Vaiharuru Falls

Hitiaa / Faaone, Tahiti Island, French Polynesia

About Vaiharuru Falls

Hiking Distance: roadside
Suggested Time:

Date first visited: 2012-12-15
Date last visited: 2012-12-15

Waterfall Latitude: -17.63513
Waterfall Longitude: -149.31759

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

Vaiharuru Falls (not to be confused with the one in Papenoo Valley) was one of those look-but-don’t-touch waterfalls.

It plunged dramatically at a distance from the main road on the east side of Tahiti Nui (the larger part of the “dumbell” of the Island of Tahiti).

Vaiharuru_Falls_006_20121215 - Contextual yet distant roadside view of the Vaiharuru Falls
Contextual yet distant roadside view of the Vaiharuru Falls

I’d have to say this is probably more for waterfall collectors or if you’re looking for a place to stop and stretch for a short break from driving.

However, with that said, it could’ve easily been a more touted attraction as it was supposed to be one of the filming locations of John Huston’s remake of Herman Melville’s Typee in 1957.

Instead, when his remake of Melville’s more famous work, Moby Dick, flopped, he chose not to pursue the Typee project.

Vaiharuru Falls looked like it fell in two main tiers with a large section between the tiers unseen from our vantage point.

Looking to improve the Vaiharuru Falls Experience

It was definitely no slouch as far as major waterfalls were concerned, but I’d have to say that this was one of the more obscure waterfalls as we really had to know where to look in order to spot it.

If it wasn’t for reading through our 2007 Moon book, we wouldn’t even have known to look for it.

Otherwise, we easily could’ve continued driving past this guy without even noticing it or passing it off as just another miscellaneous waterfall!

Vaiharuru_Falls_008_20121215 - Full context of the distant view of the Vaiharuru Falls
Full context of the distant view of the Vaiharuru Falls

With such an impressively tall and pretty waterfall, it made us wonder if there was a way to get closer to the Vaiharuru Falls without trespassing.

Or, would it be possible to access this waterfall without worrying about getting the rental car stuck or having to bushwhack our way there?

Whatever the case, we didn’t find any infrastructure in the form of signs nor an obvious trail that would’ve taken us closer.

Unfortunately with a fussy baby in tow, we weren’t in position to try our luck either.

Timing and Best Sanctioned Spot for Vaiharuru Falls

Instead, the photo you see at the top of this page was taken near the bridge over the Faatautia River (see directions below).

You’d probably need to have a pretty decent zoom on the camera in order to capture the falls satisfactorily.

Otherwise, it’d look pretty small from such a distance.

Plus, there were some trees blocking our ability to see if the Vaiharuru Falls was even taller than what we could tell.

Vaiharuru_Falls_009_20121215 - Focused on just the visible drops of the Vaiharuru Falls
Focused on just the visible drops of the Vaiharuru Falls

So I’m sure there was more to this waterfall than meets the eye!

I also couldn’t tell if we happened to see this waterfall in a swollen state or if it could go dry in the Dry Season.

Because we spotted this waterfall in the midst of Tahiti’s Wet Season (in what seemed to be a particularly active cyclone season), we weren’t in a position to make that evaluation.

So it’s entirely possible that you might spot this waterfall later in the year and wonder what the fuss is all about.


Vaiharuru Falls is on Tahiti Island near Faaone in Tahiti (or more formally French Polynesia). For information or inquiries about this area as well as current conditions, visit the Tahiti Tourism website or their Facebook page.

Vaiharuru_Falls_004_20121215 - Portrait shot of Vaiharuru Falls as seen from the main road on the east side of Tahiti Nui
Vaiharuru_Falls_010_20121215 - Distant focused look at the main drop of the Vaiharuru Falls as seen from the main road

Vaiharuru Falls sits on the eastern side of Tahiti Nui between the villages of Hitiaa and Faaone.

The bridge over the Faatautia River was between the PK17 and PK18 posts (just 0.2km north of the PK18 post).

By the way, the PK stands for “pointe kilometre” and they look like small white pillars topped with red paint.

On one face, they write down how much further to go to get to the stated destination.

On the adjacent face, they put down the distance marker from the starting point and direction.

Papeete_Notre_Dame_002_12162012 - Pointe Kilometre 0 fronting the Notre Dame Cathedral in central Papeete
Pointe Kilometre 0 fronting the Notre Dame Cathedral in central Papeete

They’re quite easy to miss until you start to notice them (though some seemed to be put in more obscure spots like the one photographed here which was taken next to the Notre Dame Cathedral in downtown Papeete).

Most of the markers on the northeast side of the island were pretty well-marked and reliable.

However, on the south side of Tahiti Nui, they seemed to be harder to come by or the paint wore off.

Whatever the case, they stopped being reliable on that region of Tahiti Nui as far as we were concerned during our 2012 visit.

Finally, for some context and drive times, this waterfall was said to be 55km (about 90 minutes drive) east of Punaauia and 42km (an hour drive) east of downtown Papeete.

Find A Place To Stay

Zoomed in bottom up sweep of the falls from the bridge over the Faatautia Stream

Right to left sweep from the Faatautia Stream bridge before focusing in on the waterfall

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Tagged with: vaiharuru, hitiaa, tahiti island, tahiti, french polynesia, faaone, roadside, typee, herman melville, moby dick

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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of the award-winning A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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