Ra’iatea & Taha’a

Aug 02, 2018 - National Geographic Orion

Considered the most important migration center in ancient Polynesia, Ra'iātea is the second largest of the Society Islands, after Tahiti.  As National Geographic Orion sailed through the sacred pass “Te Ava Moa” we could not have wished for a better day to finalize our epic journey around French Polynesia. The weather was perfect. The sun was shining brightly on the calm clear tepid ocean. Coconut palm leaves danced in the light breeze, and gentle waves reached the white sandy shores. The morning was filled with history, birding, and photography in one of the most important sacred marae of Polynesia. The marae were places where the world of the living intersected with the world of the ancestors and the gods. The Taputapuātea marae complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site of Humanity, was a political, ceremonial, and funerary centre and a testimony to 1,000 years of Polynesian civilization. On our way back to National Geographic Orion we were greeted by friendly and acrobatic spinner dolphins. In the afternoon we visited a vanilla plantation, went for a dive, and had our own private motorbikes. Later, some snorkeled, swam, or were able to simply unwind and reflect on our incredible expedition. Paradise does exist, and it’s definitely here!

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About the Author

Cristiana Damiano

Cristiana Damiano


Cristiana was born and raised in Brazil.  Being surrounded by natural beauty and diverse culture instilled her desire for exploration at a young age.  Her passion for wilderness, different cultures and inhospitable regions led her to pursue a career in ecology, oceanography and, ultimately, the pursuit of a Ph.D. in environmental sciences and coral reef ecology in Australia.  Her travels have taken her to the Amazon and Borneo jungles, the higher mountains of Southeast Asia, the Great Barrier Reef and Far Northern Reefs, Papua New Guinea villages, volcanoes in Guatemala and the deep seas in many remote islands around the globe. 

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