French Polynesia has a hidden gem called Raiatea. Raiatea, often known as the “Holy Isle,” is a place of great natural beauty, history, and culture. It is a tiny island that provides visitors with a look at traditional Polynesian culture as well as access to contemporary comforts and entertainment. Here are ten things to do in Raiatea that you shouldn’t miss if you’re thinking about going there.
1. Visit the Marae Taputapuatea
One of French Polynesia’s most significant cultural and historical sites is the Marae Taputapuatea. It is the biggest marae in the area and is situated on the eastern side of Raiatea. Due of its historical and cultural significance as the former center of the Polynesian world. People have traveled to this marae for ages to conduct religious rituals and give sacrifices to the gods on behalf of people from all around the Pacific. Also, it served as the location for significant political occasions including the coronation of chiefs and the signing of peace agreements.
The Marae Taputapuatea is a visitor-friendly UNESCO World Heritage Site today. You can examine the prehistoric stone buildings, petroglyphs, and other historical items when you go. Also, you can discover more about the site’s cultural value and why it should be preserved for future generations.
2. Explore the Faaroa River
French Polynesia’s only navigable river, the Faaroa River, is situated on Raiatea’s northwest shore. This river, a magnificent natural wonder, flows by verdant landscapes, soaring cliffs, and charming waterfalls. There are many tour companies that give guided excursions of the river, and it is a great spot to explore by kayak or paddleboard.
You will have the chance to witness a wide variety of birds, fish, and other wildlife when you explore the Faaroa River. Also, you’ll have the option to swim in freshwater pools and enjoy the breathtaking views of this lovely natural setting.
3. Snorkel or dive in the coral gardens
Some of the most stunning coral reefs in the world surround Raiatea. Sharks, sea turtles, and other marine animals of all kinds can be found in great numbers in the coral gardens. Anybody traveling to Raiatea must go snorkeling or scuba diving in the coral gardens. Depending on your degree of competence, you can choose from a number of places offered by a wide range of tour operators who offer snorkeling and diving tours.
You’ll be in awe of the coral and the fish that live there when you swim or dive in the coral gardens because of its magnificent beauty and brilliant hues. You won’t forget the experience, I can guarantee that.
4. Visit a vanilla plantation
The vanilla grown on the numerous plantations that make up the island of Raiatea is of the highest caliber. A wonderful experience that teaches you about the growing and harvesting of vanilla is a visit to a vanilla plantation. You’ll have the chance to sample some of the delectable goods derived from this aromatic spice and observe how the vanilla pods are farmed and processed.
You can find out more about the value of this product to Raiatea’s economy and culture by visiting a vanilla plantation. Also, you’ll be able to buy some of the goods manufactured with the renowned vanilla from Raiatea, such as vanilla beans, vanilla extract, and beauty products.
5. Take a boat tour of the lagoon
The greatest way to experience the amazing natural wonder that is the lagoon that surrounds Raiatea is by boat. You can select from a selection of boat cruises offered by various tour operators depending on your interests and preferences. Boat tours of the lagoon are available. You’ll have the chance to observe the many various hues of blue and green that make up the lagoon’s waters throughout your boat excursion. A wide range of marine life, such as fish, rays, and sharks, will also be seen.
A boat tour’s visit to the many little islands or motus that dot the lagoon is one of its highlights. Visitors can enjoy the untainted beauty of Raiatea’s natural surroundings on these tiny, deserted islands.
6. Hike to the summit of Mount Temehani
The tallest peak on Raiatea is Mount Temehani, and reaching its summit requires a strenuous yet rewarding hike. There are steep hills, winding pathways, and rocky terrain on the four-hour round trip journey. The vistas from the summit, though, make the effort worthwhile. You may get a bird’s eye view of Raiatea, its lagoon, and the neighboring islands from the summit of Mount Temehani.
A trek up Mount Temehani is a fantastic chance to appreciate Raiatea’s natural beauty and get some fitness if you’re up for the endeavor.
7. Visit the pearl farm
There are numerous pearl farms in Raiatea where you may observe the cultivation and harvest of pearls. An interesting experience that teaches you about how these lovely gems are made is visiting a pearl farm. You’ll observe the pearls’ development from small seeds into brilliant diamonds and discover the various varieties of pearls made on Raiatea.
A pearl farm will allow you to take home some of the final goods as a memento of your trip. The pearls from Raiatea are of the highest caliber, and they form a special and unforgettable souvenir to bring back with you.
8. Experience Polynesian dance and music
The dancing and music of Polynesia are an integral component of Raiatea’s culture. Traditional Polynesian dances and melodies are performed by numerous dance companies and musical ensembles on the island. On the island, resorts, eateries, and other locations frequently host these acts.
To explore the island’s culture and discover its traditions, go to a Polynesian dance and music performance. You’ll witness dancers wearing vibrant costumes, hear the drums beat, and be mesmerized by the beauty and fervor of the performance.
9. Visit the historic town of Uturoa
The largest town of Raiatea, Uturoa, is the location of numerous historic and cultural landmarks. The village includes a bustling market where you may buy fresh produce, handicrafts, and other local goods. The town’s church, which was built in the 19th century and boasts remarkable Polynesian architecture, is another place you can go.
The House of Culture, which presents the history, culture, and customs of the island, is also located in Uturoa. The House of Culture has displays on traditional arts and crafts, music, dance, and more.
10. Relax on the beach
Not to mention, a trip to Raiatea wouldn’t be complete without some downtime on the beach. The island is home to numerous stunning beaches with fine, white sand and sparkling water. Swimming, sunbathing, reading a book, or just taking in the tranquil sounds of the ocean are all options. It’s the ideal way to relax and take in the breathtaking natural beauty of this incredible island.
The well-liked Te Ava Piti Beach and the seclusion of Motu Nao Nao Beach are only two of the many beaches available. You’ll undoubtedly discover a beach that meets your preferences because each one has its own personality.
In conclusion, Raiatea is a singular and enchanting location that provides tourists with a variety of enjoyable activities and experiences. Raiatea has something for everyone, whether you’re seeking excitement, tranquility, or an opportunity to experience Polynesian culture.
There are so many things to do on Raiatea, from taking in the breathtaking natural beauty of the island to discovering its history and customs. You’re guaranteed to have a wonderful time whether you decide to go on a boat tour of the lagoon, trek to the top of Mount Temehani, or just unwind on the beach.
For anyone visiting French Polynesia, Raiatea is a must-see destination because of its distinctive geography and culture. Visitors can receive a taste of paradise there thanks to the lush greenery, gorgeous beaches, and clear waterways. In addition, the Polynesian people’s rich history and traditions offer a fascinating look into their culture.
So be sure to add Raiatea on your itinerary if you’re planning a trip to French Polynesia. You won’t want to miss this experience because there are so many incredible things to see and do there.
Our Top FAQ's
The best time to visit Raiatea is between May and October, during the dry season. The weather is warm and sunny, with little rainfall, making it the ideal time for outdoor activities such as hiking and snorkeling.
Raiatea has a rich culinary culture, with many delicious dishes to try. Some local specialties include poisson cru, a raw fish salad marinated in coconut milk and lime juice, and fafa, taro leaves cooked with coconut milk and spices.
The best way to get around Raiatea is by renting a car or scooter. This gives you the freedom to explore the island at your own pace and visit the many different attractions and activities that Raiatea has to offer.
Visitors to Raiatea should be aware of the Polynesian culture and traditions and should show respect for local customs. It is customary to remove your shoes before entering someone’s home or a sacred site, and visitors should dress modestly when visiting churches or other religious sites. Additionally, it is important to ask for permission before taking photos of people or their homes.