Planning a Tahiti hiking adventure? This is your guide to all the island’s amazing trails.

Tahiti is usually a layover spot for travelers. They often spend a day in Papeete city and then move on, missing out on exploring the natural side of Tahiti with its jagged mountains and lush landscapes.

There are plenty of trails in Tahiti that lead to hidden waterfalls, breathtaking views, and peaceful nature spots. Some trails are short and easy, perfect for beginners, while others are longer and demanding, ideal for experienced hikers looking for a challenge.

So when planning a trip to French Polynesia, make sure to add an extra day to your itinerary to explore Tahiti’s inland beauty.

In this Tahiti hiking guide, we’ll talk about all the best hikes in Tahiti and beyond, so you can find the right one for you and set off for an incredible hiking adventure.

Top Hiking Trails in Tahiti

1. Mount Aorai Hike

  • Length: 9.5 miles
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Elevation: 2066 meters

Mont Aorai is the third highest mountain in Tahiti with an elevation of approximately 2066 meters. The hike to Mount Aorai is quite long (about 7.6 miles) and challenging. It normally takes around 10 hours to go out and back.

Trailhead is located in Pirae commune near the O Belvedere restaurant. The road to the restaurant is single lane but paved. It takes around 20 minutes to get there from Papeete city.

At first, the trail looks flat and easy but as you continue your journey, it gets narrow and overgrown with foliage. The path until the first refuge is relatively easy with some steep and tricky parts but nothing unmanageable. It’d take a couple of hours to get to the first refuge.

View from the top of Mount Aorai
Views from Mount Aorai

From the first refuge, the hike gets intense with narrower, steeper, and scrambling sections. There are spots with sharp drop-offs that can make you dizzy if you look down. The good news is there are ropes to hold on to. Plus, the views get better as you ascend.

After an hour of hiking, you’ll reach the second refuge at 1800 meters. You can take a break or spend a night here if you want. These refuges have no facilities except water. So bring your stuff along if you plan to do this hike overnight.

From the second refuge, the summit is about 2 km away. At the top, you’ll be above the clouds and can have breathtaking views of the Tahiti mountains and the Pacific Ocean.

This hike isn’t for the faint-hearted as most of the trail is along the ridge. It’s only recommended for professionals otherwise you can hike till the first refuge.

Also keep in mind that it usually gets cloudy up there, so choose a clear day to avoid obstructed views.

2. Papaiona – Green Peak

  • Length: 4.7 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate-Hard
  • Elevation: 1120 meters

Papaiona – Green Peak hike is perfect for anyone looking for a quick getaway from Papeete’s hustle and bustle. It’s about 4.7 miles long and takes less than 2 hours to get to the top, which is over 1100 meters high.

The hike can be divided into two parts, the first part of the hike until the forest is relatively easy with a clear path. Then it gets harder with slippery spots and steep climbs. Towards the end, you’ll exit the forest, and though the path is less slippery, it’s a bit overgrown.

During the hike, you’ll also pass through the areas where ferns can scratch you badly, so wear long pants and long sleeved shirts.

The hike isn’t boring because as you rise to higher grounds, you’re treated to the lush landscapes of Tahiti. If you roll your eyes to the west side, you’ll have a bird’s eye view of Papeete city. You can even see the peaks of Moorea in the distance calling for another hiking adventure.

In order to get to the hike starting point, head to Mamaias housing estate (Les Mamaias) in Faa’a and look for the forest. If you can’t find it, you can ask the locals about the Green Peak trail.

3. Cascade de Loti (Fautaua Waterfall)

  • Length: 7 miles roundtrip
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation: 450 meters

Cascade de Loti is the famous waterfall in the Fautaua Valley of Tahiti. The hike to the waterfall is about 3.6 miles long and can take 2-3 hours to reach there, depending on your pace.

Before you start hiking, you’ll need to get a pass/permit from the city hall (Mairie de Papeete) which costs about $5 for an adult. Show this to the guard and he’ll let you through.

