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Wonders of the Marquesas Islands

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

WorldBlue  Highlights

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.

The archaeological heritage of Marquesas is not less charming. Quite a few megalithic monuments here are known tourist landmarks, but an unknown number of mysterious stone structures and statues are hiding in the forests. A true fairytale land!

Happily, the islands are not flooded by tourists – this place is very remote and the beauty of Marquesas is not much known in the world.

Map with the described wonders

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WorldViolet Top 21 wonders of the Marquesas Islands

Geological wonders

Tapueahu Canyon (Grand Canyon of Nuku Hiva)

Very impressive canyon.

Vaipo Falls

Approximately 350 m tall waterfall in an impressive valley.

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

A beautiful, narrow chasm surrounded by almost vertical cliff pinnacles rising more than 550 m high.

Eiao cliffs

Up to 440 m tall seaside cliffs.

Bird Island at Hatutu

Island with a pyramidal form and hoodoo at the top.

Grotte aux pas (Cave of footprints)

A spooky cave at the beach. The entrance of the cave is covered with fine sand. Every time before the tide there are footprints left by some unknown beings.

Flower stones of Hohoi valley

Here on the beach can be found beautiful, rounded stones with inclusions that resemble light yellow flowers. Beloved by sculptors.

Biological wonders

Autera’a tree on Taaoa marae

One of the largest trees in Polynesia, this autera’a (Terminalia glabrata) grows on the ancient shrine of Polynesians.

Archaeological wonders

Me’ae Iipona

A ceremonial site with the largest prehistoric stone statues (tiki) in French Polynesia, up to 2.6 m high. Restored in 1991.

Me'ae Iipona in Marquesas, old stone sculptures
Me’ae Iipona, old stone sculptures / American, Wikimedia Commons. CC BY-SA 3.0
Tohua Mauia

Archaeological monument – a large L-shaped stone platform suited for dance and cultural performances.

Marae Upeke Ă  Taaoa

Impressive, some 40 m long marae. Discovered in 1925 and reconstructed in 1991. Contains a petroglyph and also a gong stone.

Me’ae Pouau, Atuona

One of the largest prehistoric meeting places in Hiva Oa. Contains an ancient Tevitete burial site with interesting petroglyphs on stones.

Hakaiki stone carvings

6 m long stone surface covered with interesting petroglyphs.

Me’ae Makamea

An ancient complex of sacred buildings, now only remnants of these stone structures remain. Contains stones with carved reliefs including a spiral motif.

Vaikivi petroglyphs

More than 50 petroglyphs on an ancient volcanic crater, most likely made between the 15th and 17th centuries. Ancient people have carved here human faces, octopuses, and outrigger canoes.


This oldest known human settlement in the Marquesas Islands has been inhabited since 1000 AD (earlier it was considered to be inhabited since 254 – 300 AD.). In the site are found three well-made statues of tiki, remnants of me’ae, and pae pae.

Tiki in Meiaute, Ua Huka in Marquesas
Me’ae Faepoto

A prehistoric meeting place with three terraces. The area is laid and flanked with stones. Some stones contain intricate carvings.

Eiaone valley rock paintings

Six rock shelters with prehistoric rock paintings depicting humans, animals, and, possibly, birdmen.

Tehueto petroglyphs

Group of interesting petroglyphs, depicting people and turtles.

Hatuana petroglyphs

Diverse petroglyphs depicting humans and geometric patterns, are carved on the cliffs at the beach.

Hanativa Cave

A cave with ancient petroglyphs – tiki, heron. Contains skulls and other bones. The location of the cave is secret.

WorldYellow Recommended books

L’Archipel des Marquises (Marquesas Islands Archipelago)

This is a beautifully illustrated guide to the remote Marquesas Islands of northeastern French Polynesia. The text is in both French and English in a side-by-side format. The first section discusses prehistory, flora and fauna, social life, tattooing, and the arrival of the Europeans. Section Two is a tour of the six principal islands of the Marquesas. Section Three is a tourist guide, with full details of travel arrangements, accommodations, restaurants, excursions, and activities.

Hidden Tahiti and French Polynesia: Including Moorea, Bora Bora, and the Society, Austral, Gambier, Tuamotu, and Marquesas Islands

Presents a guide to accommodations, restaurants, beaches, outdoor activities, transportation, sights, and culture of Tahiti and the islands of French Polynesia.

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