Maupiti Island, French Polynesia
French Polynesia is an exotic French overseas territory: 118 islands and atolls in the Pacific Ocean. Sixty-seven of them are inhabited, and AirPano offers a walk around one of these islands, Maupiti.
It is the westernmost piece of land in the Society Islands archipelago, with very interesting topography. In the center of the atoll is a 370 m (1,214 ft) high volcanic mountain called Mount Teurafaatiu. The island has an area of about 11 square kilometers (4.2 sq. mi.) and is surrounded by a lagoon and a barrier reef with several motu islets.
The first European to visit the island was Dutchman Jacob Roggeveen, who arrived here in 1722; however, people had been living here for a very long time: archaeological finds date back to around 850 AD. Scientists discovered that the ancient islanders had ties not only with the nearby island of Bora Bora, but also with New Zealand.
The economy here was based on fishing and the cultivation of noni, a plant with edible fruit that is widely used in the region's cuisine. Due to its geographical isolation, the island has preserved its original beauty and avoided mass tourism: the main "blow" falls on its famous neighbor Bora Bora.
Many people rightfully call Maupiti the true embodiment of Polynesia. The locals cherish authenticity and won't even let the big hotel chains on the island. Conservation efforts are paying off: sea turtles continue to lay eggs on white sand beaches every year, and there are very few such places left in the world.
Turtles are also present on the island in another form: they are depicted on petroglyphs in the Haranae Valley. There is also a sacred stone "Bird's Nest" on the island, as well as Marae Waiahu: an area fenced in with stones - an ancient royal throne and sacrificial site.
Of course, the real treasure of Maupiti is its nature, beaches and ocean. While scuba diving, you can explore coral reefs and see a variety of underwater life, including stingrays and sharks.
People usually walk or cycle around the central island, and the main means of transportation is the boat. There is a small airfield on one of the motus where the Air Tahiti airline brings guests from larger airports.
Even if not everyone is ready to make such a long trip, a virtual walk with AirPano allows you to visit this paradise without any problems!
Photos and text by Ádám Plézer
15 December 2023