advertisement

The Nuku Ataha Airport is on Nuku Hiva's dry northwestern corner, 48km (29 miles) from Taiohae. A vehicle will be sent from your accommodations to meet you for about 8,000CFP (US$100/£51) per person round-trip. From the airport, it's a tiring ride of about 2 hours on the winding road that climbs up and down two steep mountain ridges and across the Toovii Plateau before descending into Taiohae. (You did not misread me; it takes 2 hours to go 48km/29 miles.) Add that to the 3 1/2-hour flight from Papeete, and you can easily eat up a day just getting to Taiohae. There is some great scenery along the way, however, so I look at the ride from the airport to Taiohae as just another four-wheel-drive excursion.

Nuku Hiva is the place to get carsick. Although the government is slowly paving them, all of its few roads are narrow, winding, and often treacherous, especially when wet. In places, they are literally blasted into the sides of cliffs. If you miss one of the many 180-degree hairpin curves, you could plunge more than 1,000 feet to your ultimate demise. For this reason, I recommend exploring by guided tour rather than rental vehicle. If you insist on taking your life into your own hands, Europcar (tel./fax 92.04.89; www.europcar-tahiti.com) and Pension Moana Nui (tel. 92.03.30; http://pensionmoananui.ifrance.com), both in Taiohae, rent four-wheel-drive vehicles for about 12,500CFP (US$156/£79) per day. I warned you, though, so don't sue me if you drive off a cliff.

There is no regular taxi service on Nuku Hiva as such, but several locals will take you about in their four-wheel-drive vehicles. The arrangements can be made through your accommodations, or contact Nuku Hiva Transports (tel. 92.06.08), Huku Tours (tel. 92.04.89), or Rose Marie Tours (tel. 92.05.96). Fares depend on how far you want to go, so be sure to agree on a price before setting out.

Residents of the outlying villages are as likely to travel by boat as they are by vehicle. Several individuals rent crewed boats to take you from place to place, such as from Taiohae around to the Hakaui Valley, or from Hatiheu to Anaho on the north shore. Ask at your accommodations to arrange a boat, or contact the local tourism committee for advice. The boats moor at the marina on the eastern side of Taiohae Bay.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.