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Easy and Fun Hiking Trails in French Polynesia
Easy and Fun Hiking Trails in French Polynesia

Easy and Fun Hiking Trails in French Polynesia

Easy and Fun Hiking Trails in French Polynesia

While traveling, we always seek out a few trails to hike. Here are some easy and fun hiking trails in French Polynesia from our latest adventure to Bora Bora, Tahiti, and Moorea.

  • Mata Pupu (Bora Bora)
    • 1.5-2 hours round trip, beautiful views from the radio towers at the trailhead, but moderately difficult near the top
  • Anau Canons (Bora Bora)
    • 15-30 minute trek, easy hiking with historic landmarks and an island vista
  • Magic Mountain (Moorea)
    • 45 minutes round trip, inclined paved hike with a great view at the top and smoothies at the bottom
  • Maraa Grotto (Tahiti)
    • 20 minute stroll, very easy, flat mini-hike along the main road
  • Faarumai Waterfalls (Tahiti)
    • 20 minute trek, easy hike along the river with gorgeous waterfalls at the end
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Hiking Trails in Bora Bora

Despite Bora Bora’s small size (11.8 square miles), there are a handful of hiking trails throughout the island to check out. The hiking trails are on the main island of Bora Bora and most travel from the outer loop road to the interior. Since Bora Bora was originally created by volcano, the trails are a relatively steep climb to the middle of the island.

Although there are many hiking trails in Bora Bora, most are on private land and you will need to either pay to enter or hire a tour guide to take you there.

The only hike that begins on the loop and heads out towards the lagoon is the short walk out on Point Fitiuu where the Anau Canons are located.

Locating Trailheads in Bora Bora

We struggled to find trailheads that weren’t blocked by fences for private tours or marked with private residence signs. The best maps of trails we were able to find were actually within the Strava App. With Strava, we were able to locate trails better than with Google or Apple Maps.

Map of Bora Bora
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Mata Pupu Hike (Bora Bora)

The first hike we did in Bora Bora was the Mata Pupu hike. We picked this hike on our first evening, because we thought it would be relatively easy and short with some great views of the lagoon.

Mata Pupu - Hike on Bora Bora
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Finding the Mata Pupu Trailhead

The first step to this hike was finding the trailhead. After reading a few articles, we spent half an hour driving down various roads until, finally we found the correct one.

Technically you can reach the trailhead from both sides of the island, but if you are driving I would recommend approaching from the east side of the island on “Evacuation Road 16.”

Mata Pupu Trailhead
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The road deteriorates about halfway up. If you are not driving a 4-wheel drive vehicle, definitely consider parking at the small pull off area (on the north side of the road), below the water storage area and walk up from here. The road will then lead you up to the red and white radio transmission towers.

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If you decide to access the trail from the west side of the island, park your car on “Route de Ceinture” (the island loop) and hike up. The road from the west is mostly dirt and doesn’t even resemble a road from the top, and instead looks more like a wash out.

Be sure to stop and take in the views from both sides of the island here. It is really beautiful.

Easy and fun hiking trails in French Polynesia
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Easy and fun hiking trails in French Polynesia
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On the Mata Pupu Trail (Bora Bora)

To begin the Mata Pupu hike, you will enter the trail on the north side of the parking area next to the transmission towers. Once you begin hiking, you will primarily be in the trees.

We hiked this trail in December during the rainy season and it was quite muddy. Definitely be sure to wear shoes with a little tread and bring some water.

The descriptions of this hike online said it was moderately difficult. We assumed our tired jet-lagged bodies could handle it without a problem. However, in the hot afternoon sun it was more difficult than we had planned.

Hiking Trails in Bora Bora Mata Pupu Trail markers
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There will be pieces of cloth tied around trees and branches to guide you along the path. If you are not quite sure you are on the right path look for these.

Hiking Trails in Bora Bora Mata Pupu Trail markers
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Trekking through the mud, brush and palms turned into a bit of an adventure. Especially when we arrived to a few of the rope assisted climbs.

Hiking Trails in Bora Bora Mata Pupu Trail
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After 45 minutes of climbing uphill, we were not sure if we were still on the Mata Pupu hike or if we had started our way up to Mont Otemanu. According to the map, this trail does continue past the Mata Pupu lookout, but doesn’t quite reach Mont Otemanu.

