Raiatea, Tahiti

According to Polynesian tradition, Raiatea -formerly known as Havaiki, the "sacred island"- was the first inhabited island and Hiro -a descendant of the creator god Taaroa and Oro- was its first king, founder of the dynasty and the Taputapuatea marae at Opoa. The many legends that arise from mythology lend a mysterious and magic atmosphere to the various places of interest. Mt Temehani (772m), a sort of Polynesian Olympus and "fragrant paradise", where the strange and unique "Tiare apetahi" plant is found, watches over this island that is still untouched by the turbulence of modern life. Its mountain range divides the island from north to south. Its many waterfalls, the deep and narrow Faaroa Bay and its fertile valleys are equally attractive as its charming lagoon with its many islets. In the northern part of the same lagoon, the island of Tahaa according to legend was detached from Raiatea by a sacred eel possessed by the spirit of a princess. This island of soft mountain shapes and filigree coastline has been nicknamed "the vanilla island" because of its many vanilla plantations. The many motu with their stunning white sandy beaches and the turquoise-toned lagoon charm every visitor and cruise passenger.

Scenic Highlights:

The Market at Uturoa: See the fresh fish catches of the day, sample Polynesian foods, discover local treasures and enjoy the atmosphere. This classic daily bustling market will excite your taste buds with unusual fruits and delicious pastries, among many other goodies. There's also many non food items like assorted arts and crafts from the local artisans to be amazed by. An exciting yet relaxing way to start off your day!.

Sea Turtle Reserve: The Islands comprising French Polynesia contain a large and diverse variety of sea life. There are many species of sea turtles throughout. Some of these turtle populations are threatened due to various environmental reasons, as is true with most of the world's sea turtles. The Island of Tahaa has foreseen and not forsaken the beauty and importance of having healthy populations of turtles in and around its lagoons. Here you can visit a Turtle nature preserve and sanctuary and observe several species of Tahiti- Polynesia's turtles, living in their natural environment. This is an important association and foundation for the preservation of marine turtles.

Faaroa River (Raiatea): The Faaroa River is Tahiti Polynesia's only navigable river. The river is quite magical and holds much fascinating Tahitian historical lore.
The best modes of transportation for seeing the river is by powerboat or outrigger speed canoe. These exciting daytrips start off in the fjordlike inlet on Raiatea known as the Faaroa Gorge, and continue up the river until it becomes too shallow to navigate. The river walls are steep and lush with jungle foliage. You may see different species of birds and many wild hibiscus "purau" trees interspersed throughout these cool rainforest cliffs. The local guides will get your imagination running wild as you try and recall images of brave Maohi families departing westward in their canoes towards the great pacific expanse on their migratory voyages to settle New Zealand.

Activities:

- Enjoy snorkeling in the crystal clear waters of Papeete
- Explore an amazing underwater world, all sorts of diving is readily available in Papeete
- Enjoy a boat ride up the Faaroa River
- Enjoy a traditional Tahitian show with Tahitian food and dance
- Take a privately guided tour around Raiatea on boat
- Rent a yacht with or without a crew
- Enjoy an ecological tour of the island
- Take an adventurous tour on a 4x4 safari
- Relaxing is always an option in Tahiti, so sit back, put your feet up and enjoy the sun!