Watching the Sunrise from Mount Tapioi


Who doesn’t loves to see the sunrise? And what if you could admire this everyday magical moment from the top of a 300m high mountain and have a amazing view over Raiatea, Taha’a and even Bora-Bora and Huahine Islands? Would you like it? Well, come with me, I’ll show you that! :)

The Mt Tapioi isn’t the highest mountain of Raiatea Island (it’s only 300 m high and the biggest mountain of the island climbs up to 1400 m…) but it’s certainly one of the places where you can have one of these unique and magical viewpoints over 4 different islands. Of course, the weather conditions must be at their best if you want to see in the same time Bora-Bora (40 km north-west from Raiatea), Taha’a (10 km north, in the same lagoon as Raiatea) Huahine (50 km east) and of course have the main city of Raiatea (Uturoa) exactly under your feet.

Well, we climbed already sometimes on this hill, but we were told that the best moment with to contemlate the beauty of the view is at sunrise. As the sun comes out at around 6.00 am and that you need around 45 mn to walk on the top, we woke up at 4.30 am to leave our house at 5.00 am. 15 mn later, we were ready to begin the walk up, and even if it was still a bit dark the way up isn’t very difficult. And the temperature was ok to avoid to heavy sweating…

On the way to the top, you can meet some pigs living there in freedom but they’re not wild and absolutely harmless. And more charming (despite the fact that I love piggies… ;)), you also can meet the horses living in freedom in the mountain. Not really wild horses, but free horses for sure.

The last part of the walk is the most difficult, as you’re almost there, but the way climbs up a bit more heavily and you can’t wait to be on the top. And we needed to hurry up a bit because the sun was already coming out, it was almost 6.00 am…

Finally we were there and wow, what a place! The view is really unique and the sun had such a soft light and beautiful red/orange colors, that was really magic!

At our feets, the city of Uturoa, the “big city” (and only one) of Raiatea. Ok, there are only 10000 people living there (and 2000 on the rest of the island…) but it’s a city where you can find almost all you need to live (even a Photolab! ;). And that’s the place where I work (the big rectangular buildings you can see on the shots of the city next to a big sports field, that’s the school where I work :). On the east part of the city is the Marina and the harbour, on the north-west side is the airport.

Looking far over the airport, you can see the island of Bora-Bora, even if it’s not really easy to see on the shots, but you must believe me, Bora-Bora is there! For the island of Huahine, as it is exactly there where the sun goes up, impossible to catch it on a picture at this moment of the day (I should go back for the sundown one day…). But the island you see for sure on the pictures, is Taha’a, the twin island of Raiatea. Both are sharing the same lagoon as they were (some million years ago) one same island with 2 huge volcanos, only separated by a huge valley… as these volcanic islands have the tendency to sink down in the sea after a few million years, the 2 volcanos were separated in 2 islands. The sinking of the islands produces the formation of the corallian recife and gives birth to a lagoon around the island. As Raiatea and Taha’a were the same island, there’s only one lagoon today, shared by both islands.

I don’t gonna bother you longer with these geographical instructions, just let me say that the place is simply magical… oh and I almost forget that on the top of the Tapioi is a big radio and TV antenna, bringing us all the international contacts and information’s we need on such a beautiful – but isolated – island in the middle of the Pacific ocean…

Enjoy the shots, and if you want to come here once, just tell me before, I’ll be glad to receive you here in Raiatea! :))

written by vicuna on 2010-02-19 #places #mountain #mountains #island #sea #lagoon #view #sun #sunrise #panorama #colors #ocean #hill #location #fuji-velvia-100f #x-pro #lc-a #lc-a-race #urban-adventures #raiatea #french-polynesia #1984-dziga-vertov-team #euroteam-2 #stage-10 #uturoa #taha-a #bora-bora #huahine #view-on-the-city


  1. stouf
    stouf ·

    Hoooo thank you Stephane for taking us there... It's so incredibly beautiful... And when I look at the map I'm so amazed by where you are right now... Your shots are beautiful my friend. Ho, I did a study on atoll formation when I was in high school, and in fact, the coral reef forms around the volcano when it's young, then the volcano 'sinks', and the reef remains in position, as a beautiful ring... It's a very romantic process where geology and biology meet... Damn' I'm such a nerd... 8D

  2. vicuna
    vicuna ·

    ha ha, thanks stouf :) This place is simply amazing and I know I'm very lucky to be there... ;)

  3. breakphreak
    breakphreak ·

    so picturesque, so inspiring, how's the beer there? :)

  4. zulupt
    zulupt ·

    Amazing gallery and review. I really want to go there, such amazing landscapes...

  5. azurblue
    azurblue ·

    What a beautiful place ! Thanks to share it ! I love pic number 10.
    One thing : the pigs are enormous, aren't they ?

  6. vicuna
    vicuna ·

    @breakphreak: yes the beer is good, very refreshing, not too strong... it's called Hinano...
    @azurblue: yes, the pigs are heavy ones.... ;)

  7. dogma
    dogma ·

    What beauty! Love this gallery!

  8. -a-l-b-e-r-t-o-
    -a-l-b-e-r-t-o- ·

    thank you stephane for this beautiful walk up to the HILL Tapioi ;) slumped on my couch...

  9. disdis
    disdis ·

    Simply, I love it!

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