Hiking Trails in Bora Bora Mata Pupu Trail
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As the path began to narrow and get steep, we decided to turn around and head back. After doing more research later in the week, we realized we were just approaching the summit of Mata Pupu when we turned around.

All in all this is a great hike, but maybe consider doing it in the morning when you are fresh and not after a few afternoon drinks on the beach!

Alternatively, if you are not into a tough hike, the view from the radio tower area itself is beautiful and is much easier to reach.

Anau Canons (Point Fitiuu – Bora Bora)

Hiking Trails in Bora Bora - Anau Canons
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The second hike we did in Bora Bora was much easier than the Mata Pupu hike. The Anau Canons hike starts at the top of the only real hill on the loop road on the north east edge of the main island.

Overall, this shorter hike out to the Anau Canons is a fun trek with some historical markers that almost anyone can hike.

Hiking Trails in Bora Bora - Anau Canons
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There is minimal parking at the top of the hill, so if you are planning to drive be prepared for a little maneuvering. Another option would be to bike to the trailhead. Biking around the island is another great way to spend the day and this short hike can easily be included on your loop around the island.

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The hike out to the canons is on private land, but the owners sitting near the entrance are friendly and will give you a quick overview of the hike.

In December 2024, the entrance to the hike cost us $5 (USD) or 500 CFP a person. We paid $20 (USD) for our group of four. In our opinion, this payment was definitely worth the views and the mini-adventure.

Easy and fun hiking trails in French Polynesia
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Starting at the highest elevation, you will descend first down to the canons. There are two artillery canons here, one facing southeast and one facing north.

Hiking Trails in Bora Bora - Point Fitiuu
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After checking out the canons and reading about their emplacement during World War II, be sure to continue down the trail for a spectacular view of the lagoon. You might even spot a snorkel tour just past the point (this is where we spotted a Manta Ray on our own snorkel tour.)

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Just past the canons, you will also notice a sign posted on a palm tree that says Plage (beach in French). Take this trail on down to the beach for a close up view of the lagoon.

Hiking Trails in Bora Bora - Point Fitiuu
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Easy and fun hiking trails in French Polynesia
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Easy and fun hiking trails in French Polynesia
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Magic Mountain (Moorea)

If you are traveling to Moorea, you should definitely check out the hike to the Magic Mountain overlook. Located at the mouth of the Opunohu Bay, the view of the lagoon is breath taking.

Hiking Trails in Moorea - Magic Mountain Overlook
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This hike begins at the smoothie stand next to the Fare Tutava restaurant. Since the overlook is on private property, you will need to pay 200 CFP or $2 (USD) per person to enter the hike.

The trail itself is almost entirely a paved road or paved two-track all the way up to the overlook. Although the road is mostly paved it can be steep in some spots and takes about 30 minutes to ascend.

Hiking Trails in Moorea - Magic Mountain Trail
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There are two options after you take the first right, you will come to an intersection. Both options lead to the same destination.

If you go left, the trail is not quite as steep, however it is much longer, but therefore more beautiful. You will even come across a beautiful lookout with a handful of benches to rest.

Hiking Trails in Moorea - Magic Mountain Trail
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If you go right instead, the trail is a bit steeper and a more direct route to the overlook. However, there are fewer views along the way.

We recommend taking the longer more beautiful route on the way up and the shorter, quicker route on your way down.

Hiking Trails in Moorea - Magic Mountain Overlook
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At the top, there is a platform to look out over the north end of the island. Relax for a few minutes, take in the view and enjoy what you have accomplished. Then return to the smoothie stand and enjoy a delicious taro smoothie or fresh ice cold lemonade.

Smoothies in Moorea
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Maraa Grotto (Tahiti)

The first mini-hike or stop, we made on Tahiti was to the Maraa Grotto. This is a quick roadside park that takes approximately 10 minutes or less to explore.

Hiking Trails in Tahiti Maraa Grottos
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On our way to check out the infamous surf spot in Teahupoo, we made a quick stop to the Maraa Grotto.

Hiking Trails in Tahiti Maraa Grottos
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The Grottos are on the south west side of Tahiti. They are located about 30 minutes south of Faa’a by car. There are parking lots on both sides of the main road here.

Once you have parked there are restrooms near the parking area and signs to each of the grottos.

