Throughout the game, you’ll have heard about the guardian deities–the tapu–that reside in the various ruins, and of course you also ran into one of them yourself: Tapu Koko. Now that you’re the strongest Pokémon trainer in Alola, the four tapu will finally deem you worthy of gazing upon their presence.
Which translates to: you can catch them! For reference, the four tapu are classified as Legendary Pokémon, although they’re not on the same level as the likes of Solgaleo, Lunala and Necrozma. Even still, they’re a lot stronger than most other Pokémon–and highly recommended to have in a team.
Ruins of Conflict
If you recall, on the night you became Champion, you visited Tapu Koko’s ruins with Hala and the others. While leaving the ruins, Tapu Koko briefly materialized, which was telling you to come back here later. When you’re ready to face the tapu proper, travel back to Iki Town, via Charizard or other means.
Back in town, head for the exit to the far north that leads to Mahalo Trail. From there, follow the trail all the way up to the top, towards the Plank Bridge. Earlier, the bridge collapsed when you tried to rescue Cosmog. However, at some point in time, before you challenged the Pokémon League, the bridge was repaired.
Anyway, go across the very sturdily-made bridge towards the other side of the ravine. After crossing, head east for a moment to find an Electric Seed on the floor. This held item boosts Defense when Electric Terrain is triggered, which Tapu Koko is excellent at doing. Next, proceed north to reach the entrance of the ruins.
There’s nothing really exciting outside, so carry on north into the ruins itself. Inside, follow the empty hallway towards the end, then enter the doorway to get to the altar. Finally, go up the stairs on either side to reach the top of the altar. After you’ve saved your game, inspect the tapu statue to meet Tapu Koko once again.
For attacks, it can use Discharge and Electro Ball for STAB–the former can cause paralysis, while the latter deals more damage to slower foes. It can also use Nature’s Madness to halve your Pokémon’s HP, and Agility to boost its Speed. Agility and Electro Ball can be a painful combination for slow Pokémon.
Against this tapu, Ground-types are ideal since they’re immune to its STAB attacks. However don’t go crazy with the super-effective attacks because it’s not great at taking hits. After whittling Tapu Koko down, your best bet is to send it to sleep, seeing as it’s an an Electric-type and this naturally immune to paralysis.
To do so, you’ll need to wait until Electric Terrain disappears from the field, after the fifth turn. Otherwise, Tapu Koko will be so shocked that it literally cannot fall asleep. Afterwards, it cannot activate Electric Terrain again, so you’re free to keep sending it to sleep. From here, you just need patience and a lot of Ultra Balls, etc.
True Power of the Tapu
Upon catching your first tapu, you will receive a Tapunium Z , which can be given to any of the four tapu. This unique Z-Crystal powers up the tapu’s signature move Nature’s Madness, causing it to deal 75% of the foe’s current HP as damage, instead of the usual 50%.
Ruins of Life
Reaching the ruins of Tapu Lele is slightly faster–there’s a Charizard glide spot that takes you straight to the entrance. In case you’ve forgotten, the Ruins of Life is located towards the south side of Akala Island; it’s where you went to battle Olivia during her Grand Trial. Once you’ve landed, head straight into the interior of the ruins.
Inside, there’s a Machamp Shove puzzle similar to the one in the Ruins of Hope, which you had to solve during the main story. First, approach the giant block along the east side, then shove it into the hole just above it. Standing on top of the sunken block, shove the nearby block to the left so that it falls into the gap to its west.
While atop of this block, push the block nearby above you until it falls into the gap up ahead. Now you can proceed to the altar. Within, the layout is exactly the same as the other tapu’s ruins. After climbing up the stairs along the sides, save your game just in case. Then touch the tapu’s statue to initiate the battle.
Attack-wise, Tapu Lele can use Extrasensory and Moonblast for STAB–the former has a chance of causing flinch. It can also use Nature’s Madness like all the other tapu, which halves your Pokémon’s current HP, and Flatter to boost your Pokémon’s Special Attack and cause confusion, similar to Swagger but far less dangerous.
Because of Tapu Lele’s typing, Steel-types are perfect to resist its STAB moves. Of course, you need to exercise caution as the tapu is weak to Steel-type moves and not great at taking physical hits. Also, Psychic Terrain-boosted Extrasensory can still hurt, so don’t hesitate to up your Steel-type’s Special Defense with items etc.
Fortunately, Tapu Lele isn’t immune to any status condition, so you’re free to use Thunder Wave or other moves to paralyze it, or if you prefer, you can send it to sleep. The only other thing to keep in mind is priority moves like Quick Attack being negated by Psychic Terrain, but you shouldn’t need to rely on those during this fight.