Your trekking journey starts from the parking lot. The access path is flat and wide and about 1.5 miles long. Then at the bridge, you’ve two options, to take the upper or bottom trail. The upper trail is a kilometer more walking than the bottom trail, but it’s easier. The bottom trail on the other hand is muddy and gets challenging in some areas where you’ve to cross the river.

Both the trails wind through the jungle, there’ll be mosquitos and flies ready to attack you, so don’t forget to bring bug repellent. Trails are not well marked, and routes can get confusing at some points. I’d suggest downloading the trail on your phone so you stay on course. You’ll also come across other small waterfalls and streams along the way.

The Fautaua Waterfall has a height of about 980 feet and looks absolutely stunning. You can take a dip in its pool and refresh yourself at the end.

Fautaua Waterfall Pool
Fautaua Waterfall Pool

4. Apostles Trails (Mission Hike)

  • Length: 5 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation: 675 meters

If you’re looking for a hike in Papeete that’s short and not too difficult, then try the Apostles Trail. The trailhead is at the end of Pureora Street in Papeete. Just look for the metal chain and start hiking from there. Since it’s a popular trail, you’ll probably run into other hikers as well.

Apostles Trails also known as the Mission Hike is a 5 mile loop trail, and it takes around 3 hours to complete this. The trail is not too difficult as it mostly goes through the dense forest with dry paths and some slippery sections. In case of rain, the trail becomes more slippery and challenging than usual. If you’re hiking in Tahiti after the rain, do wear mud shoes.

When you descend into the jungle, the trail splits in two. The left path is pretty straightforward but slippery, while the right one is dry, twisty and a mile longer. Near the end, both routes merge in and become one narrow path. You’ll also run into some gnarly ferns ready to scratch you up, so long pants are recommended.

The views at the end are nice but if you go a little further uphill, you get even better views of lush valleys and mountains of Tahiti.

5. Mont Marau Hike

  • Length: 5.6 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation: 1441 meters

If you’re looking for a long and easygoing hike, then you should hike up to Mont Marau. It’s a 5.6 miles long gradual ascent that can take around 3 hours to reach an elevation of over 1400 meters.

There are multiple trails that go up to Mount Marau. The wider 4×4 is the most often used trail by hikers and mountain bikers. It’s flat but rocky and offers little shade, so bring sun protection.

On the other hand, if the weather is cloudy, you’ll be safe from the hot sun but then clouds up there can block your views and you may not be able to see the beautiful scenery around. In that case, I wouldn’t recommend taking the hike as it’d be boring.

On a good day, you can catch breathtaking views of Tahiti’s landscapes, including Mount Aorai from the top.

The mountain is located in the west of Tahiti in Fa’a’ā. You can find the trailhead near Lotissement Miri in Puna’auia. There are several parking areas where you can easily park your car and start walking from there.

Aerial view of Mount Marau overlook point

6. Vaipahi Great Loop to River

  • Length: 3 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation: 304 meters

Vaipahi Great Loop is one of the beautiful hikes in Tahiti with incredible viewpoints and waterfalls along the way. It’s recommended for everyone, young, old, so to say anyone who’s in decent physique.

The trail is a loop that’s 3 miles long and takes less than 2 hours to cover to its entire distance. It starts from the famous Vaipahi Waterfall Gardens.

Actually this isn’t the only trail there, there’s also another trail (river trail also known as blue trail) which is shorter and takes about 30 minutes for a roundtrip. If you want a quick in and out, choose the river trail otherwise go for the great loop trail which also covers the river trail.

There’s a map displayed at the start of the trail which shows the routes. In addition to that, there are trail marks throughout the hike pointing you the right way.

At the beginning, the trail gives you a warm up with an uphill climb. Then it’s a gradual incline on a nice flat wide path that’s not only great for hiking but also for running. On your way up, you’ll go through the pretty pine forest and amazing viewpoints.

At the pass, you can follow the west loop for more uphill climb and better views from the top and then return, or you can turn around from the east loop.

