• travel guides Travel guides
    Tips to experience holidays as a local
  • Miami Miami
    Florida colors
  • Seoul Seoul
    Oopan Gangnam style!
  • Cape town penguins South Africa
    Rainbow vibes
  • Bangkok Bangkok
    City of angels
  • French Polynesia French Polynesia
    6 islands in the South Seas
  • Skyline Hong Kong
    Skylines, bar streets, markets & islands
  • Sydney Opera Australia
    Sydney's NYE, Gold Coast & Great Barrier Reef
  • Gecko Hawaii
    Aloha nature wonders
  • Japanese Wedding Japanese Wedding
    The dark side of the rising sun
  • Yakushima Yakushima
    Hiking the Princess Mononoke Forest
  • Ishigaki Lighthouse Ishigaki
    Okinawa's shades of blue
  • Yuki Matsuri Hokkaido
    Powder Snow Festival
  • Daikanyama Daikanyama
    Tokyo's SoHo
  • Cosplayer Comiket
    The Biggest Cosplay Event
  • Cherry Tree Blossom Hanami (花見)
    Sakura by the skyscrapers
  • Hiroshima bomb time Hiroshima
    The Bomb & Miyajima
  • top of mount fuji guide to climb Japan
    Top of Mt.Fuji
  • Kyoto & Nara Nara & Kyoto
    Ciervos nadando en lagos de roca
  • Formentera House Formentera
    Mediterranean Sun
  • Stockholm Stockholm
    5 year resident, to guide around the local wonders


Raiatea: Marae Taputapuatea

Our next stop in Polynesia was the mysterious (and somewhat disappointing) Raiatea and Taha'a. While they are encircled by a common lagoon, Raiatea and Taha'a are two vey different islands, with a variety of pleasures to offer. As long as you have secured them, well in advance.

Raiatea was once the center of Polynesian culture. So that any new marae would have to start from a stone taken from the Marae Taputapuatea, which is considered by many, the spiritual center of the Polynesian triangle. I, being a sucker for Polynesian culture, could not wait for the day when I would learn more about these fascinating sailors & survivors, that loved the Pacific, its white beaches and tasty fruits as much as I do. Unfortunately, due to the lack of investment from the French Government to preserve the local culture (actually, 80% of the population is native Polynesian), learning about Polynesians is best done in Oahu (Hawaii), where the cultural center offers activities and all sorts of recreations, for in-depth understanding of how their life looked like, their values & science.

Anyway. I still had the tour around Taha'a as back-up plan. Think of a tiny Bora-Bora, which is secret to paparazzi, packed with vanilla plantations, pearl farms and snorkeling spots. Unfortunately, after calling 6 different tour operators (none of them was going there, because of lacking people) we had 2 options:
- Pay 600€ for a private day tour
- Change plane ticket (free of charge) and spend two days more than planned in the next island

Guess which one we picked?

Bottom Line: If you can afford one of the fancy resorts of Taha'a and you are after a complete "do nothing" vacation, this may be a place for you. If you plan on enjoying a variety of activities, but haven't planned so much and feel bad by paying 80€ for a hiking guide, this is maybe not a good place for you. If you have kids, go to Moorea or Bora-Bora.

The lagoon encircles both islands, which pretty much like Moorea, are covered in lush jungles. We stayed at Pension Te Maeva which is a rustic hill owned by a French family. Bungalows are gracefully laid around huge amounts of pink flowers. A Robinson-like spot with warm water (yet non drinkable) and WiFi. Hard to get uphill with the car and a bit isolated from the main village, there were other locations I enjoyed more, to be honest.

The visit to the Marae was, as explained above, rather disappointing. The Marae was the Polynesian version of the Agora in ancient Rome. A place for religious ceremonies, political discussions, offerings, canoe blessing and everyday life. It's amazing to think that Polynesians would carry one of these stones on their boats, sail through the Pacific and use it when they broke into new ground, as a way for their cultural expansion.

Today, coconuts and crabs are unfortunately more self-explanatory than these huge ruins.

All volcanic rock. Plus some old tikis, in stone. Away from the ones we saw in Hawaii, that looked more like the movies, probably because of being just recreations.

Aided by some random stone, I accomplished my first coconut opening. In a lifetime. So happy. If you're wondering, of course I tasted it! Awesome nature blessing.

We continued our road trip around the island, till we realize, there wasn't a lot left. And we would not be able to explore Taha'a the day after anyway.

So we dropped it. Packed. And left in the 17:00 PM to an island where the grass is greener and the lagoon, nearly neon turquoise. Make a guess...



theROOM said...

Convivo con la envidia que me producen tus viajes...

Clau said...

Mujer, que todo esto es inspiración para el futuro (y recuerdos para otros).

De pequeña mi madre me leía un cómic de una familia que se iba a la Polynesia. Todas las noches le hacía que me lo repitiera. Con eso de las palmeras, los barcos y los tiburones. Me hacía mucha gracia. Sería por la aventura o por los colores.

Supongo que me caló hondo, porque por ejemplo, nunca pienso en explorar Latinoamérica o África Sub-sahariana. Me da como miedo. No sé. Siempre me quedo con Asia & el Pacífico, que es tan vasto e impresionante que no me salen palabras para describirlo...

© dontplayahate. All rights reserved.