On this sunny Saturday morning, we get up at dawn to fully enjoy this day that promises to be exciting. Wearing our combat gear, we debrief on the day ahead of us, in front of our breakfast, overlooking the beautiful and peaceful lagoon of Paea. Once this is over, when we are finally ready for our journey, we begin our drive to Faaone! Daisy, our dog companion of the day, also seems very excited. About an hour from Papeete, Faaone is a remote town of Tahiti, with lush greenery and an undisturbed tranquility to it. In Tahiti, although the vast majority of accommodation and other constructions are concentrated on the coast, the mountainous areas remain sparsely populated, or unexplored for a good number of them. These small peaceful havens are ideal for such adventures. To reach Faaone from Paea, we cross the towns of Papara, Mataeia, Papearii and Taravao. The landscapes pass before our eyes and the drive is pleasant. Each of these town has its own energy, which we happily take the time to enjoy!
Sophie and Gino, our guides for the day, join us in Taravao, near Faaone, to show us the way. Passionate of our islands’ hiking trails for many years, the mountains of Tahiti have no secrets for these nature lovers. Finally arriving, we meet at the foot of the Vaihi waterfall, the very first waterfall, easily accessible, located about forty meters from main road. Sophie explains that if we focus well, we can discern two faces behind this waterfall … we take a group photo in front of this beauty, and we follow a narrow path that announces the beginning of our adventure!
Only minutes from our starting point, the vegetation, composed of countless trees, already invites us to escape. We find mango trees, avocados, beautiful ferns, birds of paradise, orchids, wild vanilla … we even cross a bamboo forest! We are all thrilled by these wild landscapes. The trail is quite narrow in places, but it is quiet and shady. The air is pure and the sound of the water accompanies almost every step of our walk, creating an atmosphere truly conducive for meditation. But today, it’s all about the good mood and laughter. Water is almost ubiquitous around us, which forms slippery parts on the way. These small challenges spice up our trail. But surely, there’s nothing more pleasant than to be able to refresh at any time. Daisy also lounges in every water point she crosses on her way.
This hike offers many treasures, including a dozen basins and seven waterfalls, each one more beautiful than the other. Sophie and Gino tell us the stories that surround these waterfalls and some imposing stones that we find on our way. The mountains of the islands of Tahiti are at the heart of many local legends that we never get enough of. After about 2 hours and a half of adventure, we decide to rest at the feet of one of the last waterfalls to regain our strength. The bath is relatively deep and particularly attractive. We see a few eels staring at us curiously. While we have a bite, feet in the cool water, the little shrimps rush to our feet … for a cleansing session! An unexpected but very pleasant moment! After hours of effort, we find ourselves in a natural spa worthy of the biggest brands! What more could you ask for?
After a good hour of relaxation, we continue our journey. Soon, the trees give way to more open ground. One by one and under a blazing sun, we make our way through the fern fields. We cross varied landscapes and paths, some more shaded, others particularly narrow on the mountainside. We savor every discovery that the beautiful Faaone puts on our way. Finally, Sophie and Gino proudly announce that we have arrived at the top! I look up and the panorama that is offered to us is truly exhilarating. Before our eyes, the lagoon of Faaone, the isthmus of Taravao, Faratea and the pristine beach of Motu Nono, the peninsula of Tautira, all the East coast of Tahiti Iti. The show, this goes without saying, is worth the detour. Another group photo is needed to immortalize this moment.
In a short time of descent, we return to the area where we started our adventure. We quickly find the streams that had made everyone happy (especially Daisy). This last stage takes us to the top of the very first waterfall we saw: Vaihi, the waterfall with two faces. This is where we find beautiful basins, the most beautiful we have seen today. Impossible to resist, these natural pools are calling us, and we happily succumb to the temptation. It is here, floating in an exhilarating bath that this colorful half day ends. Not unhappy with this adventure, we leave each other hoping to meet again soon to share more moments like this, in Tahiti or elsewhere.