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Tahiti Surf Trip Guide

HELPFUL HINTS TO ENSURE THE TRIP OF A LIFETIME

When surfers hear the word Tahiti their mind usually drifts immediately to one place; Teahupo’o. The name conjures up images of massive electric blue caverns over a shallow ,razor sharp reef, with a stunning view of lush green mountains visible through the tube. While Teahupo’o, or chopes as it’s often referred to by surfers, is certainly a magnificent wave, the island is host to many other incredible set ups. 

Last May I took a 2 week trip to Tahiti & sister island Moorea, that was 3 years in the making. After 2 failed attempts (1 due to COVID and 1 due to passport issues) I finally made it to the fabled islands. It was truly the surf trip of a lifetime and in this blog entry here I’ll try to impart some wisdom I’ve collected to help fellow surfers score should they decide to go there. 

When I was planning my trip I didn’t find a whole lot of useful information online. There were some helpful tidbits on message boards and some random blogs but nothing truly concrete and a lot was left uncertain. My dad came with me for the first week which helped immensely, coming solo for the first time would be a very daunting task. I HIGHLY recommend trying to come with at least 1 other person if you don’t have a local connection here. Nothing here is very easy to find. Signs are all generally pretty small and easy to miss so having a second set of eyes really helps. Not only are the signs small and often hidden, but they’re also all written in French, which added an extra layer of difficulty for me.

Before I really dive into everything here let me say a few things:

  1. This is not a good surf trip for the beginner or intermediate surfer. I’ve traveled and surfed a number of places where there’s waves for beginners and intermediates. Here that’s not so much the case. There are a few spots on the north east/east coast that could cater to these skill levels but they’re not really worth traveling all the way here for. If you’re planning a family vacation and line up many other activities it could be a great time but for a strictly surf oriented trip I’d wait till you’re better or go elsewhere.
  2. It’s a fairly expensive place. At least more so than I expected. For the most part things are priced the same as California. Airbnbs are like $130+ if you want a stand alone unit. Hotel rooms are similar if not a lot more. An airbnb room in a house can be as low as $50 though which is a great option for a couple or solo traveler.** Food at restaurants is essentially the same price as eating out in California. $12-25 a plate. $5-7 beers. 
  3. Nothing is easy to find and it’s all spread out. There’s 1 road around the entire island and everything splinters off that, but signage is lacking especially if you can’t read French. As I said earlier, signs are tiny and easy to miss so expect to do many U-turns and pull offs on the side of the road. 

I would advise brushing up on some French phrases before coming here. In touristy areas locals may speak some English but the vast majority speak little to none and instead speak French and Tahitian. The locals are some of the nicest I’ve met in any of my travels! Most are willing to go out of their way to help communicate with strangers, but if you know some basic French it can really help.

 

I’d also recommend downloading a translator app on your phone if you don’t have one already. I’d also recommend downloading Google maps, as Apple Maps is nearly useless there.

PHONE SETUP: To get your phone in working order you can either pick up a SIM card from Vodafone or Vini, or you could turn on roaming for your carrier and pay $10 a day or whatever they charge you. I went with Vodafone and it worked well the entire trip. There’s a Vodafone booth at the Papeete airport if your flight arrives early enough. If it’s a later flight you’ll have to stop by a store the next day, but they have locations throughout the island. Once you’ve got a sim card you can buy recharge cards at the grocery store. There are cards that cost varying amounts and give you varying amounts of phone minutes and data. They range from about $5 to $50 USD. The recharge card gives you a code you input to your phone and it automatically recharges your data/minutes. I used up about $30 worth of data since my second week airbnb didn’t have Wi-Fi… being able to use Google maps and the translator app were essential for me so I highly recommend getting your phone set up before going exploring. 

GETTING THERE: Before you do anything on the island you’ve got to get there. United has many direct flights from San Francisco (SFO) throughout the year. Monitor prices and you could find yourself a cheap flight. I saw some for $700 round trip but didn’t act soon enough and ended up spending around $1200… Air Tahiti also has many direct flights from California. Hawaiian airlines has many flights direct from Honolulu as well.

