Three Pines Pass is a short but enjoyable hike which leads up to three pine trees overlooking the pineapple fields and vast greenery of Opunohu Valley. Difficulties encountered on the hike include dealing with heat and humidity, understanding the unique route markers, and being cautious around the steep hillsides of the pass area. A zoomed section of the official trail map showing the hiking route (in light blue coloring) can be found by clicking on the button above. GPS coordinates for the starting point of the hike at the Belvedere are 17° 32.434'S, 149° 49.597'W. GPS coordinates near to the main pass area are 17° 32.096'S, 149° 49.312'W.
A hike to Three Pines Pass is a great way to spend a few hours on Moorea. It is a family-friendly hike, as noted during our own visit when we passed by several local families out enjoying the trail together. In comparison to the more well-known Three Coconuts Pass trail, this hike is shorter but steeper. The hike is 2 3/4 miles round-trip with an elevation gain of 679 feet. There are very few flat sections of the hike, so be prepared to spend most of your time hiking either uphill or downhill. As far as other comparisons between the two hikes, there is a more impressive Banyan tree visited during this hike, but the Tahitian chestnut trees are much more abundant on the Three Coconuts trail. Also, the views are not nearly as outstanding upon reaching Three Pines Pass. However, what made this viewpoint rewarding for us was the fact that we were seeing alternate angles of all the majestic island peaks. The hike to Three Pines Pass (spelled Trois Pinus or Col des 3 Pinus in French) also begins at the Belvedere Lookout, but at a slightly different trailhead. The starting point can be found at the back left (southeastern) corner of the parking lot. The trail begins with a steady downhill section which continues on for a fair amount of time. There are creek crossings and numerous interesting trees and plants to check out. One of the highlights for us was passing through a grove of spectacular tall trees which we had not found on the other trail. We also passed by a snail reserve, the Banyan tree mentioned earlier, and some ancient foundation ruins. Coming across the snail reserve was an interesting development. Snail reserves were created on Moorea to protect wild colonies of native snails which have been reintroduced to the island. The story of Moorea's native Partula tree snails is a sad one, but it provides a powerful lesson. Partula snails are small snails which live in trees with a life-span of up to five years. When a Partula snail is young, it tends to live in the lower parts of trees, while the adult snails will climb up to higher parts. Back in 1975, large African land snails were brought to Tahiti to be cultivated as a food delicacy. When the delicacy failed to catch on with locals, these snails were released into the wild. As a result of this, the African snails spread throughout Tahiti and the surrounding islands including Moorea. Fruit plantations came under attack as the African land snails moved about the islands freely with no predators and ended up destroying crops. To combat this, a decision was made to bring an American predator snail (the rosy wolf snail) onto the islands. This plan backfired, as instead of targeting the African land snails, the rosy wolf snails began attacking the much smaller native Partula tree snails. Within ten short years, more than 100 species were brought to extinction. In 1994, attempts were made to bring back the Partula tree snails by reintroducing them into reserves on Moorea. The reserves were protected by corrugated metal, a salt-water moat, and an electric fence. To date, the snail reserves have been successful. We will see what happens over the long term. Getting back to the hike, the trail next climbs steeply uphill during the final portion leading to the pass. The pass itself is merely a minor pass over a small ridge. It is not a pass in the sense of being able to see over to the other side of the island. Upon reaching the ridge, the main trail turns left and leads down to the viewpoint of Three Pines Pass. You will know you are there due to the very distinct three pine trees growing tall behind the sign. As far as views, Mount Rotui is very close and is the featured view, along with Opunohu Bay and Cook's Bay. Other major peaks are also visible as you look around the valley. Looking down, you can see the pineapple fields of the plantation below. It is possible to extend this hike into a loop by continuing downhill from the pine trees area. This extension route is the Hao Tupuna trail and it visits the pineapple fields up close as well as passes by additional archeological ruins. Upon enjoying the views, we headed back using the Three Pines trail due to time constraints. It was our last day on Moorea and we had wanted to take a drive around the island. With that, we wrapped up our hikes for French Polynesia on this trip. Within the full set of photos for this report, I have included some bonus pictures taken while snorkeling on Moorea. Our hike took place on September 18, 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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