Marquesas/Nuku Hiva: Hiking up the Hakaui Valley

This is one of the premier adventures on Nuku Hiva – you take an hour boat ride out of the sheltered Taiohae Bay and into the open ocean which is usually quite rough. Eventually, you get to another bay that leads to the Hakaui Valley surrounded by towering jagged mountains almost like the Napali Coast in Kauai in Hawaii. This valley was inhabited by nearly six thousand people centuries ago when this was the center of the Marquesan Polynesian civilization (the population was later decimated to under a hundred when Europeans brought diseases). The hike is strenuous with multiple river crossings, and many steep sections. As you hike in a lush jungle, you follow the ancient royal road and encounter many religious sites and platforms and buildings, as well as several tiki statues. And all along the hike is stunning flora of tropical jungle trees with twisted trunks, spiky bark, and massive leaves.