Any info on this topic is scarce and hard to find.

Hatutu is an island in French Polynesia, part of the Marquesas Islands group. The population was evacuated (I believe) prior to the underwater nuclear tests the French conducted in that region. Today the only way to get there, apparently, is by joining a group of tourists on a diving excursion.

No population. Why?

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    @TylerDurden: Your patent doesn't apply in this case. Hatutu (or Hatutaa) is a very, very special place. It is rumored to be Paradise on earth, yet there isn't even a half-decent map of it anywhere. I'll bet you've never even heard of it. It's THAT mysterious. I'm almost not joking.
    – Ricky
    Nov 19, 2015 at 22:43

2 Answers 2


Most likely because there isn't any. Apparently, Hatutu was never settled in the first place. As @Fred pointed out, there appears to be no good reason to evacuate Hatutu, and my google search attempts failed to turn up any reference to any population at Hatutu except this exact thread.

In fact, Hatutu was already uninhabited at least by the time of European contact. Early European explorers noted that there was no sign of humans on Hatutu except for temporary expeditions by islanders from elsewhere.

[Eienne Marchand] made no mention of sighting any evidence of human inhabitants on either Etiao or Hatutu. However, in 1798 Edmund Fanning reported seeing a number of "smokes" on the latter island ... probably fires of temporary occupants, since Proter noted in 1813 that both Hatutu and its near neighbor, Eiao, were visited annually to collect the tail feathers of tropic birds.

- Ferdon, Edwin N. Early Observations of Marquesan Culture, 1595-1813. University of Arizona Press, 1993.

As you've noted in the comments, the archipelago was considerably more populated at the time. Nevertheless, none of them settled on Hatutu beyond seasonal trips.

The reality is that Hatutu has very little going for it in terms of human settlement: it a tiny island with no dependable source of fresh water.

[T]he small island of Hatutu (three miles long by less than one wide) [is] separated from Eiao by a channel three miles wide. Because no readily accessible water exists on this island, no animals have been introduced, and almost no economic plants are to be found.

- Pacific Islands Monthly, Volume 36. Pacific Publications, 1965

Due to their location, the Marquesas Islands in general are uncharacteristically dry for tropical Polynesia. It is no coincidence that all inhabited islands in the archipelago has elevations over 1,000 metres. At these heights, precipitation could be captured relatively reliably by the island's topology.

The elevation of Hatutu is only 404 metres, in contrast. Unsurprisingly the island looks rather brown and almost barren, paradisaical rumours notwithstanding. See for example this photo of Hatutu's coast hosted on Google Maps, and also:

enter image description here

Given the above, the most reasonable conclusion is that Hatutu was never inhabited to begin with. There was no population to evacuate and accordingly no one to return.


Being the primary nesting site of a number of endangered species, such as, the Hatutu Marquesan warbler (Acrocephalus mendanae postremus) and the Marquesas ground dove (Gallicolumba rubescens), Hatutu was declared a nature reserve in 1992. It is also one of the most important nesting grounds for the blue-footed booby (Sula nebouxii).

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    That's nice. What happened to the human population, though?
    – Ricky
    Nov 20, 2015 at 0:32
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    What evidence do you have that Hatutu was evacuated? Could you please include this in your question. Also, Mururoa Atoll, where most of the nuclear tests were undertaken is 1670 km from Hatutu. Tahiti, the most populous island in French Polynesia is 1226 km from Mururoa Atoll, 444 km less distant than Hatutu. Fangataufa Atoll, where other nuclear tests occurred is even more distant from both Tahiti & Hatutu than Mururoa Atoll. Why would Hatutu be evacuated because of nuclear testing?
    – Fred
    Nov 20, 2015 at 2:47
  • I didn't say they were evacuated because of nuclear testing. I said they were evacuated prior to it. The Northern Marquesas have fertile soil, plenty of vegetation, lots of wildlife, an abundance of fresh water, and no predators. The climate is perfect. The Marquesas' population was about 100,000 souls at the time of the first contact with the Europeans at the end of the 16th Century. Diseases contracted from the Europeans decimated the population, but it bounced back. As of 2002, Nuku Hiva is the only populated island in the north. I tried to find out more, but information is scarce.
    – Ricky
    Nov 20, 2015 at 7:05
  • @Ricky - Ah. Probably "evacuated" is a misleading word there then.
    – T.E.D.
    Nov 20, 2015 at 18:42

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