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Touring the Island

The narrow coastal plain on the east coast is occupied by Vaiea, Petei, and Farauru, three villages resting at the base of the Mount Hotu Parata cliff. The great majority of Maupiti's 1,200 or so inhabitants live in these villages, which have its only grocery stores and other facilities. They run together, so you won't know when you've left one and entered another, especially when strolling along the picturesque lagoonside promenade from the wharf to the island's school. You will see very few older homes here, since a devastating 1997 hurricane destroyed most of Maupiti's houses.

The north coast is notable for the Haranaie Valley, site of several petroglyphs, including one of a turtle. The petroglyphs are not easy to find, so I recommend a guided tour . From the road, you'll have fine views of the three motus enclosing the north side of the lagoon. The road rounds the base of Mount Hotu, at the northwestern corner, and then follows the west coast, where you'll pass several ancient maraes, including Marae Vaiorie. This ancient stone structure was built in two parts with a freshwater stream in between.

Go straight when you come to the road junction and follow the sign to the magnificent white-and-pink sands of Plage Tereia ★★★. Situated in a coconut grove and facing a shallow lagoon, this is one of French Polynesia's best beaches. There are no changing rooms, water fountains, or other facilities to interrupt its pristine character. Only a few trash cans and the occasional drink can remind you that people even come here. At low tide, you can wade across the waist-deep "Baby Sharks Crossing" to Motu Auira. (Yes, you may see small sharks in the shallow lagoon.) Motu Auira, the largest of Maupiti's islets, has melon plantations and a wind-generating facility.

From the beach, you will have to backtrack to the road junction, where the traversière (cross-island road) heads up the ridge between the west and south coasts. Push your bike up the hill for a fine view of the west coast and the lagoon from the top.

The descent will take you down to the populated south coast. On the shore about two-thirds of the way back to Vaiea, you'll come to Marae Vaiahu, the most important temple on the island. Maupiti's royalty lived in this area during the olden days, and chiefs from Bora Bora and the other islands often joined them at gatherings at Marae Vaiahu. It's notable for its stone fish box, apparently used in ceremonies to bless the fishing fleet.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.