Getting to Moorea from Tahiti can seem like a daunting task when you look at the Aremiti Ferry website but it’s easier than you’d think. The ferry station is in Papeete right in the harbor next to the naval base. The ticket booths are street level posted between the lanes for cars. If you’re planning to go without a car you can just walk up to the ticket booth the day you want to go and buy a ticket for whatever time suits your fancy. The last ferry is usually between 4:30-5:30 so keep that in mind. 

If you plan to bring a car from Tahiti I’d recommend going at least a day in advance to reserve your vehicle spot. There’s only a certain number of cars allowed on and if you don’t have a reservation you may be outta luck. On our crossings the boat was full both times. I’d also recommend showing up early because it can get hectic. It cost around $130 usd to bring a car (round trip) and around $15 per person (not included with the car). So depending on your length of stay on Moorea it could be cheaper to just rent one there for a day or two. 

GETTING AROUND: Your options are: rental car, rental scooter, or bus. If you plan on surfing, rent a car. I considered a scooter but the logistics of it are much more of a pain in the butt than a car. This isn’t like Indo or parts of Mexico or many other places where things to do are close by. Surf breaks are fairly far from one another and lugging your stuff around on a scooter is far more difficult. And I didn’t see any scooters with a surf rack for rent. The bus simply would not work for a surf trip, so don’t even bother trying. 

There’s multiple rental offices in the airport and many others in the surrounding area, but if you stray further from the airport there’s no rental agencies at all. So get your rental set up as soon as you land. If your flight lands late, set up a rental online prior to arrival. Most businesses close fairly early and you don’t want to be stuck at the airport struggling to find a ride/rental. There’s taxis in Papeete but they’re virtually nonexistent elsewhere.

Traffic going north to Papeete gets really really bad in the mornings. Due to the fact that there’s only 1 road and Papeete is the center of industry, everyone is headed there for work. In the afternoon it’s switched, traffic is terrible headed south. Expect it and plan around it. Also island time is a real thing here just like Hawaii so don’t be surprised/upset when everyone isn’t hauling ass. Slow down, enjoy the scenery and let people merge or cross the street if traffic is moving slow. 

Expect for a car to pay $30+ for a manual transmission and $60+ for automatic per day. Scooter is $30+ but don’t bother… your credit card should usually include insurance so check on that before you go paying extra for it. Different rental agencies have different rate so you can shop around fairly easily at the airport. Don’t just take the first offer you get because there’s probably a better deal to be found.

THE SURF: This is the section you’ve been waiting for, the reason you’re traveling to a tiny island in the middle of the South Pacific!

I’ll preface this with; I consider myself a high level intermediate/low level advanced surfer. I surf the biggest swells we get in SD at the reefs and blacks, I surf lowers on pumping south swells, have hunted tubes at Uluwatu, Padang Padang, Snapper, Coxos and Zicatela etc. but this place had me feeling out of my element. If you plan to surf the reef passes you should be comfortable and confident in hollow waves over fairly shallow coral. And expect to kiss the reef at least once. You’ll definitely want to be in good shape because the currents are no joke. I surf 2-4 hours a day in SD and a 1-1.5hr session here would have me wiped out the first 4-5 days of the trip. After a few days you get more used to it but it’s never as easy as it is at home (unless you live in Hawaii, Indo or Fiji or somewhere similar). Its open ocean swell with power similar to Hawaii or Indo. Train for it and don’t underestimate it. 

All that said, I had some absolutely amazing surfs here. From rippable lefts and rights to hollow, empty, and kegging reef passes. Many sessions I’ll never forget. 

I’m going to divide this section into a few parts: when to go, the locals, the spots, the boats, & the equipment. 

When to go

Prime Season: May-September. South swells are running and the west coast will have waves. Winds are generally offshore. This is when the prime spots are going to be pumping. 

Shoulder Seasons: March-May & September-November. Winds and swell are less consistent. Could have early/late season swells, could also be small and blown out. It’ll be surfable but you may not get too many world class days.

Off season: November-March. The north east and east side of the island will be receiving the majority of swell. There are many breaks on these parts of the island but they aren’t known for being as good as their western counterparts. Many of the spots on this side of the island are more localized as well, and at some spots tourists will be told to leave. 

The locals

They’re some of the friendliest, chillest and most helpful people I’ve encountered abroad. A smile, a Shaka, and an Ia Orana (hello in Tahitian) go miles for these guys. They’d paddle over and give you fist bumps, call you into waves, show you where to sit. Just exemplify all around aloha and welcomeness! 

