About Vaimahutu Falls (Faarumai Waterfall)
Vaimahutu Falls is one of three Faarumai Waterfalls in the northeast part of Tahiti Nui.
When we first saw it in September 2002, the falls was impressively tall though a bit thin. That was because that was well into the Dry Season. However, we showed up ten years later in mid-December and the picture you see at the top of this page was what it looked like. There were even smaller temporary waterfalls flanking the main one! So given that we’ve seen this falls in both low and high flow, I have to believe this waterfall reliably flows flow year-round.
The Faarumai Waterfalls may also be referred to as Les Trois Cascades de Tefaarumai (as indicated by a sign at the car park here) or simply “Les Trois Cascades” since it’s possible to visit the base of three waterfalls within a short distance here. However, I’ve also seen TripAdvisor threads referring to these waterfalls as the Fautaua Waterfalls and that is not correct since the real Fautaua Waterfalls are in the Fautaua Valley near Papeete.
Visiting this waterfall was a pretty straightforward affair as we were able to do it by self-driving as well as by putting Tahiti Island’s public transportation system to the test on our first attempt back in 2002. Therefore, I have to believe it has to be Tahiti’s most famous and popular waterfall.
It was only about a five-minute or less walk from the car park to the base of the falls. In fact, it was easy enough for Julie and I to bring our two-year-old daughter here in an Ergobaby.
The waterfall was tall enough for it to be difficult to capture the whole thing in one shot without a wide angle lens when standing at the concrete viewing spot. I figured out that you have to stand back on the main trail in order to capture the whole thing easily. I don’t know exactly how tall the falls was, but the main visible tier that the trail leads to had to be at least over 100ft tall or more.
However, it seemed like there were more leaps and tiers unseen from the main viewing area but could be seen from the main road as well as the approach road to the car park. It was only by noticing the falls from the approach did we appreciate the full scale of the falls.
First we’ll tell you how to get here by self-driving since that would be the most straightforward option (though by no means the cheapest). Then, we’ll summarize how we managed to get here the cheapest way you can in a reasonable amount of time, which was by public transport.
We basically followed the main road from Punaauia (where we were staying) through Papeete. We made sure to follow the RDO (a small freeway or autoroute) leading right onto Boulevard Pomare V (the main road on the waterfront) as it approached a large roundabout with Avenue du Prince Hinoi (I suspect the source of the city’s congestion is that roundabout in addition to volume). Taking the first exit of that roundabout (right) onto Avenue du Prince Hinoi, we then followed this road past more traffic lights and other roundabouts heading in the direction of Mahina.
It took us time (on the order of 20-30 minutes) to leave Papeete due to traffic and length, but once we were out of the city, the driving became much less stressful (though following slow moving vehicles, scooters, or folks on bicycles with limited space and/or opportunities to pass would be the next thing to worry about).
From there, we followed the main road circling Tahiti Nui passing by the turnoff for Papenoo Valley (just before PK18) and continuing through a tunnel near PK22. On the other side of the tunnel, we had to look out for a well-signposted turnoff for Les Trois Cascades (I recalled the signage and tunnel weren’t there in 2002). We even noticed the falls in the valley to our right just before the turnoff.
Taking the turnoff, we then drove the last 1.3km past some residences to the road’s dead-end at the car park for the falls. All told, it took us roughly 45 minutes or more to drive from central Papeete to the falls.
As for visiting the falls by public transport, we managed to do it back in 2002 (at a time when neither of us spoke French, which really made this an adventure). First, we had to catch one of the hourly buses to Taravao (which is a town on the isthmus connecting Tahiti Nui with Tahiti Iti). Then, we took the bus towards a stop next to the Arohoho Blowhole (the bus driver was kind enough to tell us when to get off).
From there, we then walked towards the turnoff leading to the Tefa’arumai Waterfalls, and then walked the 1.3km road for I think around 20 minutes to the car park. We then had to go back to the same area where the bus dropped us off in order to catch the hourly bus back to Papeete (in our case, it happened to be the same driver that dropped us off two hours earlier).
When you’re done visiting the falls, it might be worth your while to check out the neighboring Arohoho Blowhole and the neighboring black sand beach near the PK22 post. To get there from the falls, turn left back onto the main road (heading towards the tunnel). The car park for the blowhole is directly to the right of the eastern entrance of the tunnel (or left of the eastern exit of the tunnel if you’re headed east). You can only access its car park going in a westerly direction and you can only exit that car park by going into the tunnel. Should you wish to continue going east after visiting the blowhole, you’ll have to find a way to safely U-turn on the other side of the tunnel.
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