Most cruise ships tie up to the new Gare Maritime cruise terminal in the center of Uturoa, Raiatea the main town on the northern tip of the island. From there, you are taken by ferry to your destination in Tahaa.
Printable map to take along.
Watch a destination video.
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.
The market at Uturoa, the commercial center and Cruise Port for cruise liners, is loaded with produce of the land and the sea, especially on Wednesdays and Fridays, the market days. Nature smiles on these two islands whose high quality vanilla and copra is well-known, along with the variety and plentiful supply of its fruit and vegetables and the treasures of its underwater life.
On Raiatea, there are lots of tour operators at the dock. You could choose from circle island tours, 4 wheel drive safaris, kayak tours, motu tours(nice beaches) and others.
Car rentals are available for those who want to circle the island. About 100 km round trip. Bo
Combination tour of the highlights.
It pays to compare your cruise line shore excursions here.
Some cruise lines also visit Tahaa, just a 15 minute boat ride away. It's also called the Vanilla island.
Taha'a, with the rich aroma of vanilla lingering heavily in the air, offers a glimpse of the traditional, tranquil life of the Tahitians. The flower-shaped island's simple beauty is charmed by soft mountain shapes and surrounded by tiny motu with bright sand beaches. In the fertile valleys cutting within the island, local farmers grow watermelon, vanilla, and copra.
Most guided excursions include a visit to the vanilla plantation and a local pearl farm, which really encompasses the primary attractions on the mainland.
Uturoa is the second largest city in Polynesia with lots of stores and a lively market. Wednesdays and Fridays are the best days to visit the markets.
Shopping is very close to the cruise terminal. Most stores re closed between noon an 2PM.
Bargaining and haggling over prices in markets and stores is not customary.
1000 CFP francs = 8.38 euros.
Official languages: French, Tahitian
TS Espace Com, with six computers with internet, is located behind the Gare Maritime main pier building.
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