Day 2: Maupiti Lagoon Tour
Because the weather can be unstable in the South Pacific, it’s best to use the first full day in Maupiti for the lagoon tour. Your pension hosts likely offer this tour but if not, get in touch with Sammy Maupiti Tour for a day you’ll never forget cruising the Maupiti Lagoon.
Snorkeling With Manta Rays
The fun begins back at the manta ray cleaning station. This is a lagoon section where manta rays tend to pass through in the morning hours to get cleaned by small fish. Your guide will point you in the right direction for an hour of snorkeling with these magnificent creatures.
You’ll then be treated to wonderful views of the main island and also get to see the only pass from the ocean into the calm lagoon.
Snorkeling in the Coral Garden
The boat will then stop in shallow waters, where you’ll follow your guide into the coral garden. If you thought the snorkeling was good the other day in the motu, wait until you see this!
All this snorkeling will make you mighty hungry. Lucky for you, this tour includes a picnic lunch on one of the lagoon motus. You’ll learn how to make the famous poisson cru, and enjoy a delicious lunch on your very own private beach. So what do you do with the leftovers? Not to worry, there are plenty of customers for that!
Day 3: Hiking & Circling Maupiti on Foot
The third day in this Maupiti itinerary is an active one. You’ll basically circle the island on foot (you can also use a bicycle) but spend the morning hiking to the island’s highest point.
Passing Through the Main Village
After breakfast, head to the picturesque village of Vaiea. On your way, you’ll no doubt say hello to a few friendly locals beginning their day – whether dropping the kids off at school or selling some freshly caught fish on the side of the road. In the outskirts of the main village, the signposted marae Vaiahu is the best relic on the main island for an ancient Polynesian ceremonial site.
Don’t forget to notice all that grows in so much abundance – tropical flowers in all colors and enough fruit for everyone. Also, local residents are more traditional than on other islands, burying loved ones in the front yard – a common Polynesian custom in other Pacific Island nations like Samoa and the Cook Islands.
Before we start the hike, stop at the tiny local market just by the municipal buildings. Grab a baked snack, some fruit, and an ice-cold coconut for the road. You’ll need them!
Hike Mount Teurafaatiu
Just on the outskirts of the village, a track leads you steeply up the mountain to the summit of Mount Teurafaatiu. After 60-90 minutes of continuous sweaty climbing on a well-marked track, but the views are so out of this world that you’ll frequently be stopping. Before reaching the summit, enjoy breathtaking views down to the village where you started, across the azure lagoon, and the engineering marvel that is the airport.
One final push, or rather a pull using ropes – and you’re at the summit. You’ll probably be here all by yourself and wonder, “how is Maupiti still a secret?” Look around you and spot the beach you visited yesterday. On a clear day, you can even see Bora Bora in the far distance. It’s a good spot to spend a few hours, watching the clouds go by and the boat journey to and from the village to the outer motus.
Lunch in Snack Tarona
Back on flat land, stop at Snack Tarona for a well-deserved ice-cold Hinano Beer. If you fancy eating out, this is the best option in the village. Enjoy huge portions of traditional dishes and western delights with a refreshing breeze from the lagoon just meters away. If Snack Tarona is closed, there might be a few small grocery shops nearby, but it’s best to pack lunch for the day just in case (and plenty of drinks).
Circle the Island on Foot
It should be mid-afternoon by now, so the weather will begin to get more pleasant as you continue the quest to circle Maupiti. Just follow the ring road and pause for a break in one of the lagoon-side benches whenever you want to chill. Look for signs pointing inland to the Haranae Petroglyphs for a bit of sightseeing. They’re a little tricky to find but once you do – look for the ancient turtle carving. I’m not exactly sure how old these are, but they are impressive.
Further along, peek inside the Palais de la Mer. This weird ‘museum’ is made entirely from local coral and shells. Strange, creative, and impressive all at the same time!
