Raiatea is one of the Society Islands. Raiatea is unique among the Tahitian Islands. It and its little sister Tahaa are far removed from the more touristy islands like Moorea and Bora Bora. Raiatea is the administrative centre of the Western islands and so has more businesses and industry. There are places to stay and it is the place to see where the ancient Hawaiians left from to colonize Hawaii.
Raiatea, the largest of the Society Islands, is often referred to as “Raiatea the sacred”. Indeed, it was formerly the cultural and religious centre of eastern Polynesia, with one of the most important “marae”, Taputapuatea. According to oral traditions, great migrations towards the Hawaiian Islands and New Zealand started from Raiatea. It is a place with a magical atmosphere, dear to the heart of Polynesians.
Raiatea is the only island in Polynesia to possess a navigable river, the Faaroa, which is bordered by luxuriant vegetation. The interior of the island offers superb hiking, horseback riding or 4WD tours, allowing you to explore fertile valleys where crystalline waterfalls nestle in the valley walls.
On the Temehani plateau, you’ll find a famous flower called the “Tiare Apetahi”. It is the pride of the inhabitants and has the strange shape of an open hand and doesn’t grow anywhere else. Beaches are rare on Raiatea, however, the islets which surround the main island are numerous. Often possessing beautiful stretches of white sand, these small islands are truly inviting and perfect for relaxation and bathing.
Raiatea is also known for its excellent conditions for pleasure boating and ship cruises all year long. Diverse aquatic activities are available there, of course. Scuba enthusiasts of all levels will be completely satisfied as ten or so underwater sites exist.
Uturoa constitutes the second urban and economic zone of French Polynesia just after Papeete. It is also the departure point for discovering Tahaa, its neighbouring island.