The East loop also connects to the river trail which is a bit difficult. The footing is pretty good overall but there are a few steep and slippery sections, plus a river crossing. Ropes are also available where needed.

The trail is amazing with its beautiful plants, waterfalls and scenic overlooks, so well worth it.

7. Mount Orohena Hike

  • Length: 9-12 miles
  • Difficulty: Demanding
  • Elevation: 2241 meters

Mount Orohena is the highest peak in French Polynesia reaching a height of 2241 meters (7352 feet). It’s also the second highest peak in all of the South Pacific after Mount Popomanaseu.

The mountain is situated in Mahina commune just around the center of Tahiti. You can find the trailhead north of the island in Mahina near Papeete.

Mount Orohena Hike is one of the most challenging and longest hikes in Tahiti. It’s about 9-12 miles long and can take around 6 hours to reach the summit. This can easily be turned into a multi-day hike as you’d need to camp and get some rest. So bring snacks and lots of water.

The hike contains a rough overgrown terrain with many steep ascents and descents. The first part of the hike mostly involves uphill climbing, then it’s a ridge walk up to the top with steep drops on each side. Although ropes are available throughout for support, this hike is not for novices or the faint-hearted. It’s a technical hike and only recommended for seasoned hikers.

During the hike, you’ll also pass through Pihaiateta (at 1742m height) and Pito Iti (at 2110m height) peaks. These peaks are usually camping spots for hikers.

From Pito Iti, you can have incredible views of Punanuea Valley and mountains, you can also see Orohena summit which is right in front. The hike only gets difficult from this point with sharp & steep ridges.

Reaching the summit is quite an achievement, you are kinda like on the roof of Tahiti from where you can see all of Tahiti and the Pacific Ocean spread out.

Camping on Mount Orohena top with clouds around

8. Marae Arahurahu trail

  • Length: 1.9 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation: 160 meters

Marae Arahurahu is an ancient religious site that holds great significance for Tahitians and their culture. It is located near Rohto Beach in the Paea district in the west of the island. If you’re driving by the area, you’ll see a sign on the main road pointing towards the Arahurahu site.

In addition to Arahurahu sightseeing, the trail here offers a fun little adventure out in the woods. It is kind of a secret trail as it hides behind the Marae Arahurahu site.

The trail is short and easy and is recommended for anyone who’s in good shape. It is 1.9 miles in length and would take around an hour to reach its 160 meter height. However, it isn’t clearly marked, if you veer off course you can get lost. So make sure your trail map is ready before you start trekking.

The trail from Marae Arahurahu isn’t really a hike, it’s more like a jungle walk on a rough, rocky path with some bushwhacking. There’s also a river mid-way that you’ve to cross to continue. It can get hot if you hike during the day, but the path is mostly shaded by tree canopies which keep the temperature from rising too high.

At the end, the trail is barricaded and you’ve to return with just nice forest views.

9. Heights of Vaiatu Paea

  • Length: 5.6 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation: 654 meters

Heights of Vaiatu Paea is a fairly easy 5.6 miles hike that takes you over 650 meters of elevation. It usually takes around 3 hours to complete the out and back journey.

The hike is in the west of Tahiti in Paea commune. Once there, look for Public Elementary School Vaiatu, which is about half a kilometer from the trailhead. You can park at the school and start your trek from there.

The hike kicks off with a steep climb and then eases into a gradual incline on a nice wide path. The trail is shaded most of the way with a few exposed and overgrown sections. You might be disappointed at first as there aren’t many views until you reach the loop.

There’s also a little trail in mid of the loop that you shouldn’t miss. It leads to a ridge where fantastic views of the valley, Blue Ocean, and Moorea are waiting for you. It’s definitely worth the extra effort.

10. Te Pari

  • Length: 6 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation: 112 meters

Te Pari Cliffs offers one of the most adventurous hikes in Tahiti. It’s located in the southeast of Tahiti Iti near Teahupoo, far from the main island.

Trail is rough and rocky with many steep climbs along the way. It’s about 6 miles long and could take around 3 hours to reach the top which is about 112 meters high.

