Raiatea, Tahaa, Huahine, Maupiti

The Leeward islands

Raiatea the highest and largest of the Leeward islands, regarded as the cultural center for all of Polynesia, and the starting point for migrations throughout the Pacific, shares its lagoon with the island of Tahaa.
Tahaa, the vanilla island encircled by a wonderful lagoon that it shares with Raiatea. The motus surrounding it are among the most beautiful in Polynesia.
Huahine First of the Leeward islands, Huahine has a superb lagoon, and it personifies softness and serenity for all Polynesians.
Maupiti the most remote and the smallest of the high islands, 11 km2, features impressive rocky peaks dropping straight down to an immaculate lagoon encircled by splendid motus.

Raiatea, the sacred island

Raiatea Island

Raiatea: Historical, mysterious
Former name: Havaiki

Encounter: Rightfully regarded as being the cradle of all Polynesian civilizations, it keeps very impressive archeological remains. Although it almost has no beaches, it features an impressive lagoon, ideal for experienced divers…

At a glance: Located 220 km Northwest of Tahiti, Raiatea is the largest and highest of the Leeward Islands. It is located inside a large lagoon enclosing also the neighboring island of Tahaa, located to the North. The splendid Faaroa Bay is the deepest bay in all Polynesia (over 30 m or 100ft deep). It is in Raiatea that the nautical bases of all sailboat rentals for the Leeward Islands are located.
The original land of the Maohi people, formerly named Havaiki, Raiatea remains the sacred island for the entire Polynesian Triangle, delimited by New Zealand, Easter Island and Hawaii. According to the legend, it is indeed from Raiatea that the ancient Maohi navigators left to conquer other lands in the Pacific. This sacred character is still seen today in the presence of many marae, of which the famous international marae of Taputapuatea , where in the old days human sacrifices were performed.

How to get there: By plane, a 45-minute flight from Tahiti, or a 15-minute flight from Huahine - about 3 to 5 daily flights.

Tahaa, the vanilla island

Tahaa Island

Tahaa: Easy, idyllic

Encounter: Tahaa is, without a doubt, the Society island providing the greatest feeling of being far away (along with Maupiti). A small mountanous island with a sumptuous lagoon, to really feel like Robinson Crusoe on any of his many motu.

At a glance: Tahaa is located in the same lagoon as its neighbor Raiatea. It is a circular shaped island with a mountainous interior cut by sumptuous bays. The island's charm resides in the diversity of its eight districts, relatively isolated and very different from one another, although united by a same desire of hospitality.
The many motu, which indeed surround the North side of the island are among the most beautiful in Polynesia. The lagoon's depth (10 to 30 meters) makes it possible to go all around them in a sailboat or power boat and also to moor anywhere you wish to enjoy the sea and the sun.
The island's fauna and flora are in all ways similar to that of its neighboring islands, except for vanilla. which has invaded the island, especially on the hillsides.

How to get there: By plane: no airport right on Tahaa, you have to use the Raiatea airport right across the lagoon. Raiatea airport is 40 minutes by plane, a direct flight from Tahiti, or via Huahine (Between 3 and 5 daily flights). Then take one of the many shuttle boats connecting Raiatea and Tahaa (a 15-minute boat ride).

Huahine, the wild island

Huahine Island

Huahine: Authentic, secret
Former name: Matairea

Encounter: Huahine, magical and wild island, often regarded as the most beautiful and gentle of the Leeward islands.

At a glance: Huahine is composed of two islands with rough and enchanted mountains, separated by a narrow channel and connected by a small stone bridge. The deep bay of Maroe separating Huahine Nui (the big island in the North) from Huahine Iti (the small island in the South) is said to have been dug by the canoe of the god Hiro and is without a doubt one of Polynesia's most beautiful bays, and also the largest.
With an incomparable easy living, Huahine has been able to stay away from traditional tourism. The nonchalent pace of the small town of Fare gives the impression that time there has stopped, far from Tahiti's buzzing activity. Everybody here knows everybody and the people greet visitors with simplicity and their happiness to share their preserved garden of Eden.
The treasures of this island are many: mysterious and elegant mountains, Maohi marae and sites galore , quiet and idyllic lagoons, and above all, the proverbial and spontaneous kindness of the people in this little paradise less than 200 km (120 mils) from Papeete...

How to get there: By plane, a 30-minute direct flight from Tahiti, or from Raiatea Huahine's neighboring island (a 15-minute flight).

Maupiti, the secret island

Maupiti Island

Maupiti: preserved, immaculate
Former name: Vaitu and sometimes Maurua

Encounter: Maupiti is the smallest and the last of the Leeward Islands. It is also the least visited. A cocktail of tranquility with an immaculate turquoise lagoon...

At a glance: Maupiti is almost an atoll : at its center there is a unique volcanic mountain range, Mount Teurafaatiu, a single peak with sharp sides overlooking the village of Vaiea. The overseas portion is surrounded by a large lagoon occupying 3/4 of the island's total surface with big motus all around.
The central island is framed with large strips of coral where the population has always been known to grow watermelons, the place's specialty.
The long reef, wide and protecting, frames one of the most beautiful and the most acclaimed lagoon in Polynesia. Gigantic corals and white sand shores as far as you can see enhance the exceptional panorama of this island.
Maupiti is a splendid gem with white sand beaches everywhere you look, unforgettable diving, all of this with few other tourists

How to get there: By plane, departure from Raiatea, Tahiti or Bora-Bora.

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