Rising majestically from an azure lagoon, the dark volcanic peak of Mount Otemanu on Bora Bora is a striking contrast against the verdant mountain and tropical setting. At 727 metres high, Mount Otemanu and its smaller twin peak of Mount Pahia (661m) are the remnants of an extinct volcano in the centre of the South Pacific island.
While the idyllic island setting of sun, sand and beautiful lagoons may be your first port of call on a holiday to Bora Bora, don't overlook the lush tropical vegetation and amazing views to be gained from hiking the island's mountains and valleys. The dramatic peaks are an oft-photographed site due to their changing appearance according to where you are positioned on the island and their lofty height. It is possible to hike up Mount Pahia and Mount Otemanu with a guide, however the volcanic rock spire of Mount Otemanu is very brittle and not able to be climbed so you can only ascend to the shoulders of this mountain. To hike up the mountains, a certain degree of fitness and experience is required as the strenuous climb is quite steep. The unpredictable weather and hard-to-find unmaintained trails on the mountains can prove a challenge so it is worth hiring a guide to avoid getting lost.
Most hikes begin from Faanui, the harbour area of Bora Bora, and ascend up Mount Pahia – a four-hour trek. Climbing Mount Otemanu is an all-day trek of around six hours. It's recommended to attempt the climb in dry weather as the trail can be muddy and slippery in rainy conditions and, as some of the trails are almost vertical and require ropes to ascend over rock, can be quite treacherous. The climb is well worth the trouble to enjoy magical 360-degree views over Bora Bora and the ocean.
To get to Mount Otemanu, from the major settlement of Vaitape, take the road to the south of the Protestant Church and follow it to the base of the cliffs, a drive of around 15 minutes.