We’d been recommended to end our island hopping adventures with Maupiti. The best of the best apparently!?……………Let’s see.
We ended up on the same flight as our friends from Raiatea, Juliette and Mathieu, the most unlucky of travellers who unfortunately had rain and wind almost every day of their French Polynesian trip. Until now! We arrived to the most beautiful setting. A mini Bora Bora but so much nicer……
We separated and went to our different bungalows and arranged to meet the next day. We had booked to stay at Pension Auira – run by the interesting Gilbert. Our Bungalow was the epitome of French Polynesia!
Unfortunately we were self-catering and the kitchen comprised of just a cooker. We had no fridge to keep things cool in the scorching heat, and the closest shop was 1.5 hours away.
We were actually on a motu and needed to walk across and through the water (up to our waist) to the main island and then walk another hour or so to the very limited, low stocked shop . Pffff.
To be honest Gilbert wasn’t that helpful and only seemed interested in looking after the guests paying for the expensive bungalows and food – Not surprising really. Starving he offered us a tin of corned beef and a tomato sauce for our first evening. Thanks, better than nothing!
The next morning, we left the motu early for the main island. Our day packs on our heads, we walked through the shallow water which was actually pretty fun. We hitch hiked to the store where there was literally zilch. We ended up eating crackers with spreadable cheese washed down with a warm mango juice. The breakfast of champions!
On the way back to the shop to buy some more crackers, JM spotted the truck of Teheimana Pension where Juliette and Mathieu were staying. They had raved about the pension the night before on the telephone. Tehei and Cliff the owners, knew exactly who we were because we’d already booked on an excursion with them later in the week. They took pity on us and drove us to theirs where they gave us some fresh grapefruit and ice cold water. We spoke for ages and managed to arrange a deal camping in their garden but paying for the breakfast and dinner. There’s not a great variety of food in the shops on Maupiti!
We decided to stay one more night on the motu just to be nice and not to be so obvious we weren’t overly happy there. We arranged for Tehei to pick us up from the beach opposite the motu first thing in the next morning. We would fill up a kayak with our bags and then push it across. The rest of the day before we moved, we spent with Juliette and Mathieu exploring the motu that we were actually staying on leaving the next day – Bizarre how things work out. Juliette and Mathieu were honestly the happiest people (a part from us) in Maupiti – Sunshine, turquoise waters, friendly locals, great food and the most beautiful views. They took more photos that day than in the last 3 weeks!
French Polynesia = French territory = Strikes!
Later that evening we received a call from Juliette in tears. Air Tahiti had gone on strike and called to say they’ve been put on a flight the next day (Tuesday) to Tahiti to ensure they make their international flight on the Saturday. All flights after that would be cancelled until further notice. Bizarre since we were booked on the same flight as them to Tahiti and we’d heard nothing. We called and they said they didn’t know the status or new schedule due to the strike; we should call the next day…… We weren’t too worried since we had almost two weeks until we were due to leave for Mexico. Being stuck in Maupti until then wouldn’t be the end of the world! However…. we were totally gutted for our friends. Typical Air Tahiti decided to strike when we’re there! Typical French! Juliette and Mathieu’s flight wasn’t until the following afternoon so Tehei and Cliff planned a morning of activities to see the best of Maupiti – just for them. They would climb to the summit view point of Maupiti first thing and then we would join them on a boat trip to see the mantas and dolphins.
Making the most of paradise
The next morning early, we pushed a kayak with our bags on across the water to the mainland. Tehei arrived early and we headed to our new pension. We were given an amazing breakfast before heading to pick J & M up from their hike. We then jumped onto a boat and off we went for 3 hours to find mantas and just enjoy the view of Maupti from the water. Although totally gutted, J & M were making the most of the weather and what the beautiful island of Maupiti had to offer, plus I almost forgot to say we saw MANTAS! Two enormous, beautiful mantas in the lagoon. We got to watch them for ages as they swam round and round the cleaning station.
After a brilliant day we said our goodbyes to J & M and set up our tent in the garden. We were also ourselves trying to call Air Tahiti and find out what we were meant to do if there was no flight for us. They had no idea what was going on. It was the first strike for Air Tahiti so they didn’t really know how to cope. All we knew is that there were 1000s of tourists and locals stranded all over the Polynesian islands. At that moment we didn’t care we were in paradise! We decided we would call once a day for an update, other than that we enjoy ourselves and forget about it. That evening we had an incredible dinner with Tehei and her family and laughed a lot! They even told us to sleep in one of the rooms instead of the tent for the same price as the camping- BONUS!
