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Raiatea and Tahaa
Raiatea is the second largest island in French Polynesia, and is located 120 miles north-west of Tahiti. Tahitians believe Raiatea to be the sacred birthplace of their gods and their religious and cultural beginnings. In fact, the most important and well-preserved religious site in all of Polynesia is here. With the large protected lagoon around Raiatea and her charming sister island of Tahaa, the area has naturally become one of our top locations for sailing, deep sea fishing and scuba diving. It is from Raiatea that the first Polynesians set out for Hawaii and New Zealand, entire tribes sailing off to colonize new shores.
Enclosed within the same barrier reef as Raiatea is the small island of Taha’a, located across the lagoon and only two miles north of Uturoa. Taha’a has no airport and is only accessible by boat. It is a round island with fjord-like inlets. Tahaa is often called the Vanilla Island for its numerous plantations of this black gold. The rich and puissant aroma of vanilla perfumes the breeze as you drive around the 42 mile coastal road, through small villages and up into the hills for panoramic views of the deeply indented bays all around the island. Tahaa produces about 80% of all vanilla in French Polynesia. While fishing and farming are its main livelihoods, what seduces visitors are its pretty beaches, coral gardens, and the sandy motus which pepper the lagoon it shares with Raiatea. Taha’a is slowly awakening to tourism, yet still maintains an authentic flavor of Polynesia. The beautiful deep bays and small deserted motus make Taha’a an ideal island to escape the 20th century. Stay in a small bungalow-style hotel or make Taha’a an unforgettable day trip.