French Polynesia is spread over 4 million km², which is the equivalent of continental Europe. There are a total of 118 islands and atolls dispersed among five archipelagos: the Tuamotu, Society, Austral, Gambier and Marquesas Islands. Some of the islands are high, volcanic islands, while others are low, coral atolls. Almost all of them have picture postcard white sandy beaches and crystal clear lagoons. The Islands of Tahiti is also a wonderful destination for hiking enthusiasts, with trails that lead to scenic viewpoints and enable you to discover the unique flora and fauna of this South Sea island paradise.
The image everybody has of French Polynesia, is a soft white sandy beach, with a few coconut palms, next to a crystal clear turquoise lagoon. And that is exactly what you discover when you arrive. However, there is a lot more to see on the the islands as well, which is why hiking is such an extremely popular activity. There are countless trails on all the islands, on which you can explore the hills and valleys, visit archeological sites and admire magnificent scenic viewpoints. The animals that you’ll come across on your voyage of discovery will be mostly pigs, cows, horses, dogs and cats. They were all introduced to these shores by man, as was the most common bird in French Polynesia, the rooster, which makes its presence known morning, noon and night. However, there are many endemic and indegenous species of birds, plants and flowers for you to discover during your guided hiking tours in The Islands of Tahiti.
Guided hiking tours in Tahiti
There are several different excursions to explore the unique flora and fauna of Tahiti.
The Botanical Garden of Papeari has a signposted path with panels giving details of the many exotic and indigenous plants in the garden. The winding path is a trail of discovery that leads to many remarkable specimens. Another extremely pleasant place to stroll is in the Water Gardens of Vaipahi. Once you’ve explored these very picturesque gardens, a steep path that begins deep in the garden, leads you through the luxuriant countryside and up to a plateau, from where you have a choice of trails leading to some superb scenic viewpoints.
Guided hiking tours in Raiatea
Raiatea is a botanist’s paradise, and has an exceptionally rare jewel at the very top of its crown. Follow the signposted trail that leads you to the summit of Mount Temehani, where you’ll be able to admire, (but definitely not touch), the beautiful Tiare ‘apetahi. This fragile and endangered plant grows only on the top of this mountain and, despite many attempts, botanists have not been able to cultivate it anywhere else. Nearly all the other species of plants on the upper reaches of Mount Temehani are also endemic to Raiatea.
Finally, if you want to go further in your exploration, you can take a guided tour of Taputapuatea, the marae (or open-air temple) the best known of all French Polynesia. This temple was once a religious site for traditional Polynesian ceremonies. These remains attract many tourists and locals. You will learn more about the religious culture of the islands.