On an island where cascading waterfalls and calm natural springs litter the landscape, the immense selection of natural sights to explore can be overwhelming. Here are a few of my favourite spots to visit along the coastline and inland valleys of Tahiti’s main island to ensure you make the most of your visit.
Vallee de Papeno’o
Venturing into the Maroto Valley in Papeno’o with Tahiti Discovery we were led through a jurassic landscape of gushing waterfalls, lush forests and raging rivers. Teiva, our guide, created the company to allow visitors to the Islands of Tahiti to discover the soul of the Maohi people and plunge back in time by exploring a piece of Polynesia virtually untouched for millennia.
A natural paradise like nothing else I’ve seen before, Mara’a Grotto (or Fern Cave) is a hidden gem lying just off the coastal road from Papeete. The cave’s clear water glows with a mystical turquoise hue when seen from underneath the surface, illuminated by the rays of sunlight streaming through the mouth of the grotto. Jumping in for a swim in one of the two caves is definitely the best way to explore these natural wonders; there’s even an underwater cavern, Paroa Grotto, that adventurous travellers can swim to!
Bain de Vaima
A favourite spot for locals on weekends, we were lucky to enjoy the crystal clear Vaima Springs on Tahiti’s Southern coast in almost total seclusion. The springs are naturally fed by cool, fresh water that is totally drinkable and is even said to have healing properties… not that you should need any more reasons to convince you to visit this little oasis.
With so many majestic waterfalls scattered around the island of Tahiti it can be easy to begin to take them for granted. That is, until you stop off at Vaipahi Falls. Tall vines overhang a small pool fed by a gracefully stunning waterfall that reaches into the canopy above. Walking no more than 20 metres from the roadside car park to the falls you become immersed in the jungle oasis and may even be tempted to jump in and cool off beneath the falling water.
Winding through the tree-covered road en route to the Taravao Plateau lookout, we didn’t know what to expect. Coming to a clearing just before the top we realised we may have found the best lunch spot on the entire island. The plateau lookout has a few tables where we enjoyed our selection of locally sourced food with a stunning scenic backdrop over Tahiti Iti and back up the coastline of Tahiti Nui. As a quick detour on the way to Teahupoo, the Taravao Plateau and its incredible 180° views should not be missed.