Considered as the motherland by the ancient Polynesians, Raiatea was originally called Havai’i. Known as the sacred island, it is green and mountainous, with the celebrated mount Temehani its highest peak.

The island of Raiatea is the center of the Polynesian triangle and the birthplace of the Polynesian civilization. A visit to Raiatea is a voyage to the heart of Polynesian history and culture. Here is a suggested itinerary for a three day stay on the island.

Tour of the island

Day 1 – part 1

A tour of the island gives you the opportunity to see just how beautiful it is. The untamed nature of its mountainous interior contrasts with the idyllic scenery of its coast. It is a big island and the tour will take the best part of a day, especially if you make a few stops along the way. Visit the lively little main town of Uturoa with its market and quayside, from where you can see the island of Taha’a which shares the same lagoon. Take a look at the walls of the buildings, painted with street art from the Ono’u Festival for local and international artists.

Discover Raiatea
Ville Uturoa de Raiatea avec vue sur la marina, la piscine d'eau de mer et Taha'a © Port Autonome de Papeete
Accueil polynesien avec couronne de fleur et le sourire de ces habitants © Alika Photography Pacquebot à quai sur Uturoa sur l'île de Raiatea © Tahiti Tourisme

Visit the marae of Taputapuatea

Day 1- part 2

Every visitor to Raiatea should go to the marae of Taputapuatea, the most sacred site in Polynesian culture. More than a thousand years old, the archeological remains are classed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It is the biggest marae in French Polynesia and was the religious, cultural and political center of ancient Polynesia. You are free to stroll around and discover the different vestiges in this magnificent setting next to the lagoon. There is a footpath which leads up the hillside opposite the marae to a scenic viewpoint with glorious views over the ocean to the neighboring island of Huahine.

Discover the marae of Taputapuatea
Visite du marae de taputapuatea en famille sur l'île de Raiatea © Tahiti Tourisme
Marae de Taputapuatea © Tahiti Tourisme

The three waterfalls

Day 1 – part 3

It is a very pleasant hike through the countryside and forest which takes about an hour. An easy walk through fields of ferns and forests of mape (Tahitian chestnut). At the end of the trail you can have a refreshing dip in the pools at the foot of the waterfalls. As you go round the island, you’ll see small roadside stands selling mape. The cooked fruit is much appreciated by the locals.

Randonnée en montagne sur l'île de Raiatea © Tahiti Tourisme
Les enfants s'amusant à la rivière de Faaroa © Tahiti Tourisme

Kayaking up Faaroa river

Day 2 – part 1

A superb voyage on the only navigable river in The Islands of Tahiti. As you paddle you’ll have magnificent views of the mountains in the bay of Faaroa. Accompanied by a local guide you’ll be able to discover the different varieties of plants and listen to some of the many legends concerning this magical island. If you’re not feeling energetic, you can also take a boat excursion which includes a trip up the river.

Session paddle sur la rivière de Faaroa © Tahiti Tourisme
La rivière de Faaroa © Tahiti Tourisme

Shipwreck

Day 2 – part 2

Raiatea is an ideal destination for divers. It is one of the few islands in French Polynesia where you can dive down to a shipwreck. The Nordby, a three-mast sixty meter steel ship sank in 1900 and lies at a depth of 18 to 29 meters. Other sites around the island enable you to observe sea turtles, blacktip sharks and a multitude of tropical fish.

Diving in Raiatea
Observation de poissons © Greg Lecoeur
Épave Du Nordby © Marie Charlotte Ropert

To the top of Mount Temehani

Day 3 – part 1

It’s a long hike, but one of the most rewarding in The Islands of Tahiti. The 821 meter summit is home to the famous tiare Apetahi, a flower as beautiful as it is rare – it doesn’t grow anywhere else in the world than at the top of this mountain. Protected by the Environment Code, it is forbidden to pick the flowers. It is best to go on this 17km hike in the company of a local guide, because it is not well signposted and some stretches are on private land. Right from the very beginning, you’ll enjoy some of the most beautiful views in The Islands of Tahiti.

The Tiare Apetahi, an endemic flower of Raiatea © Philippe Bacchet
Beau sunset sur l'île de Raiatea © Audrey Svoboda

Visiting the motu

Day 3 – part 2

A day on the lagoon in Raiatea. Take an excursion by boat or jetski to one of the many motu in the lagoon, such as motu Ofetaru opposite the quay of Uturoa or motu Iriru opposite Faaroa bay, where you can even explore a shipwrecked catamaran. All of the motu in the lagoon have beautiful beaches and crystal clear water, ideal for swimming and snorkeling. So take your pick!

Raiatea côté lagon ©_Audrey Svoboda
Petit tour en paddle sur le lagon de Raiatea en famille © Tahiti Tourisme

Raiatea on horseback

Day 3 – part 3

You can go horseback riding at Cadichon Valley Ranch. They will take you for a guided tour through the island’s forests and fields. On the way back to the ranch, you’ll even take your horse for a frolic on the beach.

Activities in Raiatea
Randonnée à Raiatea en cheval © Cadichon Vallée
Balade à cheval © Tahiti Tourisme
Vue aérienne sur l'atoll de Tetiaroa © Tahiti Tourisme

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