They’re willing to share but DO NOT take advantage of that kindness. At the crowded spots, as with many places around the globe, like it or not the locals will be on the best waves. Even if you’re in a better spot, if a local is paddling next to you just let them take it. They’ll probably go anyways. But they’ll usually remember that you gave them a wave and call you into one later on, especially if you verbally give them the go and a nod. If someone happens to burn you, don’t get upset. Just accept it for what it is, kick out and move on. You’ll gain some respect. If you decide to bring it up expect to hear some resistance… It’s not always sunshine and rainbows though, and I did see some locals going ballistic on tourists. At less crowded/competitive spots it’s a far more relaxed vibe though. 

Just remember; you’re in their house not yours so act accordingly. 

The spots

Here I’ll go with where I went and then I’ll list some others I know of/read about. First I’ll make some comments on the reef passes though…

  1. They’re gnarly. Like truly wild. You’re a solid 1/4 mile to full mile out at sea. The currents are strong and finding something to lineup with is difficult to impossible. It’s a mix of awe-inspiring beauty and sheer terror when you see the ocean rise up in a dark blue thick mass that’s steamrolling towards you. 100% South Pacific juice unimpeded. 
  2. The reef is very sharp. And usually pretty shallow. Don’t sit too deep until you’re pretty comfortable. A lot of them are a perfect roll in, straight to a top to bottom tube. And if you fall in that tube brace for impact…
  3. Do not try to shoulder hop it. Unless you’re pretty comfortable with late drops straight into a speed line/barrel don’t try shoulder hopping. If you miss the east takeoff just pull back and go for another one. Late drops here are an easy ticket to meeting the reef. 
  4. This relates to #1 a bit but be aware of your surroundings. Pay attention to what the current is doing and where you are drifting in relation to the peak. You may want to sit outside to avoid getting smoked by a set/catch your breath but don’t let yourself drift too far. I was surfing Haapiti with a few people and no boats in sight and one guy let himself get sucked into the channel. He drifted a good 500m off the peak out to sea. It was to the point where no one could see him and everyone was truly concerned. We had to flag down a jet ski to go look for him. Guy could’ve easily been dead if the ski hadn’t happened to come by. A few times when surfing some reef passes totally alone I found myself drifting far beyond where even set waves were breaking on the reef and had to paddle in. Or conversely other times the current would push you so deep you’d be in a section that’s guaranteed to close out on shallow reef. Keep your wits about you. 
This was a nice end section at the Taharuu Rivermouth in Papara.

Papara

Taharuu rivermouth. Pretty much the only easy access spot on the west side of the island. It’s listed all over the place as a beach break but I’m not really sure why, the shore is lined with sand but the spot breaks over igneous cobblestones and reef. 

When it was on it reminded me of Seaside reef in Cardiff. A steep, crowded, high performance Mecca of an a-frame. The left is usually steeper and better than the right. All the locals here rip. The crowd’s skill level (and thirst for waves) is comparable to that of Lowers on an average summer day. Don’t be surprised when you see many stickered noses (pros) and local groms blasting air reverses and chucking buckets on turns. 

When the waves are smaller and mellower it reminded me of PB drive. Generally mushy but there’s some steep, speedy gems in there. The trick is finding one before a local is tearing it apart…

Overall a fun and consistent spot. Midweek midday crowds aren’t too bad. Weekends it’s a madhouse. Respect the locals and respect the boogie boarders (vast majority of whom are locals). They charge and they’re all pretty cool. Competitive vibe but easy access and fun. Toss the groms a few waves too. There’s generally a strong current pushing to the north so keep that in mind. Sometimes sets swing wide and offer an awesome carveable wall.  When it’s bigger double ups will suck off the reef and go square. There’s some great tubes to be found out there.

There’s an outer reef here as well that can get epic with the right conditions. From what the locals told me it’s a very fickle wave though, and I never saw it looking worth the paddle out there.

I rode my 6’0 thruster or my 6’6 step up as a quad or a thruster either worked. On bigger days extra foam is nice to get in early and set a line. It definitely helps when you’re trying to hunt tubes. If you’re looking to just do turns, airs and general ripping your good wave short board is perfect. If it’s small and mushy a mid or fish would be good.

