The Marquesas Islands group is one of the most remote in the world, lying about 852 miles northeast of Tahiti and about 3,000 mi away from the west coast of Mexico, the nearest continental land mass.
With a combined land area of 405 sq mi, the Marquesas are among the largest island groups of French Polynesia originally discovered by Spanish galleons fleets en route to Manila. Nuku Hiva being the second largest island in the entire territory, after Tahiti. With the exception of Motu One, all the islands of the Marquesas are of volcanic origin.
In contrast to the common perception of lush tropical vegetation, the Marquesas are remarkably dry islands. They are the first major break in the prevailing easterly winds spawned from the extraordinarily dry Humboldt Current. Because of this, the islands are subject to frequent drought conditions, and only those which reach highest into the clouds (generally, above about 750 m/2,500 ft above sea level) have reliable precipitation.
The Marquesas Islands are thought to have formed by a center of upwelling magma called the Marquesas hotspot.