Mount Teurafaatiu is Maupiti's highest point at 1,247 feet in elevation and contains some of the most spectacular views in the South Pacific from the summit including the lagoon, ocean, motus, villages, and distant islands. Difficulties encountered on the hike include dealing with heat and humidity, climbing steep sections of trail by using installed ropes, and being cautious around the exposed summit area. A (roughly drawn) Google Earth map of the hiking route can be found by clicking on the button above. GPS coordinates for the starting point of the hike near the bottom of the concrete steps are 16° 26.742'S, 152° 14.877'W. GPS coordinates near to the main summit area are 16° 26.822'S, 152° 15.303'W.
Upon finishing up our two hikes in Tahiti, we caught a 45-minute flight to the island of Maupiti. Visiting Maupiti was expected to be one of our trip highlights based on research at home. We felt this way despite the fact that nobody we talked to prior to leaving had ever even heard of Maupiti. I guess that makes Maupiti one of the Society Islands' best kept secrets. During the landing approach, the views of Maupiti and Mt. Teurafaatiu were stunningly beautiful as viewed from the airplane. Looking down from high above, we could see huge Manta Rays gliding through the crystal clear lagoon water. And looking across to the main island, we could visualize what the hike would be like from sea level up to the highest point. Being glad that we were gone from the hustle and bustle of Papeete, it was truly a special moment to walk out of the airplane and onto the white sand of the beach near the airport. From there, we caught a water taxi over to the mainland and checked into our pension located near Tereia Beach. For the next five days, we enjoyed bicycle rides, boat trips on the lagoon, snorkeling with Manta Rays, visiting four different motus, relaxing at beaches, checking out the pass into the ocean, and going on walks and hikes. As far as hiking options on the small island of Maupiti, there are only a few. The most basic that can be done is a walk around the island. The length of the road which encircles the main island is 5 miles (or 8 km). While that may sound like a short distance, do not underestimate the effect of the intense sun on the pavement or the impact that a sudden heavy downpour of rain may have on a walk. We experienced both on our walks. A second hike (but also more of a walk) is to wade across the lagoon at low tide from Tereia Beach to Motu Auira. You can then spend an entire day exploring Motu Auira on your own. If you can find it, there is a dirt road which cuts through the center of the motu from the lagoon to the ocean. We did this one afternoon and found Motu Auira to have extremely beautiful beaches all the way around. In fact, on the ocean side you can walk along gorgeous white sand beaches for miles without seeing another person. If you've never tried it before, there is nothing quite like wading across a lagoon in the South Pacific. The only caution for this second walk would be to be careful when wading through the shallow lagoon because there may be sting rays hiding in the sand or even stonefish. A third hiking option is visiting the petroglyphs located in Haranae Valley. Impressive turtle petroglyphs can be found there within a riverbed filled with huge boulders. This hike should take no more than one hour RT, unless you want to continue exploring the riverbed beyond the petroglyphs. A fourth hiking option which I saw mentioned in a guidebook is a climb to the top of Mt. Hotu Paraoa (820 feet in elevation). However, it sounds like there may be some exposure involved with this climb and I can't comment further on it since I did not attempt it. A fifth and final hiking option, and the one for which this report is based around, is a climb to the summit of Mt. Teurafaatiu.
The hike up Mt. Teurafaatiu is an unforgettable experience. The starting point was not marked during our visit, but it is easy to find. Just north of the island's main dock, in the small village of Petei (which borders Vaiea), there are some distinct concrete steps heading up from the road into the mountainside. The concrete steps end near a burial ground and the trail becomes a dirt path cut through brush. The views looking back over the lagoon start almost immediately and get better with every section of elevation gained. The hiking terrain alternates between tall grassy areas, rocky areas (with minor climbs), and shaded sections of trees. The trail occasionally splits into two (and sometimes three) forks. This can be confusing, but most spur trails eventually reconnect with the main trail. There are faded trail markers painted onto rocks and tree trunks to help direct hikers. During the hike up, there are several distinctive lookout points with sweeping views stretching from the airport runway to the north to the base of Mt. Hotu Paraoa to the south. Colorful wildflowers are plentiful along the way. As the hike enters the upper portion, there are a series of climbs which must be completed with the aid of assistance ropes. This is standard procedure for hikes in French Polynesia. Because the condition of such assistance ropes is always a big question mark, it is good to keep several points of contact with the ground whenever possible. The steepest climb takes place at an area where the trail wraps around to the left of a giant rock outcropping. The summit top (sometimes marked by a makeshift flag) is about 15 minutes beyond this challenging spot. As mentioned in the overview section, the summit has some of the best views in the South Pacific. We spent an hour at the top fully enjoying and appreciating the views all around us. View highlights include the main village of Vaiea below, Motu Pitiahe, Motu Tiapaa, Motu Tuanai, Onoiau Pass (which is how ocean water enters the lagoon), a wide expanse of the beautiful blue lagoon, Tereia Beach, and even Bora Bora (on clear days visible 35 miles to the east). It is possible to hike a little bit higher in elevation beyond what is considered to be the summit. However, the trail becomes overgrown and the views are not that good due to plant and tree growth. As a side note, I did read somewhere that it is possible to take an alternate route to the summit by starting from the highest point on the main road where it crosses over a saddle and following the ridge up. But I did not have time to check out that potential option. The hike took us about 3 1/2 hours RT which allowed adequate time to take photos and enjoy the views. As a bonus, I am including some of my favorite non-hiking pictures taken during our time in Maupiti at the end of the report. Our hike took place on September 8, 2016.
Many more photographs taken during our visit are available for viewing for this destination. To see all of them, choose one of the two options presented below. The two options are Slideshow viewing and Trip Report viewing. The Slideshow option allows for viewing larger images with an autoplay option and a full screen option (available on most browsers). This option works very well for large computer screens and tablets. The Trip Report option allows for viewing smaller pictures in a standard scroll-down format and enlarging of any panoramic photos taken during our visit. Click on the option of your choice to view all of our photos from this destination. The Slideshow format opens in a new browser window and the Trip Report format uses the same browser window for viewing.
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