Ruins of Abundance
Tapu Bulu’s ruins are the only ruins you’re not forced to visit during the story–and in fact its location isn’t immediately obvious. To get there, you need to traverse Haina Desert in the center of Ula’ula Island. Earlier, we explored the desert in detail; if you haven’t already been, please refer to Sidequests - Haina Desert .
Otherwise, ring up Charizard and point it towards the Ruins of Abundance glide spot. When you reach the ruin entrance, don’t be shy and go inside. In front of you, there’s a Machamp Shove puzzle. Ignore the two blocks near the entrance and instead go along the east side until you’re stopped by a block.
Push this block north so you can head across to the west side. Over here, shove the nearby block to the north all the way forward. Now you can reach the doorway to Tapu Bulu’s altar. By the way, when you leave the altar, the blocks will be reset to their original positions, meaning you have to create a way out.
What you need to do is go along the east side and shove the block halfway along south so you can cross over to the west side. Next, head south along the west side. Finally, push the block on the right to create a space leading back to the entrance. Anyway, when it’s time to battle Tapu Bulu, remember to save your game as always.
For attacks, it can use Zen Headbutt to damage Poison-types, Megahorn to hurt Grass-types, Skull Bash to charge up an attack and raise its Defense, and Nature’s Madness to halve HP. As you may have noticed, it lacks a Grass-type STAB move, making it less of an offensive threat compared to the other tapu.
When considering Tapu Bulu’s attacks, Steel-types are the safest choice defensively. In terms of damaging Bulu, physical attacks are recommended to minimize the damage done. Just remember that, like Koko and Lele, Bulu is weak to Steel, so you need to be somewhat careful when attacking with your Steel-type.
Also don’t forget that Bulu will restore a small amount of health for five turns because of Grassy Terrain. To make it easier to catch Bulu, you’ll want a way to inflict paralysis or sleep. However, keep in mind that Bulu is a Grass-type and thus immune to "powder" moves like Spore, Sleep Powder and Stun Spore.
Ruins of Hope
The final tapu’s ruins are the easiest to reach and travel through, on account that you had to physically reach the altar to progress the story. Anyway, as a reminder, you’ll find the Ruins of Hope near the south side of Poni Island. Unless you’re walking there or something, call up Charizard and have it fly you to the glide spot.
After entering the ruins, simply head north while keeping towards the east side. The block that you pushed into the gap is still there, making it super easy to reach the doorway at the end. Upon making it to the altar, walk up to where Hapu got her sparkling stone and, as usual, save your game before challenging the tapu.
It can use Hydro Pump and Muddy Water for STAB–the former is quite powerful, while the latter may lower the opponent’s Accuracy. It also has Aqua Ring, which slowly restores its HP each turn, and Nature’s Madness for halving the opponent’s HP. Attack-wise, it’s not too bad, but it can be a nuisance with Aqua Ring.
When choosing a type, anything that resists Water is good, such as Water itself, Grass or Dragon. Obviously, Grass-types should be careful when using their STAB moves. Also, Dragons can’t use their Dragon-type moves seeing as Fini is a Fairy, and should instead use their secondary STAB moves or non-STAB moves.
Of the four tapu, Fini is probably the hardest one to catch. Firstly, Misty Terrain prevents Tapu Fini from being affected by status conditions for five turns. If you’re impatient, you can overwrite Misty Terrain with your own terrain, via another tapu for example. Secondly, Fini is able to slowly regain HP using Aqua Ring.
Unlike how Tapu Bulu regained health with Grassy Terrain, Aqua Ring never runs out, so if you fight Tapu Fini normally, you’ll have to keep chipping away at it every now and then. Which is highly inefficient, since you want to use those turns to throw Poké Balls instead. Now there are a couple of ways to deal with Aqua Ring.
The simplest method is to inflict Tapu Fini with a burn using Will-O-Wisp. A TM for this move can be obtained by traveling west from Diglett’s Tunnel in Akala Island. If you need help, refer to Sidequests - Machamp Shove in our Poni Island chapter. Naturally there are two things to consider.
One, you need to wait until Misty Terrain is gone or remove it yourself. Two, Will-O-Wisp is generally used by Fire-type Pokémon, which are weak to Tapu Fini. There are some non-Fire Pokémon that can learn it though–most notably, a bunch of Ghost-types including Gastly, Drifloon and Misdreavus, plus their evolved forms.
As soon as Misty Terrain is gone, use Will-O-Wisp for a 85% chance to cause a Burn. The damage from Burn will cancel out the healing from Aqua Ring exactly. On top of that, it makes it easier to catch Tapu Fini, as if you inflicted paralysis. To further improve your odds, you can use Net Balls from the Paniola Town Poké Mart.