Tahiti Safari Expeditions has two half-day tours and one full-day tour. We did the half-day tour that included Papenoo Valley. The tour guide picked us up at the hotel and took through Papeete and across the northern part of Tahiti Nui to Papenoo Valley. We drove into the valley and stopped to look at several waterfalls, including Cascade Topatari, Cascade Vaiharuru, and Cascade Puraha. There was a dam at Cascade Puraha and the tour guide chummed the water with bread to attract some eel-looking fish. We continued on into the valley and looked at some other waterfalls, including the Princess' Hair, which only flow when it rains. In fact, many of the waterfalls in the valley on flow when it is raining, so this may be the one time to hope for rain on vacation! The tour guide also taught us about Polynesian culture and demonstrated how people communicated before cell phones - blowing a conch shell or banging on chestnut trees. We departed from the valley and went to Trou du Souffleur blow hole at Arahoho Beach. The water was choppy so the blow hole was fairly strong - it knocked one guy over into the street. Finally, we went to the Faaruma Waterfalls and took a short walk to Cascade Vaimahuta. On the way back to the hotel, we stopped and got some fresh fruit from a stand along the road.
We rented our own car and drove around the island. We had a free map from the car rental place that showed certain stops we might like to make. At Tiarei we found three waterfalls that we can hike to. The hike to the first waterfall was a short 5 minute walk. The other two were alittle more of a walk and it seemed longer because it started to get more and more humid and the mosquitos and gnats came out. We took wonderful pictures here but after a while we needed to get out of here because we were so uncomfortable. The gnats got in my eyes, it was horrible. But I have to say, the waterfalls were beautiful.
A beautiful well maintained (French run) FREE park with access to several hiking trails. The trails consist of a small loop, about 1 1/2 hour, a large loop, about 2 1/2 hours and a descending trail next to a small river with some waterfalls.
This one is NOT listed in the Frommers guide book. Freely translated it is called the spring or water gardens. Jardin de eau. (If I remember correctly).
It is a VERY steep hike up to the trail, and it is clearly marked. There are several trail marker (in English) on the trail so you won't get lost. This is what I expected that there would be more of in Tahiti, however for most trails you need a guide. This one, you bring some food and water, enjoy the view, hike around and take the waterfall trail down.
Note: There are 2 gardens on the Soutcoast Rd. 1 is listed in Frommers. This is NOT that one. Across from the garden is a little park with 2 picnic benches, if you pass the Maaraa caves it will come up on your left. This one is worth it and it is FREE. That in itself is amazing in Tahiti.
While on our safari, we saw literally hundreds of waterfalls. It was cloudy and rainy while we visited Tahiti, so the rainfall formed many waterfalls that cascaded over the basalt cliffs. It was beautiful. Many tour operators will take you into Tahiti's interior to view the waterfalls, but we used a gentleman by the name of Patrick. He was very helpful and explained the flora, fauna, and history of the island along the way.
A short drive off of the main road around the island (marked with a sign) will take you to the beginning of a foot path. A short hike will take you to not one, but three, beautiful waterfalls. They are not far from each other and the hiking paths in between are also worth the walk.
During our 4x4 Safari, we ventured into the mountain passage of Tahiti, where we came upon one of the nicest small island waterfalls I have ever seen, and according to the guide, it was only 10% the pressure it is normally!
The name of this beautiful waterfall is Vai Haruru meaning "Pounding Water". The area around this waterfall was also quite interesting, and might make for a nice picnic spot... unless the water is pounding too hard!
A dirt road leads to the three Faarumai Waterfalls. We park in the makeshift car park near a bamboo grove and walk along a muddy path to the first of three falls. The other two aflls are within reach too, five more minutes for the second and 30 minutes for the last one. Along the trail there are many fruits growing, star fruit and guava mainly.
A 20 metre high waterfall with a beautiful veil of water cascading over the rocks. At the bottom is a shallow pool where you can bathe underneath the waterfall. The force of the water tumbling down is incredible!
Just past the blowhole is a marked 1.3 km dirt road leading to the three Faarumai Waterfalls. Walk through the Bamboo grove several hundred muddy metres to Vaimahuta, the first fall. Bring a swimsuit and some insect repellent and try standing under the falls - an exhilarating experience. The other falls are accessible but necessitate a good hike.
These waterfalls on the east coast are the most impressive waterfalls on the island that can be reached easily from paved roads.