Iwalani's Voyage Around the World
Map of the Marquesas The Marquesas Islands lie between 400 and 600 miles south of the equator and approximately 1,000 miles northeast of Tahiti. With a combined area of some 807 square miles, the Marquesas are among the largest island groups of French Polynesia. The islands are of volcanic origin, the eroded and partially submerged peaks of extinct submarine volcanoes. Craggy mounts and peaks transverse the interior with jagged spurs and spines rising to over 4,000 feet. The Marquesan coast has no fringing reef or coral-clad lagoons, and the sea, although rich in resources, yields its bounty unwillingly. The climate of the Marquesas is subtropical and much affected by the prevailing winds and vagaries of seasons. Moisture-laden clouds carried by the southeast winds water the coasts on the south and east sides of the islands, nurturing a dense mantle of exotic vegetation. The northwest coasts are relatively arid.