One of the most popular activities for visitors to the island of Makatea is climbing. With trails suitable for climbers of all levels, even complete beginners, it’s an island that merits being looked up to.

With 16 kilometers of cliff face climbing trails that take you up to 50 meters above the Pacific Ocean, Makatea is a veritable vertical adventure playground. The first trails were opened in 2019 and there are now over a hundred. There are trails for all climbers even beginners, and experts will be able to find some that give their climbing skills a good test. A helmet, sturdy footwear and a harness are obligatory on all the trails. The ‘via ferrata’ is a trail with cables, ladders and ramps already in place to help your ascent, and it takes about 45 minutes to get to the top. Don’t look down as you climb, look out…over the vast blue Pacific Ocean. There aren’t many climbing trails in the world with a better view!

Climbing in paradise

The sport of cliff face climbing has found a home in French Polynesia, on the beautiful Pacific island of Makatea. Over twenty five years ago a team of climbing enthusiasts opened the first trail, with the help of a few local climbers. Since then, over a hundred different trails have been opened along the 16 kilometers of cliffs. Considered part of the eco responsible tourism offer in The Islands of Tahiti, great efforts are made to ensure that no harm is done to the local flora and fauna.

If you’re interested in climbing, watch the documentary film, Makatea Vertical Adventure, filmed by Guillaume Broust in 2019. Produced by Maewan, an association created by Erwan LeLann and Marion Curtois in France. It tells the story of how the first climbing trails were marked out on the island and aims to help in the promotion of sustainable tourism. Well-known climbers such as Nina Caprez, Charlotte Durif and Marcos Costa were involved in making the film, which also highlights the beauty of this coral atoll. Thanks in part to this documentary, climbing has now become an essential part of the tourist activity in Makatea.

Makatea from A to Z

Makatea is in the Palliser Islands which are part of the Tuamotu Islands archipelago. It was exploited for its phosphate deposits during sixty years of mining, which left considerable scars on the island and its people. You can still visit the vestiges of the mining village and see the thousands of pits that were left behind when the mine closed in the 1960s.

Makatea from the sea © Léa Parizot
Makatea from the sea © Léa Parizot

One of the most popular tourist activities in Makatea is catching kaveu, the delicious coconut crab. If you aren’t keen on climbing, there are other activities for you to try. Explore the old phosphate mine, swim in a freshwater pool inside a cave, go hiking in the mountains, and discover the local craftwork. Makatea is a very remote island with few inhabitants today and you’ll appreciate the calm and the luxuriant nature which is slowly covering the traces of its industrial past.

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