View of the reef at Maraa from the hike above the Grotto.

Maraa:

Reef pass with a left and right. You pretty much need a boat or ski to get there. Not many things to use to line up with. There’s a pole in the reef kinda near the left you can use to gauge your depth on the reef. It’s a bit more difficult to do from the right. The peak on both sides can shift as well so don’t get tricked into sitting too deep. This is a real local spot so if there’s locals out there, give them priority. Even if you’ve been sitting there waiting. I was told it was considered for the WSL comp location but locals told them to get lost. Show respect. 

The right is usually bigger, rolls in and produces a big wall that can be great for carving or can produce a top to bottom tube that’ll have you holding on for dear life. I saw some 12’ faced waves go top to bottom and look like a reflection of Teahupo’o with massive spitting tubes. Truly terrifying stuff for a goofy-foot who doesn’t like big backside tubes. At 8’ faces and under it’s a solid wave, but can still leave you questioning your decision to go. Above that it’ll really get your adrenaline pumping. Hopefully you don’t hit the bottom…

The left, I was told, is where locals practice for when they go to Teahupo’o. It’s incredibly shallow, sharp, and fast. You’ve gotta read the wave and choose the right ones. I tried to back door a set and it doubled up and closed out over the shallowest section of reef. Needless to say I got throttled and got the Tahitian reef tat… When I made it though, it was an amazing fast and ultra-hollow tube. And it scared me far more than chopes did…

BE AWARE: The first time I attempted to surf it my friend JP dropped me off the jetski at the right and I floundered around for 20 minutes while 16’ sets were coming out of the deep and thundering down all around me. The current was next level and as soon as he came back to check on me I got my ass back on that ski. You’re in open ocean, in a reef pass known amongst locals for treachery. Be careful. 

Bring a board that’s bigger than you’d really think you’d need. I surfed it on my 6’6 and 6’8 step ups, at home they’re reserved for 10’ faces and up. Here they worked well to get me in and in the tube on 6-8’ faces. At the left you aren’t really looking to turn. It’s either a tube or a speed wall. I tried a few hacks and got caught behind and ended up on the reef in knee deep water.

A small day at Chopes. Photo quality isn't the best due to the boat rocking and my dad not being the greatest photographer... Very fun and rippable walls!

Teahupo’o:

Obviously the marquee spot on the island. If it’s really on it’ll be crowded. You can find some empty spaces midday midweek but if it’s firing on all cylinders don’t expect to be alone. Again respect the locals and here don’t even bother paddling if a local is going for it when you have priority. They’ll just go and you’ll get stuffed. Not worth it. Wait for an open one. It jacks up quickly so be ready. The ones with more west in them will break further down the reef and are longer, but harder to make. More south in the swell pushes the takeoff toward the channel and makes the barrel go square, but a much shorter tube. 

It’s really shallow so pay attention to where you’re at. Don’t take the wave too far in or you’ll end up standing on nearly dry reef. When you’re in a good takeoff spot it’s essentially a roll-in to a top-to-bottom tube. It looks exactly like all the GoPro videos you’ve seen of it. The current pulling out to the ocean isn’t nearly as gnarly as other passes. It’s also closer to shore so you can paddle this one. It’s a 10-15 minute paddle. About a 1/4 mile off shore. There’s a buoy anchored in the channel that you can use to line up with.

When I surfed it small I used my 6’6 and it worked well. I could’ve pulled off the 6’0 but the extra foam and rail line helped give me confidence. This wave is actually really rippable when it’s smaller (6’ and under). It kind of reminded me of a reef in La Jolla that bends in on itself nearly 90* but maintains a rippable pocket when it’s not a bloodthirsty slab. When it’s bigger you want a little more foam, (unless you’ve got stickers on the nose, in which case don’t bother listening to me) so you can get in early and set a line. My 6’8 worked well, drop in and hold on for dear life.

Once the wave gets past a 10′ face it gets really gnarly. That’s when it starts sucking off the reef really hard and you start to see the below sea-level tubes spitting their guts into the channel. I watched from the channel when it got to that point… 

Haapiti:

On Moorea… I’ve seen it called Teahupoo’s less scary little cousin and I can’t agree with the moniker. It’s an extremely fun/rippable left that’s probably 3/4 mile out to sea. You’ll want a boat to get there. I saw some hollow ones come through but not until it was about 10’ faces and you’d have to be pretty deep to manage to snag a tube off one. It’s a steep and powerful wave, it reminded me of the Lowers left on steroids. Or maybe the left off a certain wave just north of Santa Barbara on a solid swell… Long, punchy, rippable. 

