Vaipo Falls

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

Description

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

As the stream reaches the rim of this basalt plateau, water falls down along the nearly vertical cliffs, forming a classical horsetail waterfall. During its fall the water is vaporised 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.

Access

The waterfall is accessed by a walk from Hakaui through phantastic 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.

Inaccuracies

Often there is mentioned that Vaipo Falls are 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.

References

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

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Vaipo Falls -8.906897, -140.165870 Vaipo Falls
Coordinates: 8.9071 S 140.1652 W
Categories: Waterfalls
Values: Geology, Visual
Rating: (3.5 / 5)
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
Height: approximately 350 m
Width: approximately 3 m

Landmarks of Marquesas Islands

Landscape near Hatiheu Bay, Nuku Hiva
Landscape near Hatiheu Bay, Nuku Hiva / Steve Berardi, CC BY-SA 2.0
ew places in the world can compare to Marquesas Islands regarding the scenery. Marquesas are adorned with incredible cliffs, rock needles, ravines, canyons – for 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.

Waterfalls and rapids

Virginia Falls, Canada
Virginia Falls / Paul Gierszewski, / public domain
Some of the most fascinating and awe inspiring natural monuments are waterfalls, or locations where a river abruptly changes its elevation.

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.

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