Maupiti Island, Top 10 things to do
If you decide to travel to Tahiti, French Polynesia, you absolutely must visit the island of Maupiti. The island is known for having stood up to the large hotel groups and has kept an authenticity that can still be felt when you walk around. Mass tourism has not yet arrived here, and that is a good thing in my opinion. People live here in simplicity, fishing in local boat, cultivating copra and watermelon. Here are the top 10 things to do on the island of Maupiti. With all this, you should have a great time on the island! I had the opportunity to explore the island at the same time as the atoll of Tikehau in the Tuamotu, which also remains, an island to visit if you are travelling in French Polynesia. If you are looking for a peaceful and quiet place to spend a few days, this is the place.
Maupiti Island is located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean in the Society Archipelago and more precisely in the Leeward Islands (along with other islands called Raiatea, Bora Bora, Huahine and Tahaa). This island is located about 40 km west of the famous tropical island of Bora Bora.
Like all the other Polynesian islands, this preserved island is an ancient volcano. This paradisiacal island is at the “almost atoll stage” (this is my geographer side speaking). At the time, this volcanic island was much larger in area, most probably of the current size of the island if we include the lagoon and the motu (these fine sandbanks located at the end of the lagoon). Over millions of years, the island has collapsed under its own weight and erosion phenomena.
The place is idyllic and the island is clearly less oriented towards “wedding trips and honeymoons”. There are no hotels so don’t go looking for the Sofitel or the Intercontinental. Instead enjoy the beautiful beaches and take the time to spend these few days to relax on the island. Maupiti remains an island that I hold really close to my heart, one of the most beautiful, but especially the one where I was able to start this travel blog!
What to do in Maupiti?
1 – Enjoy a day trip on the lagoon
Among the things to do on Maupiti Island, don’t miss a trip on the lagoon if only for its beauty, which you will already discover upon arrival by plane.
Maupiti’s lagoon is well-known for being one of the most beautiful! Indeed, you will be surprised by the different shades of blue that you’ll find here. The coral reefs and sandbanks really bring out the shallow crystal-clear water in some places.
Boat trips are one of the main water activities to be done on the island along with diving. Several service providers are present on the island to do boat trips. I did mine with Sammy Maupiti Tours. The daytrip was very nice. It consisted in starting with the discovery of the lagoon around the island then a stop on a motu for lunch, which was raw fish with coconut milk, grilled fish and coconut for dessert. Then swimming with manta rays and snorkeling around the corals “at the aquarium” to finish off. To sum up, it was a very good day. It’s just a regret that the day-trip sometimes lacked explanations from the guide with whom we were with (the cultural and historical aspect of the island).
Sammy either offers day trips (6000 xpf – 50€), trips around the lagoon, or manta ray trips. You can check his website for prices.
2 - Hiking to the top of Mount Teurafaatui (372 m)
Yes, French Polynesia is not just “white sandy beaches, coconut palms and scuba diving”. It is also possible to do a beautiful hike to the summit of Maupiti Island, which rises up to 372 m. The start of the hike is almost just opposite the Tarona snack bar, where you will find concrete stairs on the mountainside for the start. There’s a little store across the street that sells water! I realize that I forgot to update with the latest information from Marie Laure, a friend of mine, who was there recently. The start of the hike is now a little further away than the snack bar, at the foot of the large antenna, next to the refreshment bar. There is apparently a red/white marking.
The hike is not too long, but can be quite steep. Allow for 1h30 to 2h to reach the summit, depending on your level and shape. The beginning is quite easy, but the middle and end of the walk is harder. The slope is very steep in places and good shoes are necessary, especially for the areas where you have to hang onto ropes.
You can enjoy beautiful views along the way. The view from the top is wonderful, a view fit for a postcard. It is in this moment that you become aware of the paradise your in. I couldn’t even consider advising another activity on the Leeward Islands. It’s a real must on Maupiti Island!
