It was time to get up and get moving. We decide to hike through Opunohu Valley to see the pineapple plantations and amazing views. Matt researches our trail and we decide to do a 5.1 mile hike. We were not 100% certain where we could safely leave the dinghy, so we leave it at a place we know is secure. We start walking along the 2 lane road. About 1 mile into our walk, I ask Matt how far to the start of our hike. He says, “uh, it is another 1.5 miles to the entrance.” Ok, so 2.5 miles to get to the 5.1 mile hike and then 2.5 miles back? Oh dear….
The view at the start of the hiking trails is gorgeous.
There are dozens of trails through the Opunohu Valley. Our trail follows the black line (top photo) and then catches the red line on the way back. At least that is the “plan.”
Opunohu Valley Trails
If you look really hard you can see the face at the top of the mountain. Focus on the hole at the top
The trails were marked, but they were rather confusing. Can you make out the trail this is pointing to? Keep in mind that there are dozens of trails and this does not indicate which one is to the right. Our trail takes us across a few rivers. You can usually cross over rocks, but the boys decided to cross over a fallen tree.
There were several very old and very large banyan trees. We found one tree with the strangest looping branch.
Pineapple Fields Forever…
We passed through several fields of pineapples.
It was super fun to see the different stages of pineapple growth
This picture just spoke to us – take me, shoot me, capture me, remember me.
A photo at the start and end of our hike. Not much worse off.
Proof of our crazy death march:
In our next blog we visit a sea turtle sanctuary, Te Mana O’ Te Moana. Did you forget to read our last blog where we visited a black sand beach at Point Venus?
Events from this blog post occurred during the first week of August, 2021. Our blog posts run 10-12 weeks behind our adventures.
What was thought to be a quick visit to a water garden turned out to be one of our best hikes ever. We were not sure what to expect at the Jardin d’eau Vaipahi as the descriptions online described a botanical garden. So, we thought this would be a quick stop before we moved on to Teahupoo, the deadliest break in the world.
The site of Vaipahi was a sacred site in the ancient times. It was a place of religious importance because of the presence of purifying sources. In the past, the spirits of the deceased of the Teva clan took this “path of purification of souls” during their quest for paradise.
One sign reads:
“Following meticulous directions and incantations of Te’ura-i-Hamano, the spiritual entity was plunged into the quivering waters of Vai’ō’ō, thus beginning the purification journey. Light and humble after the bath, it was cleansed from the stains of life by the mighty breath of the gushing waters of the Vaipahi waterfall.”
In addition, the signs tell us that the souls were taken for the high priestess of death, Te’ura-i-Hamano, into the spiritual transcendent and saving waters. The powerful breath of the gushing waters of the Vaipahi waterfall loosened the strains that stuck to their skin from the souls. Having successfully completed an imposed ritual, the souls obtained the eternal rest offered in the garden of delights of Rohotu-No’ano’a, a paradise of the Ma’ohi people.
A really beautiful belief and so well stated.
Hiking the Vaipahi Falls
Jardin d’eau Vaipahi
As we continued to read the signage, we discovered a map indicating three hiking trails. We really wanted to explore the longest, huge loop. However, we were ill prepared. We were wearing flip flops and did not have sufficient water or food. We were also on a schedule with our rental car. So, we decided to compromise by walking up the short waterfall path and down the longer path. There are three hikes. A “short” hike of up to 120m which is 30 minutes one way. A medium hike up 180 meters at about 75 minutes one way and a long hike up 287m which takes 2hrs 30 min one way.
The short hike was straight up following and crossing the river. We had at least a dozen different waterfalls in varying sizes along the path. Everything was incredibly green, happy, and healthy. We were enveloped by the shade from the towering trees that surrounded us. Water gurgled and lapped along the rocks lazily as we passed by. Truly beautiful to all our senses.
There were well placed ropes to help you cross a few tricky river crossings and along the steep edges. But for the most part, you could easily leap across the river, or step on the river rocks, or fallen trees.
The top left photo shows the map. We took the blue trail straight up along the waterfall rivers and cut over to the orange trail down a wide pine needle path.
Cole was the only one brave enough (or silly enough) to dip into the cool, fresh water.
