The first thing Will said when we saw Bora Bora’s iconic peaks from a distance was, “Let’s hike those!”. And so it would be.
We arrived in Bora Bora a week ago and started asking around for directions to the start of the trail. All was got back were warnings of “Don’t do the hike without a guide. It’s dangerous and easy to get lost or fall.”
Despite the cautionary advice, we (SV Hydroquest, SV Orkestern, and SV Ninita) were unanimous in deciding to try the trek sans assistance.
We researched the start of the trail on other cruiser blogs. The directions are: Go into Vaitape town center and you will see a row of pearl shops/stores on the east side of the main road. There is a narrow paved road between them that goes towards the mountain. Follow it. You should see barking dogs and houses as you follow the road. At the end, turn left and follow the dirt road through some fields. At the top of the fields you should be able to see the trail head on your right. The trail is marked with old T-shirts and bits of fabrics tied on branches. When you see three rocks piled on top of each other, you’ll know you’re on the right track.
The trail goes pretty much straight uphill, through the jungle. No switchbacks to be found. Roots and tree branches try to trip you up and mud and loose rock don’t provide stable footholds, but it’s fun to clamber and crawl up the hillside. Some areas are vertical but ropes have been installed. Unfortunately no one maintains them so you don’t want to trust them completely. After an hour and a half of scrambling up, with frequent water breaks, we made it to a sheer rock face and the trail flattened out and continued along beneath it.
“That wasn’t so bad! This is awesome.” We all agreed.
The last quarter of the hike is where it got a bit hairy. Suddenly we were out on open ridge, exposed to the sun and the wind, with the steepest terrain so far.
At one point Will asked – “Should we turn back?” That was a first! We could see the peak above us and its closeness urged us on. One by one we used a rope to pull ourselves to the top.
Will and I sat on the top of the ridge, dumbfounded by the amazing 240 degree view of Bora Bora, but also ready to figure out a way to get back down as quickly as possible. Did I mention that we both hate heights?
On the way down we ran into a couple who were hiking with a guide. They were wearing harnesses and had multiple extra ropes and safety equipment.
But hey – for anyone else planning to hike the trail – you really don’t need a guide. Just make sure to bring at least two bottles of water and a few extra ropes for the top part. Prepare to have sore legs for at least two days after.