Time to climb!
The next day we decided to climb to the summit. The weather was brilliant so why not! We hitch hiked to the starting point and started the hot and sweaty 45 minute hike to the top. Maupiti had experienced a lot of rain like most of the other Leeward Society islands the last two months and as a result the path was extremely slippery but a lot of fun. When we arrived at the top it was spectacular. We stayed there for almost an hour. The photos speak for themselves!!
That afternoon we took the kayaks out for a few hours just to savour every second of this amazing island! Another day in paradise!
Still with the uncertainty of when we were flying to Tahiti, maybe, maybe not Friday, we decided to take up Tehei and Cliff’s offer of a day excursion, snorkelling, mantas, stingrays, BBQ Tehei style. Yes please!
Day trip on our favourite lagoon
We started the trip with some manta spotting. My favourite thing to do! This time we swam with a big mama of a Manta, 3.5m. Unfortunately the visibility wasn’t great, but we managed to follow for a good 15 minutes. We tried a few other spots but they were obviously busy elsewhere. The sun was shining the water turquoise and the next stop was the coral garden. We’d heard from people that the coral garden wasn’t that great, most of it dead and not many fish, a little like elsewhere in the lagoons of the Society Islands. Cliff showed us where to go for the best snorkelling and by goodness was it good. We made the effort and swam quite a distance towards the barrier reef, any area too shallow for the boats to reach. The coral, the colours and the fish were stunning, as were the most beautiful coloured clams. We ended up snorkelling for well over an hour. The other tourists (not many of them) stayed close to their boats and would have seen nothing. No wonder people say it’s not that great. Swim and make a bit of an effort and voila an underwater aquarium.
After the snorkelling we checked out some spotted eagle rays mating near the shores of one of the many motus followed by a trip out through the pass into the open Pacific Ocean to spot some dolphins. No luck but we tried at least. We also checked out the manta cleaning stations back in the lagoon again but again, nothing. The big mama this morning was enough for us.
Finally we moored up on a deserted motu and were greeted by a small group of beautiful stingrays. They were so curious they came right up to check up all out. They obviously new visitors would = a lot of wasted food at the end of the day for them.
We spent ages enjoying the rays that came up to touch us – not the other way round! Meanwhile Tehei and Cliff prepared an incredible feast for us. We helped with the basket and plate making for the food, drank a few beers and feasted on sorts – Poisson cru, fresh marinated BBQ fish of all sorts, freshly made coconut bread. It was yummy and the company of Tehei and Cliff made it even more entertaining. We cleaned up, chilled out on the beach and tried to digest the enormous meal. It wasn’t easy.
Here comes a little rant!
Late afternoon we headed back to the main island. First things first, we called Air Tahiti – No flight tomorrow (Friday), or any other flight until the following weekend. Ok….. Not too worried, we explained our situation. Our international flights the following weekend, how we couldn’t pay for our accommodation on Maupiti because there were no cash machine on the island and no one takes debit cards or online bank transfers, cash only. We also have a diving pass with two dives on that can’t be used in Maupiti and we’d planned to use it in Moorea and Tahiti the following week. We just wanted them to know our situation and expected a full reimbursement, new flights and dives and accommodation paid for if they could get us on the flight the next day. They called Tehei at her home to organise our accommodation for the next week and said they would call back later to clarify everything. Meanwhile we got a call from another Air Tahiti representative who also said our flight was cancelled and we explained the same situation to them too. Good communication between employees of the same company hey! In the meantime Tehei and Cliff invited us to their own house (other side of the island to the pension) for a small apero. On the way to their house, half an hour after speaking to Air Tahiti, they called Tehei again. Apparently there was now a flight for us as planned for tomorrow (the Friday) but at 1pm. Wow things move fast and chop and change in Polynesia! What a palava. Fine, no problem we just hope things don’t change again, but were feeling pretty pissed off they muck Juliette and Mathieu around for the last few days of their trip when they could have taken the same flight.
On a positive note Air Tahiti paid for them to stay in a plush hotel, all food paid for until their flight that Saturday morning – Plus the sun was shining for them too in Tahiti. No rain! Tehei and Cliff’s house was the perfect place to have a drink on the last night in Maupiti. It’s a work in progress but they had the most beautiful wooden terrace to watch the sunset each night.
A beer, great company and a fantastic view – a fantastic finish to our stay on one of the most beautiful islands in the world.