It would be a shame to visit Taha’a without stopping off at one (or why not both!) of the island’s two rum distilleries. You can visit the sugarcane plantations, and then learn how the cane is transformed into delicious rum.

Taha’a is an island that appeals to the senses. First, there is the perfume of vanilla in the air. Visit one of the plantations to learn the secrets of this exotic spice. Then there is the beauty of a magnificent coral garden for you to observe, as you’re swept genly from the reef to the lagoon wearing little but a mask and snorkel. Finally, your taste buds will be in for a treat, with a visit one of the island’s two rum distilleries.

One island, two distilleries

During your stay in Taha’a, visit the rum distillery Pari Pari, which opened a few years ago, following a long period of research and development. The owner’s objective was to give a new lease of life to ancient varieties of sugarcane and use them to make a rum that would qualify for the Organic Farming certification. White, dark, aged and vanilla flavored rum – a choice that’s enough to make your head spin!

The second rum producer in Taha’a is Mana’o. The sugarcane grows on three exceptional parcels of land in the valleys and the rum-making process begins on the island. The molasses is then shipped to Tahiti for distillation. With such an eventful production process, it’s hardly surprising that Mana’o rum travels particularly well.

Sugar cane through the ages

The cultivation of sugarcane in French Polynesia is an ancient practice. The long sweet stem was used for cooking and in traditional medecines. The local variety of sugarcane, O’Tahiti, has been exported all over the world.

Sugar cane harvest © Tahiti Tourisme - Patrick Lefebvre
Sugar cane harvest © Tahiti Tourisme – Patrick Lefebvre

Over the years, sugarcane was replaced by imported sugar and the plantations were gradually abandoned. But in the 1990s, some local farmers decided to resume the cultivation of sugarcane and eventually the crops were sufficient to supply two local distilleries. The rums produced in The Islands of Tahiti have a growing reputation and local distilleries regularly receive awards for quality and excellence. So while you’re in Taha’a, raise a glass or two in their honor !

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