Since the last time I was in Maupiti, I have been contacted by Magalie, who has just opened a massage place which is perfect for relaxing after the hike. You can contact her to book at 87 36 94 94 94. I haven’t tested it personally yet, but I’ll see to it next time I go there.
3 - Walk on the motu Auira (in front of the beach of Tereia)
If you have made the trip, here is another activity to do on Maupiti Island! You can cross over to the motu just opposite the main beach of the island, which is called Tereia.
Just make sure you leave when the sea level is at its lowest. All you have to do is aim for the motu and generally follow the places where the water is shallowest. The water at its highest point reached my waist. The crossing takes about 30 minutes by foot and we were able to do it with a baby carrier for those who are considering it.
The view all along is surreal, splendid with emerald water, and you will probably have the opportunity to meet curious rays and sharks that pass by.
On the other side you get to enjoy the islet with its white sand and coconut trees!
4 - Eat a raw fish at the Tarona Snack Bar
It’s one of the island’s little snacks that I think is worth a visit. We ate there several times. The prices are very good and what we had was very nice as well.
Take advantage of this moment by the sea to enjoy some nice raw fish by the lagoon.
5 - Tour the island (on foot or by bike)
A must on the island of Maupiti: to tour this small paradise. Don’t worry, it is only about 10 Km, done by 2/3h of walking. I generally recommend doing it during the day, stopping for photo shots or swimming and having a snack at the Tarona Snack Bar. There is even a small archaeological site not too far from the road.
You can also rent bicycles at several guesthouses for those who do not want to walk!
6 - Swimming with manta rays
During your boat trip, you will have the superb opportunity to end up on a well-known spot on the island where Manta rays are almost always present all year round.
The spot is in the lagoon, at a depth of about 8/10m. For those who have never had the opportunity to do so, swimming with manta rays is a pretty crazy feeling, like swimming with a whale (which I just did on the island of Rurutu). Take the time and enjoy this magical moment surrounded by rays. You can also discover them during a dive with the island’s diving club.
7 - Dive in Maupiti
You can also take advantage of the island of Maupiti to dive. Only one diving club is present on the island (at the time of writing this article).
When I came to the island for the second time, I wanted to try it. The owner of the club, very nice, came to pick me up at the guesthouse where I was staying. I was the only customer that morning. Depending on your level and your desires, you can either ask to dive with the manta rays in the lagoon, or (what I chose), which was to dive on the ocean side where the reef is outside the lagoon.
After about 30 minutes by boat, we arrived at the diving spot with great weather conditions and a breathtaking view of the island and its lush vegetation. The dive went very well.
8 - Bring back a small souvenir
Shopping lovers will probably be disappointed overall on the island. The island is not a big tourist spot like the island of Bora Bora can be. However, you will find some shops although they open at random times, in the main village. Some shell necklaces and homemade jewelry are available. But the island has a specialty, the penu, which is a specialty of Maupiti. You can find them in the small shops around here, a nice little gift to bring back.
9 - Swimming on the superb beach of Tereia
Among the other things to do on Maupiti Island, swimming on the beautiful beach of Tereai is a MUST!
This beautiful beach can be reached on foot depending on where you’re sleeping. If you are, like me, staying in the guesthouse outside the village, you can either walk and go through the small crossroads or walk along the coast to the beach. From the village, the easiest way is to hitchhike and have yourself dropped off near the beach (or bicycle).
In my opinion, this beach is superb and much more beautiful than the Matira Point of Bora Bora which can be full of tourists, snack bars and restaurants. Here, simplicity and authenticity rule. White sandy beaches, coconut trees, views of the mountain and the turquoise waters. Nothing more is needed than that.
10 - Visit the Sea Palace (« Palais de la mer »)
Finally, if you still have some time left on the island, you can visit the Sea Palace, as it likes to be called. You can see this coral and shell walled house on your tour around the island either on foot or by bike.
Take the time to have a chat with the guy, a very endearing artist!
These are my top 10 things to do on Maupiti Island. The essentials are here, I think. For those who are looking for some culture, note that there is a Marae on the island, the Royal Marae of Vaiahu but also petroglyphs.
