Vaipahi Falls was more of those classic intimate small jungle waterfalls where it’s easy to relax, swim, and play here (though the mozzies can easily break that piece of mind).
Tall hanging vines surround the little cove containing this waterfall and some pretty plants with colorful flowers flank the stream leading down away from the falls towards a pond on the other side of a footbridge. The garden encompassing the falls itself was a nice place to take a relaxing stroll while taking note of the pretty ponds and plants (I understand very few of them are native). Thus, I’d have to say that with such idyllic tropical scenery, I could easily envision why George Harrison (of The Beatles fame) and Pattie Boyd spent time here back in 1964.
I was able to reach this waterfall after a short walk in the Jardin Public Vaipahi (i.e. Vaipahi Public Garden in French), which did not charge an admission fee. While there were many trails leading to much longer walks (more on these later), the path to this waterfall was on an approach just to the right of some steps leading higher up the mountain. This flatter path ultimately led to a footbridge as well as the banks of the plunge pool to its left.
I had read some signage here that there was a second waterfall in this garden area, but a local here said it was a pretty solid hour-long hike up the mountain to get there. I didn’t try going up there, but maybe I might try again if we’re fortunate enough to return to Tahiti.
I suppose it’s also possible to combine these longer hikes into about a half-day’s worth of hiking in a long loop. So indeed there were options to extend a visit here beyond just the Vaipahi Falls itself, though this was the sole reason why we stopped at this garden.
The Vaipahi Public Garden is in the Papeari District at least 12km or so southwest of the town of Taravao. It’s a minute or two west of the turnoff for the Paul Gaugin Museum and just hundreds of meters east of the Bain du Vaima (which seemed to be packed with locals spending their weekend swimming at the spring and pools there). The garden is said to be near the PK49 post, but to be honest, we didn’t spot that post (as we had trouble using them on the south side of Tahiti Nui during our 2012 visit).
There’s an obvious paved car park and some huts containing a gift shop as well as some offices and storage sheds. I recalled they’re open daily from 07:30 to 17:00 (5pm).
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