Situated to the northeast of Tahiti, Makatea is unlike any of its neighboring atolls in that it is elevated, with impressive cliffs rising to 320 feet high. The population of Makatea is less than a hundred! To get there you have to go by boat, as there is no airport.

What makes it so special

Why visit Makatea?

Phosphate pit in Makatea © MAKATEA Escalade

History and phosphate

The most striking feature of Makatea is its unique geological structure. A movement of the earth’s crust millions of years ago raised the atoll about a hundred meters above sea level. Majestic limestone cliffs rose up from the sea and the subsoil of the island contained phosphate.

From 1917 to 1962, the economy of the island was dependent on the mining of this phosphate, with the local population working alongside foreign laborers. The first and only railroad in French Polynesia was built to transport the mined phosphate to the island’s port. Vestiges of all this industrial activity can still be seen today, notably the abandoned mines, the tunnels, the old port and the remains of the railroad.

The History of Makatea
Climbing ©_MAKATEA Escalade

Climbing and discovery

Recently, Makatea has turned to eco-tourism to boost its economy, and has become something of a mecca for climbing enthusiasts. The limestone cliffs have well-traced trails that are suitable for both beginners and accomplished climbers. Local guides are trained to accompany climbers and ensure their security.

Makatea is an authentic Polynesian island and there are no big hotels, but you’ll be very comfortable in one of the island’s welcoming Tahitian Guesthouses.

Climbing in Makatea

« Makatea: a land of discovery, a unique place where nature, history and adventure come together. »

Makatea © Léa Parizot

Suggested itinerary

Four days in Makatea

The island emerged from the sea tens of millions of years ago, with thousands of tons of phosphate encased in its rocks. The phosphate was the subject of a large mining operation that lasted for almost fifty years. There is much to interest geologists and nature lovers on this remote island, and here is our suggested itinerary for a four day break.


Be inspired


If you’re looking for an eco-responsible vacation, far from the stresses and strains of the modern world, then Makatea is ideal for you. Discover the island’s history by exploring the vestiges of the phosphate mining industry. Leap into one of the freshwater pools in the marine caves. Go hiking, climbing and catching kaveu (coconut crabs). Breathe in the pure ocean air and enjoy being “away from it all”.

More experiences
Railway in Makatea©_Léa Parizot

Discovery experience

The History of Makatea

Escalade Makatea © MAKATEA Escalade

Activity experience

Climbing in Makatea

More experiences

Vacation packages for Makatea

Book your trip

Take a look at our vacation offers for Makatea. Get to know the local population, discover the unique natural environment and crystal clear waters. Above all, enjoy being in this special place.

All the vacation packages
All the vacation packages
Fare potee à Makatea ©_Léa Parizot

Where to stay in Makatea

The accommodation is in Tahitian Guesthouses on this atoll in the Tuamotu Islands. Friendly, family-run businesses, you’ll receive a warm welcome. Meals are usually included in the price of your accommodation, as well as in the tarif for excursions. If you visit the island on a catamaran charter, you’ll sleep on board at the boats mooring, just next to the island. 

Getting there and getting around in Makatea

There’s no landing strip, so no planes fly to this Tuamotu island, and the only way to visit is by boat. So you mustn’t be in too much of a hurry, but as the locals say: Makatea is worth the wait! You can sail to the island by sailboat or catamaran from Tahiti (Papeete) or Rangiroa. And if money’s no object, you can fly to Makatea from Tahiti by helicopter.

Sailing to Makatea © Tahiti Fly Shoot-
Vue aérienne sur l'atoll de Tetiaroa © Tahiti Tourisme

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