Tahaa Island Travel Guide

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Things To Do & Places To See In Tahaa

Check out this 5 days in Raiatea and Tahaa sample itinerary to see how to divide your days on the islands

Tahaa Island Tour

vanilla grower tahaa french polynesiaThe following sites can be visited on a self-guided tour with your own car or as part of an organized tour with a local guide. I opted for the second option since renting a car when you’re solo wasn’t worth it but. In addition, having a local guide has the added benefit of actually understanding what it is you’re seeing. I booked a tour with Teva, the owner of Poerani Tours for a half day 4X4 tour of the island (5,000F, | 3.5 hours | rani-poe@mail.pf | +689 87788025). Though you won’t see every single part of Tahaa, the island’s highlights are covered – especially the vanilla farm, which is the main reason for visiting Tahaa. Teva is super knowledgable and speaks excellent English, though if demand is high you might get one of his relatives or friends who also work with him.

Along The Coastal Road

driving in tahaa french polynesiaYou might find yourself all alone on parts of the coastal road around Tahaa. Along the way, you’ll drive through sleepy seaside villages and bay after bay of emerald water. On the western side of the island, you can see the silhouette of Bora Bora – a magnificent sight on a cloud free day.

baguette mailboxes tahaa french polynesiaBe on the watch for extended mailboxes on the side of the road. In fact, they’re not just used for delivering the mail but also for delivering fresh baguette. Being such a lush tropical island, it’s no wonder why everything grows here in such abundance. Spot the wild hibiscus growing on the roadside and even star fruit which comes in both sour and sweet versions.

Apu Bay

One of the many pretty bays on Tahaa. This one sits on the southern end of the island, right before the road begins to climb to one of the mountain passes dropping to the western part of the island.

Apu Bay Tahaa french polynesia

Tiva

A small picturesque village at the mouth of Hurepiti Bay. The highlight here is the signature church, beautiful and right on the water.

village church tahaa island by boat french polyensia

Patio

The ‘capital’ of Tahaa. Here you’ll find a few shops and snacks but not much else.

Faaaha Bay

Undoubtedly the prettiest of many bays in Tahaa. The best way to appreciate the beauty around here is by continuing with the road as it climbs the mountain before dropping to the next bay – Haamene. Even on a cloudy and rainy day, the wild beauty of Tahaa is so impressive. You can really see just how sparsely populated the island is.

Fahaaa Bay tahaa french polynesia island tour

Haamene

From the viewpoint of Faaha Bay, the road drops down to Haamene Bay, the deepest in Tahaa. This bay is simply huge! Simple homes dot the coastline and fishing, copra production and black pearl farming are pretty much the only things to do around here.

mountain road tahaa french polynesia

tropical bay island tour tahaa french polynesia

Black Pearl Farm

It just so happens that Teva’s family also runs a pearl farm. We stopped for a quick tour of the Poerani Pearl Farm, nestled along the shores of Haamene Bay. Our guide just so happened to be Teva’s mother, who’s been running this place for decades. With surprisingly good English, she explained the process of making black pearls. It all starts with a ‘mother of pearl’, an oyster carefully selected by a professional grafter who will then use it to inseminate the other pearls – hopefully putting the good qualities of the mother pearl into mass production.

pearl farm tour tahaa french polynesia

Though undergoing a major decline, black pearl farming is still a huge source of income for islanders in French Polynesia. You’ll be able to visit a farm on almost every island and I highly recommend doing so. I learned that it takes up to five years to produce a quality pearl and that the same oyster can be used up to four times in its lifetime. But it’s really a hit or miss, as quite a few pearls do not meet the standards and either must be discarded or used for very low-quality jewelry.   

black pearl necklace tahaa french polynesia

Vanilla Farm

Tour company, black pearl farm – what else is missing in Teva’s family? That’s right… a vanilla farm. Well, he’s got that too actually. From the pearl farm, we drove inland to the family’s vanilla farm. This is the highlight of the trip and the main reason for visiting ‘the Vanilla Island’.

To be honest, there’s not much happening on a vanilla farm and once you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all (and it rarely smells like vanilla inside). What is extremely interesting is learning about the process of making the final product and why Tahaa vanilla is considered to be the best in the world.

vanilla flower at vanilla farm tour tahaa french polynesia

It turns out that it takes almost nine months to get the finished product. The vanilla that grows here is exceptional in quality due to the optimal conditions of elevation, humidity and moisture. The only problem is that the insects that normally pollinate the flower are not to be found in French Polynesia. So what’s the solution? Vanilla farmers manually pollinate the plants in a delicate process done by hand. So this is how the best vanilla in the world makes its way (hopefully) to your creme brulee, ice cream, and even fish dishes.

vanilla polinating at vanilla farm tahaa french polynesia

The tour ended back at the Teva’s house, which also doubles as the gift shop. His lovely wife will greet you with fruit juices, vanilla coffee, and some fresh fruit to get you into shopping mode. You can obviously buy vanilla from the farm in small or large packs (five large vanilla sticks will cost about $25), as well as vanilla related products (extract, coffee, etc.). Other French Polynesian specialties are also on sale, including monoi oils, sarongs, and even exotic spirits. Prices are very reasonable, but those of vanilla products will fluctuate on an annual basis.

Joe Dassin Beach

Joe Dassin tropical beach tahaa french polynesiaBetween Pati and Tiva, Joe Dassin beach can only be accessed by boat. It’s wild and you’ll likely have it all to yourself, though I am not sure chartering a boat just for this makes sense. If you ask the locals, they’ll even recommend just heading out to the motus.

Motu Beaches

plam trees on tropical motu le tahaa luxury resort french polynesiaSurprisingly, for such an emerald island, the motus around Tahaa are considered to be some of the prettiest in French Polynesia. Perhaps it’s because of their seclusion or perhaps it’s the white sand and wild palm trees. One of the highlights of visiting Raiatea & Tahaa is definitely to head out to these small islets on the edge of the lagoon. You can join a lagoon tour which usually includes a picnic lunch on one of these dream beaches (known as picnic motu), but you can also sleep here. I stayed one night at Le Tahaa Island Resort & Spa in Motu Tautau, which is considered to be the prettiest spot in the lagoon, complete with pristine beaches ‘as seen in travel magazines’.

pristine coral garden le tahaa luxury resort french polynesiaThe small lagoon between the resort and the neighboring motu is known as ‘the coral garden’. Even if you’re not staying at the resort, chances are your lagoon tour will stop here for some of the best snorkeling around.

If you’re looking for even more adventure, walk all to the way to the edge of the bora bora silhouette from le tahaa luxury resort french polynesianeighboring motu until there’s nothing but Bora Bora and a whole lot of ocean in front of you. Carefully jump into the channel leading back to the lagoon and enjoy the ridge. Riding the strong current back into the lagoon is the closest thing to flying I’ve ever felt, without having an airplane involved. You’ll be zipping by schools of fish and maneuvering around the coral. Just be careful not to cut yourself on the coral and to always avoid the yellow coral – which is poisonous (but definitely not deadly).  

Other Activities In Tahaa

Aside from the island and lagoon tours which we covered above, you’ll also find a few local operators offering jet ski tours in the lagoon (~20,000F per couple) and quad tours in the mountains of the main island (19,000F per couple). Poerani Tours is one such company (rani-poe@mail.pf | +689 87788025).

Now It’s Your Turn

I hope you’ve found this Tahaa Travel Guide useful. If you have any questions or your own Tahaa travel tips, leave a comment below and let’s get the conversation started!

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