World 🢖 Australia and Oceania 🢖 Polynesia 🢖 French Polynesia 🢖 Marquesas Islands

Waterfalls 🢔 Geological wonders 🢔 Categories of wonders


Vaipo Falls

Vaipo Falls, Nuku Hiva
Vaipo Falls, Nuku Hiva / Yves Picq, Wikimedia Commons. CC BY-SA 3.0

WorldBlue  In short

One of the most dramatic and impressive natural monuments in Polynesia is Vaipo Cascade – Vaipo Falls. The beauty of these magnificent, roughly 350 m tall falls is enhanced by the rare, amazing landscape of Vaipo Canyon.

4.3 out of 10 stars 43.3%

GPS coordinates
45.4642 N 9.1908 E
Location, address
Australia and Oceania, Polynesia, French Polynesia, Marquesas Islands, southern part of Nuku Hiva, Hakaui Valley (Vaipo Valley)
Alternate names
Tevaipo Cascade, Ahuii Falls, Ahuei Falls, Falls in Kings Valley, Haka Falls, Hakaui Falls
Approximately 350 m
Approximately 3 m

Map of the site

Travelers' Map is loading...
If you see this after your page is loaded completely, leafletJS files are missing.

WorldYellow In detail


This waterfall originates from the Tovi’i plateau. The stream at the falls is approximately 3 m wide. In rainy periods it might become much larger but sometimes it disappears altogether.

As the stream reaches the rim of this basalt plateau, water slides down along the nearly vertical cliffs, forming a classical horsetail waterfall. During its fall the water is vaporized and wetting the deep canyon. The stream has several smaller cascades at its foot.

At the foot of the falls has formed a basin inhabited by eels, shrimps, and other creatures.


The waterfall is accessed by a walk from Hakaui through a fantastic landscape adorned with incredibly tall, nearly vertical cliff pinnacles (many are more than 550 m tall!) and lush rainforest. There are many smaller waterfalls seen along the way if the weather is not dry. The walk starts in the majestic Hakaui Valley and then continues in a giant side ravine – Vaipo Canyon.

Mysterious stone sculptures and countless stone platforms in the shaded forest add to the effect – this island was densely inhabited before the coming of Europeans and their illnesses.

When accessing the falls from below, they look like a true miracle – it seems that the water is falling directly from the saddle between two rock pinnacles. Only from the air is visible the plateau where the stream originates.


Often there is mentioned that Vaipo Falls is the second (or third) tallest in the world. This is not correct – numerous falls around the world are taller.

Often there is given a very (suspiciously) exact height of the falls – 1148 feet. When converting this to meters we get a rounded figure – 350 m. Thus most likely the exact height of falls has not been measured yet and it could be very well 1150 feet… or 1180 feet… or 1111… etc.


  1. L.A.Miller, Nuku Hiva – Hakaui 1971, Mystery. Accessed in 18.12.11. Magnificent images with an exciting story behind!

WorldYellow Linked articles

Landscape near Hatiheu Bay, Nuku Hiva
Landscape near Hatiheu Bay, Nuku Hiva / Steve Berardi, CC BY-SA 2.0

Wonders of Marquesas Islands

Few places in the world can compare to the Marquesas Islands regarding the scenery. Marquesas are adorned with incredible cliffs, rock needles, ravines, and canyons – for the most part, covered with a lush tropical forest or dry scrub. More charm is added by the picturesque villages with countless flowers and above all – welcoming and artistic people.

Marae Arahurahu, Tahiti
Marae Arahurahu, ahu / Rachel Roberts, / CC BY-SA 2.0

Wonders of French Polynesia

The most amazing wonders of French Polynesia are diverse natural landmarks – ecosystems, caves, waterfalls as well as archaeological heritage.

Virginia Falls, Canada
Virginia Falls / Paul Gierszewski, Wikimedia Commons / public domain


Some of the most fascinating and awe-inspiring natural monuments are waterfalls or locations where a river abruptly changes its elevation.

WorldYellow Recommended books

Exploring the Marquesas Islands

Sailing to the South Pacific, whether from California or Panama, the first landfall is the Marquesas. Joe Russell, who has lived and sailed in the Marquesas, documents this beautiful little-known place. Volcanic, tropical beauty, and ease of navigation, make these islands some of the most interesting and dramatic cruising grounds in the world. The Marquesans – the island’s greatest asset – are proud of their history. They presume friendship with everyone, sharing their legends and traditions.

Manuiota’a: Journal of a Voyage to the Marquesas Islands

With great intelligence, understanding, emotion, and a breath of gentle irony, the American archeologist Robert C. Suggs and the Swiss author Burgl Lichtenstein describe a unique cruise to the remote Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments