MEET MAUPITI: THE BORA BORA OF 50 YEARS AGO
Today, I’m excited to introduce you to Maupiti: one among my favourite discoveries from my South Pacific trip!
A fifty-minute flight from Tahiti brought me there, to paradise. it had been my first taste of French Polynesia outside of the bustling capital and that i couldn’t have chosen a more different island to go to next.
Maupiti is little , home to only over 1,000 locals, and there are only a couple of places to remain at — none of which are fancy resorts or hotels. Agoda lists just one guesthouse, and it’s quite pricey, Airbnb features a few bungalows and personal rooms and Booking.com/HostelBookers/HostelWorld don’t have anything to point out .
Finding accommodation in Maupiti therefore involved scanning TripAdvisor reviews within the hope that somebody would mention the booking details of guesthouses, then sending off emails within the hope they’d be answered. a number of the guesthouses had websites you’ll contact the owners through, but they were all very Geocities-esque and sometimes entirely in French. Guesthouse owners rarely speak any English here, so booking my stay required tons of Google Translating.
When you touchdown in Maupiti, though? It’s so well worth the extra hassle.
To the locals, Maupiti is nicknamed Little Bora Bora, because it’s said to be just how Bora Bora was fifty-or-so years ago, before all of the tourists and overwater bungalows and cruise ships arrived. Having now been to both islands, I can see where the comparison comes from. They’re both mountainous islands, with an extinct volcano at the centre of the most island. They’re both surrounded by a shimmering lagoon, and on the outskirts of that lagoon are dozens of smaller islands.
That’s where the similarities end.
On Maupiti, I met one other couple who could speak English — the remainder of the guests, the locals, and therefore the guesthouse owners spoke only French. I loved that whenever one among the owners needed to inquire from me an issue or tell me something, they’d grab one among the English- and French-speaking guests and convey them to my door to translate! On Bora Bora, while French was still the dominant language, there was tons more English spoken in guesthouses and restaurants.
Maupiti is quiet. this is often an area to return to urge faraway from your stresses and relax on the beach. It’s an area where you rarely hear even the engines of a car or motorbike; where the sole sounds are the locals calling out bonjour to everyone they expire their bicycles. On Bora Bora, things were far more chaotic: trucks whizzing by on the roads, jet skis and boat trips arriving at and leaving from the beach all the time, loud music, sounds of construction ringing out.
Maupiti is uncrowded. Most of the guesthouses on the island only have around three or four rooms, so things are kept small and quiet. i used to be staying on the brink of the prettiest beach on the island, and had it to myself for much of the day. once I walked the circumference of the island at some point , I saw roughly ten locals during my entire ten-kilometre walk. On the afternoon once I hiked up the volcano within the centre of the island, I met just one other couple doing the walk. On Bora Bora, you can’t walk quite a few of metres without passing by someone.
On Bora Bora, guesthouses and hotels and resorts and tour companies and restaurants are everywhere. I don’t think I saw quite one restaurant on Maupiti and there’s only one tour company on the island.
Oh, and Maupiti doesn’t even have an ATM!
Like practically every single during a ll|one amongst|one in every of”> one among my arrivals in a new place, immediately after landing in Maupiti, I stumbled headfirst into disaster.
We received Maupiti’s airport (an open-air building with one counter and a few of wooden benches), and after grabbing my luggage from one among the benches, i started my look for my guesthouse owners.
I wandered around in a circle , scanning every sign with hope, watching as tourists were greeted with flower leis and welcomed with hugs. the gang began to disperse, and that i watched because the people from my flight were led to a series of small boats that might take them across the lagoon and to their accommodation. I felt like bursting into tears once I realised i used to be stranded on this small patch of land within the middle of the lagoon that served as a runway.
A teenager approached me and said something to me in French.
“English?” I asked hopefully.
He frowned. “Okay?”
I shook my head. “My fare owner — not here.”
He asked for the name of my guesthouse, then looked around as I had done, frowning when he realised that no-one was left expecting me. “Air Tahiti ferry,” he suddenly announced, leading me towards alittle boat. “Guesthouse. There.” He pointed at the most island.
I thanked him, crossed my fingers, and clambered aboard.
If you’ve read this site for any amount of your time , you’ll know that my guesthouse owners weren’t , in fact, expecting me over at the jetty. More thereon ridiculous incident in my next post.
Several hours later, I received Pension Espace and was finally ready to unwind.
For roughly thirty-six hours before my next flight.
Yep, if there’s one thing I’ve learned from my trip to French Polynesia (and, in fact, the past five years of travel, although I don’t seem to ever be ready to concentrate to it), it’s that you’ll be far happier if you visit fewer places and don’t move around every two or three days.
On Maupiti, where everything’s chilled and everybody goes slow, it had been a travel crime to arrive, spend one full day rushing around so as to ascertain everything, then leave the subsequent day.
Maupiti was an unusual place to remain as an independent traveller, because you’re quite forced into a resort-type situation. There’s one main restaurant on the island (an hour-long walk from my guesthouse), so your guesthouse will provide you with breakfast and dinner. At Pension Espace, if I wanted to require a tour of the lagoon to snorkel with manta rays, it had been the guesthouse staff who took you out on their own boat. If you wanted to rent a car, you’d borrow the owners’ for the day. it had been like being welcomed into a family and that i loved it.
