Taiohae on the south coast of Nuku Hiva, 875 mi/1,400 km northeast of Tahiti, is the administrative center for French Polynesia's Marquesas Islands. Many 19th-century vestiges of French colonialism can be seen around this small town, alongside recent reproductions of old Polynesian art. Notre-Dame Cathedral shelters some wonderful wood carvings.
Deep valleys radiate from the high plateau in the center of Nuku Hiva, making getting around by road a case of constant ups and downs. Many old stone tiki lie in the Taipivai Valley, where American author Herman Melville spent a month in 1842. With more than 7,000 petroglyphs and various tikis and paepae (stone sleeping platforms), Nuku Hiva is one of the most preserved and concentrated areas for surrounding yourself with South Pacific history.
Another striking archaeological area with huge stone platforms can be found at Hatiheu on the north coast.
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