Nuku Hiva has a couple of exceptional walks that take in some awe-inspiring viewpoints, without another traveller in sight. A guide is essential because trails are not marked and it’s easy to get lost. All routes have deteriorated in the last few years so be aware that being able to hike anywhere on Nuku Hiva will depend on trail upkeep and the weather (rain will mean mud and slippery terrain).
Tehaatiki Explore the ridges around the southeastern part of Taiohae Bay. There are magnificent views of the bay and the coastline, but few shady areas. About five to six hours, moderate.
Peaks & cliffs near Aakapa & Hatiheu A very scenic hike. Starting from Toovii Plateau, the path snakes its way through a primary forest on the plateau. Right on the plateau rim, the view over the Aakapa peaks and the northern coastline will be etched in your memory forever. It’s mostly flat and shady. Keep an eye out for endemic birds, including the Marquesan imperial pigeon and the white-capped fruit dove. About six hours, moderate.
Big Z An altogether different atmosphere. The western part of the island is barren. Starting from Toovii Plateau at an altitude of about 1000m, you follow a volcanic ridge to the west. Highlights include a lookout over a ‘hidden valley’, featuring snaggle-toothed peaks tangled together. Expect to see wild goats, white-capped fruit doves and white-tailed tropicbirds. No shade, but lots of breeze. About six hours, moderate.
The hike to the Vaipo Waterfall is another stunner. DIYers have two good options for solo walking: Colette Bay and from Hatiheu to Anaho.
For guides, contact the following: