Beyond the ‘big’ islands of Tahiti lies a range of smaller communities all with their own unique histories and experiences. With less development than their larger neighbours, the ‘outer islands’ represent what it truly means to be Polynesian with customs, foods and traditions that have been the same for hundreds of years.
The team at Spacifica travel specialise in creating unique and unforgettable South Pacific holiday experiences for all our customers. If you are interested in visiting any of Tahiti’s outer islands, either as a day trip during your Tahitian holiday or for an extended multi-day getaway, please get in touch with us on 1800 800 722.
The only way to visit Tetiaroa is to book a day excursion on one of the sailing catamarans based in the Marina of Papeete. The island is only six square kilometres in size, with a population of around fifty people. It boasts a crystal-clear lagoon and thirteen white sand islets, all of which are part of natural reserve: a home for numerous seabirds and exceptional coral gardens. Tetiaroa is also the location of numerous archaeological sites.
Maupiti is a tiny island - untouched, secluded and authentic. Ancient petroglyphs are carved on huge rocks and the island boasts an ancient marae. The islanders are laid-back and friendly, and most travel via bicycle or canoe - the slow pace of life here is legendary, and the landscapes are pristine. Planes fly to Maupiti from Papeete or boats depart from Bora Bora.
Huahine, Raiatea and Taha’a are all encircled by the same lagoon. Huahine is actually made up of two islands, Huahine Nui qnd Huahine Iti, which are connected by a bridge that overlooks the lagoon. The 6000 inhabitants live a fairly traditional lifestyle, and there is a peaceful ambiance to the main town and daily activities. There are shops, banks and internet café’s, though the simplicity is refreshing. The only thing crowded about Huahine is the amount of historical sights – the archaeological site near the village of Maeva has the largest concentration of pre-European marae in Polynesia. Other activities on Huahine include amazing diving through reef walls, caves and coral; deep-sea fishing, surfing, kite boarding, hiking and horseback riding.
Raiatea is known as the cradle of Polynesian culture. All other islands throughout Polynesia look to Raiatea as the ancient centre of Polynesian culture; the spiritual mother of Polynesia’s islands. Raiatea has a spectacular marae called Taputapuatea, where inauguration ceremonies, political alliances and international meetings would take place. The religious and political powers of Polynesia used to reside in the island and thus the area was taboo. Today, Polynesian communities from the Pacific convene in the island to discuss important cultural matters; the journey to Raiatea is seen as a type of cultural pilgrimage to Polynesians.
Raiatea is also a major nautical base for sailboats and charter companies, and is home to the only navigable river in French Polynesia. There is even an outrigger canoe tour that takes you into the dense tropical forest. There are not many beaches, though diving is popular, and the island’s dramatic mountainous landscape and collection of rare endemic flora and fauna is an explorer’s dream. Flights from Papeete to Raiatea take around 45 minutes.
A short ferry-ride from Raiatea will see you travel back in time to old Polynesian charm. The island of Taha’a is famous for its vanilla bean, as the island supplies up to 80% of Tahiti’s vanilla. The island even smells like vanilla, which adds to the magical feel of this unspoilt paradise.
Around 400 people live on the island of Maiao, almost in total seclusion, for the islanders have forbidden foreigners to spend a night on the island without a formal invitation. The economy of the island relies on the cultivation of pandanus leaves, and the islanders enjoy a traditional existence. The island of Maiao is not on any tourist trail, though many would love an opportunity to experience a Polynesian culture in such isolation.
Tupai is famous for its heart-shaped atoll. The island is made up of a double lagoon and several coconut-tree lined motus. It is uninhabited, though dive centres from Bora Bora visit. There are several bird species that live on the atoll, and sea turtles visit in November to lay their eggs.GREaT dEALS