Hiking in Raiatea – Mount Tapioi
If you thought that French Polynesia is only about beaches, coral reefs and coconut trees, than you have never seen one of the amazing views you will get when going for a hike in this country. This time we are going to take a look at the Mount Tapioi, a perfect spot for hiking in Raiatea, which offers an outstanding experience even for the paradise of French Polynesia.
The Mount Tapioi is a relatively small mountain, which is accessible right from the city of Uturoa and it is one of the main places to visit on the island of Raiatea. You can recognize it easily by looking for a mountain with a red and white colored antenna on top (See the picture above). The Tapioi offers a relaxing hike that is convenient for people of all ages and requires only a minimum amount of time. By now, we visited this mountain several times and under different conditions such as the morning, the evening, on sunny days as well as on rainy days. Therefore, we always had different feelings at a time while hiking there and never got bored. The view is always impressive as if it was the first time…
Signpost for the Mount Tapioi
- Difficulty: Easy
- Duration: 30 – 60 min
- View: Fantastic!
As we told before, the Tapioi is without a doubt a mountain you go for if you are hunting for an incredible view in French Polynesia. From the top, you have the sight on all the islands of the archipel “Under the wind.” This means you can enjoy the view on the beautiful lagoon between Raiatea and its sister island Taha’a and of course Taha’a itself. If you look to the right you will see the woman island Huahine and to the left the silhouette of the world famous honeymoon island Bora Bora, as well as Maupiti a little further.
View with Bora Bora in the Distance
View on Uturoa
If you are into animals, this hike is definitely for you. Besides the usual rooster and chicken that we meet almost everywhere in Raiatea – you will get used to it, don’t worry 😉 – there can be cows and horses on the way up to the top which are taken care of by farmers living on the mountain. As they move freely up and downwards, like the hikers, it is unpredictable where you will meet them on your way. At daytime, this is quite nice and made the hiking for us more lively but if you go late in the evening and you have to climb down in the dark it can get a little scary if you are naturally frightened by big animals. Especially when suddenly a giant bull with more muscles than Dwayne Johnson appears next to you. But don’t worry too much. Most of the time he is just lying around. Well, I would do the same with this kind of view all the time 😉
Horses on the way to the top
Cows on the way to the top
The bull of the Tapioi
Something you definitely shouldn’t forget when going to the Mount Taipoi is to carve your name or a message in one of the rocks on your way to the summit. You will find a lot on the way to the top and a lot of carvings as well. So be sure to make yourself unforgetable!
Legend of the Tapioi
For the ones who are interested, there is a little story behind the Mount Tapioi and where it got his name from that we would like to share with you.
The Mount Tapioi owes its name to the story of a young woman who worshipped her little boy whom she had adopted and whom her husband jealously killed. But Haamana’s revenge should be hot. Very hot! Very hot!
Part 1: Hereria the beloved one
A long, long time ago, there lived a beautiful woman named Haamana. She had lost her father and her mother. As she was alone, she adopted a little boy whom she loved like a brother. His name was Herehia (beloved). One day, a man came to pass, saw Haamana’s beautiful eyes, and took her for a wife. His name was Tapi.
Many moons later, everything was going well, but (and there is still a but) as Haamana had much more affection for her son Herehia, Tapi was jealous of him and wanted to kill him.
But how can you kill him without his wife knowing? He searched and, soon after, he found a way. Here it is: He built a cabin. Then he went to get several banana diets, put them inside to ripen them. A few days later the bananas began to ripen, their scent take over the whole hut and spread throughout the area, what attracted little Herehia. He looked for where the smell came from or rather where the ripe bananas were. It was not difficult since the cabin was a few dozen steps from their home. He entered the hut and what does he see? Beautiful delicious bananas of a spotted yellow colour. What a joy! He picked and ate as many as he could.
Meanwhile, Tapi was hiding behind a tree watching the boy and approached the cabin to look through the bamboos at what was happening inside. At the right time he entered, took the child, killed him and hung him up with a rope.
In the evening, Haamana noticed that her adopted son Herehia was missing. She called him, looked for him everywhere, asked the neighbours if they hadn’t seen the little boy. They replied that they had not seen him during the day. She searched for him for a long time. Meanwhile, Tapi turned a deaf ear. When his wife asked him about the boy, he replied: Is it my business to watch over him, it is up to you to take care of your beloved.
Finally, she had the idea of going to the hut where the bananalocked up. She entered with a torch, looked everywhere, and what did she see hanging up there? Her little Herehia hung from one of the crossings. What a horror! She climbed up to untie him, and put him on the ground. Then she took him in her arms and cried: “My beloved son! My insides are bubbling with pain! O my Herehia, you will be avenged! “She wove a basket of coconut leaves (ha’ape’e) and put her son’s body inside.
At dawn, she loaded the precious burden on her back and walked around the island of Raiatea, shouting her pain and hatred for Tapi.
The ahi maa (Tahitian oven)
As Haamana was traveling around the island. Tapi was overflowing with joy. He asked his friends to snatch kava to prepare their favorite drink for this event. The girls began to chew the roots by throwing the juice into a large umete (large wooden or stone bowl). The drink thus prepared Tapi began to drink with his friends.
In the evening, Haamana arrived and placed the body of her adopted son in a cave. She saw Tapi and her friends lying on the floor drunk on kava. She called all her people and said to them: “My friends, prepare a large oven (ahi maa)”.
All rushed to take stones and wood for this purpose, as well as coconut and banana leaves to cover the oven. When the oven was finished, people asked her where the pig for this feast was. “Don’t worry about it. It’s around here somewhere.”. They wondered if she hadn’t lost her mind. An hour later, when the oven was heated, they stood in front of her again: “Beautiful Haamana, we want to see the pig so we can kill it because the oven is ready. “Haamana stood up and said: “People of Uturoa, I’ll show you the pig, come closer! »
They approached her. Haamana got up and headed to where Tapi was lying. She told her men: “This is the pig I was telling you about, take it and put it in the oven! ». The people put him in the oven as she said. Haamana shouted: “Turn the good over in all directions! ” And so they turned it all over on the hot stones, (turn or stir = oi).
This formed the name Tapi-oi
The original story comes from https://www.tahitiheritage.pf/ which we adpated and translated to the english language.
Impressions of the Tapioi
Last but not least there are some personal pictures and impressions of the hike that we couldn’t show yet. We hope all of this was helpful and fun to read for you. If you want more information about hiking in French Polynesia or which places to visit be sure to follow along with our blog.
Thank you! Or Mauruuru!