Last updated on November 27th, 2022
Wild by even French Polynesian standards, Tahaa is really a ‘get away from it all island’, where traditional Tahitian life is still the norm. Sharpen your senses and breath deeply, the ‘Vanilla Island’ blooms with the sweet scented flowers that make your favorite desserts and the island’s prime crop. Venture out into the lagoon, and discover small islets floating in the bright blue, with pristine beaches just waiting for you to set foot on! This Tahaa Travel Guide will help you make the most of your time on this off the beaten track destination.
I spent three months in French Polynesia, as part of a six-month backpacking trip across the South Pacific Islands – with two full days in Tahaa (three nights). This travel guide to Tahaa was written based on my experiences and is meant to help you make the most of the Vanilla Island. The Tahaa Travel Guide is geared towards independent travelers, but any visitor will find it useful.
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If you’re on a limited vacation, Tahaa is not a must-visit destination. However, here are four reasons for visiting Tahaa:
(1) Of all the Society Islands, Tahaa is its wildest member. There aren’t too many people here (locals and tourists alike) and time really does seem to sit still. Deep emerald bays carve their way into rolling hills, with nothing but sleepy villages and a whole lot of wild hibiscus in between. (2) Tahaa is world-renowned for its vanilla production. Some of the world’s best is grown right here, and you’ll get the chance to see how it all works. (3+4) Tahaa’s lagoon is blessed with some of the prettiest motus (small lagoon islets). I’m talking about pristine beaches, untouched and just waiting for you. Here’s the real kicker: for those seeking to stay in a luxury resort on one of those ‘dream islands’, Tahaa offers a superb alternative to the overstretched resort scene in Bora Bora with one of the top resorts in French Polynesia. Keep reading for more details.
Click on the image to open in Google Maps. This map features all the highlights mentioned in this guide.
Oddly shaped Tahaa shares the same lagoon with its big sister to the south – Raiatea. Some theorize that the two were once part of a single island, only to be split at some point. There are even accounts of an underground lava tube connecting Raiatea and Tahaa.
The 4,000 residents of Tahaa live almost entirely around the 70-kilometer coast, making a living from copra production, black pearl, and vanilla farming. Over 80% of French Polynesia’s vanilla is grown in Tahaa, world-renowned for producing some of the finest vanilla in the world.