Are you tired of the farewell tour posts? We certainly aren’t tired of the farewell tour …but it is soon coming to an end. Soon we will pass the islands that are the furthest west we went in 2012 before turning back, and this time we’re going to keep on going. So, MAUPITI. How we love thee.
We used to describe Maupiti as a small, unspoiled Bora Bora. Now, we describe Bora as a crappier, larger version of Maupiti ;) The local government in Maupiti long ago voted that there would be no off island ownership of businesses – no chain hotels, no chain stores. This means that dollars spent in Maupiti, for the large part stay in Maupiti. It also means that rather than be relegated to lower paying jobs like dishwashers and clerks, the local population fill all of the positions – ownership, management, dishwashers and clerks alike.
Setting local politics aside, we thoroughly enjoyed the Maupiti manta cleaning station. We don’t get tired of swimming with mantas; it is a otherworldly experience each time.
These mantas are easily 10 feet across and they come into the cleaning station, unfurling their claspers and opening their gills waiting for the little cleaning wrasse fish to come in and divest them of parasites and other gunk. When the wrasse get a particularly deep item, the mantas twitch as if they have been poked or tickled but they hold steady for the cleaning. There is usually a manta or three waiting behind, patiently (I assume) in queue for the cleaning station. They swoop away and make a circuit, often coming back for multiple rounds at the Coral Head Wrasse Salon.
Tip: Please don’t chase the mantas. Please don’t dinghy over top of the cleaning station. If there are other snorkelers and divers, give them some space. Please don’t be an eejit and try to touch them – doing so removes the protective mucus on their skin and makes them prone to infection. If they approach you, feel the joy and stay still.
And then, of course, there is the view from the peak of Maupiti. A nice hike, a fantastic summit, we spent an hour up there again this time having a light snack and enjoying the view.
We were immediately ensconced in an extended family, whisked around the island in various vehicles, and enjoyed long beer drinking and world problem solving sessions. We’re going to miss these people!
We also ran into a boat in Maupiti that we met in Mopelia in 2012 who sailed to New Zealand that year and sailed back from New Zealand this year. If you are an offshore racing fan, the name Tabarly might ring a bell.