“This is a place tourists don’t see, but they should. It’s incredible and you won’t forget it.” says a Tahitian-American transplant.
I’ve arranged to meet my local new friend at 10 a.m. We’re running old school, and nobody has a way of getting touch with one another but to stop by and wait until we find each other. He’s running late so I think he can’t find where I’m staying at the Papeete City Marina. I tell him to look for Cocod’iles catamaran with palm trees painted on the side. I’m also feeling fatigue from my early morning insomnia. I want to cancel and begin to close my eyes for a mini-nap, but then I see him wandering aimlessly in my direction trying to find my boat. I wave and finally get his attention and tell him I’ll meet him outside of the marina gate. Coincidentally as I’m leaving, I run into my other friend I met in Apataki a few weeks ago. She mentioned having to do some work on her boat but would try to meet up in time to catch us.
The three of us head over to a parking lot across from the marina and hop into his slate-colored Audi and into the mountains.
Fautau’a Valley is located on the east side of Papeete. It starts off with a fairly easy trail to Loti’s Pool. My Tahitian friend takes out his Bose Bluetooth speakers and begins playing a mix of reggae and pop music as we make our way up the trail. Further along, we learn there are pools where Queen Aimata Pomare IV used to cool off and bathe. We’re about one hour into the hike before we get a brief history lesson from our part-time tour guide as we pass mossy brick Fachoda fort ruins from the French Tahitian war in 1846. We cross over the ruins and continue making our way to the waterfall observing the stunning nature along the way.
We finally make our way to the top and are welcomed two freshwater pools. The first freshwater pool has a gentle mini-waterfall that leads to a natural waterfall into the second pool.
I jump in, and my insomnia was instantly cured by the shock therapy of subzero-feeling temperatures. We watch some teens jumping off of several cliff jumping points into the second pool. I’m feeling like a kid and slide down the natural water slide into the second subzero pool. SO refreshing! We climb over to where the large waterfall begins and spend the rest of our afternoon here.
On our way back down, we came across the waterfall from a distance making this a perfect photo-opp!
The hike takes about two hours and to access, you sometimes need special permission from the Papeete town hall, as well as pay an entrée fee of 600xpf (about $5 USD) per person. It’s a hit or miss with these rules and is ever-changing, but we were fortunate enough to enjoy Mother Nature for free and without permission!