Kamuihei, Tahakia & Teiipoka

Top choice in Nuku Hiva

About 300m towards Taipivai from the Hikokua site, these three connecting sites make up the largest excavated archaeological area of Nuku Hiva. A team led by the archaeologist Pierre Ottino began restoration in 1998.

The importance and sheer number of these structures testify to the dense population this valley once sheltered.

With its large moss-covered basalt rocks and huge banyans, the largest of which has been estimated to be more than 600 years old, Kamuihei exudes mana (spiritual power).

At the foot of the largest banyan is a deep pit, presumably dug for the remains of sacrifices or for taboo objects. Other pits are scattered about the site; these are mostly ua ma, which stocked the all-important breadfruit. A little higher, on Teiipoka, are two large rocks about 2.5m high by 3m wide and decorated with petroglyphs that represent turtles, fish and the eyes of a tiki, along with human figures. It’s estimated that the valley contains more than 500 other petroglyphs like these.

On the other side of the track is the restored tohua Tahakia, one of the biggest in the Marquesas, as well as some pae pae.