When you think of French Polynesia, the image is of coconut palms, sandy beaches and turquoise lagoons. But there is another side to the islands that is equally as beautiful. The lush green hills and valleys, waterfalls and archeological sites that you’ll discover when you go hiking in the interior of The Islands of Tahiti.
In the interior of each one of the Society Islands, you can find spectacular waterfalls, mountain peaks, luxuriant valleys and superb archeological sites. Tahiti is the most developed island and has the biggest population. But once you leave the hustle and bustle of the capital, Papeete, the island has some magnificent hiking trails, for everyone from beginners to experienced enthusiasts. North of Tahiti, the island of Bora Bora also has some superb hiking trails, where you can hike to scenic viewpoints with photo opportunities of the world’s most beautiful lagoon. We’ve selected a few trails for hikers of different levels: beginners, intermediate and experienced. Choose a trail that best suits your competence and set off with a packed lunch for a marvellous day’s hiking, You’ll need plenty of water, suncream, a hat, sturdy footwear…and your camera!
Hiking trails in Tahiti and Bora Bora
For a hike with all the family in Tahiti, go to the Papenoo valley. Waterfalls, luxuriant countryside and superb views await you. In the south of the peninsula, Tahiti Iti, the Te Pari trail is suitable for everyone, but you have to take a boat to get there. For intermediate hikers, the valley of Faananu in Tiarei is both challenging and very rewarding. More difficult is the trail to the top of Mount Aorai near Papeete, 2,066 meters above sea level. The trail is well signposted, so it’s possible to go on your own. However, we always recommend that you use the services of a professional guide. The view from the summit is possibly the most remarkable in The Islands of Tahiti.
North of Tahiti is the famous paradise island of Bora Bora, the Pearl of the Pacific. Reputed for its magnificent turquoise lagoon, the island also has several superb hiking trails. The valley of kings is a half-day hike suitable for all the family. You’ll have superb views, and the historical sites will teach you more about the past of French Polynesia. Another trail, this time for more experienced hikers, takes you to Mount Otemanu, one of the best-known mountains in The Islands of Tahiti. You can’t get all the way to the top, but the views are still magnificent. The best views of all are from the top of Mount Pahia. You’ll need the services of a guide for this hike, and take a packed lunch, because it takes a good few hours each way.
Other hiking trails
There are hiking trails on every island in French Polynesia, some to magnificent scenic viewpoints, others to visit archeological sites. The local tourist committe or tourist office will be able to indicate the best trails for your level of experience.
Moorea, in the Society Islands, also has some excellent hiking trails. The best-known of these are the Three Coconut Tree Pass and the Afareaitu Waterfall. You can find hiking trails in every valley on the island, so don’t hesitate to ask your accommodation for advice. And always remember to take plenty of water, sun cream and a hat.