Makatea, the only raised atoll in the Tuamotu Islands, is a popular destination because of its unique geology. The only way to get there is by boat.

Sailing to Makatea ©_Grégoire Le Bacon

Gettiing to Makatea

Whether you’re a climbing enthusiast, a historian or simply very curious, Makatea atoll has something for you. There is no airstrip on the atoll, so you have to go by boat from Tahiti or Rangiroa. It takes from 8 to 12 hours to get to Rangiroa by boat, depending on the conditions. You have two options for getting to Makatea: mixed cargo ferry or catamaran. You can plan your visit around the schedules of the different cargo ships which leave from Papeete to deliver merchandise to the islands and carry passengers as well. Or you can charter a catamaran, with or without skipper, to visit Maketea and the other Tuamotu Islands at your own pace. It takes a night’s sailing to reach Makatea by catamaran and a few days, depending on the itinerary of the mixed cargo ferry.

Getting around in Makatea

The atoll is only 14 square miles and there’s only one small road on the island. There is no car or motor scooter rental. If you’re staying at a Tahitian Guesthouse there are usually bikes available for guests, or your hosts will take you to see the main tourist sites by car. If you’re staying on a sailboat, you’ll disembark on the quay at Temao and will have to get around by foot. So a solid pair of walking shoes is a good idea. However, the local population is warm and welcoming, so if you stick out your thumb and give a big smile, the chances are that a passing car will pick you up.

Makatea from the sea © Léa Parizot

Be inspired


If you want to get a taste of the way of life of the locals, then accompany them on a crab catching hunt, when they go out after dark to catch kaveu (coconut crabs). However, the most popular experience on the island is cliff climbing and there are well-marked trails up the cliff face to suit all levels of climber.

More experiences
Railway in Makatea©_Léa Parizot

Discovery experience

The History of Makatea

Escalade Makatea © MAKATEA Escalade

Activity experience

Climbing in Makatea

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Practical information

Try to catch a mixed cargo ferry that arrives at Makatea early in the morning, so that you can appreciate the glorious sunrise over the atoll. And make sure you know the date and time of the return trip.

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