Discover the ancient tribes of the Taaoa Valley during this memorable journey to their archaeological ruins.
Depart the pier for the ride to Taaoa, located approximately 7 miles southwest of Atuona on the coastal road. The Tiu, ancestors of most of the Hivaoan tribes, and several other tribes once lived in the Taaoa Valley. Their archaeological ruins can be reached by off-road vehicle or on foot. During your ride, you will visit the Upeke Ceremonial Center, which comprises house platforms, a tohua (tribal ceremonial center), public and sacred meae (archaeological ruins), and storage pits of breadfruit paste for feasts. The tohua was restored for the Third Festival of the Marquesas in 1991.
The remaining area is in the same state in which archaeologist Ralph Linton found it in 1920. Among the objects you might see is a tiki measuring 4 feet by 5 feet, with the eyes, part of the right arm, and the right ear carved in bas relief. According to Linton, this stone was an altar stone on which sacrificed victims were placed after being killed at the tohua and carried up to the meae. Directly below the platform is an irregular round head carved from a porous black volcanic stone (which may have been moved from its original position). On another platform in the tohua section, you can see a row of worked ke’etu stone slabs. One of them has some carved lines; the design is very difficult to see in sunlight. Locals say it is a whale or canoe, but it is actually a tiki face carved in bas relief.
Following your visit, you will reboard your off-road vehicle for the return ride to the pier.
Please note: This tour involves driving over rough roads. Access to the site involves a path over slippery stones and negotiation of high stone steps up to the tiki. This tour is not recommended for guests with back or neck problems. Each vehicle will accommodate four guests. Families and friends are advised to contact the Travel Concierge desk aboard ship in order to be assigned to the same vehicle. Although the drivers used are the best available, they are not guides, and their command of English is poor. Your patience and understanding are greatly appreciated.