After a week in Moorea we were looking forward to the very different scenery of the tiny island of Maupiti. Air Tahiti only flies to Maupiti every three days and the size of the plane was already a first indication of the size of the island – it seated only 48 people and there were only around 25 people on board. The flight is by far the most scenic one we have ever experienced (remember to sit on the right side of the plane as you will only see water on the left) and the pilot clearly made an effort to make sure we got the best views when passing both Moorea, Bora Bora, Taha’a, Huahine and Raiatera.
Arriving at the airport a small shed served as both arrivals, departures, baggage claim, gate and check-in 🙂
The very short landing field is situated on a Motu, and a small boat (500 CFP for adults, 300 CFP for children) brought us to the main island where we were greeted by hour host Sandra from Pension Tereia where we would be staying the next four nights. It is very important to book in advance (we booked 6 months before) as there are only a very small number of guesthouses on the island and no hotels.
Walking to and snorkeling at the Motu
The only sandy (and public) beach on Maupiti was a short 3 min. walk from Pension Tereia and from there you can walk across the water to the Motu. It takes 15-25 min. to cross and you can carry a backpack without it getting wet. On the Motu avoid heading inland as there are stray and aggressive dogs on the Motu and some of the land is privately owned. We had a few encounters with a pack of aggressive dogs but if you carry a stick, yell loudly at them and calmly walk away they quickly lose interest. We just walked in the water go avoid going near them, though.
To get to the part where you can snorkel you need to walk another 15 min. around the Motu until you face the ocean side. As the water is quite shallow it is not recommended as a beginner’s spot. To reach the most beautiful part of the reef you need to head out just when you start to see the coral from the beach. If you continue another 300 meters it becomes so shallow that you can only reach very small pockets of coral.
On our second day in Maupiti we went on the standard snorkeling tour. Every Saturday they do a special arrangement at one of the Motus where food is cooked in an underground oven and various local games are played (you get to participate) and local traditions are explained. They had not prepared quite enough food for everybody but otherwise a great experience. The tour also included a visit to the Coral Garden of Maupiti and the Manta Ray cleaning station (where the fish clean the mantas, so a win win arrangement). The Coral garden was beautiful but unfortunately most of the Mantas had decided to take a day off and we only saw one far away and with poor visibility because it was quite windy that day. Other guests who went on a tour the next day saw 5 mantas.
Hiking Mount Teurafaatiu
If you are reasonably fit and not too afraid of heights the Mount Teurafaatiu hike is a must do on Maupiti. You start the climb from Maupiti Massage at the main village, follow a dirt road for about 300 meters until you get to a white house with antennas. Take a left turn around the white house and either go straight up the rocks or follow the sign to the left. They meet again about 200 meters up so you can choose either way or take one way up and the other down as we did. From there just follow the reasonably well marked trail to the top.
The trail includes some pretty steep places with ropes to help on the most difficult sections. It took as a little less than an hour to get to the top and about the same on the way down as we stopped a few times to take more pictures.
On the top you are awarded with beautiful views over the bay
Short but beautiful hike to the Eastern Lookout
On the last day of our stay in Maupiti we did the short 25 min. hike to the Eastern lookout before having lunch and boarding the plane for Raiatea. It is a fairly easy hike and you get some really beautiful views across the lagoon. To find the trail you need to follow the main road that cuts across the Eastern part of the island. At the very top you get to a hairpin turn. Follow the gravel road in between (towards Guest House “Fare Maupiti Belvedere”) and continue for about 100 meters until you reach a big concrete water tank. Follow the trail to the right and keep following it about 500 meters until you get to the top (rather steep but not difficult) and enjoy the view. Finding a stone and writing your name on it seemed to be a “thing” so we followed the tradition. See if you can find ours.
Pension Tereia turned out to be everything we had hoped for. Nice friendly hosts, relaxed atmosphere, great food, friendly cats and dogs for the kids to play with, the chance to meet other guests at the shared dinner and breakfast table as well as close proximity to the water/beach. We can only recommend it but remember to book at least 6 months in advance as space is very limited. If you are looking for luxury – Pension Tereia (and Maupiti in general) is not the place to go, but if you want two great meals a day and a basic room for a reasonable price you can’t do much better on Maupiti (we paid 24.000 CPF per day for the 4 of us). You do need to pay extra for aircondition (1.500 CPF per day), pickup from the main village on arrival (1.000 CPF per person return) and if you want to rent bicycles (1.000 CPF per day). We would probably have raised the prices a bit and offered them as free services but this way you can tailor it to your specific needs and budget.
All in all Maupiti was by far the highlight of our trip so far. It is probably the most beautiful and authentic island we have ever visited! 4 days is enough, though, as the island is only 9 kilometers around and there are no real shops or restaurants;-)
Noah has put together a short video borrowing a bit of drone video from a couple from Tahiti we met at the guesthouse: