Society Islands Part 2 – Maupiti & Maupelia

Beautiful Maupiti

After Bora Bora we were not ready to say goodbye to French Polynesia. The time we spent here had begun so magical in Fatu Hiva and it did not feel right for us to end it in Bora Bora the pure opposite of Fatu Hiva. All those exclusive luxury resorts, private beaches and the commercial village of Vaiape with innumerous pearl stores that was not French Polynesia how we loved it! Maupiti, the smaller and less touristy sister Island has been on our list since we arrived in the Pacific and we absolutely wanted to go there.

The challenge with Maupiti is just that the pass to get into the lagoon is a bit tricky. It is only possible to get through in calm and settled conditions and therefore one can easily get stuck in there for a while as you have to wait until the weather is calm.

We were completely aware of that risk. There are for sure worse places to get stuck in… So we motored all the way from Bora Bora because there was no wind and thought that the pass will be ok but as we arrived there the entrance did not look very inviting – actually it was a bit frightening. Do we really wanna go through these waves ? Maybe better turn around and go back to Bora Bora I first thought…. but then André took the helm and I just concentrated on the ideal line on the GPS and yelled at him when he had to turn more port or starboard.

The waves were breaking on either side of Mirabella at the reef entrance. For some time we even didn’t see the break in the reef at all and it looked like we are just going straight onto the rocks. The current was very strong and the Yanmar diesel was working overtime.
After some time we left the breaking waves to port and starboard and only the 4kts current was against us. Things calmed down. But we needed to keep the concentration level up. There were still a number of coral bommies between us and the anchorage. And coral bommies are the top boat killer in places like French Polynesia.

Somehow we managed this too and found ourselves in the beautiful lagoon of Maupiti. What a paradise!

Maupiti is quite different to most of the other Society Islands. Since the reef pass is so difficult to manage no regular passenger ferry goes to Maupiti. The only way to get to the island is a flight from Tahiti or by private boat transfer. This limits the economy and tourism. There are no overwater bungalows or international hotel chains in Maupiti. No speed boats zipping across the lagoon so that the tourists can make the most out of their relaxing holiday. Most tourism is low key in private small boutique hotels. With owners as host.

We really enjoyed exploring Maupiti. We took our kayaks, paddeled around the entire island and discovered some of the most beautiful beaches in French Polynesia. We met Heinarii with her son Tamatea and daughter Clélia who lives on the most beautiful motu with a dream island beach. We hired bicycles and rounded the island on land. And we jogged around too. We hiked up the very steep path all the way to the top of Maupiti. The view over the lagoon and the Pacific was priceless. Although the track was really adventurous and borderline for André with Amina in the backpack…

After nearly two weeks the weather and the waves calmed down sufficiently so that we could leave this beautiful place. We planned to sail to Maupelia, the most western island of French Polynesia…

Sunset in Maupelia

Maupelia is sparsly populated. Maybe some 20 people live here. We are not really sure, the motu we stayed on had no population so we haven’t really seen anyone. We consider it as one of the most stunning atoll. The reef entrance is challenging but managable. The water quality is breathtaking. The fish and sharks are plentiful, the corals are super healthy and nearly no one lives here. Everything is literally untouched.

We stayed there with Infinity and Monkey Island, two kid boats and it was South Seas Paradise dream come true. Jeremy from Infinity and André went spearfishing in the lagoon and returned with a large bucket full of fish. Jeremy speared most fish as he was fearless despite the sharks. In Fakarava André lost his speared fish to the sharks and he was now a bit more cautious. Well at least that was the excuse…

The afternoon and evenings we spend on the beach, with bonfire to grill the fish, playing kids on the beach and surreal sunsets. This place is unreal. We cleaned the hull under water as preparation for the next passage. For the full two hours that we were cleaning we could see the fish and sharks swim below us. It was magnificent, like cleaning the hull in an aquarium.

When the weather window was right, we sailed on to Niue. And everyday since, André asks himself if he can ever go spearfishing in such a beautiful lagoon again…

The kids of Infinity, Monkey Island and Mirabella playing by the beach

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