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Visit our special pearls section to learn all about French Polynesia's most famous little treasures: the enchanting BLACK PEARLS of TAHITI...

Or, follow the links below to buy them direct from our expert partners at Pearls of Joy.com.

Baroque Pearl Necklaces
Baroque Pearl Necklaces


Pearl Earrings

Pearl Earrings


Black Pearl Necklaces
Black Pearl Necklaces



Mens Jewelry
Men's pearl jewelry


From our pearly pages, you'll learn what to look for when choosing Tahitian black pearls, tips on caring for them, interesting pearl legends, history, facts, and much more.

tahiti black pearls


TAHITI SPEAKS FRENCH!


...
but YOU don't have to... to get up to date news and fresh stories IN ENGLISH 12 months
a year
.

Visit Tahiti all year-round!

is the ONLY English text magazine in French Polynesia and it's been published in Tahiti for over 20 years!

Now you can get the Beach Press delivered to your home, every month, anywhere in the world!

CLICK HERE FOR A SUBSCRIPTION

graphic



Basecamp International

Raiatea.com, Tahaa.com and Tahiti Sun Travel are Basecamp International members.

Discover more fascinating travel and tourism destinations around the globe by visiting the Basecamp International homesite or by clicking on the links below:

> Mildura, Australia
This region is known for its wineries & river-centered recreational opportunities.

> Puno, Peru
The folklore capital of Peru lies on the shore of Lake Titicaca.

> Chiclayo, Peru
Peru's fourth largest city is an archeological treasure chest.

> Piura, Peru
South America's oldest Spanish city and the Piura region.

> Gustavus, Alaska

Your gateway to Gustavus and magnificent Glacier Bay Park.

> Burkina, Africa
Guide to the fascinating Country of Burkina Faso.

> Patan, Nepal
Visit one of the 3 Royal cities in the famous Kathmandu valley.

> Bhaktapur, Nepal
One of 3 of Nepals "Royal cities" and a cultural gem popular with travelers.

> Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands
The famous island known for its pivotal role in WW2- the Battle of Guadalcanal.

> Krumlov, Czech Republic
Traveler's info for the UNESCO world heritage site Cesky Krumlov.

> Tokelau, New Zealand
A non-self-governing territory consisting of three coral atolls in the South Pacific.

> Tulcea, Romania
One of the larger cities in Romania located at the mouth of the famous Danube River.


Raiatea is pure Polynesian...
Raiatea is known as the sacred island...

Many travelers visit Raiatea or Tahaa as "sidetrips" from their more famous and touristed cousin islands of Bora bora, Tahiti, or Moorea...

This means that when it comes to knowing the facts and culture, people, history, economy, etc., they are usually just as naive about these islands as the rest.

Usually they arrive with the simple desire to just relax and take in the Pacific Island charm. Not long after arriving, however, does the true nature of French Polynesia begin to unfold for them, as it does with all the Tahitian islands...

A couple of days on Raiatea, Polynesia's "sacred island" or the charming and little touristed island of Tahaa, and they begin to recognize French Polynesia for it's many faces beyond a mere "Island vacationland." These French owned islands are filled with a unique energy unto themselves, just as all the other Society Islands. There's no place on earth quite like them...

Of course return travelers and local inhabitants know that. Each lives or returns to Raiatea and Tahaa for their own reasons...

Raiatea's importance as the religious, cultural, and historical center of the Polynesian Islands is well known. Its smaller, neighboring sister Island of Tahaa is internationally known as the "Vanilla Island"- because of it's abundance of the aromatic export...

This page unveils information, facts, and insight for discovery of these lovely South Pacific Islands.

Note: This page works in tandem with the TAHITI NEWS & GENERAL INFORMATION section where you'll find lots more additional generic information for ALL the Tahitian Islands.


Virtually Unknown

Geographically falling right between Polynesia's two most famous and well traveled islands, Bora Bora and Tahiti, the sister islands of Raiatea and Tahaa play a central role in all of Polynesia's activities, yet both islands remain virtually unknown to the tourist market!

