Distance: 5 miles out-and-back Elevation Gain: 2,950 feet Difficulty: Strenuous Location: Near the Hilton Resort
What You Need To Know Before Hiking Rotui
The hike up Rotui is probably unlike any other hike you’ve ever done. Because of this, there are certain things you’ll want to know before you set off on your journey.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Experienced Hikers Only
Don’t let the elevation of Rotui fool you. Just because it isn’t a high-altitude climb doesn’t mean it isn’t difficult.
In fact, we’ve hiked thousands of trails across the world from massive volcanoes, to class-3 Colorado 14ers, to multi-day treks in New Zealand and the Rotui hike in Moorea was one of the most technical and demanding.
There are several places where you’ll need to scramble and climb up huge boulders, so we don’t suggest this hike if you aren’t an experienced hiker or climber.
We also wouldn’t suggest this hike for young children. I would suggest an age limit of 12 years or older to hike Rotui, but this is completely up to your discretion.
2. This Is The Best View On The IslandBy Far
While spending two months exploring Moorea, we used a lot of our time trying to find the most epic views of this Polynesian island. As one of the most beautiful islands on the planet, we wanted to see it from every angle.
Climbing Rotui gave us a vantage point that we couldn’t find elsewhere (not even Magic Mountain or Belvedere Lookout could offer these kinds of views).
It is by far the best place to see the island from above. If you need proof, the pictures speak for themselves.
3. You’ll Be Exposed To The Hot Sun And Sheer Cliffs
We’ve mentioned that the Rotui hike in Moorea is a very difficult trek. Someone from SummitPost even said that this hike is comparable to hikes in the Himalayas.
Although I’ve never hiked in the Himalayas (..yet!), I can bet he’s right.
With that in mind, we want to make sure you are fully prepared for what lies ahead on the Rotui trail.
Understand that the sun will be beating down on you throughout your entire hike. We were told to start our hike as early as possible, so we went at 7am.
Even at 7am, the sun was scorching and the short bushes and trees along the way offered very little relief.
Keep this in mind and bring the necessary gear to keep you safe. This includes a hat!
Not only will you be exposed to the sun, but you’ll also be exposed to sheer cliffs and drop-offs. The Rotui hike is not for the faint of heart, so if you are afraid of heights, I would consider a different hiking trail in Moorea.
Note: While we were hiking Rotui in November 2020, the trail was giving out under our feet in many spots due to erosion.
4. Plan For At Least A Half Day Hike
Sure, it’s only 2.5 miles to reach the top of Rotui, but this Moorea hike will take a lot longer than you’d think.
Since you’ll be climbing and scrambling up the trail for the second half of the hike, it’s going to take you much longer to complete than a moderate hike would.
Give yourself at least half a day (4-6 hours) to complete this hike and if you’re on the slower side, give yourself even more time.
5. Don’t Get Summit Fever!
I get it… Summiting a mountain is a special feeling and personally, I always feel upset when I don’t make it to the top. It rarely happens, but when it does, it’s because my safety is much more important than reaching the peak.
We climbed about three quarters of the way up Rotui before we had to turn back.
As dark clouds approached, we knew that the trek back down would be extremely dangerous if it started raining.
In addition, the trail started to collapse underneath us during many sections of the hike. The higher we climbed, the more unsteady and delicate the trail became.
As we stared at the summit of Rotui and longed to conquer her mighty cliffs, we knew it would put us in danger.
If you notice rain clouds approaching or the trail becomes too unstable, TURN BACK. It isn’t worth risking your life.
Note: You’ll still get the most epic views even if you don’t reach the summit.
6. Never Hike Alone!
And the final thing you should know before you climb Moorea’s most famous peak.. don’t hike alone.
For avid hikers, this is a no-brainer.
As mentioned before, the Rotui hike requires scrambling and climbing. Getting hurt is easy and common, but calling for help is not so simple.
We highly recommend hiking Rotui with another person. If you’ve come to Moorea by yourself, find a local adventurer that would be willing to climb it with you.
Note: You can find a hiking partner by joining this Facebook group dedicated to Moorea locals: VIVRE A MOOREA.
How To Get To The Mount Rotui Hike Trailhead
So you’ve read through our important tips and you’ve decided to give this Moorea hike a go; you won’t be disappointed.
But first you’ll need to get to the trailhead.
While other hikes on Moorea are easy to find, the Mount Rotui trailhead can be difficult to find if you don’t know what you’re looking for.
The Rotui trailhead is located near the Hilton Resort and Spa Moorea. As you leave Cook’s Bay and drive toward Opunohu Bay, the Hilton will be on your right.
Continue past the Hilton for about 100-150 meters.
Look to your left (inland) and you’ll see a dirt driveway with a coconut tree. The coconut tree will have a sign that says Rotui in red. Use the picture above for a better visual image.
Personally, we decided to park near the end of Ta’ahiamanu Beach on the road since there are parking spots, however, this will add to your hike.
You may be able to park closer, but we didn’t want to risk it. Since the Rotui trailhead is located down a driveway, we wanted to be as respectful as possible since we didn’t know if we were allowed to park there.
Note: Don’t park at the Hilton. Even the overflow parking lot is off-limits to anyone other than guests or employees. We tried and ended up having to move.
Once you reach the correct driveway, follow it all the way until you reach the wooded area. You’ll see signs like the one you see below.
Follow those signs to the right for about 10 meters before turning up the hill.
The trail likely won’t be visible when you turn up the hill but aim for the woods in front of you and you’ll see red and white ribbons on the trees like the one pictured above.
