Destination Spotlight: Raiatea and Taha’a
Far less traveled than Bora Bora, Moorea or Tahiti, the islands of Raiatea and Taha’a offer an untouched and magical experience to any French Polynesian traveler.
Raiatea is the larger of the two islands and slightly smaller than Tahiti, making it the second largest island in the Society Island group. Raiatea meaning “faraway heaven”, was first named Havai’i after the homeland of ancient Polynesians and has been considered as the “sacred island” of the South Pacific. Over 1000 years ago this islands was the center point of Polynesia culture and religion, and to this day it is still an island full of legend and history.
It is on this island that the rare Tiare flower can be found. Here, and in no other place in the world, the Tiare flower grows atop the celebrated Mt. Temehani. Each morning flowers bloom and as they open, a soft crackling sounds can be heard. Legend says this is the sound of a Polynesia woman’s heart breaking; being forbidden to marry her lover, the Tahitian King’s son.
Taha’a, the smaller of the two islands, is situated close alongside her sister island Raiatea. The “vanilla island” is home to the origination of much of the famous and delicious Tahitian vanilla. Farmers on the island pollinate each vanilla orchid flower by hand because in Tahiti there are no bees. This process makes the Tahitian vanilla not only more valuable, but also more rare than other vanillas. This easy going island of Taha’a offers a glimpse into the beautifully traditional and simply way of Tahitian life.