Another spot where you need to be seriously aware of the current. As I said before I watched a guy get sucked out and seriously believe he could’ve been done for if we hadn’t alerted a ski to the situation…

Use whatever board you’re comfortable with. I saw people on middies here, a fish would work on medium to small ones, standard thruster or if you want bombs maybe a step up. I rode my 6’0 thruster, but on the bigger ones I would’ve preferred a bit more rail line to give some extra hold. My 6’6 would’ve been perfect for the meatier sets. 

Vairao:

Another left hand reef pass that throws a tube. Not as shallow as Maraa left but tough to find a boat as a solo traveler. I was told by locals that it’s better when the swell isn’t huge, as it maxes out around 10’ faces. 

Sapinus:

A lefthand reef break offshore in front of the Museum of Tahiti. As with almost all the reefs on the island this place can throw some serious tubes. I never saw it breaking really well, but I’ve seen some crazy footage from the place. The reef is fairly close to shore, maybe 300-400 yards from the rocky shoreline, so a boat is not necessary and it’s paddleable. There’s also a smaller inside wave that breaks closer to the rocks, in pictures it looks like it could be pretty fun.

Taapuna:

Before the discovery of chopes this was the marquee spot on the island. It’s a similar setup to chopes, an ultra-hollow lefthand tube machine. It’s just south of Papeete so it gets quite crowded. I didn’t get a chance to surf here but from pictures and videos it seems like it’d be a fun time! It’d be a very long paddle, so it’d probably be best to find a boat.

Papenoo:

Mellower beach/reef break on the north-east coast. We drove past it and it was like 3’ faces and 60 people out. Looked fun for a mid or longboard,  or maybe rippable on some of the steeper waves.

One of a few "Tahitian tattoos" I received after getting up close and personal with the reef!

BOATS:

Haapiti– I contacted the dude who runs haapiti surf lodge, great guy and willing to take you to the pass pretty much whenever he’s available. Doesn’t matter if it’s just you. Cost is 5000xpf (~$50). Was well worth it for me. Got it alone for 4 hours. +689 89 72 64 84

You can also contact Mark at Marks place through Google/email. He has kayaks he rents for 1000 or 1500xpf. I wouldn’t recommend this route though as the currents get quite gnarly in the channel, as stated above…

Teahupoo (and maybe Vairao)

Coco +689 87 77 06 49 – 3000xpf pp

Cindy +689 87 77 72 26 

Michael +689 89 75 11 98

Tahiti Iti Tour & Surf +689 87 78 27 99

Maraa– JP at Fenua Jet. Contact him through Facebook messenger at Fenua Jet. He’ll take you to the reef by boat or by jet ski and keep an eye on you from land so you won’t drown or drift to sea. By far the best boat operator I came in contact with and his crew are all awesome as well. Can’t speak highly enough of these guys. I hope you read this- yewwww mate!! ~1000xpf per person for drop off/pick up. I’m sure you could work out a deal if you wanted him to chill in the channel. 

EQUIPMENT:

Bring everything. There’s essentially no surf shops here. There were 3 in Papeete and they were quite small with not a lot of equipment. The grocery stores sold leashes and wax though. For being a surf destination and a place where locals all surf you’d think they’d have surf shops everywhere but no. They don’t. And there’s no rentals anywhere south of Papeete. And even in Papeete the rentals didn’t look any good.

Bring:

-your boards

-leashes (make sure they’re in good shape, having a leash break or the cuff come off at one of the passes is rather scary)

-fins

-leash string

-wax/ wax comb

-ding repair kit

-fin key

-extra grub screws

-super glue

-Duct tape

-Boardshorts

-Rash guards/wetsuit top (it can get a little chilly early morning with off shore winds, and give some protection against the reef)

 

For a quiver my recommendation is this:

3 boards

-hpsb (high performance short board) you’ll use this at Papara and reef passes when it’s small. 

