Fatu Hiva

The southernmost island in the Marquesas archipelago, Fatu Hiva is also the most isolated. The island has high sheer cliffs, craggy slopes, and a mass of untamed vegetation. The lush jungles are divided by narrow ravines and marvelous valleys, much of the island's allure lies in its wild beauty, including the Bay of Virgins (known locally as Hana Vave or, in French, Baie des Vierges). Many people believe that the bay is the loveliest in all of Polynesia.

Activities include deep-sea fishing, sailing, and horseback riding. Trekking is also popular though it can be tough-going in the heat and unruly vegetation. Though there are no great beaches, swimming is possible, but you'll need to watch out for sharks.

Accommodations are fairly basic and credit cards are not widely accepted. Although there are one or two food stores and a Post Office, shops are a rarity, but the women will display their wares on the harbor front when a ship comes in. The islands were once famous for skilled tattoo artists. Today, the art form is experiencing a resurgence.

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