Most interesting landmarks of Marquesas Islands

Below are listed the most amazing natural and man made landmarks of Marquesas Islands.

Natural landmarks of Marquesas Islands

Cliffs and canyons
  • Bird Island at Hatutu – Nuku-Hiva, north-east from Eiao Island. Island with pyramidal form and hoodoo at the top.
    Eiao cliffs – Nuku-Hiva, Eiao island. Up to 440 m tall seaside cliffs.
  • Tapueahu Canyon (Grand Canyon of Nuku Hiva) – Nuku Hiva. Very impressive canyon.
  • Vaipo Canyon – Nuku Hiva. Beautiful, narrow chasm surrounded by almost vertical cliff pinnacles rising more than 550 m high.
Other natural landmarks
  • Autera’a tree on Taaoa marae – Hiva Oa. One of the largest trees in Polynesia, this autera’a (Terminalia glabrata) grows on the ancient shrine of Polynesians.
  • Banyan in Hatiheu – Nuku Hiva, Hatiheu. Enormous banyan tree (Ficus prolixa).
  • Flower stones of Hohoi valley – Ua Pou, beach of Hohoi valley. Beautiful, rounded stones with inclusions which resemble light yellow flowers. Beloved by sculptors.
  • Grotte aux pas (Cave of footprints) – south-east coast of Ua Huka. A spooky cave at the beach. The entrance of the cave is covered with fine sand. Every time before the tide here are footprints left by some unknown beings.
  • Vaipo Falls (Falls in Kings Valley, Haka Falls, Ahuii Falls) – Nuku Hiva, Hakaui Valley. Approximately 350 m tall waterfall in dramatic, impressive valley.

Man made landmarks of Marquesas Islands

Marae and me’ae
  • Marae Upeke à Taaoa – Nuku Hiva. Impressive, some 40 m long marae. Discovered in 1925 and reconstructed in 1991. Contains petroglyph and also a gong stone.
  • Me’ae Faepoto – Hiva Oa. A prehistoric meeting place, with three terraces. Area is laid and flanked with stones. Some stones contain intricate carvings.
  • Me´ae Iipona – Hiva Oa. A ceremonial site with the largest prehistoric stone statues (tiki) in French Polynesia, up to 2.6 m high. Restored in 1991.
  • Me’ae Makamea – Hiva Oa. Ancient complex of sacred buildings, now only remnants of these stone structures remain. Contains stones with carved reliefs, including a spiral motif.
  • Me’ae Pouau, Atuona – Hiva Oa. One of the largest prehistoric meeting places in Hiva Oa. Contains ancient Tevitete burial site with interesting petroglyphs on stones.
Petroglyph sites
  • Eiaone valley rock paintings – Hiva Oa. Six rock shelters with prehistoric rock paintings depicting humans, animals and, possibly, birdman.
  • Hakaiki stone carvings – Hiva Oa. 6 m long stone surface covered with interesting petroglyphs.
  • Hanativa Cave – Fatu Hiva, Omoa. A cave with ancient petroglyphs – tiki, heron. Contains skulls and other bones. The location of the cave is secret.
  • Hatuana petroglyphs – Nuku Hiva. Diverse petroglyphs depicting humans and geometric patterns, carved on the cliffs expised at the beach.
  • Tehueto petroglyphs – Hiva Oa. Group of interesting petroglyphs, depicting people and turtles.
  • Vaikivi petroglyphs – Ua Huka. More than 50 petroglyphs on ancient volcanic crater, most likely made between the 15th and 17th century. Ancient people have carved here human faces, octopus, outrigger canoe.
Other man made landmarks of Marquesas Islands
Tiki in Meiaute, Ua Huka in Marquesas
Tiki in Meiaute, Ua Huka / Sémhur, CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Meiaute – Ua Huka, near Hane. The oldest known human settlement in Marquesas Islands, 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.
  • Tohua Mauia – Ua Pou. Archaeological monument – a large L-shaped stone platform suited for dance and cultural performances.

Described landmarks of Marquesas Islands

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Few places in the world can compare to the Marquesas Islands regarding the scenery. Marquesas are adorned with incredible cliffs, rock needles, ravines, 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.

Featured: Me’ae Iipona

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

Even the fantasy movies seem to be boring if compared to the reality in Marquesas Islands, especially the amazing archaeological monuments. One of the most surprising ones is Me’ae Iipona – the largest cult site in Marquesas.

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, tatooing, 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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