Map Of The Mount Rotui Trailhead
To make things easier for you, we’ve dropped a pin where the Rotui trailhead is located in Moorea. Since we had some difficulty finding it, we wanted to make this as straightforward as possible for you.
Use the map below to find the exact location of the trailhead.
The Hike: Route Description & What To Expect
Continuing our trail description from the trailhead section above, here’s what you’ll want to know:
Once you reach the woods after the hill, look for the well-trodden path. Although you might not be on the official path yet, it will lead you to it.
This first part will consist of dense woods, so you might have to push your way through some branches. Keep an eye out for red and white ribbons on the trees. This will also help you find your way.
Once you find the official path, it will look similar to the one you’re seeing in the picture below.
This path will take you through more woods and it will slowly become less shaded but more maintained.
As you reach the half-mile mark, the woods will start to fade and you’ll get your first glimpses of the lagoon below.
The higher you go, the more it becomes a climb rather than a hike. You’ll reach places that require you to pull yourself up and over a few boulders and scoot around narrow ledges.
This type of trail will continue until you reach about the mile-and-a-half marker. This is when things become much more complicated.
You’ll really start to scale the ridge with sheer drop-offs on either side. When you aren’t scaling a ridge, you’ll likely be inching along the side of the mountain or climbing up hills that require the use of both your hands and feet.
You’ll continue like this until you reach the summit.
During this final stretch, be sure to take your time. There is no need to rush because one misstep could be very dangerous.
When To Hike Rotui In Moorea
Deciding when to hike Rotui during our trip to Moorea was one of the most difficult tasks.
This tropical island experiences a lot of rain, which is why its biodiversity is so rich. But, this doesn’t help those who want to hike Rotui.
First and foremost, you’ll want to choose a day that has the driest weather.
Even if it is sunny but it rained the day before, don’t climb Rotui. A muddy and slippery trail will add to this already strenuous trek.
Second, you’ll to start as early in the morning as possible.
We started at 7am and it worked out well for us. Although we still felt the heat of the day, it was manageable. But, we couldn’t imagine what it would be like to start this hike later in the day.
Start early and avoid the hottest part of the afternoon.
Note: Pay attention to the weather at all times. When we started, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. An hour later, the darkest clouds approached bringing with them a ton of rain.
Do I Need A Guide For The Rotui Hike In Moorea?
One of the most common questions people ask is if it’s necessary to hire a guide for the Rotui hike in Moorea.
The answer is no. You absolutely don’t need a guide and in fact, when we were climbing this mountain, we saw several other couples climbing as well. None of them had guides.
You’ll have signs and ribbons to show you the way and once you find the path, it’s very obvious and difficult to get lost.
I think the reason people suggest a guide is because it is a treacherous hike. Losing your footing or taking a wrong step could be dangerous and potentially fatal.
Since Mike and I were hiking together, we didn’t feel the need to have a guide and we didn’t regret our decision.
But, if you’re hiking alone or you’re unsure if this is too challenging of a hike for you, we recommend finding a guide. You can find a local guide on the Facebook page we mentioned above.
What To Wear During Your Moorea Hikes
Whether you decide to hike Rotui or you’re going to tackle an easier trail on Moorea, it’s imperative that you wear the right clothing.
Here’s what you’ll want to wear for your Moorea hikes:
✅ A Hat
Trust me on this one, our hats saved our lives. A hat will keep the sun out of your eyes and it’ll protect you from overheating.
✅ Hiking Shoes/Boots
There are plenty of hiking trails on Moorea that you can get away with wearing Chacos or regular tennis shoes, but I wouldn’t suggest it for the Rotui hike.
Hiking shoes or boots will keep you from slipping as you scale boulders and climb up nearly-vertical inclines.
Note: If you didn’t bring your hiking shoes, running or athletic shoes *might* be okay on a very dry day.
✅ Cool Clothing
It’s very unlikely that you’ll experience any other type of weather than hot and humid when you go to climb Rotui.
Shorts, t-shirts, or tank tops will be ideal for this hike.
What To Bring On Your Moorea Hikes
No matter what activity you do in Moorea, you’ll want to have plenty of sunscreen to protect your skin. Believe me on this one, sunburns are NOT fun in a tropical destination. Lather up!
Note: I also recommend bringing your sunscreen with you during the hike up to Rotui. You’ll be sweating a lot and you’ll want to reapply it when necessary.
Pack at least 2L of water per person, if not more. This hike in particular will take a lot out of you, especially since you’ll be exposed to the sun for the majority of the trail.
Electrolytes are also a good idea to replenish any sodium that you’ve lost during your hike.
Note: Gatorade is pretty expensive on Moorea, so we recommend buying Okipik instead. This carbonated water has calcium, magnesium, sodium, and plenty of other important ingredients.
It’s easiest to hike with 2L of water when you have a camelbak (or any hiking backpack) with a water bladder.
In the picture below, you can see the hose from my water bladder. This makes it really easy to keep drinking while you’re hiking so you don’t have to keep taking out your water bottle.
Personally, we love our Osprey water bladders because they are well-made and can fit nicely in any backpack. You can find the same water bladder here: Osprey Hydraulics Reservoir.
Watch Our Detailed Moorea Hiking Video
If you want even more information and details about the Rotui hike in Moorea, be sure to check out our video on Youtube.
Ps. If you subscribe to our Youtube channel, we’ll love you even more!
The Wrap-Up: Rotui Hike Moorea
If you’re looking for the best views on the island of Moorea and you’re up for a bit of a challenge, add the Rotui hike to your list.
Although it is a strenuous trail, it is more than worth every second of the tough trek.
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