From the Palais de la Mer, the road takes you through a few residential plots and along impressive cliffs. If you’re in luck, mango will fall to the ground just in time for a fresh snack. Locals grow vanilla in this part of the island, and there’s also an artist somewhere here that carves beautiful penu, the symbol of Maupiti. You’ll then reach Tereia Beach. If there’s time or if you’re staying here, it’s a perfect way to end the long day. Otherwise, continue to the scenic lookout and descend toward the main village.
Day 4: Walking Across The Lagoon To Motu Auira
This is another day in Maupiti that you’ll never forget. Well… most of your days here will be like that. So take it easy in the morning and head back up the hill and down towards Tereia Point when you’re ready. Don’t forget your snorkeling & beach gear, and wear some sandals for the day (you’ll soon see why). Stop at Snack Chez Mimi and chat with the friendly mammas while your takeaway lunch is prepared.
Cross the Lagoon on Foot
Ask the locals at Snack Cheze Mimi to point you in the right direction and just like Moses, walk across the lagoon to Motu Auira. It’ll take you about 20 minutes to cross the shallow lagoon on foot. Instead of Pharaoh’s army chasing you – look for the stingrays and reef sharks that patrol the waters. It’s perfectly safe and, above all, so beautiful!
As you make landfall on the small motu, head to your right and walk along one of the most beautiful beaches nature could throw at you. With white sand that tests the limits of your sunglasses and bright shades of impossible blue – this is as good as it gets. There are just a few families living out here, mainly growing grapefruit but also allegedly some cannabis – so just stick to the beach and do not venture inland. It’s perfectly safe, so really have no fear. I personally recommend spending more time exploring the “reef side” so don’t spend too much time on the lagoon side, as pretty as it may be (you can also return here tomorrow if you have another day to spend in Maupiti).
Explore the Lagoon Side
Find a spot along the beach, have that sandwich, and head for some snorkeling. The best strategy is to swim along the whitish patches in the deep lagoon. That’s where you’ll see the unique coral shaped like bonsai trees. Unfortunately, the visibility isn’t always good on the lagoon side – so let’s take care of that!
Explore the Reef Side
Pack everything up and walk to the other side of the motu – the reef side. This is the wilder and more impressive part of the motu. On the way, spot the silhouette of Bora Bora in the far distance – you can’t miss it. The reef side of the motu is wild, and there’s nobody out here. If you thought the color of the water was impressive on the lagoon side, wait until you get here. I’ve never seen such crystal clear waters.
When you’re done exploring your very own beach, put that snorkeling gear back on and explore the reef. Schools of tropical fish await you and shells in ultra-bright colors. Locals love coming here on the weekend to collect these shells and open them up on the beach in preparation for lunch. If you’re lucky, you might spot a blacktip reef shark or perhaps a turtle. I loved this place so much that I came here twice during my week in Maupiti.
Day 5: Diving With Manta Rays & Relaxing
On your last day in Maupiti, head underwater to spend more time with the manta rays that you’ve hopefully seen while snorkeling in the lagoon. Since the dive is very shallow, you may not have to wait the customary 24 hours before flying. Alternatively, use this last day to either relax or revisit some of your favorite spots in Maupiti, such as Tereia Beach or Motu Auira.
Diving With Manta Rays
Diving with manta rays in Maupiti takes place in the same spot where you snorkeled in the lagoon tour, the “cleaning station.” Every day, giant manta rays arrive at the ‘cleaning station’ for a quick ride through nature’s car wash. Get in touch with Yannic from Maupiti Diving, who’ll take you down to about 10 meters and witness this spectacle. As you park it on the sandy lagoon floor, manta rays swing around coral boulders as small fish free them from parasites that latch onto their ‘wings’. It’s a win-win situation: the manta rays get cleaned, the fish have their meal, and you get to see it all from up close!
Visibility wasn’t that good on the day I went diving in Maupiti, but I still enjoyed a 75-minute dive. How can you not?
It’ll be mighty hard to leave Maupiti, but hey, at least you were smart enough to come to this magical island. Use this 5 days in Maupiti itinerary to plan your own visit to paradise, and remember to save some time for relaxing! Check out these recommended guides for more information about Maupiti and French Polynesia.
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