-step up- something with high rocker and thin rails, 2-4 inches bigger than your hpsb. You’ll use it at the passes more often than not as your daily driver. It’ll work at Papara on bigger days but also handle real juice well. 

-bigger step up. This is the board for when you’re soiling your pants but you know this is why you came here. 8-12” bigger than your hpsb. It’s here for early entry and shooting tubes. For the reef passes when you’re not John John Florence or Matahi Drollet. I was planning to take my 6’6 to Maraa one day but I unknowingly blew a fin box the previous session. Instead I went with the 6’8 and got many unforgettable tubes. 

The quiver I came with was as follows:

-T. Patterson Built 4 Speed. 6’0 19.25 2.5 

-T. Patterson Step Up 6’6 19.25 2.5

-T. Patterson Step Up 6’8 19&1/8 2.5

Needless to say I think Timmy is the best in the game! I own 7 T. Pats and have a few on order. His boards give me the utmost confidence in critical waves and I can fly into a shallow reef pass knowing full well it’s my ability that keeps me from making the tube, not my board. Drop him a message on his website to get a custom, or swing by PB Surf Shop to pick up a stock board, we’ve got a bunch!

Side note: This actually conjures up memories of a previous trip to Puerto Escondido… Randy asked me what my quiver was and I told him my biggest board was a 6’6” he said “Man, you need at least a 7’0 if not an 8’0 gun. Foam is your friend.” And while I stupidly shirked him off and spent 2 weeks at Zicatela chasing tubes on far too small boards, I thought I learned. But nah. I ended up undergunned here too a couple times. Maybe if I had my 7’6 tube shooter I’d have been packing those double overhead reef pass tubes, but instead I played cat and mouse with the sets while scoring a few medium sized drainers. So to put it short: go bigger than ya think… and remember, the reef IS as close as it looks.

The view from the beach at Taharuu Rivermouth in Papara, right next to the Airbnb I stayed at.

LODGING:

I stayed in Airbnb’s in Papara and I felt it was a great home base. Easy to get to other reef passes but if I was lazy I could just surf out front and unless it was really small there was something rippable out there. If I were to stay anywhere else on Tahiti it would be right in Teahupo’o for easy access to the wave. But being at the end of the road going anywhere else will be a trek, so unless you’re there for a strike mission or solely to surf, strongly consider Papara. 

One airbnb I stayed at was a private room in this house and it was delightful. The house is right at the Taharuu surf break with a pool in the backyard. Cool breezes would flow through the house keeping everything nice and temperate. And it was steps from the beach to surf or hang out. 10/10 with queen sized beds a couple would be perfect. There’s 2 rooms in the house for rent as well so even if you’re not a solo traveler or a couple there’s room for more! It was around $60 a night, well worth it!! Host was incredibly nice and welcoming!

On Moorea Haere Mae I Te Fare was an incredible place to stay. Tucked back into the woods it had a luxury cabin feel to it for around $130 a night for a 2 br suite. The hosts were an awesome family with great recommendations for activities/dining. Best coffee I’ve ever had! 

Haapiti Surf Lodge was another rad spot, right across the street from the break. There are multiple bungalows for around $130 a night as well. A good option for a surf trip, and the owner is a rad dude! You can contact him through whatsapp to book.

The Grottes de Maraa, you can see some locals swimming in the water just past my dad in the foreground.

OTHER COOL ACTIVITIES:

Jet ski/wake boardFenua Jet and Boat. My buddy JP who takes you out to the Maraa reef pass runs a business of doing jet ski tours, and wake boarding sessions behind his boat. The scenery for such activities is unparalleled. Gliding across a turquoise bay behind a boat ripping across the wake is a dream come true. Contact him through Facebook messenger or for pricing and reservations

Grottes de Maraa – Just off the side of the main road there’s a few small freshwater grottos tucked into the cliffside. There’s signs posted all around (written in French) that say it’s forbidden to enter the water due to the risk of falling rocks. However, when we first arrived there were 4 or 5 locals swimming around in the largest grotto. Not being able to read French, I hopped in and joined them! So if you go, tread cautiously and maybe wait until you see a local or two swimming before you hop in. Even if you don’t go swim the grotto itself is really cool!

