of Nuku Hiva understood the importance of it.

French Polynesia with baby. Smiling baby with a view of Nuku Hiva

How to Get to Nuku Hiva

Nuku Hiva is the largest island in The Marquesas, which are a group of islands in French Polynesia. Nuku Hiva is located in the northwest of this island group and about 3.5 hours away from Tahiti on a propeller plane.

The flights to/from Nuku Hiva aren’t cheap and don’t operate daily, so it’s not surprising that the majority of very little tourists who visit come on a sailboat or Pacific cruise.

There’s also a Tahiti Air Pass that works for both islands – Nuku Hiva and Hiva Oa, but it’s separate from any other islands and still pricy.

Obviously, we were the only crazies with children on the plane, but I was told that very occasionally they get French tourists with older kids visiting.

Where to Stay in Nuku Hiva

There aren’t many choices in Nuku Hiva as the island is inhabited by only 3000 people. There are a few local stays, but only one hotel – the only hotel Le Nuku Hiva by Pearl Resorts.

After discovering that you basically need to book daily ventures and excursions from the place you stay, as there are no rental cars, the choice was simple (we later found out that you can rent a local vehicle, but without internet you won’t really know where you’re going). We decided to stay at the hotel, as they had no restrictions on children and they even had an infinity pool.

The airport pick-up was arranged for us and it took us 1.5 hours to get tot the other side of the island where the hotel was located. We arrived with a few other incoming guests, so all of us had to squeeze into one van. I was dreading having to hold the baby again after the flight, but imagine my surprise when they actually provided us with a car seat.

How Remote is Nuku Hiva?

There’s only one gas station on the island right by the airport, but everyone pretty much lives on the other side of the island, behind the mountains. If they drive to get gas they’ll use half of the tank already which defeats the purpose.

Instead, locals are riding to the airport on a horse to get gas into small barrels to bring back to their cars. We saw a number of them, often with their toddlers riding with them – which inspired me to sign up my own son for early horseriding lessons.

Internet is sporadic, with only 2G network, but the hotel had some in the common area. There’s a little hospital, small shops and market, and basic primary school. To attend older grades locals must travel to Tahiti and attend a boarding high school.

What Can You Do in Nuku Hiva?

While you won’t find white sand beaches, the island is truly unspoiled. It’s an island known for hiking with the main point being a hike to Vaipō waterfall in the ancient village of Hakaui.

It was a long hike, with an additional boat ride, so we opted against doing it because we didn’t think the kids would make it.

Instead, we embraced experiencing local culture. We spent the day hanging out in the local village of Nuku Hiva’s main harbor, chatting with villagers and getting to know the stories behind numerous Tiki statues around the island.

Looming over Taiohae Bay, not too far from the hotel, is a 40-foot-tall Tiki statue that we also visited. It’s the highest contemporary sculpture in the Pacific. There are numerous archeological sites on the island and you can learn about the island of Polynesian culture. This is something you’ll never experience in Moorea or Bora Bora.

Another day, we hopped on a jeep and along with some other guests did a full-day tour of the island full of viewpoints and shorter hikes. My husband and the baby rode inside the vehicle, but my toddler was having a blast in an open-air car.

Our guide from the hotel, William, made everything interesting for our son and engaged him in numerous kid-friendly activities. When we had lunch, we were instructed not to worry about finishing our generous portions of fish and veggies. William took our plate and started dumping it into the shallow stream by the restaurant.

Within a few seconds the little stream got invaded by a crazy amount of eels, fighting for our leftovers. We were all mesmerized.

We saw ancient petroglyphs and new tikis that have been built in the 21st century for various cultural festivals. We stopped at a serene beach for some swimming.

Nuku Hiva with Kids

As a remote place, it wasn’t the most baby-friendly or kids-friendly spot, but it wasn’t unfriendly either. Both of our kids were treated normally anywhere.

We had our own bungalow with a terrace and the staff kindly brought us dinner to the room, because the kids were exhausted after a whole day and didn’t want to drag them to a restaurant. While the food was simple, the toddler found some pizza or fried fish and the baby munched on some basics (he was only beginning to experiment with solids).

We brought enough diapers and formula, but I was told that there were some diapers available in town if we ran out.

Honestly, the only problem we encountered was mosquitos. Despite bug nets over the beds and plenty of insect repellent, our toddler got absolutely attacked by mosquitos and so did I, but my husband and baby got spared.

We found out later that our toddler is slightly allergic to mosquito bites and they love him anywhere we got, but this was probably the most I’ve ever seen in my life.

%d bloggers like this: