Sara Fondo standing on top of a mountain in Tatra National Park, Zakopane, Poland

Best Hiking Trail in Moorea: Three Coconuts Pass

Best Hiking Trail in Moorea: Three Coconuts Pass (Col Des Trois Cocotiers)

Three Coconuts Pass is easily the best hiking trail in Moorea. Why? It’s challenging yet fun and offers breathtaking views, making it a thrilling hike for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike.

You’ve made it to Moorea, one of the most stunning islands in the South Pacific, and what better way to experience this wondrous place than by immersing yourself in nature? With this Moorea Hiking Guide to Three Coconuts Pass, I got you covered.

In this guide I will let you in on everything you need to know about the best hiking trail in Moorea – Three Coconuts Pass, including how to get there, and what you should be aware of before you head out.

Welcome to your next adventure.

Table of Contents

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Best Hiking Trail in Moorea: Three Coconuts Pass (Col des Trois Cocotiers)

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Three Coconuts Pass Details

Trail Overview

  • Location: Island of Moorea, French Polynesia
  • Trail Length: Approximately 5 kilometers round trip
  • Duration: 2 to 3 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation Gain: About 280 meters
  • Best Time to Hike: Early morning or late afternoon to avoid the midday heat

Starting Point

  • Access: The trailhead is located near the Belvedere Lookout, a popular scenic viewpoint.
  • Directions: From the main road in Moorea, follow signs to Belvedere Lookout. There is a parking area where you can leave your vehicle.
  • Loop Trail: You can also do this trail as a loop, starting at the bottom of Opunohu Valley, which will add another 2 kilometers and approximately 1 hour. I will be describing how to do it as a loop in the How To Get There section.

Trail Description

  • Initial Section: The hike begins with a gradual ascent through lush rainforest. The path is well-marked and shaded by dense vegetation.
  • Midway Point: As you continue, the trail becomes steeper and rockier. You’ll pass through sections with exposed tree roots, so watch your footing.
  • Final Ascent: The last part of the hike includes a series of switchbacks that lead you up to the pass. This section can be challenging, but the reward is worth it.

Scenic Highlights

  • Panoramic Views: Once you reach Three Coconuts Pass, you’ll be greeted with stunning panoramic views of Moorea’s lush valleys, jagged peaks, and the turquoise waters of the Pacific Ocean.
  • Flora and Fauna: Along the trail, you can spot a variety of tropical plants and wildlife. Keep an eye out for colorful birds, butterflies, and unique flora like hibiscus and ferns.

Essential Tips

  • Footwear: Wear sturdy hiking boots or shoes with good traction.
  • Water: Bring plenty of water to stay hydrated, especially in the humid conditions.
  • Sun Protection: Use sunscreen, wear a hat, and bring sunglasses.
  • Insect Repellent: Mosquitoes can be prevalent, so apply insect repellent before you start.
  • Snacks: Pack some snacks or energy bars for a quick refuel.
  • Navigation: While the trail is well-marked, having a map or GPS can be helpful.

Safety Precautions

  • Weather Check: Always check the weather forecast before heading out. Avoid the trail during heavy rains as it can become slippery and dangerous.
  • Travel Companion: If possible, hike with a companion for safety.
  • Respect Nature: Stay on the designated path to protect the environment and avoid getting lost.

Nearby Attractions

  • Belvedere Lookout: Before or after your hike, take some time to enjoy the spectacular views from Belvedere Lookout.
  • Opunohu Bay: A short drive away, Opunohu Bay offers beautiful coastal scenery and opportunities for water activities.
  • ATV Tour, Snorkeling and Much More: I recommend checking out GetYourGuide’s many options for Things to Do in Moorea.

You can check out more details about Three Coconuts Pass on Alltrails.

Best Hiking Trail in Moorea: Three Coconuts Pass (Col des Trois Cocotiers)

How to get there

Three Coconuts Pass is located on the beautiful island of Moorea in French Polynesia. Moorea is accessible via a short ferry ride or flight from Tahiti, making it a convenient destination for travelers seeking natural beauty and adventure.

Option 1: Start from Belvedere Lookout

Directions to Trailhead

  1. From Tahiti:
    • If arriving by plane to Tahiti’s Faa’a International Airport, you can take a quick domestic flight to Moorea’s Temae Airport. Alternatively, frequent ferries depart from Tahiti’s Papeete Ferry Terminal to Moorea’s Vai’are Ferry Terminal.
  2. From Moorea’s Vai’are Ferry Terminal:
    • Upon disembarking, continue northwest on the main road towards the Belvedere Lookout. Signs will direct you towards the trailhead, which is a short drive from the terminal.
  3. Parking:
    • Near the Belvedere Lookout, there is a designated parking area where you can safely leave your vehicle. Ensure to arrive early during peak tourist times to secure a spot.

Transportation Options

  • Car Rental: Renting a car is an excellent choice for visitors looking to explore Moorea independently. Several rental agencies operate on the island, offering vehicles suited for both paved roads and occasional dirt tracks leading to trailheads.
  • Taxi Services: Taxis are available on Moorea, providing convenient transportation to and from popular landmarks, including the Three Coconuts Pass trailhead. Make arrangements in advance to ensure timely arrival and departure.
Best Hiking Trail in Moorea: Three Coconuts Pass (Col Des Trois Cocotiers)

Option 2: Start from Opunohu Valley – The Loop Trail

Directions to the start

The hike starts in the valley close to Opunohu Bay. Simply walk straight up the road from the bay, and take a left.

These are the coordinates of the starting point: -17.524116, -149.842212

The Turn

After a while on the wide, sometimes muddy, road that is mostly being used by ATV’s, you will have to take a right turn. This is where the hiking trail really begins.

These are the coordinates of where you’ll turn into the forest: -17.534953, -149.834834

The Loop

If you want to make this hiking trail into a loop, you have to stay right when walking in the forest. At one point, you can continue sort of straight up a creek or head up a hill to the right – make sure to stay right here.

These are the coordinates of the starting point of the loop: -17.54139, -149.841912

The Viewpoint

These are the coordinates of the viewpoint: -17.547397, -149.841837

The Loop – Again

And these are the coordinates of where you’ll need to make a left to complete the second half of the loop and not end up at Belvedere lookout: -17.545155, -149.839707

Trusty GPS

I recommend you to get the app maps.me, in order for you to keep track of where you are – you can see all the hiking trails on here, and since it’s easy to get lost on the second half of the loop, it’s pretty essential to have a functional map.

Remember to download the map of French Polynesia before heading out, so you can use it offline in case you lose connection on your mobile.

Best Hiking Trail in Moorea: Three Coconuts Pass (Col Des Trois Cocotiers)
Best Hiking Trail in Moorea: Three Coconuts Pass

What you need to know

Want a less traveled path?
Then do the Three Coconuts Pass as a loop trail! I haven’t met a single other human being on this path because most people do the shorter hike from Belvedere lookout. So, it’s a good chance to be one with nature and immerse yourself into the wild.

Look for the red strings!
On most of this hike you can be sure that you’re heading the right way by following the guiding red strings tied to branches.

Turn right! (If you’re doing the Loop Trail)
At one point, deep in the forest, you come to a point where you can either follow the creek or turn right. Make sure to turn right because this is what makes the trail into a loop – and this is such a cool part of the hike!

Beware of the second half of the loop!
When I did this hike, it was right after a storm. After the viewpoint, going down, I got to a point when I could see no path and no strings, just fallen trees and branches. I used the GPS on maps.me to go forward until a path appeared again, but it was easy to get lost.

Remember Ralph the Rooster
At the viewpoint a cheeky rooster resides, and I know he’ll appreciate a snack, so keep him in mind, when you’re packing your bag.

The hike can be challenging
Take breaks as needed and don’t rush. Also let someone know that you’re going and when you expect to be back.

Pack the essentials
A day pack with snacks, plenty of water, first aid supplies, and your camera to capture the stunning scenery, and make sure to have a map or GPS device.

Respect yourself and your limits
It’s essential to be in good health and have a reasonable level of fitness to complete this hiking trail. Always prioritize your safety and well-being.

My experience

Best Hiking Trail in Moorea: Three Coconuts Pass (Col Des Trois Cocotiers)

Hiking Three Coconuts Pass on Moorea

Let’s talk about my own experience hiking Three Coconuts Pass. I’ve actually done this hike thrice, taking three different routes on the descent; one time I went to Belvedere lookout, another time I went down the other side of the mountain, so I ended up in Ha’apiti and hitchhiked my way back to Opunohu Bay, and the last time I did the loop which is probably my favorite, and the one I will be describing below.

The first part of the hiking trail is on a wide, sometimes muddy, road that is mainly used by ATV’s. It’s still a gorgeous walk though, surrounded by towering, lush trees, and the scent of ripe fruit from the nearby pineapple fields, hanging in the air. Keep an eye on your map because at one point, you will need to turn right.

This is where the real hike begins.

Best Hiking Trail in Moorea: Three Coconuts Pass (Col Des Trois Cocotiers)
Best Hiking Trail in Moorea: Three Coconuts Pass (Col Des Trois Cocotiers)

The Enchanted Forest

Rocks, dirt, swaying vines, trickling water, wild flowers. This hiking trail is like you’ve walked straight into an enchanted forest, where friendly trolls and a nasty witch are lurking in the bushes. Especially after you make the turn to start the loop.

For me, this is my favorite part of the hiking trail. There’s a long, strenuous stretch of climbing, where you can be sure that every muscle in your body will be activated, but don’t worry, there are ropes to help you along.

And afterwards? Well, you’re basically walking right beneath the canopy on the most beautiful stretch along the mountainside where you have a rock wall with its teasing trickle of water to your right, and to your left the green abyss, so be careful where you put your feet.

The steep part is rough, but the rest of the trail till the viewpoint is a treat. At the viewpoint, it’s like the island stretches out below, a patchwork of greenery meeting the azure expanse of the lagoon.

You’re basically nestled in between the two mountains, and Opunohu Bay has never looked more beautiful, so don’t forget your camera. Here, you can sit below the little tree and have a snack.

Best Hiking Trail in Moorea: Three Coconuts Pass (Col Des Trois Cocotiers)
Best Hiking Trail in Moorea: Three Coconuts Pass (Col Des Trois Cocotiers)

Ralph The Rooster

But the true highlight of this hiking trail? Ralph the Rooster. When I met him the first time, I went up to The Three Coconuts Lookout, he basically speeded towards me as I was nearing in on the summit, and I thought aw poor bird, what is he doing out here?

I mean, have you ever met a rooster on a mountaintop before? I fed him an entire muesli bar, figuring he must be hungry. But oh, how he had me fooled. He was no poor bird. Ralph had this whole thing figured out.

He had taken resident at the viewpoint like some fabled guardian of the trail because he knew that people came by often, and being his audacious self, he scored several food-offerings from passing hikers. You gotta give it to him, he’s a smart one.

Then, the last time I did this hike, I was delighted to be introduced to his coy better half. Harriet the Hen. A gentle soul, she stayed in the bushes for most of the time. I do hope Ralph shares some of his loot with her.

If you meet them, make sure to give them my best.

Best Hiking Trail in Moorea: Three Coconuts Pass (Col des Trois Cocotiers)
Best Hiking Trail in Moorea: Three Coconuts Pass (Col Des Trois Cocotiers)
Best Hiking Trail in Moorea: Three Coconuts Pass (Col Des Trois Cocotiers)

This is where it gets wild

On your descent, you follow the same road leading to Belvedere Lookout for the first one-third of the trail, but make sure to keep an eye on your map because you will have to make a left to make this into a loop. When I was there, Mother Nature had thrown a tantrum – fallen trees and tangled branches turned the trail into a jungle gym.

I scrambled around the thick but also moldy vegetation for some time, trying to spot one of the red guide strings to confirm that I was on the right track, but they were all playing hide-and-seek. I was growing slightly nervous because daylight was fading, and I started to contemplate whether to turn around.

But I decided to give it a real go and used the compass on my maps.me app to try to find my way to the trail, that had vanished, in true survivor style. The wild holds its secrets, but with a sprinkle of determination and a good gut feeling, I eventually found my way back to the beaten track.

Keep walking, and you will complete the loop and end up on the trail, you started on. From here it’s a chill walk down into the embrace of the valley.

Afterthoughts

In the end, Three Coconuts Pass is an adventure that’s as wild and unpredictable as Ralph the Rooster’s appetite! For me, it wasn’t just a walk-through nature; it was an invitation to Moorea’s raw and wild side, an ode to the uncharted and the unpredictable. It was a reminder that sometimes, the road less traveled is exactly where the heart finds its truest rhythm.

Best Hiking Trail in Moorea: Three Coconuts Pass (Col Des Trois Cocotiers)

FAQs

Questions and Answers about Three Coconuts Pass Hiking Trail in Moorea

Is the Three Coconuts Pass hike suitable for beginners?

The Three Coconuts Pass hike is considered moderate in difficulty, featuring some steep sections and uneven terrain. While it may challenge beginners, it is manageable with proper preparation and pacing. Take breaks as needed and enjoy the journey at your own pace.

What is the best time of day to hike Three Coconuts Pass?

Early morning or late afternoon are the ideal times to start the hike. This allows you to avoid the midday heat and enjoy cooler temperatures. Additionally, early mornings often offer clearer views of Moorea’s stunning landscapes.

Are there any facilities along the trail?

The trail itself does not have facilities such as restrooms or water stations. It’s essential to carry enough water, snacks, and any necessary personal items with you. Facilities are available at the Belvedere Lookout area before or after your hike.

How long does it take to hike Three Coconuts Pass?

The hike to Three Coconuts Pass typically takes about 2 to 3 hours round trip, depending on your pace and the amount of time spent enjoying the views at the pass itself.

Is there an entrance fee or permit required to hike the trail?

No, there is no entrance fee or permit required to hike Three Coconuts Pass. The trail is open to the public and accessible to all visitors interested in exploring Moorea’s natural beauty.

What should I wear and bring for the hike?

It’s recommended to wear sturdy hiking shoes with good traction to navigate the varied terrain. Light, breathable clothing suitable for hiking in a tropical climate is also advisable. Don’t forget to bring sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, insect repellent, plenty of water, and snacks for energy.

Can I hike to Three Coconuts Pass alone?

While solo hiking is possible, it’s always safer to hike with a companion, especially in unfamiliar terrain. If hiking alone, inform someone of your plans and estimated return time. Stay on marked trails and be mindful of your surroundings.

Are there other activities or attractions near Three Coconuts Pass?

Yes, nearby attractions include the Belvedere Lookout, offering panoramic views of Moorea, and Opunohu Bay, where you can explore scenic coastal areas and possibly engage in water activities such as snorkeling or kayaking.

What wildlife or flora can I expect to encounter on the hike?

The trail to Three Coconuts Pass passes through lush rainforest, where you may encounter various tropical plants and wildlife. Keep an eye out for colorful birds, butterflies, and unique flora such as hibiscus and ferns along the way.

Is the Three Coconuts Pass trail suitable for children?

While children who are used to hiking moderate trails should be able to complete the Three Coconuts Pass hike, parents should assess their child’s hiking experience and endurance. Ensure they are adequately prepared with appropriate footwear, hydration, and snacks.

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