The marquesas festival: unlock the ancient secrets of the South Pacific

The most remote archipelago in the world, which is the gateway to The Islands of Tahiti for yachts coming from the East, has held a lasting, mythical appeal for sailors since Western navigators reached these islands in the late 16th century. The “Land of Men” – Henua Enana in the Marquesan language – was the epicenter of the cultural revival in The Islands of Tahiti. It is also home to a fiercely authentic arts festival which takes place every four years since 1986, and attracts artists and travelers from all over the Polynesian Triangle.

The Festival’s success was such that a mini-Festival was created, taking place every two years between the main events. The 2017 edition took place in December in Tahuata, one of the smaller southern islands, which can only be reached by sea. Tahuata is home to some of the most respected wood- and bone-carvers in The Islands of Tahiti.

The traditional mono’i made here is called “love potion” by the islanders. This perfumed oil is obtained by soaking the petals of the Tiare flowers (Tahitian Gardenias) in coconut oil.
The mini-Festival drew large delegations from all six inhabited islands in the archipelago, and Tahuata’s population was more than doubled by artists and visitors. The event showcased the vibrant songs and dances, including of course the famous haka, as well as the arts and crafts of the islands. Several sailing yachts converged on Tahuata to participate in this celebration of Polynesian culture. 

Experience the emotion of discovery

Yacht owners and charters can easily plan to attend the Marquesan festivals while in The Islands of Tahiti. Sailing is the best way to discover the Marquesas, where luxury accommodation is scarce and road transportation an adventure. The rugged islands do not have lagoons but offer many protected anchorages, spectacular views and access to untouched valleys, thrilling sea dives and some of the best fish and seafood in the region. The Marquesas have preserved their environment and the particular spiritual power that captivated Robert L. Stevenson, Paul Gauguin and Jacques Brel. It lives in the young dancers, musicians, singers and craftspeople who guard and enhance their lifestyle and traditions. Sailing in the Marquesas is understanding, perhaps on a deeper level than anywhere else, the meaning of our tagline “Embraced by Mana.”

Go back