Why is This?

Sunset time on Raiatea is simply magical...The answer lies with the constant advertising and hype of the two famous Islands Bora Bora and Tahiti. They seem to be the only islands most tour companies advertise or talk about. That is for good reason. They are quite beautiful and charming.

As a consequence of this constant tourism influx, however, they are rapidly becoming overly traveled (in the purist's viewpoint, at least) and losing some of the magical and elusive "Polynesian charm" they seek. The same seems to happening to Moorea as well...

As a result of all this traveling throughout the more well known islands, Raiatea and Tahaa are finally beginning to be discovered themselves. The locals have mixed feelings about this, but, as yet, still remain extremely friendly, unpretentious, and welcoming.

Geography/ Location

Located 122 miles (192 kilometers) northwest of Papeete, the capital of Tahiti, Raiatea and Tahaa lie waiting to be discovered by the lucky or well planned tourist. Only a 40 minute plane ride from Papeete, these islands can be visited quite easily with a little planning. You may even want to explore the close by Island of Huahine - just 25 miles (40 kilometers ) away.

Raiatea, the second largest Island in all of French Polynesia, is just slightly smaller than Tahiti itself. It's also Tahiti's largest Leeward Island. The group of Islands known as the Leewards, are part of the larger archipelago of Islands known as the Society Islands. These Islands contain the largest and most well known Islands in all of the South Pacific.

MapsSee the larger version of this...

Over the years, it has proven to be a little difficult to obtain good maps for Raiatea, Tahiti and her surrounding Society islands and neighboring regions. TST has aquired the usage rights of only a few of them.

1) Large scale map- Basic map for the South Pacific in regards to its relation to the world's continents.

2) Nautical Chart- Large scale chart showing the layout of the Leeward Islands of the Society Archipelago including Raiatea, Tahaa, Bora bora, Maupiti, Huahine, and Tupai. Note: This map is 100 kb's... be patient on downloading time...

That said, TST is now aware of Google maps and will be adding them to this section in the near future.


Beaches- (Or Lack of)

Probably the main reason Raiatea and Tahaa are not particularly known as "tourist destinations" is because of their lack of beaches in comparison to their more famous cousins of Bora Bora, Tahiti, and Moorea. This is important to note because it seems many travelers have beaches in mind when they pick a South Pacific destination to travel to. So a few words on the beaches of these particular islands need to be clarified.

Spend a day on a motu and you'll never be the same...Raiatea and Tahaa, in fact, DO have beaches and a variety of other important features which make them every bit as desirable to travel!

The main island of Raiatea has mostly a rocky shoreline, defined by beautifully forested backdrops of cliffs and valleys. Tahaa has a few beaches on its picturesque shorelines, but not many.

Most of the beaches that are to be enjoyed on these islands take the form of deserted little outer lying islands known as Motus. These small pieces of paradise are well known to the locals and make up an important part of their offerings to the beach hungry traveler. So don't let the lack of main island beaches keep you from discovering the other fascinations these islands have to offer. You'll get more than your share of beautiful white sandy beaches!


Weather (& When to Travel)

The climate on the Society Islands of French Polynesia is considered tropical and can be divided into two basic seasons: the wet season and the dry season.

The wet season (Polynesian Summer), is between the months of November to April, receiving approximately 3/4 ths of the annual rainfall of French Polynesia between these months. The humidity during this time can be quite heavy and muggy and cloud cover is common. Storms are frequent, brief, and unpredictable. (average rainfall for Papeete is 1800mm). Temperatures will range from 27- 30 degrees C, with the hottest months being February and March. Day to night temperature fluctuations are minimal. This "wet season" is considered the "off season" for tourism.

From a travelers standpoint, this "off season" may not be the most favorable weatherwise, however the benefits may tip the scales to the travelers advantage in many other ways: There's less competition for lodging, activity and sightseeing schedules. With the additional advantage of lower average pricing for most products and services, it can be considered that this wet season is easier to travel, explore, and generally, get things done. There's always the trade-offs to consider...

