Hiva Oa in the Marquesas was the last home of the French painter who is Paul Gauguin Cruises’ namesake. The artistic roots of the island go back much farther than Gauguin, however, with the island famous as the home of the largest carved tiki sculptures in French Polynesia. (The very largest, 7.5 feet high, was found at Puamau Bay, on Hiva Oi.) The exact meaning of these sculptures is unclear, though archeologists believe they likely represent deified ancestors. Travelers interested in Polynesian culture will also want to call at Huahine, an island known for its lush vegetation, quiet pace, and sacred sites. Paul Gauguin passengers can visit the mystical and evocative ancient marae, or sacred places, and follow in the footsteps of curious travelers and faithful worshippers over the centuries—some of the oldest marae date to the ninth century.
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