Raiatea is a geographically diverse marvel that is the largest island in the French Polynesian Leeward Group. Recently the port and waterfront areas have enjoyed incredible rebuilding, and the wharf is now a beautiful destination that is a pleasure to visit. As your ship approaches the shores of Raiatea, you can see Mount Temahani, the dormant volcano that once wreaked havoc on this lovely island. The legend of Raiatea says that the god of fertility and war, Oro, was born here on Mount Temahani. Locals have worshipped Oro for centuries, and they would not dare blaspheme his holy name out of fear that the volcano may some day rage again.
The Black Pearl Farms and the Vanilla Plantations are glorious one-of-a-kind sights that will captivate your mind and dazzle your eyes. Scuba diving and snorkeling in the coral reefs and the lagoon are two more musts when visiting Raiatea. The restaurants and shopping facilities are quite limited, but there are a couple eateries that are delightful, such as Club Room and Restaurant Moana. At night, it seems as if the entire island congregates at the lively Le Zenith discotheque. The Botanical Eco Tours offered by the Kaoha Nui Ranch give you an opportunity to see this glorious island on horseback.
Docking & Local Transportation
Cruise ships generally dock off the island of Raiatea, and you are tendered to shore.
A great way to get around the island of Raiatea is via Le Truck, Raiatea's limited bus transportation system. You can also rent a car while on the island. Contact Europcar Raiatea (689/66-34-06) if you'd like to rent a car, scooter, boat, or bicycle.
Taking a tour of the Black Pearl Farms on Raiatea is an incredibly enjoyable experience. There are few other places in the world where you can see these gems in their natural form. A pleasant afternoon getaway will include a trip around the island and a close-up look at the glistening black pearls.
Vanilla is known as the black gold of French Polynesia, and touring the Vanilla Plantations is quite a pleasant engagement. Jeep Safari Raiatea (689/66-15-73) will provide you with a rip-roaring tour of the farms. The jeep ride alone will be enough to get your blood boiling, but when you lay your eyes on the spectacular Vanilla Plantations your first instinct will be to grab your camera and snap off dozens of pictures of the colorful farms.
The Botanical Eco Tours of the Kaoha Nui Ranch are tremendous fun, and you can contact the main tour office by calling (689/66-25-46). The Equestrian Tours provide you with a fantastic horseback experience that you will never forget. Touring the ecological sites while you ride one of these gentle animals is immensely enjoyable.
Dining and Nightlife
The Club House is the latest hot spot on Raiatea (689/66-11-66) and is a combination Italian and French restaurant that is outstanding. Found in the beautiful Apooti Marina, Club House serves some tasty delights and a couple of entrees that you may be hesitant to try. Included in the latter might be the chicken fried in Coca-Cola, although fans of this popular beverage may be knocking down doors to try this exotic treat. The omelets and salads are a safer bet, and the seafood spaghetti is outstanding. Restaurant Moana on Main Street (689/66-27-49) serves scrumptious Chinese food that is prepared with the utmost care and scrutiny. Owner and chef Alphonse Leogite makes sure the atmosphere and the cuisine are both top notch. After hours, the hottest nightclub and bar on Raiatea is the Le Zenith discotheque. Located on the same grounds as Restaurant Moana, Le Zenith Discothèque (689/66-27-49) serves strong drinks and has a large dance floor with enough room to accommodate you and all of your new island friends.
Scuba Diving, Snorkeling, and Boating
The lagoon excursions are extraordinary, and Manava Excursions (689/66-28-26) is the best company for scuba diving and snorkeling in the Raiatea Lagoon. Snorkeling over the coral garden is incredible, and the beautiful marine life could keep your eyes happy for hours. Hémisphère Sub Raiatea (689/66-12-49) offers different kinds of trips, and they are based in the Apooti Marina.
Aurore Raiatea (689/66-33-07) is a wonderful boutique that sells souvenirs and handcrafts that serve as the perfect present for family and friends. Galerie Art Expo (689/66-11-83) is a lovely art gallery full of fine pieces created by artists of the South Pacific.