We have heard about Raiatea from other locals and tourists: Why are you going there? Did you know that there is nothing to do there? They don’t have a single beach, FYI. Who needs a beach to have fun, we asked back. Surely you haven’t been looking in the right places. After all, we are in paradise.
Surprisingly, these people knew what they were talking about. Raiatea is the black sheep in the Polynesian archipelago. We made some honest attempts to explore the island, including renting a car and driving around the whole island, but came back rather disappointed.
One morning, we got hold of a canoe and started to paddle towards a nearby motu (a sand island in the lagoon). Just two minutes in, the canoe was spinning around as if is was alive or under some Harry Potter prank spell, and did not want to listen to our commands! Frustrated and tired, we eventually reached the Motu (in double time of what is normally needed) and looked for a place to sit down and eat our brought fruits & croissants, only to find that this Motu was not a very nice place. When we finally found an approved spot, away from crabs and flies, raindrops fell on our shoulders. We threw ourselves back in the canoe and began panic-paddling back to the hotel. Just in time for when the sky opened itself. Literally. The rain was absolutely pouring down on us in our spinning canoe and made us totally soaked. At this point, we could no longer hold back – and burst out in a massive laughter. Such a surreal trip. Oh and of course, at the time of our return, the sun decided to show itself again.
Alley down to the ocean.
Minna picking coconuts.
Was there anything nice at all on this not-so-paradisey-island? Well, yes. The sunsets were magical. Especially the first night, which is probably the most extraordinary sunset we have ever seen. Unfortunately, this was the only night we did not bring our camera, only Minna’s mobile phone. However, below are some photos of the diverse lights from the different sunsets at Raiatea.
The best view of them all.
Another positive thing about Raiatea – the breakfast!
Taha’a, last island of our stay in French Polynesia. This time, we went big and booked the premium option, a sunset overwater bungalow, justifying this ridiculous spending spree as our “pre-wedding honeymoon”. When in Rome! At least we had breakfast included, which, by the way, was the best breakfast buffet ever according to Viktor. Nom nom nom.
Most of the time, we relaxed by our bungalow. Yoga, sunbathing, reading, swimming, playing games, watching the sunset and looking at stars at night. Minna also learned how to do a traditional Polynesian flower crown. Knowledge that hopefully will come at good use for next midsummer.
Coffee break with stolen croissants from the breakfast buffet.
Our go-to game, Mega Yatzy with six dices, along with some wine and sunset. Not bad!
Horizon view from our bungalow.
We also played tennis a few times!
Of course, we wanted to explore this lagoon area as well, and went to see what type of tours they had to offer. The ones we liked had a minimum four people requirement (private tour prices were insane), so we played the waiting game. Next day, they had put up a cute “couple looking for jet-ski partners” sign at the reception. Desperate much?! Another day of waiting untill we finally found a match to our contact ad.
A half-day jet-ski tour, where we would visit a pearl farm, vanilla plantation, coral garden and rum distillery, where tomorrows excursion. Minna’s first time on a jet-ski. It was loads of fun cruising around the island and visit all the places. Actually, the best part was driving, or rather racing, in 60-70km/h, taking quick turns, bumbing into waves and, sometimes, trying to hold on. Maybe we’re becoming adrenaline junkies?! We learned about the different production methods of pearls, vanilla and rum, and bought some souvenirs from one of the places. Guess which one? We also swam with around twenty reef sharks and fought some strong water current in the lagoon’s coral garden.
Dried vanilla beans.
Jumping in to explore the coral garden.
Sugar canes waiting to get crushed into liquid.
It is reluctantly and with great sadness we leave this little paradise, lost in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, with its magical colours of the lagoon and beatiful sunsets. We really don’t want to leave. But new adventure awaits. Next stop on our journey is Hawaii!
Minna at our ocean veranda.
Last sunset in France Polynesia we set out on our stand-up-paddle boards.