Maupiha’a (aka Mopelia as the locals call it)- the best kept secret and the LAST French Polynesian island

There were a few of us (SV Me Too and SV Terrapin and SV Te Poe Rava) who discussed the option of visiting one last atoll/island before heading to the Cook Islands.

The Barnacle fleet from left to right: SV Me Too, SV Te Poe Rava, SV Terrapin

We had two options: Maupiti or Maupiha’a, and the goal was to break up the 580 mile passage to Suwarrow, Cook Islands. We chose Maupiha’a (aka-Mopelia) as it was a bit farther west.  It was about 175 miles from Bora Bora so about a 24 hour overnight passage. The pass into Molpelia, we read in different guide books, was “difficult” and “[the atoll]  was not sufficient compensation for the trauma of entry and exit”.

They were WRONG! Our experience was so grand and the place so beautiful, we stayed for almost 2 weeks.  We had beach bonfires (beaches were surprisingly difficult to find) and night loberering with the locals..unfortunately no photos of these but here is a snap shot of our time in Mopelia…you will understand why we just couldn’t leave!

This Manta ray was ENORMOUS!!!! The wing spanned about 8 feet across at least. We saw him swimming by our boat but just couldn’t get the camera in time to get a great photo.

BBQ with the locals – There are 18 inhabitants on the atoll of Mopelia.  All of them have come from the neighboring atoll, Maupiti which is closer to Bora Bora.   There is a ferry between Maupiti and Bora Bora so supplies can be relatively easy to get.  However, there is no “regular” supply ferry to Mopelia…except for every 8 month!  Many of the people on Mopelia have family in Maupiti so family members find rides from cruisers to transport them and supplies to Mopelia.  Our friends on SV Te Poe Rava who visited Maupiti helped and took a few people to Mopelia…they were invited to a local BBQ and they took us along : )

BBQ-men at the grilll…a familiar sight ; )
The BBQ was filled with local lobster and Coconut crabs….
They set this amazing table for us
Trevor being taught how to eat the “belly” of the coconut crab…basically the innards….we were told it was like pate…Trevor disagreed…but whatever…Please notice we are eating off hibiscus leaves as plates…no silverware…just fingers…loving it!
Kristy (SV Te Poe Rava) and Trevor admiring the coconut crab…on a rope. The crabs are this amazing blue and red..they mostly eat coconut (hence the name) and can grow to be HUGE! I think this guys is 7 years old.
Dan and Kristy (SV Te Poe Rava) and the guys they brought over from Maupiti. The locals “brew” their own beer (I call it hooch). It is made from potatoes and watermelon. It packs a punch but is palatable…the locals were nice enough to trade Hinano (Tahitian beer) for sips of their local brew
The view of the BBQ….there were 4 boats and lots of the locals.
Trevor somehow commandeered this “green” substance in exchange for a bottle of rum…..

We also met another family – These ladies (2 sisters and their mother) invited all the cruisers to their humble abode for dinner.

They set a table for 18 people!!!!!  With silverware and bowls.
Also coconut crab, lobster, fried rice, coconut water, poussin cru (fish cooked in citrus…like ceviche), we brought desserts
Briley with the resident cat…who’s name is KIMI also!
Phil and his daughter Emma giving love to the resident pig….you may be curious why the pig is in a black mesh cage….we were too. I guess the pig can bite….the pig can walk and did walk everywhere in its cage. It was actually really sweet and loved to get its head scratched!
This is the lovely family, 2 sisters and thier monther who has been on the island for over 40 years!!!! These ladies process copra on the island, the only real economy….which the supply ship collects every 8 months. We were greeted with the most amazing hospitality, generosity, and kindness.
Ok so crazy Korean reference here! One of the sisters asked me if I was Korean…I replied yes…she spoke to me in Korean and then followed this up with her favorite Korean actor from Korean soap operas. I have heard, even in the States, these Korean shows are really good. Anyways….she asked me if she could have a photo with me so she could post it on her Facebook…she told me her friend will be very jealous that she has met a Korean person!!!! It was an awesome feeling : )
This family actually had a guest book that they encouraged us to sign. We of course all agreed and brought colored pencils and markers, stickers, and boat cards to write a thank you note…low and behold we looked through all the older guest books and found a 2012 entry made by John and Amanda Neals !!!! The Neal’s have a special place in our hearts…we took their off shore seminar (Mahina-see link below) back in January 2016 at the Boat Show held in Seattle, WA. before heading to off on this adventure. It was so cool to be where they have been…we felt an extreme sense of accomplishment!

Water activities– Because Mopelia atoll’s east side is a completely submerged coral reef,  water is always coming into the lagoon bringing lots of sea life and nutrients to keep the coral healthy.  To say the least, this was the BEST snorkeling and sea life we have seen to date!!!!

