Raiatea and Tahaa

May 22, 2019 - National Geographic Orion


At sunrise, we were entering the lagoon of Raiatea and Tahaa. These islands are surrounded by a reef, which hosts the turquoise waters around them.

We started the day visiting the Marae of Taputapuatea, a UNESCO World Heritage site; this is the most sacred place for Polynesian culture. Historically, this altar was devoted to the god of war Oro and all voyaging canoes had to pay respect to this place. Its influence spread throughout the Polynesian triangle, reaching far corners like Hawaii and New Zealand. We had the privilege to share this sacred site with Tua Pittman, a Polynesian navigator and head of the Cook Islands Voyaging Society. We also had a local holy man, Papa Heimau, which shared his personal view on the spiritual aspects of today’s Polynesian people.

A group of guests explored the river in Raiatea in kayaks. Paddling along the river, they enjoyed the lush views of the surrounding jungle and close encounters with local people along the way.

In the afternoon we sailed to the island of Tahaa, were we had our private motu for the afternoon. Our guests enjoyed the calm waters of the island and were able to get close to the corals and fish while snorkeling. Others went in a local boat to a new place for drift snorkel, where they had the opportunity to swim with large numbers of sharks.

A beautiful day in the twin islands of Raiatea and Tahaa, where we certainly felt the spirituality of French Polynesia and enjoyed the closeness to wildlife.

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About the Author

Alex Searle

Naturalist

Born in Chile and raised in Argentina, Alex spent his childhood living in different parts of these countries and getting to know the local cultures.

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