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Best Hiking Trails in French Polynesia

Overview

French Polynesia, an overseas French department, is a group of five archipelagos, comprising more than 100 islands (including the well known Tahiti and Bora Bora islands), strung out over a vast expanse of the South Pacific.  Beautiful, many of them are perfect for hiking. The main islands for hiking include Tahiti (which contains the archipelagos’ highest peak, Mont Orohena), Mo’orea (with many trails such as the one up beautiful Mt Rotui), and Bora Bora. The best months to hike in French Polynesia are May to December but that varies depending on the island group.  Read on for more information on where and when to go hiking in French Polynesia.    

Capital: Pape’ete

When To Hike in French Polynesia?

May – December: Some island groups are best in only some of these months.  Filter through the map to see best months for the various islands
January – April: Could be ok for some of the islands
November – March: Rainy and cyclone risk in some of those months and on some of the islands

Climate: Tropical  (wet and dry seasons) – hot and humid throughout the year; influenced by southeast trade winds; cyclones can occur but less frequently here than in other South Pacific islands.  Austral Islands are the furthest south, so are cooler than the rest, while the Marquesas are warmer.

Accessibility of Hiking

Medium: Where there are trails, most should be undertaken with a guide

Transportation required: Car

Top Places to Hike in French Polynesia

There is hiking to be found on many of the islands that make up French Polynesia. The main islands are Tahiti, Mo’orea and Bora Bora (mainly because most visited and most tourist infrastructure). Highest Mountain: Mont Orohena (2241 m) on Tahiti. The map shows three of the island groups: the Society Islands, the Marquesas Islands (northernmost) and the Austral Islands (southernmost)

Filter out hiking places of French Polynesia by month

Click on the red map pointers to see more info.

Raivavae

  • June – Nov
  • Part of the Austral Islands
  • Mt Hiro

Tubuai

  • June – Nov
  • Part of Austral Islands
  • Mt Taita 

Rurutu

  • June – Nov
  • Large atoll, part of the Austral Islands, hire a guide for hikes
  • Mt Taatioe
  • Mt Manureva
  • Mt Teape

Fatu Hiva

  • May – Dec
  • Part of the Marquesas Islands, very off the beaten path
  • Hiking trails here

Hiva Oa

  • May – Dec
  • Part of the Marquesas Islands
  • Network of trails

‘Ua Pou

  • May – Dec
  • Part of the Marquesas Islands
  • Fascinating geology 
  • A few hikes here

‘Ua Huka

  • May – Dec
  • Part of the Marquesas Islands, little visited and off the beaten track
  • Volcanoes to hike up

Nuku Hiva

  • May – Dec
  • Largest of the Marquesas Islands
  • Some great hikes here

Maupiti

  • May – Oct
  • Part of the Society Islands, this is considered Bora Bora’s little sister
  • Mt Teurafaatiu – hikeable
  • Mt Hotu Paraoa – hikeable

Bora Bora

  • May – Oct
  • This Society Island is very well known for its luxury resorts and scuba diving
  • Mt Pahia
  • Mt Otemanu – highest point on this island

Ra’iatea

  • May – Oct
  • 2nd largest of Society Islands; lack of beaches makes it less touristy
  • Mt Tapioi
  • Temehani Plateau

Mo’orea

  • May – Oct 
  • 20 km away from Tahiti; has great hikes, need a guide
  • Opunohu Valley Loop
  • Mt Rotui 
  • The Pierced Mountain

Tahiti

  • May – Oct
  • Largest island in Society Islands group, home to the capital and arguably the best hiking island in French Polynesia
  • Papenoo Valley 
  • Fautaua Valley

French Polynesia's Long Distance Trails

French Polynesia's Walking & Hiking Resources

French Polynesia Hiking Books: No hiking specific books

  • Lonely Planet Tahiti & French Polynesia, by Lonely Planet, Celeste Brash, Jean-Bernard Carillet, 2016, Lonely Planet Global Limited 

 

Best Hiking Trails in French Polynesia:

You can find more details on hiking these trails from trail maps/apps, websites, and tourist offices:

  • Mt Orohena – Tahiti
  • Mt Rotui – Mo’orea
  • Opunohu Valley – Mo’orea
  • The Pierced Mountain – Mo’orea
  • Mt Teurafaatiu – Maupiti
  • Mt Hotu Paraoa – Maupiti
  • Mt Pahia – Bora Bora
  • Mt Otemanu – Bora Bora

Easy Hiking Trails in French Polynesia:

  • Three Pines Pass
  • Faraura Valley

 

French Polynesia Hiking Websites:

 

French Polynesia Weather Website:

 

French Polynesia Official Tourism Organizations:

 

French Polynesia Hiking Apps:

 

French Polynesia Hiking Maps: 

What Else To Do

  • Coral reefs 
  • Exploring the ‘motu’
  • Tuamotu Islands (fairly flat but stunning)
  • Aranui boat voyage
  • Whale watching
  • Pearl farms
  • Black sand beaches

Other Important Points

  • Gambier archipelago is also part of French Polynesia but sits about 1000km east of the Austral Islands, closer to Pitcairn Islands.  There’s one mountain to climb there.