Raiatea is the spiritual home of some of the greatest sailors the world has known – in fact, some say the heart of Polynesian nautical knowledge and traditions. Huge forest-covered mountains, vast swathes of sandy beaches and limpid blue seas as far as the eye can see – the island is a must-visit spot for all yachting and sailing enthusiasts.
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Raiatea is enveloped with legends, myths and history. The second largest island in the Society Islands, it is nautical heart of the people known for their sailing prowess. In fact, almost all of region’s sailing charters and yacht companies are based out of Raiatea. Fittingly so, the meaning of the island’s name translates to ‘faraway heaven’. A part of the huge lagoon shared by Taha’a, this island’s people hold stories and legends about the great Polynesian migration which spread the tribe far and wide in their double-hulled outrigger canoes.
Rather than beaches, it is the history, culture and nature which marks Raiatea’s importance. Over 28 species of flora and fauna are native to this island, none more revered than the Tiare Apetahi flower. This delicate white, five-petal flower is found only on the tropical plateau of Temehani. Despite decades of efforts, it cannot grow anywhere else in the world! While on the trek to find this elusive flower, hikers will be rewarded by stunning views of Raiatea’s picturesque town, pot and hundreds of square miles of Pacific Ocean glittering below. On a good day, even Bora Bora and Mount Otemanu are visible in the distance. It’s utterly romantic, humbling and surreal.
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