The Marquesas were first recorded by the Spanish explorer, Alvaro de Mendana de Neira after he accidentally chanced upon the island archipelago on his trip to the Solomon Islands in 1595, where he hoped to discover the fabled riches of King Solomon.

He christened the islands 'Las Marquesas de Mendoza,' the shortened version of which has stuck to this day.  The people of the islands, however, call themselves Te 'Enana and refer to their lands as Te Henua 'Enana.

Several subsequent explorations landed on the islands, the most notable being that of Captain Cook.. Nearly two hundred years later, and following the (highly approximated) position of the islands as logged by Alvaro de Neira, the Resolution (captained by James Cook) touched the shores of the islands. They were assisted by the sight of Gannets, Noddies and Eggbirds around the islands.

Once they weighed anchor in a suitable bay, it was recorded that around a dozen canoes containing 'inquisitive islanders who were the handsomest anyone had yet seen' came bearing breadfruit. The crew, who had not had a decent meal for 133 days,  traded nails and spikes for breadfruit, chickens, coconuts, plantains, pigs, taro and yams. 

They also came away with intricately carved war clubs and bowls, after they noticed that they were 'quite unexcelled anywhere else in Polynesia.'

It wasn't until Herman Melville, who jumped ship in 1842, stayed with the Marquesans and wrote his account, 'Typee,' that the islands came to the attention of a broader Western audience in the latter half of the 19th century.

In 1888, Robert Louis Stephenson and his family sailed from San Francisco to cruise the Pacific Islands in search of a better climate for his health. They eventually settled in Samoa, from where they discovered the more remote islands. Of the Marquesas he's noted as saying, "It is all a swindle: I chose these isles as having the most beastly population, and they are far better, and far more civilised than we."

Today, the Marquesas are more famously known as the final home, and resting place, of the French artist, Paul Gauguin.  Cruise tours are now conducted to what's descried as 'the roof of French Polynesia' according to local legend.

But for us at Ipakshi, the Marquesas Islands are the only place on earth where the most gorgeous Ultramarine Lorikeet are found. This species was on the brink of extinction, but conservation efforts were made, and now there are an estimated 500 individuals. 

Check our Ultramarine Lorikeet Collection, which supports conservation of the species.