The hike is of medium difficulty but can get tricky if the terrain is wet. There are ropes available at certain areas for assistance. The trail takes you through the tropical forest, lush valleys, stunning lagoons and coastal areas. You’ll also come across beautiful waterfalls and cliffs to jump off into the water.

The breathtaking views you see throughout the hike and the experience you get on this trek altogether make this hike worthwhile.

To reach Te Pari, you’ve got two choices: either hop on a boat or walk the tough Fenua Aihere/Eihere hike, which can add an extra 2-3 hours to your Tahiti hiking journey. So the best way is to either take a boat ride or a guided tour.

Hike to Te Pari cliffs through lush valley

11. Mahinarama Trail

  • Length: 7.2 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation: 457 meters

If you’re seeking a peaceful outdoor adventure with your loved ones, the Mahinarama Trail is the perfect choice for family hiking in Tahiti. Trailhead is easily accessible as it’s close to the main road in the north of Tahiti, near the Super Marché Mahina grocery store.

While the trail may seem easy at first, its long distance can put you in a good workout. It’s about 7.2 miles which normally takes around 5 hours for a roundtrip. The trail takes you to a positive altitude of 457 meters.

Most of the path is well defined and is shaded by forest trees, but it can still get quite hot on a scorching day, so bring with you at least 1.5L of water per person. In rainy conditions, trail becomes very slippery, so wear mud shoes or try to avoid hiking. Light rain isn’t much of a problem though.

At the end of the trail, you’ve amazing views of Tuaura Valley and Mahina district with its blue lagoon.

12. Atiue (Plateau vaitavere)

  • Length: 8 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation: 1062 meters

If you are looking for a morning or evening hike in Tahiti, the Atiue hike is for you. It’s mostly out in the open with little to no shade. On a hot day, the sun can be intense and you’d be exhausted pretty soon. So it’s best to do this hike in the morning or evening.

The hike is about 8 miles long and normally takes around two and a half hours to reach the summit, which sits at an altitude of 1084 meters.

The hike begins on a well-paved road that continues for a couple of miles before it switches to a wide dirt trail. As you continue your ascent, the trail becomes narrow, and overgrown with foliage near the end. Watch out for waist high ferns which can be wet and scratchy.

At Belvedere, you’ve flat grassy ground where you can lie down and relax or even set up a picnic. The views from the top are spectacular no matter where you look. On the right is beautiful Punaruu Valley and on the left is majestic Mount Marau.

Overall the hike isn’t that difficult as the trail is mostly in good condition, but you might not like its steep and slippery character especially if the terrain is wet. So good hiking shoes are recommended.

You can locate this hike in Puna’auia near the Primary School Manotahi. Once there, you can start your hike either from the parking lot or drive up to the Vaitavere cemetery to save a 2 mile walk.

13. Vaihi and 7 waterfalls hike (Vaihi de Hitia’a)

  • Length: 3.9 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation: 276 meters

Many people visiting Vaihi Waterfalls don’t know that there are 7 other waterfalls if you follow the trail beyond the Vaihi waterfalls.

The trail from the Vaihi Waterfalls is about 3.9 miles long and takes you through the tropical rainforest, and rough paths with lush vegetation. It takes more than 2 hours to reach the final waterfall at the top.

Hike starts off easy, but gets difficult as you go along. It’s also not well marked, but there’s a stream that runs next to it, so if you follow the stream, you’ll likely be on the right track. It’s also a good idea to have a guide along for a safer and more fun experience.

Even though the hike is short and easy compared to other Tahiti hikes, it can still make you sweat. The good thing is that most of the trail is shaded and there are several basins and waterfall pools along the way for a refreshing dip, so make sure to pack your swimsuit.

Near the end, you get exposed to the blazing sun with no shade. But from the top, you’ll get incredible views of the eastern side of the island along with the Pacific and Motu Nono.