Cole dips in the cool waterfall
Back to Jardin de Vaipahi
The way to the falls was by far one of the prettiest hikes we have ever done. We all decided this was one of the best hikes ever! Once we made the top, we were a little disappointed as it was just a juncture where all three trails met. No spectacular views or waterfalls or anything. Just a sign pointing out the direction of each trail. We hopped on the orange trail and headed down.
End of our trail hike
The path on the way down was rather wide and covered completely in pine needles. It made it a wee bit slippery, but far more easy to navigate. We came across a few other tourists and enjoyed a few pretty views on the way back to Vaipahi Gardens.
This was certainly an unexpected surprise. We did not expect to find a hike let alone one so very beautiful. A true gem. We will certainly come back do traverse across the other trails.
When I had better internet, I found this website describing our three hikes at the Jardin d’eau Vaipai.
Coming up next, we make one of Cole’s wishes come true by taking him to the world-famous surf site of Teahupoo. And you can check out the Tahitian natural grottos if you missed our last blog.
Events from this blog post occurred during the last week of July, 2021. Our blog posts run 10-12 weeks behind our adventures.
Mangareva, the largest and main island in the Gambiers has wonderful mountains, ridges, trails and paths to explore. So, we spend a few days hiking across Magareva.
The first “hike” for the new year was actually a very gentle 7.2 mile walk along a road. Good for me as I had not exercised in a long time and needed to ease into it again. Even though it was long, it was mostly flat and very easy. We walked along the main road which turned into a dirt road which hugged the coast line along the water’s edge. It was super pretty, a little breezy, and just what I needed to start the new year.
7.2 mile hike across Mangareva
7-Miles Across 3 Trails
We took Kirimiro to Taku (Pt Teauorogo) to Chemin Ramapiko. We decided to tackle the hardest incline first so we started on Chemin Kirimiro (which is across the street from the best magasin on the island, JoJo’s). It is a steep and consistent incline that leads you to Arc de Triomphe de Kirimiro. Half way up the first part of the hike we had a beautiful view of the Rikitea anchorage.
Rikitea Anchorage-Half way up the hike
Fun photo of the Arc where we have had the pleasure of visiting before.
Matt showing off under the arc
From here you can walk the ridge to the left or right. You can also go under and through the arc and continue down to the small village of Kirimiro which is what we did. Once we got to Kirimiro, we turned right and walked along the road for 2.1 miles until we got to another small village (meaning 3 houses) called Apeakava. On the road we came across this local transporting a banana tree on a moped!
One way to move a banana tree
Further down the road, we came across a rocky cliff. Matt discovered a hidden gem inside the rock’s ledge. A baby boobie.
Baby Boobie nested in the rocks
We passed several old ruins that were once mighty and majestic.
Old ruins around Mangareva
From here we hiked up and down the Chemin Taku trail which connects with Chemin Ramapiko and leads you back to another road. From there is was a short 1.2 mile walk back to the dinghy dock.
Looking at the map below, we stared just below the little below the small, blue image of a ship, then walked up to Arc de Triomphe de Kirimiro, down the dotted trail to the white road. Followed the white road to Apeakava (where the dots are), across the trail to the gold star and then back down to the blue image ship.
Hiking Across Mangareva
The French Navy Arrives
The Bouganville is a French Navy war ship that travels around French Polynesia ensuring the waters are safe for travel. We had the pleasure of touring this fascinating vessel in Makemo (click here to read about the tour). Our friend Stephan had alerted us of the Navy ships arrival and asked us to clear the channel of all cruising boats. We did, but that was 3 days before they arrived. The day before the ship’s arrival, two French cruising boats anchored right in the channel. The French will do what the French will do. The ship had to maneuver around them to get to the dock. But with massive bow thrusters and fancy engineering they made it without incident.
The ship was only here for 1 day and did not allow for any tours. Must have been a shore break for the crew.
French Navy Arrives to Mangareva
We left Rikitea and headed toward Taravai to prepare for my birthday party! It is always a serene and stunning anchorage. We visited Valerie, Herve, Alan, and Ariki and procured lots of fresh produce. Herve was being silly and strategically placed a rather large cucumber…. And we came across a humongous pig.
We were blessed with sunset that streaked across the sky.
Events from this blog post occurred in January 2021. Our blog posts run 8 weeks behind our adventures.