80° BY THE SEA
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You could say Maupiti is a smaller version of Bora Bora—there's a main island sitting in a large lagoon surrounded by several motu that have long, creamy white beaches. Apart from Maupiti's high peaks (Mt. Teurufaaitu is 1,130 feet [344 meters]) being half the size of its neighbor's and its motu being considerably longer, the real difference is the peace, quiet, and unspoiled nature. It's a haven
for those wanting to escape the international resorts and Jet Skis and boats zipping across the lagoon. In fact, the locals are doing their best to keep ritzy resorts away. Its 18 square km (7 square mi) are home to only 1,200 people who are involved in agriculture and tourism—melons and copra are the main crops—and there are a handful of pensions and tours available. In name there are two towns—Farauru and Vai'ea—but there's really only one as the two run together with a church, a few offices, and one snack bar. The road is 10 km (6 mi) long and it virtually clings to the coast the whole way; it takes two to three hours to walk it and over an hour to cycle it.
Maupiti is said to be the oldest of the Society Islands, having being formed 4 millions years ago. Excavated graves on the northern motu of Pae'ao date to AD 850, as do some of the marae. There are also ancient turtle petroglyphs (stone carvings) on the main island. Dutch explorer Jakob Roggeveen sighted and recorded the island in 1722 but it remained forgotten for many years. Today, life goes on as it has for hundreds of years and turtles still nest on the isolated beaches. You'll share this untouched landscape with hundreds of seabirds that nest around Vai'ea and the manta rays and fish that inhabit the shallow lagoon. The best snorkeling is at Onoiau, the fast-flowing pass between Pitiahe and Tiapaa motus; it's also the only entrance into the lagoon.