For all you sunworshippers out there, keep in mind that the sun is not on vacation, but merely less commonly seen than in the drier months. Being a French Polynesian Island, and tropical, even in the "wet season" you'll definitely get your fair share of sun on these islands. (There are between 2500- 2900 sunshine hours per year.)

By contrast, the "dry season" - May through October, is the "on season" for tourism. This is the Polynesian winter. Temperatures generally range from between 24-28 degrees C, and rain is rare. Day to night temperature fluctuations are minimal.

As to be expected, these favorable weather conditions also bring out the tourists. July is most likely the favorite and most heavily traveled month for all the Tahitian Islands because of its many festivals and celebrations during the month long holiday that occurs at that time known as Tiurai.

For those interested in Scubadiving in Huahine and her surrounding islands, the dry season is favorable due to increased visibility.

Tradewinds

Winds will be present in Tahiti Polynesia no matter the season. The basic geography of all the French Polynesian islands will always insure this. Most days in Tahiti will include some type of light wind, oftentimes picking up toward the latter part of the day. For the most part, these winds will always be considered a blessing. The feeling of a nice pacific breeze on a hot day is very refreshing and will always be appreciated.

There are two common trade winds affecting Tahiti Polynesias weather and travelers: The dry season's mara' amu, and the wet seasons toerau. The mara' amu is a southeasterly blowing tradewind most common during the winter months (dry season), of June, July, and August. These winds can be a bit more persistant than you may be prepared for, bringing with them sudden downpours and cooler temperatures. Be advised to pack an extra windbreaker...

As for the toerau, these winds are less common and blow in a north- northeast direction and occur during the wet season months.

Cyclones

The Pacific Ocean surrounding all the Tahitian Islands, with it's thermal currents interacting with the various jetstreams (air currents) can produce winds of terrific magnitude. Cyclones (another word for Hurricanes) are always a cause for concern for those inclined to worry. Take heed. French Polynesia has had its share of cyclones. (although the frequency of them seems to be far less than other parts of the world which are prone to them, such as the southeastern seaboard or midwest states of the United States).

Prior to Cyclone Oli in early February, 2010, the last powerful cyclone that caused considerable damage to Tahiti and many surrounding islands was in 1982.

Tahiti Sun Travel provides you with this telephone number to check on weather updates for the region: (689) 36.65.09
(We are working on providing an online weather checker for the future.)

There are two common trade winds affecting Tahiti Polynesias weather and travelers: The dry season's mara' amu, and the wet seasons toerau. The mara' amu is a southeasterly blowing tradewind most common during the winter months (dry season), of June, July, and August. These winds can be a bit more persistant than you may be prepared for, bringing with them sudden downpours and cooler temperatures. Be advised to pack an extra windbreaker...

As for the Toerau, these winds are less common and blow in a north- northeast direction and occur during the wet season months.

(For more info. on what to pack, see the Travel Tips section)


Fauna (& Wildlife in General)

Bad news for all you animal lovers... you'll not be photographing many wild or fascinating South Sea mammals here. The Polynesian islands don't have a lot of natural wildlife, aside from birds and of course, a magical array of Marine life creatures.

Why is this? The islands are so lush and their interiors so undeveloped, you may wonder... The answer lies within the origins of the islands themselves. Volcanic in nature, these islands literally sprang up in the middle of nowhere, far from any surrounding land masses where any other land creatures could habitate from.

The only mammals on the islands today are those that were brought over by the human navigators who populated these islands, both native Polynesian, and Europeans. The list of land mammals is rather short.

All the usual suspects are here: horses, cows, sheep, pigs, dogs, cats, and of course, rats. It seems there is one exception to this mundane list: the wild pig... some of 'em must have got away from their captives long ago and hankered for life on the wild side... good for them!

On the other hand, there are quite a number of bird species here, with some of the less inhabitated islands such as Tetiaroa, Mehetia, and others having breeding grounds for future health of the species. Thankfully, most of the critical habitat bird breeding grounds are protected by the government and looked after with care.

Dogs

Dogs, dogs, dogs, and more dogs!