Tips for your trip to Maupiti Island
How to get to Maupiti?
If you arrive from outside French Polynesia, you will obviously have to travel first to Tahiti Island with one or more international flights. I wrote a complete article on the main different possibilities. I recommend you have a look at this flight comparator that I’ve been using for at least 10 years now.
For US travelers, the cheapest option will be to choose a flight from San Francisco to Papeete. If you’re flexible with your dates, you can find flights from around 500/600$. From Canada, you will have to take a flight first from Canada to San Francisco and then from SF to Papeete.
Once in Tahiti, you will have no choice but to take one of the many domestic flights. The flight Tahiti – Maupiti is operated by Air Tahiti. It will cost you about 35000 xpf, or about 300€, for a little more than an hour of flight. Be careful though because there is only 2 flights (sometimes 3) a week and the flights can be full months before. Plan in advance if you’re willing to visit Maupiti then.
The Maupiti Express (boat company) has not served the island for several years and there’s no actual boat from any Leeward Island to go to Maupiti. There may be cargo ships that pass through it. Check out my page on inter-island travel for more information.
Be careful though, the island is not served every day and it can be complicated to organize a round trip according to your holiday dates. It also means that the planes fill up quickly in consequence. You can find the updated schedule here.
Interesting things to know to save money for those who prefer a flight + guesthouse (and half-board), the website “Séjour dans les îles” offers packages on the island of French Polynesia. I have already done the math, and organizing it by yourself is more expensive (if you take one of the 2 guesthouse on the website). You can have a look at this possibility in Papeete, at the Air Tahiti building (near the market).
Where to sleep in Maupiti?
The first important thing to know, there is no hotel on the island. For lovers of luxury and beautiful hotels with bungalows on stilts, sorry… we are not in Moorea or Bora Bora here! The locals have always refused to install large hotel complexes (and for the better so far). There are only family guesthouses here, mainly on the island, but also on the motus. A real little paradise on earth for me!
I have been there twice now. I recommend the second pension I stayed with, the Teheimana pension. Here is their website and Facebook page where you can contact them on my behalf (Sylvain). Very often, the guesthouse have a small pontoon, perfect to admire the enchanting setting of the island and its turquoise waters.
You will be welcomed as if you were at home, with open arms and the kindness of Tehei and Cliff. Don’t look for luxury here, the watchword is simplicity. There are small clean rooms, a shared bathroom, and a beautiful view of the sea. All this is accompanied by good breakfasts and superb meals.
I have not tested other guesthouses on the island but here is the list of pensions on the island and the associated reviews.
To my knowledge, there is no camping on Maupiti Island. It would be a good idea to create one, by the way! Finally, after a few feedback from travelers, there is a campsite since January 2020, Maupiti camping.
However, some places may accept to let you pitch your tent in their garden. I have heard several times that the “Auira pension” allows it. Here is a complete guide to camping in French Polynesia!
Where to eat?
I personally ate every morning and evening at the guesthouse. It was very good. If you only booked a room (and not half-board), you will have to go to the village in one of the shops on the island to prepare food. For lunch, there are a few small snack bars that sell snacks and the Tarona Snack that I mentioned above. There is also a snack bar “chez Mimi’s”, on the main beach of the island which is open until 3pm.
Moving around the island?
To travel on the island, it is not very complicated. The island is small. So, it will be either walking, hitchhiking or renting a bike from the guesthouse!
So, I hope you liked this article and that you now have a good idea of the things to do on Maupiti Island!
Take the time to appreciate the calm, authenticity of the island, and its superb landscapes. It remains with the Gambier archipelago and the island of Tahaa, one of the islands I have enjoyed the most so far in French Polynesia! If you need an idea of itinerary for your trip to French Polynesia, have a look at this article.
If you are planning your future trip, Lonely Planet offers a very complete and interesting guide. If you enjoyed the article, feel free to share it with others!
I’ll see you soon.