Raiatea and Tahaa

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Oceania » French Polynesia » Raiatea
March 19th 2012
Published: March 27th 2012
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Sort of like the Blackstone River....
Raiatea is the second largest of the Society Islands (Tahiti is the largest), but only has about 12,000 residents. It is also thought that Raiatea was where the Polynesians that settled Hawaii and New Zealand originated. The traditional name for the island is Havai'i, which is spelled exactly how Hawaiians say 'Hawaii'.

I did not have a lot of time to explore the island, but to make the most of it, I found a guide who takes people on stand-up paddleboard excursions up the Faaroa River, which is the only 'navigable' river in all of French Polynesia. I say 'navigable' because the river is very shallow, for the most part only a couple of feet deep. There is hardly any current, or rather, there was hardly any current--I imagine it could be quite different in a downpour or flash flood.

The river is quite scenic. You don't hear any cars. You don't hear any boats. You don't see many buildings. You don't see many people. There are trees crisscrossing over the river in some places, and in others you are paddling right along a plantation, and other areas look like natural botanical gardens. The sights

Me with our guide, Cedric.
here were exotic.

Breadfruit trees randomly lined the river, and for those history buffs out there, you will recall that the breadfruit tree is what attracted Capt. Cook and Capt. Bligh to this part of the world. Capt. Bligh departed Tahiti on the HMS Bounty with a collection of breadfruit trees, and soon after, the crew mutinied, kicked Bligh and his supporters off, and turned the boat around and went straight back to Tahiti.

The paddle was challenging enough as to where I did break a sweat, but it was so very relaxing at the same time. I felt better after that 2 hour paddle than I do after a 1 hour massage.

Tahaa is the island that is right next to Raiatea, and that is where we anchored for a couple of days. I did not have a chance to explore Tahaa at all, but from what I heard from the rest of the crews' experiences there, I definitely picked the best thing to do on my day of with the paddleboarding. On Tahaa, they visited a vanilla plantation and went on a muddy hike.

I did pick up some black pearls in Tahaa, from a local resident, who was originally from Switzerland, but has lived in Tahaa for many years. He also speared a big dogfin tuna for us.

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