Speaking of feeling welcomed, Maupiti is perhaps the one place within the world where every single local on the island goes out of their thanks to cause you to feel welcomed. On my first morning on the island, literally every single person I passed would call out bonjour if they were on a bicycle or come across to speak to me if they were on foot. Everyone wanted to understand my name, where i used to be from, and why i used to be on Maupiti. one among the blokes at my guesthouse saw some fellow Christians on the island and on Sunday, they picked him up from our guesthouse, took him to their church, and dropped him off again.
So, on the primary morning, I passed the wonderful locals, relishing within the opportunity to find out the way to say bonjour in order that I sounded reasonably French instead of literally pronouncing it bon-jaw just like the uncultured idiot that i’m .
I’d had two options for a way to spend my day: snorkelling with manta rays within the lagoon and finding out Maupiti coral garden, or hiking to the highest of Mt. Teurafaatiu, the volcanic mountain that marks the very best point of the island.
I opted for the latter, still scarred from exposing myself to my tour group in Aitutaki, though I suspected I’d likely find yourself regretting not taking advantage of the prospect to ascertain manta rays.
It quickly became apparent that this was getting to be the toughest hike of my life. The trail wasn’t well-marked and sometimes left me wandering around in a circle , tripping over igneous rock , and worrying that i used to be just trampling through someone’s garden.
I continued on, guessing which thanks to go next, because there are far too repeatedly when I’ve turned back around in fear only to understand afterward that I had been right right along .
I entered a clearing and heard the sound of footsteps coming towards me. I waited.
“Hello!” a person called call at a German accent.
“Hello!” I called back.
“Are you doing the hike?” he asked, scampering down some sharp boulders to hitch me. His friend jumped after him.
“Yep. Is it hard?”
“Yes, a touch bit. does one have enough water?”
I delayed my small bottle . “Yeah.”
“Hahaha.” He turned to his friend and that they both cracked up. “That’s an honest joke,” he said
I watched them disappear down the track and turned my attention to the rocks before me. I had a volcano to climb.
And so I climbed.
And I fell.
And I stumbled.
And I tripped and smacked my expensive camera into a rock.
But I climbed nonetheless, because the views were getting more and more spectacular.
But the clouds were getting darker and darker.
And my photos were getting crappier and crappier.
I was an hour into the hike when the clouds unleashed a torrent of rain upon me. I sought shelter beneath a tree, watching in dismay as my trail turned to mud; as my fingers turned red with the cold.
I waited for it to prevent , then headed backtrack to the most road, disappointed, but glad that it hadn’t happened while i used to be at the highest .
And sure, I missed that spectacular view, but that just gives me a reason to return someday.
And while I’m showing you photos of Maupiti that people took, let me also show you what the island seems like when the sun’s out. What a difference a blue and a few sunshine can make!
But it wasn’t sunny while i used to be there, and that’s okay. That just gives me one more reason to go back another time.
And I adored the Maupiti I need to see regardless. I loved the laidback way of life. I loved the incredibly friendly locals. I loved the ridiculous scenery that had me feeling like i used to be in Jurassic Park. I loved the delicious fresh fruits and fish I ate for each meal. I loved learning the way to crack open a coconut for the primary time, because of the kickass staff at my guesthouse
Maupiti was one among my favourite islands I visited in French Polynesia , even with the crappy weather. If you would like a glimpse of how Bora Bora wont to be, head there. It’s an exquisite place to go to .
Oh, and if you are doing go? make certain to spend far more time there than I did. It’s worthwhile .
WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE VISITING MAUPITI
Where to stay: I stayed at Pension Espace, but had originally booked at Pension Tereia. Pension Tereia had a number of the simplest reviews for the simplest price on the island, but as long as their incompetence left me stranded and terrified on Maupiti for several hours, I can’t recommend staying there. Also, because I even have no idea what it had been actually like.
Pension Espace was lovely but pricey at $100 an evening (Note: I paid $70 an evening because I ended up paying what i might have at Tereia). The $100 includes breakfast and dinner, and therefore the breakfasts were large enough that I didn’t got to eat lunch. The rooms were actually nice (a lot of the rooms on Maupiti looked super-basic), but without A/C or an efficient fan, it got ridiculously hot in the dark — that was my only complaint. The owners were lovely, the food was seriously delicious, and that i loved the communal atmosphere, where everyone ate together each morning and evening.
What to do: If you would like to hike Mt. Teurafaatiu, the very best point of the island, steel oneself against a troublesome trek! to urge to the beginning of the hike, walk into town and switch inland once you reach “Snack Tarona”, the most (only?) restaurant on the island. From there, follow the white and yellow stripes. Wear hiking boots, bring many water and sunscreen, and steel oneself against some vertical climbs with ropes. There are reports of individuals breaking their legs during the climb. Yeah, I’m quite glad I had to show around once I did.
If you would like to require a lagoon cruise and snorkel with manta rays, your guesthouse will likely offer this service. If not, there’s one tour company on the island you’ll roll in the hay through: Sammy Maupiti Tours.
How to get there: If you’re not sailing around French Polynesia , the sole thanks to get there’s via an Air Tahiti flight. They run fourfold every week from Tahiti and therefore the other Society Islands .