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Raiatea: the sacred island of French Polynesia

Raiatea is the second largest island of the Society Islands archipelago. The capital is the town of Uturoa, which is also the administrative center of the Leeward Islands (Îles sous le Vent). This town is located in the northern part of the island in front of the island of Tahaa. The islands of Raiatea and Tahaa (Tahaa produces 80% of all vanilla from French Polynesia) are both enclosed by the same coral reef and probably formed a single island in the past. Raiatea has a resident population of 12,500 inhabitants.


Raiatea has an area of 167 sq km. The interior of the island is wild and mountainous, the highest mountain of Raiatea is Mount Toomaru or Mount Tefatua which reaches an altitude of 1,017 meters. Mount Temeahani which reaches 821 meters in height is famous for being the place where the Tiare Apetahi grows, an endemic species of flower that grows only on the slopes of this mountain in Raiatea. A road runs along the entire coast of the island which measures over 90 km. In the southern part it is also possible to enter the interior of the island through a stretch of road that leads to a panoramic point and which connects the bay of Faaroa to the bay of Faatemu.

The island is an interesting destination for those who love to deepen the Polynesian culture, the island is not very touristy because it has no beaches, but it has interesting remains of the Polynesian civilization, including the most important temple of French Polynesia: the Marae Taputapuatea, which it is located near the village of Opoa in the south-eastern part of the island. The Marae Taputapuatea is a large religious complex consisting of three distinct sacred ceremonial areas: the Marae Taputapuatea, the Marae Tauraa and the Marae Hauviri. Another archaeological site is located along the west coast near the village of Tevaitoa where are the remains of the Marae Tainuu above which the oldest Protestant church of the island was built. Interesting is also the visit of the bay of Faaroa which looks like a tropical fjord surrounded by thick vegetation and dominated by mountains.


Raiatea airport is located in the far north of the island, in front of the lagoon branch that separates Raiatea from the island of Tahaa. The island has Air Tahiti flights connecting it to the islands of Tahiti, Maupiti, Huahine, Rangiroa, Tikehau and Bora Bora (20 minutes). Raiatea Airport also serves the neighboring island of Tahaa.


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