Last updated on May 22, 2023 by Wandering our World
Although most people come to Tahiti for the lagoons and tropical vibe, French Polynesia’s biggest island was made for hiking. Tahiti has an incredible rainforest-clad interior that’s full of huge waterfalls, majestic mountains, and trails that will take you back in time. Simply put, Tahiti is a world-class hiking destination.
As we truly believe the best way to see this special part of the world is to discover the island by foot, we felt compelled to share some of the best hikes in Tahiti.
To make things easy, we’ve split our favourite hikes in Tahiti into three levels – easy, moderate and difficult – and detail them below.
Each one has something that makes it special – be that spectacular views, towering waterfalls, or deserted beaches. As a note of caution though, some of the tougher hikes may be good to tackle with a local guide as tourists have gotten lost in the past.
Also remember to show respect to the land while hiking. The mountains and valleys in Tahiti were sacred places to ancient Polynesians as this was where the spirits of their ancestors lived. To this day, the nature in Tahiti remains very important to locals. (Recommended: Bora Bora vs Tahiti vs Moorea).
So strap on your walking boots and get ready for a hiking in Tahiti adventure, as we share with you some of this island’s best trails!
Hiking in Tahiti: Three Easy Hikes
1. Faarumai Waterfall
This easy trail takes you to an impressive waterfall after a hike of only half a kilometer, making it probably the most accessible waterfall in Tahiti.
There’s actually three very tall waterfalls here, but the first can be reached after just a 5-10 minute walk from the car park.
Expect lush rainforest scenery on a trail that is good for all abilities. As it’s a popular spot there are sometimes locals selling drinks, food and other goods too.
Find the location of the waterfall and the car park here.
2. Maraa Caves
This is another short trek of around half a kilometer, and will see you make your way through lush vegetation to discover two large caves with natural pools that are hidden amongst trees and ferns.
You can swim in the cave pools, but at your own risk as they go deep into the ground. There’s a small path that goes off into the vegetation from the first cave and that leads you to the second cave and a small waterfall too. It’s a very special spot.
The caves can be found roughly halfway between the towns of Maraa and Tiamao. On that road you’ll find a parking lot and signpost for ‘Grottoes de Maraa’.
3. Marae Arahurahu Temple and Waterfall
This short but pretty hike (2.5km) combines culture and nature as you make your way through the landscaped grounds of a restored ancient temple in Tahiti. This historical landmark was where Polynesians would worship Ma’ohi Gods, and remains a serene and atmospheric place today.
There’s a trail at the end of the temple grounds that zigzags through thick rainforest, and ascends nearly 100m to a waterfall. All in all, this lovely little Tahiti hike should take around an hour at most
To find the temple make your way to Lotissement Baldwin and follow the signposts to ‘Ārahurahu Marae. You can see a map of the trail here.
Hiking in Tahiti: Three Moderate Difficulty Hikes
4. Fautaua Valley
When you get away from the turquoise lagoons and crystal clear water, you realise Tahiti has so much to offer. Fautaua Valley is a great example of that.
This valley lies above Tahiti’s capital of Papeete and the trail starts in the city and follows the Fautaua River upstream. You’ll come across several waterfalls on this hike, with the largest – Fautaua Falls – being over 300 meters tall! Even better, at the base of the falls is a natural swimming pool.
You will need a permit to hike in the valley – it costs under 10 USD – and you can get that at Papeete Town Hall. It’s well worth the price though as the rainforest here is lush, pristine and unspoiled.
You need proper footwear for this hike, but it should be accessible for anyone with a decent level of fitness. You can see a map of the trail here.
5. Te Pari Trail
This gorgeous trail in wild rural Tahiti feels like it’s in a world of its own. In many ways it is, as the only way to access this rugged piece of coastline is by boat.
You can get a boat to take you there fromTeahupoo – just tell the boatman you wish to go to Te Pari (which means ‘the cliff’).
You will be trekking through rainforest and rivers, passing by waterfalls and natural swimming pools, as well as experciening the best of Tahiti’s flora and fauna. The trail will take you through dense vegetation until it arrives at a white sandy beach which will likely be deserted.
The scenery and trail then becomes more volcanic and rocky, and the path is difficult to navigate, with rope in places to help hikers. Eventually the trail will lead to a hut (refuge) where you can stay the night if you wish. It should take around three hours to reach this point.
This hike should only be done in favourable weather conditions as the swell from the sea can submerge parts of the trail. You can see a map of the hike here.
6. Vallee de la Fara’uaa
This valley is known as the ‘valley of waterfalls’ due to the four stunning cascades housed within it.
The 11km trail starts in Teiriiri and follows the river closely as it takes you through dense jungle that appears unchanged in thousands of years.
The hike is difficult in places, but you’ll be rewarded with the opportunity to swim in some of the most beautiful pools in French Polynesia, while trekking in a part of Tahiti very few tourists see.
Find a map of this remarkable hike here.
Hiking In Tahiti: Two Difficult Hikes
7. Mont Marau
In anticipation of tackling one of French Polynesia’s toughest hikes (see the trail below), why not climb Mont Marau which stands at 1441m. The trail leading to the peak is easy to follow, but the actual hike is steep and difficult in places. Still, it should only take 3-4 hours to reach the summit.
Along the way you will experience the lush green vegetation that is so typical of Tahiti’s interior, but as a nice surprise there’s some wild raspberry bushes beside the trail – great for a quick tasty snack.
This isn’t a well known hike so you may have it all to yourself. On a cloudless day the views from the top towards Mo’orea, and behind to French Polynesia’s highest peak – the towering Mont Orohena – are well worth the effort. Find a map of the trail here.
8. Mont Aorai
This hike to Tahiti’s third highest peak – which stands at an elevation of 2066 meters – is regarded as having the best views anywhere on the island and will take around 8-10 hours to complete. However it’s also probably the toughest – and one of the most dangerous – hikes on the island too. So we would always recommend hiring a local guide.
The trail is well marked and not too difficult until you reach the first of two huts (which hikers can sleep in if needed) which sits at an altitude of 1400m.
After that, the trail gets a lot steeper and there are parts where ropes are used. From here to the peak the hike is exhausting, and because parts of the path are eroded you must watch your step carefully.
Our recommendation would be to avoid this hike completely if there’s been recent rain as the trail will be slippery. If the weather’s been good, then start early with your guide as by the afternoon the peak is sometimes shrouded in cloud. If that’s the case you will miss out on spectacular panoramic views across the island and out into the Pacific.
The trail starts at O’belvédère Restaurant, and you’ll see signposts from there. If not, ask for directions. With two mountain huts, it’s possible to do this hike over two days and sleep overnight.