Vaihi Waterfalls

Best time to go hiking in Tahiti

You can go for a hike at anytime, except when the weather is bad. Season-wise, the dry season from April to November is the best time to hike in Tahiti. This is when the weather is usually pleasant with mild temperatures and mostly clear days, making it perfect for outdoor adventures.

Don’t forget that Tahiti is in the tropics, you’ll always feel some heat and humidity no matter which time you hike. However, the hiking experience is better during the dry season than at other times.

Tahiti Hiking Essentials & Safety Tips

Wear good hiking shoes

Most of the trails in Tahiti often have steep and slippery sections. Even if they appear flat at first, there’s usually a tough part ahead at some point. So it’s recommended that you wear hiking shoes rather than flip flops.

If you’re hiking in wet conditions, definitely consider wearing mud shoes.

Protect yourself from sun

Sun in Tahiti can get pretty fierce. You’ll need sunscreen to protect you from getting burned by the sun. Additionally, a sun hat and sunglasses will be extra protection, especially on exposed trails.

Wear long pants

Many of the Tahiti hikes go through bushes and ferns, which can scratch you and cause itchiness and infection. To stay safe, wear long pants and long sleeved shirts for protection.

Don’t forget to pack a bug spray

You’ll need a bug spray in Tahiti especially when going through forest and vegetation. This is one of the must-haves for hiking in Tahiti.

Bring snacks and water

Because Tahiti’s climate is hot and humid, you’ll sweat a lot during hikes. Bring at least 1 liter of water per person for a 4 mile hike. And don’t forget to bring snacks along on longer hikes.

Download offline-maps

While signal reception will be fine on most of the hikes on the island, it’s always a good idea to have an offline version of the trail map on your phone.

Bring necessary hiking gear

Before you head out, make sure you’ve all the necessary stuff for the trek. If you’re planning a longer hike, pack some rain gear because the weather in Tahiti can change anytime. You’ll also need a harness and lanyard on hikes like Mount Aorai and Mount Orohena.

Carry a first aid

Having a medical kit in your backpack is important. If you can’t carry the whole kit, make sure you have essentials like bandages or moleskin for small cuts and blisters, as well as pain relievers, etc.

Mount Aorai Hiking in Tahiti with valley views

Avoid hiking in rain

If it’s raining or has rained recently, try not to hike especially on steep trails. Otherwise, you might end up slipping and falling, which could lead to injuries.

Moreover, there’s always a risk of flooding in the valleys and mountain areas of Tahiti. In 2017, a group of hikers went missing due to flood after a heavy downpour.

Beware of clouds

Although clouds can make a hot day pleasant, they can also obscure peaks and the views above. So it’s better to hike when it isn’t too cloudy.

Follow Leave No Trace Principles

Leave No Trace has seven principles that guide us in being respectful and minimizing our impact on nature and wildlife.

Don’t Hike Alone, Tell Someone

Except for a few hikes like the Vaipahi Great Loop to River and Mount Aorai, trails on the island are not well-marked. There’s always a chance of getting lost. So don’t go on a hike solo or without informing anyone.

Emergency Contacts: Call 17 for Police, 15 for Medical Help

During a hike, anything can happen, you might get lost or injured. Make sure you know the emergency contacts like 17 for the police and 15 for medical help.

Some quick answers

What’s the most difficult hike in Tahiti?

Mount Orohena and Mount Aorai are the most difficult hikes on the island.

What’s the easiest hike on Tahiti?

The Vaipahi Great Loop and Heights of Vaiatu Paea are some of the easiest hikes due to their flat and wide tracks, making them great for beginners.

Which hike has the most elevation gain in Tahiti?

Hike to Mount Orohena has the most elevation gain with a height of 2241 meters.

Are there any running trails in Tahiti?

Vaipahi Great Loop and Heights of Vaiatu Paea trails are the best for running because of their flat and wide trails.

Are there dog-friendly hikes in Tahiti?

Yes, there are dog-friendly hikes such as Apostles Trails, Mahinarama Trails, Heights of Vaiatu Paea, Vaipahi Great Loop To River, etc.

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