Top 10 Things To Do In Maupiti

The tiny island of Maupiti already looks like paradise from the air. Known as ‘the preserved island’ and looking like a mini version of neighboring Bora Bora, Maupiti has managed to resist the temptation of mass tourism. Visitors to this dream island will find it hard to believe such a place really exists. I spent a full week in Maupiti while backpacking across the South Pacific Islands and have since returned three time to my favorite island in French Polynesia. Here’s my list of the top things to do in Maupiti.

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10. Locate Ancient Petroglyphs

How did a massive rock with a carved turtle end up in the middle of the tropical rainforest? Nobody really knows. The Haranae petroglyphs are a bit tricky to find, but with some help from the locals, you’ll find them in a small valley in a quiet part of the island.

Haranae Petroglyphs - Maupiti
Haranae petroglyphs

9. Observe Island Life In Vaiea Village

Tightly squeezed by vertical basalt cliffs and the azure lagoon, Vaiea is the only village on pretty little Maupiti. Pay a visit during the morning and evening hours to witness how lucky these islanders are. In the morning, locals on scooters and bicycles drop the children off at school as ladies sell the catch of the day by the roadside. As the sun begins to set, youngsters toss the volleyball, and elders play a round of petanque. Front yards bloom with heavenly-scented tropical flowers and breadfruit trees shade the graves of beloved ancestors.

Mahi mahi fish sold by local woman in Maupiti
Mahi Mahi for sale in Maupiti
locals making copra in Maupiti French Polynesia
locals getting water in Maupiti French Polynesia

8. Stay In An Authentic Family Run Pension

Islanders have witnessed their big sister to the east turn into an overdeveloped luxury resort ‘heaven’. Determined to prevent Maupiti from turning into the next Bora Bora, islanders decided that no resort shall be built in their paradise. Come to Maupiti to enjoy laid-back and authentic Polynesian hospitality in one of the family pensions. Get to know authentic local life while enjoying delicious meals and counting millions of stars at night. The biggest dilemma is whether to stay on the main island or one of the small islands surrounding the lagoon. 

Communal dinner - Pension Tautiare Village - Maupiti
Pension Tautiare Village
grilled fish at Pension Tautiare Village - Maupiti
Pension Tautiare Village

7. Circle Maupiti On Foot

Maupiti is one of the few islands in French Polynesia that is drop-dead gorgeous and small enough to explore on foot. Put on your walking shoes and march along the 10 km road that circles the island. Just don’t go too fast… there’s no need to rush around here! On your way, admire the calm ambiance, pick some tiare flowers for your favorite woman or perhaps a mango for a snack, and appreciate life in the extra slow lane.

local riding scooter in Maupiti
Flowers and fruits in Maupiti French Polynesia
Boats in the air in Maupiti French Polynesia
Sunset in Maupiti French Polynesia

6. Relax On Tereia Beach

The prettiest beach on the main island, Tereia Beach has soft sand and shallow waters frequently visited by stingrays. Find some shade beneath a mango or coconut tree and enjoy paradise. Tereia Beach is also the starting point for walking across the lagoon to Motu Auira.

Tereia Beach Maupiti French Polynesia
Tereia Beach - Maupiti - sunset
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5. Catch Panoramic Views

No specially marked sign will point you to this particular spot, just walk to the highest section of the road that circles the island. From here, enjoy beautiful views of Maupiti’s southern side during the day and millions of stars at night.

scenic view point - Maupiti - French Polynesia

4. Hike Mount Teurafaatiu

You’ll work up a good sweat climbing the steep trail to the summit of Mount Teurafaatiu. But once at the top – you won’t want to leave. From the summit, you can truly appreciate the magnificent colors of the lagoon and the engineering marvel that is the airport runway. On a clear day, you can even see Bora Bora in the far distance – and easily spend a few hours up here!

View of motu in Maupiti Mount Teurafaatiu hike - French Polynesia
View from summit of Mount Teurafaatiu hike - French Polynesia - Maupiti
Vaiea Village from Mount Teurafaatiu hike - French Polynesia - Maupiti
Closeup view of Maupiti lagoon pass from Mount Teurafaatiu hike - French Polynesia

3. Dive With Manta Rays

There’s a magical spot in the middle of the blue lagoon known as the manta ray ‘cleaning station’. Think of it as nature’s carwash. Throughout the day, giant manta rays cruise along this spot, where they meet small fish that feed off the parasites on the ray’s body. This incredible spectacle can be seen from up close with the friendly folks at Maupiti Diving.


2. Cruise Maupiti’s Lagoon

Non-divers can get acquainted with the manta rays on a day you’ll never forget cruising the Maupiti lagoon. Lagoon tours first visit the manta ray cleaning station, where you’ll get to hover over these amazing sea creatures as they’re being groomed. Next, park it at the ‘coral garden’ for some of the best snorkeling in French Polynesia. And what about lunch? Well, that’s served on your very own island, where you’ll learn how to make authentic Tahitian food and feed stingrays with the leftovers!

Maupiti lagoon tour - motu picnic - stingray approaching boat

1. Cross The Lagoon on foot To Motu Auira

Want to feel like Moses parting the Red Sea? Walk across the shallow lagoon water from the main island to Motu Auira. Instead of Pharaoh’s army chasing you, reef sharks and stingrays will patrol the shallow waters. What awaits you after this memorable journey? How about one of the prettiest beaches in the South Pacific, crystal clear water, and the sight of Bora Bora in the distance. This is another day you’ll never forget… there are a lot of those in Maupiti!  

Motu Auira - Maupiti - French Polynesia - Walking across lagoon
Maupiti from motu auira - Maupiti - French Polynesia
aerial view of motu auira - Maupiti - French Polynesia

Ready To Visit?

There you have it! The top things to do in Maupiti. For more information about Maupiti and French Polynesia, check out these recommended guides and watch this Maupiti travel guide video.

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