Hiking – I did a few hikes while I was there. There’s a hike above the Grottes de Maraa that gives an amazing view of the reef pass. There’s swings and spots to sit when you get up there, but be warned it’s not an easy hike. It’s very steep and without the anchored ropes it’d be a nightmare. I did it shortly after a rain squall and it was extra difficult. Wearing flip flops certainly didn’t help either… The views were definitely worth it though! The picture above the Maraa surf spot section ealier in the blog post gives you an idea of what the view is like. It’s even better in person though!

The three cascades is another good “hike”. This one is 2 simple paths. One takes about 5-10 minutes from the parking lot. The other is about 15-20 minutes. They take you to 3 incredible waterfalls. Well worth the stop and easy hike!

I did another waterfall hike called the waterfalls of Papeivi Valley. It was a fairly easy hike but it seemed that it hadn’t been done in a while and the trail was very overgrown. There were numerous fallen trees across the path and it was quite muddy after the river crossing. It was a fun experience but expect to get your feet wet and do a little bushwhacking. It took about 1.5 hours and there was an awesome local kitchen at the bottom (in someone’s front yard). 

There’s many other hikes on the all trails app that range from 30 minutes to 18 hours. Check them out and have an adventure! 

Scuba Diving/SnorkelingMy dad bought a scuba pass that gave us 10 total dives at participating dive shops. We did 3 dives on Tahiti and 2 on Moorea. I’ve dove around the world and these were some of the best dives I’ve ever done. The coral formations were absolutely stunning and there were loads of reef fish. We saw turtles, sharks, eels, lionfish, Jack fish, angel fish and a whole assortment of other tropical reef fish. Truly astounding. The coral on Tahiti was spectacular while the fish on Moorea were more impressive. Either way you can’t go wrong. 

As for some snorkeling… The north side of Moorea has some good options available. You can walk out on the reef and stick your face down and see various fish and corals. 

On Tahiti I found a few good spots for snorkeling. One being directly in front of JP’s Fenua Jet, across the street from the Grottes De Maraa. There’s many spectacular coral formations and many reef fish inhabiting them. We saw clams, urchins, many fish, a shark, rays, and even a baby sea snake. There’s a strong current that pushes south when there’s big swell in the water so be aware of that. There’s two sandy keyholes in the reef you can use to get in and out so look for those. 

Just south of the Taharuu river mouth there is a reef that you can snorkel. There wasn’t as much coral to see but I did see a turtle and a black tip reef shark as well as many schools of fish. There’s a strong current that pushes north here. I let it pull me along and just got out before getting to the area where the surfers are. 

Museum of Tahiti – Great place to check out if you’re bored or if weather isn’t cooperating. A bounty of information here about the history of Tahiti and the Polynesian islands. Well worth the 1000xpf ($10) entrance fee. 

If you’ve got nothing else to do a cruise around the island(s) is more than acceptable. My dad and I circled Tahiti once and Moorea twice and the views were exquisite. Definitely worth the time to do it. Stop on the way around and grab some food or go for a hike/swim. Enjoy the scenery because it’s truly incredible

The waterfalls at Papeivi Valley.
Two of the three Cascade falls
The third cascade waterfall. Unfortunately you aren't allowed to swim in the basin at the bottom.

DINING:

I won’t be an expert on the subject because I mainly cooked my own meals but there were a few stops along the way…

Manuia Grill – On Moorea –  absolutely delicious. I had steak frites with teriyaki sauce and it was incredible. The sauce was next level. Open for dinner only.

Taharuu food truck – chicken frites was incredible. Just across the street from the beach in Papara.

Local outdoor kitchen at the base of the Papeivi valley waterfall hike – they had chicken & steak frites. I got the steak frites and it was great. Easily enough food for two meals. 

Le Fournil Hautbois – The best French bakery in Tahiti. Go here. Get a sandwich. Get multiple croissants, get some cake, and get a baguette. Delicious. 

Every place I just stopped for bbq on the side of the road was amazing. The chicken is always chicken thighs and the steak is skirt steak but it’s delicious and so who cares.

We stopped for food in downtown Papeete a couple times as well but nothing was that great and the restaurants were all fairly expensive.

 

Overall Tahiti is an incredible place to go for a surf trip. It’s not the most user friendly, but I scored some mind blowing waves with little to no crowds. Well worth the effort and cost for a trip of a lifetime! 

A quiet beach on Moorea with exceptional snorkeling just offshore!

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