All Tahitian islands boast a fairly healthy dog population and Raiatea & Tahaa are no exception. As with most dogs of Polynesia, no matter what island they're on, they ALL SEEM Polynesian dog heaven...TO HAVE THE SAME PARENTS! They all have that "generic dog" look common in many third world countries. Basic browns, or spotted of a thousand colors, most are classic mutts, many of which seemingly wander around carefree and owner-free amongst the homes and businesses of the populace.

Most locals seem to regard them with a casual nonchalance- not unfriendly, but not particularly worried about their well being either... Occasionally, (more so on Tahiti than the other islands), you will see a purebred animal as a family pet, but not often.

So be it. Woof, woof. In Polynesia, compared to other countries, a dog's life could be worse...

Coconut crabs!Crabs

Yes, crabs- Coconot and Hermit crabs, that is...

Q: Why a separate section for crabs, you may ask? A: 'Cause we like the little buggers... we'll have lots of interesting facts and crab trivia in the future.


Polynesian Marine LifeMarine Life

Of course, any time spent in Polynesia will reveal to the animal lover the true source of wildlife fascination here: the exquisite marine llife.

There are nearly 500 species of fish within the Tahitian island waters, along with other amazing creatures such as sea turtles, dozens of sharks species, and the ever so popular dolphin (the "flipper" kind), porpoises, and the hugely popular humpback whale topping the list of marine mammals.

Interestingly, there are NO pinepeds to be found anywhere in French Polynesia.

See Raiatea's SCUBA section for more information on marine life.


Flora (Plants & Flowers)

Information on this subject coming soon including information about the famous and saught after Noni plant...


SOCIETY & PEOPLEBeing kids is fun!

Arts & Culture

HISTORY

LEGENDS & MYTHS

Information on these subjects coming soon...


Learn About the Other Islands of
Raiatea is the cultural center of Polynesia!
An Internetwork of Travel and Tourism Guides
for the Main Islands of Tahiti Polynesia.

Papeete / Tahiti

Bora Bora

Tuamotu
Islands

Moorea Island

Huahine

Tetiaroa






 


An interactive bulletin board covering a diverse array of Tahitian subjects.

Ask questions, get advice, meet people, be crazy!

It's fun, easy, and informative!



Discover the
TAHITI OF
YESTERYEAR
Tahiti of Yesteryear
132 black and white photographs of Tahiti, Bora bora, Moorea, Huahine, and Taha'a in 1957

...BEFORE The Bounty movie, before the tour boats, before the commercialism...

Author signed, limited edition books are a Tahiti Sun Travel exclusive offer.




 


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These coupons are worth cold, hard cash!

*For a quick glance at our vendors, see our COUPON FINDER now!



Get the
MOON GUIDE!

Polynesian traveler and internationally acclaimed author David Stanley gives insight and knowledge for the islands YOU NEED TO KNOW.

Get the Moon Handbook now!

GET IT NOW!

(8th edition Handguide from Amazon.com)



 


Find out Who's Who and Where -
On the Tahiti Sun Travel Network.

Also, are they a Coupon Program participant?

We have over 75 different linking members throughout our pages so far and are adding more regularly...

This handy quick reference saves time when you don't have time to explore the network. (Members are listed alphabetically and categorized per/ island site.)



Check out our online store for the most interesting Polynesian products on the planet.

Books, travel guides, maps, Polynesian music, videos, gifts, pareos, soaps, oils, lotions, perfumes & clothing are just a few of the items available.

If you sell Polynesian products: We'd like to sell your products in our store!

See the details here
and let's get something going...

We'll bring you the traffic, you sell the products!




 


(Oooooooooooolala)

The Society Islands are the ultimate in romantic getaways for newlyweds or newly found romances.

Popular activities include Tahitian weddings and renewing wedding vows using interesting traditional Tahitian methods.

honeymooners on beach


Island Hop >>>   Tahiti & Papeete | Bora Bora Island | Huahine Island | Moorea Island | Raiatea & Tahaa | Tetiaroa | Tuamotu Islands