–Scuba diving with SV Te Poe Rava

We would take our dinghies through the pass to the outer reef of the atoll. We all have different horsepower on our outboards and you know Trevor wants to go faster than everyone else!!!! We had to time the scuba/snorkel trips to the outer reef with the tides due to current. We had a few hairy moments but all made it back safely.
Trevor, Briley,Dan and Kristy (dive instructors who held scuba classes for Trevor and friends in Huahine) taking a dive.
I have no idea what this thing is but I have never seen this before…any ideas?
We all took another dive and here is Clay with a HUGE manta ray swimming by us at 90 feet.
The same dive but we actually saw a turtle AND the manta ray swimming in the same photo frame….First ever turtle sighting for me underwater!

–Snorkeling The Seedler – There is a book named “The Sea Devil” which is about a German privateer named Count Luckner who was the captain of the The Seeadler. The Seeadler was a sailing ship that had broken through the British blockade and played havoc with Allied shipping in the Atlantic and Pacific during the latter part of the war.  It crashed on the outer reef of guess where……Mopelia!

This is a photo of the book and I have circled Mopelia, where the Seeadler lies at the bottom of the outer reef.  If you can see it, the date is August 2nd 1917.  We dove the wreck site on July 20th, 2017, almost 100 years later!
Trevor is actually READING a book (The Sea Devil) !!!!
The outer reef was different than inside the atoll with these cracks and crevices. It was great to free dive down and look underneath to see the sea life.
Lots of sharks!
Another view of the oter reef
The SV Seeadler. We think these are the pistons
The Seeadler was so incorporated with the reef it was hard to tell sometimes what was what. Given that it was almost 100 years to date…it was cool to see how nature takes its course.
1 of 3 anchors we saw. A little eerie, I must admit but amazing to witness a piece of history.

–Feeding The sharks- Dan on SV Te Poe Rava speared a 20 pound fish and actually swam it back to the boat without a shark eating the fish.  We ended up sharing it for dinner all together that night.  However, while cleaning the fish…we had visitors at the boat.

Visitors!  We had both black tip reef sharks, very dosel.  BUT…we had 6 foot gray reef sharks which are a bit more aggressive (ekkkks)
I had our Go Pro in the water while we were sitting in our dinghies watching Dan clean the fish. I took a 3 minute video of the sharks eating the “snacks’. The sharks actually were every interested in the Go Pro and would hit the camera with their noses and the camera would spin…it was crazy!
“Hey what’s going on over there?”
I can’t believe I got this photo but here it is! Just beautiful : )

Among these things, we had Girls night, Salon day, and pearl hunting

Auntie Kimi in full force!!!! This is the second “Girls night” held on Slow FLight. This time we had Briley (SV Me Too), and Jessica and Emma (SV Terrapin). We all had popcorn, homemade pretzels, M&M’s and lots of movies. They all spent the night and in the morning the girls played Sims while I cooked a quiche for breakfast. Trevor had cave time in the aft cabin and we hope the parents had a GREAT night!!!!
Kimi getting a haircut from Amiee (SV Terrapin)…My hair had grown well beyond the middle of my back and was in desperate need of a trim.
Trevor, Jill, and Clay all opening up harvested oysters looking for a possible pearl.
The inside of one oyster…it is so weird to me..its both curious and peculiar but beautiful at the same time!
We hound this little shrimp guy in one of the oysters…it was so tiny!

Next stop…Suwarrow Cook Islands (a national park).


  1. I expect plenty of us landlubbers are reading these, but how often can you say “wow, you guys, that’s so cool!” eh? :^D

    Just keep writing. I especially liked your meeting with the gal who loves Korean TV! How do they even get reception on the island? How do they generate electricity?? Such an intriguing glimpse at a completely different life.

    1. I know right!!! Most of these remote islands have generators and get gas delivered to them for electricity. In Moplelia…they had 6 satellite phone for emergencies but internet is not there..not that I know of. I do know the neighboring island (maupiti) has cell service so they must go there to update and check Facebook ; ) The shows are all on hard drives so they must download them elsewhere and then they watch them later. Crazy right?!

      I am trying to keep up with the blog but man…its a time suck but worth it!


    2. They watch tv on there laptop like we do and use solar to charge it. There is no reception for tv so they have data like movies and music on hard drives much like we do.

  2. You are having such wonderful adventures–thanks for sharing. We are going to celebrate your birthday at Triple Door where we will enjoy the Patsy Cline show, while remembering our time together there with both of you last year. Miss you. Take care and stay safe. Love from Mom and John

    1. Awwww…thanks for the wonderful thoughts…I have no idea what this birthday will bring, nor Trevor’s…but we are all in good company so it will be fun either way. I actually played Pasty Cline the other day : )

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