With its green jungle-clad valleys, numerous waterfalls, a deep lagoon sheltering spectacular fish, and fertile plantations of vanilla and pineapple, Raiatea is an ecological wonderland dotted with ancient temple sites. According to Polynesian tradition, Raiatea, whose name translates as 'faraway heaven', is the most sacred island in the South Pacific.

Somewhat smaller than Tahiti, Raiatea is the second largest of the Society lslands in French Polynesia but the largest of the Leeward lslands. Raiatea lies within the same barrier reef as the island of Taha'a, a 20-minute boat ride away. These two islands both enclosed by the same coral reef may once have been a single island. The chief town on Raiatea is Uturoa, the administrative center for the Leeward lslands.


We set off on a canoe ride from Raiatea’s lagoon to the mouth of the Faaroe River, Polynesia’s only navigable river. En route we passed many small islets with a singular tree and many pearl cultivation farms. In the river we observed wild hibiscus, bamboo groves, chestnut trees and more. We learnt of the history and folklore about the famous voyages that eminated from the river to all of the islands in the Polynesian triangle

We viewed the Marae Taputapuatea, one of Polynesia’s revered legend-filled archeological sites and the starting point for all the migration to the Hawaiian, New Zealand and Easter lslands, before going off-road to Raiatea’s interior, known as the Sacred Hava’i. We saw a wide array of tropical vegetation of bamboo forests, chestnut, mango trees and countless varieties of ginger flowers

Raiatea is the Polynesian centre of royalty, religion, culture and history. It also features a lush tropical garden, verdant mountains, waterfalls and rivers.


In Polynesian creation myths, the island was called Havai'i, the birthplace of the world and the religious centre of ancient Polynesia. In the South at Opoa are the remains of the great temple of Taputapuatea, centre of worship for the God Oro. This was the starting point for all the migration to the Hawaiian, New Zealand and Easter lslands.


Raiatea was famous throughout the Polynesian triangle and long double canoes came from distant Hawaii (Sandwich lslands) and Aotearoa, the old name for New Zealand, to pay their respects.


All important Marae's in the Polynesian triangle had to be built with at least one stone from Taputapuatea. It was there that Captain Cook first had a glimpse of Polynesian navigational acumen.


In front of the Marae dedicated to navigation, a local named Tupai drew a map of the Neighbouring Islands in the dirt for the English explorer's benefit and gave him a discourse on navigational theory. Amazingly, Tupai knew the navigational specifics without ever havlng left Raiatea

South Pacific