Good reasons to visit
- A well preserved spectacular environment : deep bays, waterfalls, vanilla plantations, the Faaroa River – only navigable river of French Polynesia – and the “Tiare Apetahi”, that you can’t find anywhere else in the world.
- Awesome “motu” (islets).
- The cradle of Polynesian culture with the “marae” of Taputapuatea in particular.
- The real boating capital of the islands: optimal navigation conditions, many charters companies located around the bays.
- A special underwater world where diversity reigns: coral gardens, caves, drift diving in the passes, exploration of the three masts Norby shipwreck that sank in 1900.
- Various inland and nautical activities.
Do not miss
- the Faaroa garden,
- the Faaroa river (the only navigable river in French Polynesia)
- the Belvédère panoramic view,
- the petroglyphs of Fare Atai,
- the “marae” Taputapuatea, which has been the point of departure of the migrations to the Polynesian Triangle (Hawaii, New Zealand and Easter Islands),
- the Temehani plateau (where the endemic flower and symbol of Raiatea, “Tiare Apetahi”, grows),
- Uturoa’s market,
- diving spots.
Did you know that?
- Raiatea used to be called Havai’i Nui in the past.
- The “Tiare Apetahi”, endemic flower, only grows on the Mt Temehani and nowhere else in the world.
- With its 92 sq miles, Raiatea is the French Polynesia fourth biggest island, after Tahiti, Nuku Hiva and Hiva Oa (in the Marquesas Islands).
- Raiatea is the only island having a navigable river, the Faaroa river.
- In the lagoon of Raiatea lies the wreck of a Danish three masts, the “Nordby”that sank in 1900 ; it lies about 18 metres deep.
- Mount Tefatoaiti (1017 m = 3,337 ft) is the highest peak of Raiatea.
Raiatea, the largest of the Leeward Islands, is often referred as “Raiatea the sacred”. Indeed, it was formerly the cultural and religious center 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, the administrative center of the Leeward Islands, constitutes the second urban and economic zone of French Polynesia just after Papeete. It is also the departure point for discovering Tahaa, its neighboring island.
Things to do
Nautical activities :
- Lagoon excursions with picnic on a “motu”,
- visit of pearl farms,
- lagoon cruises,
- yachting around Raiatea, Tahaa and the neighbouring islands,
- scuba diving,
- swimming and snorkelling,
- snorkelling reef tour,
- deep sea sport fishing,
- motor boat rental,
- boating or canoeing on the Faaroa river,
- surfing, flysurfing, kitesurfing,
Inland activities :
- Mini golf,
- guided tours,
- 4WD safari tours,
- horseback riding,
- bicycle, scooter and car rentals,
- hiking (Mt Tapioi, plateau of Temehani, Les Trois Cascades and the Sentier of Faaroa).
- Surface area : 92 sq miles
- Circumference : 99.2 km (61 miles)
- Highest peak : Mount Tefatoaiti (1017 m = 3,337 ft)
- Districts : Uturoa, Avera, Opoa, Puohine, Fetuna, Vaiaau, Tevaitoa and Tainuu.
- Population : + 12832 inhabitants.
- Tourist office(s) : in Uturoa.
- Bank(s) : 3 agencies with 1 « Banque de Polynésie », 1 « Banque Socredo » and 1 « Banque de Tahiti ». ATMs.
- Post office(s) : in Uturoa and Avera.
- Public phone(s) : available in every district.
- Shop(s) : supermarkets, local craft shops, jewelry stores & art galleries.
- Restaurant(s) : French, local & International cuisines, Asian and Italian cuisines.
- Medical services : 1 hospital, 1 dispensary and 3 pharmacy with 1 in Uturoa, 1 in Avera and 1 in Tumaraa. Several private doctors.