Easy and fun hiking trails in French Polynesia
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Along this quarter-mile, flat trek there are 3 mini-waterfalls (cascades in French) and 3 caves (grottos in French) to see.

Hiking Trails in Tahiti Maraa Grottos
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Be sure to stop and smell the flowers. Don’t be alarmed by the abundance of chickens. There are roosters everywhere in French Polynesia.

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If you are driving in this direction and exploring for the day, consider stopping to hike to the Maruavanaa Waterfall or the Water Gardens of Vapihi. We didn’t stop at either, but would have if we didn’t have a surf lesson scheduled for the afternoon.

Faarumai Waterfalls (Tahiti)

Hiking Trails in Tahiti - Faarumai Waterfalls
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The last hike we attempted in Tahiti was to the Faarumai Waterfalls on the northwest side of the island. The trailhead is about 40 minutes from Faa’a by car.

Once you park, there is a small stand at the base of the trail selling fresh, local fruit. The mango is delicious!!!

Easy and fun hiking trails in French Polynesia
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Once you cross the bridge, you are a very short (500 meters) distance from the first waterfall. Walking along the side of a rushing stream, be sure to take in the bright green foliage. There is so much life in the dense jungle around you.

Easy and fun hiking trails in French Polynesia
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When we visited in January 2024, we were only able to hike to the lowest of the three waterfalls. The trail to the upper two falls were closed.

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On your way to or from the falls, try stopping at the Arahoho Blowhole. Unfortunately, the parking area was full when we tried to stop and we didn’t get to visit. The parking is just north of the Route de tres Cascades (road to the Faarumi Waterfalls).

Preparing for Hikes in French Polynesia

As with hiking anywhere it is always important to be prepared before you head out for a hike. Whether you are going for a short hike or a long hike, always be sure to bring water and snacks. You never know what is going to happen and what the trail will actually be like. Be prepared for anything.

Hiking in French Polynesia will be warm and wet. Be sure to wear light breathable clothing and lighter hiking shoes with a good tread on the soles. Usually, I love hiking in my bare form running shoes, but they definitely lacked the grip needed for some of the muddy patches while hiking.

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We would also recommend a hat and sunglasses when out hiking. All of the trails we encounter in French Polynesia were in and out of the tree line. The sun can be very intense here. In addition to the hat and sunglasses, be sure to wear and bring sunscreen. Be sure to reapply after a couple of hours if you are on a longer hike.

Hiking trails in Bora Bora will be steep and sometimes slippery. Even “moderate” hikes will have portions of the trail that are rope assisted. If you suffer from vertigo or struggle climbing stairs, be sure to take it slow.

Hiking Trails in Tahiti - Faarumai Waterfalls
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Finally, we recommend heading out for hikes earlier in the day. Although the temperatures don’t really vary in French Polynesia, you will be fresher in the morning. Also, you never really know how long a hike will take. Be sure to leave yourself enough time to complete unfamiliar trails and return before dark.

Hiring a Hiking Guide?

Although we love to hike, we only explored a handful of the easier hikes in French Polynesia. Since we only had a short time to explore, we wanted to spread out our adventures to include hiking, snorkeling, biking, and kiting.

Even if you are the go-it-alone type, we would highly recommend hiring a guide or participating in a tour simply to save yourself some time in locating the trailheads and to gain more local knowledge about the flora along the trails.

A guide would also be very helpful in navigating some of the tougher terrain. The trails here can be very steep, slippery, muddy, and rocky in spots. Be careful out there!

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Final Thoughts on Hiking Trails in French Polynesia

If you are traveling to French Polynesia to hike, plan on connecting with a tour guide for longer hikes. While I am sure there is a way to do them without, much of the land is private and it is simply respectful to the owners not to enter without permission.

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When planning your hikes, be prepared for long, steep hikes unless you are doing the fun and easy hikes mentioned in this post.

Hikes on Moorea and Tahiti are easier to access, but most hikes will be steep and muddy especially in the rainy season (November-April).

Despite the fact that most of the trails run through private property, the owners are often very nice and very informative about the trails. You may also occasionally be asked to pay a token amount to park on someone’s property before hiking.

We hope you have an amazing time hiking and adventuring in French Polynesia!

Thanks for reading and wear extra sunscreen. ~ KiteBikeVan

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