(a version of this report was contributed to SummitPost)
This is the most popular and best-maintained hiking trail on Moorea. Local guides take visitors to the pass most days of the week, and largely thanks to their efforts, the trail is in great condition. As of September 2013, the path was wide enough in most places that you barely even had to touch the surrounding vegetation. This is in stark contrast to most other trails in the interior of the island, which can be overgrown and difficult to follow.
The trail begins at the Belvedere parking lot, heads west for a while passing a few dry creeks, then turns south and climbs up to the pass. The net elevation gain is only 160 meters, with total elevation gain around 260 meters. Rewards for hikers include is an up-close view of Mouaroa to the west, Mt. Tohiea behind, and open vistas of the north and south coasts of the island.
Before You Go
- Allow 3 hours – you’ll finish much faster if you hurry, but why hurry?
- Take 2 litres of water per person – you will sweat buckets
- Bring comfortable footwear with good traction (no flip-flops)
- Usual outdoor common sense applies: avoid going alone; tell someone where you are going and when to expect you; be prepared for rain and emergencies.
Once at the Belvedere, ignore the spectacular vista completely (you’ll see why in a moment). Find the trail heading west, i.e. on your right as you drive into the parking area. Keep left at the first junction. At the next one, a short detour continues straight to a viewpoint essentially identical to the Belvedere, but with a nice bench, and normally not another soul in sight. The main trail meanwhile heads sharply left then descends about 50 meters to the first creek.
The creeks are generally dry (in the dry season, anyway). Make sure to cross them and reconnect with the trail on the other side – it’s easy to end up following the creek bed instead, which is not what you want. Look for obvious steps marking the point where the trail hits the creek on either side.
Continue until you reach an opening in the trees with a view of Cook Bay. The trail to the pass heads up on your left (continuing straight will take you down to Opunohu bay). From here on it is a steady climb with some switchbacks to Three Coconut Trees pass. The trail narrows near the top and may be washed out in places, so watch your step.
There is at least one other trail leading to this spot, so make sure to pick the correct route on your way down. As of September 2013 it was possible to reach the pass from the south coast of the island too, although that route is a bit more challenging. Check with Mark at Mark’s Place Moorea for details.