The magic of Taha’a in French Polynesia

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I’m quite careful when it comes to describing a location and I can tell you confidently that in all the places I’ve traveled to, I have never labeled any place as, ‘paradise’. Maeva everyone, French Polynesia wins the title and maintains it ever so beautifully in every single day we’ve spent on it’s truly magical islands.

We arrive to French Polynesia’s capital, Tahiti, where only 2 airlines exclusively operate: Air Tahiti and Air France. Upon arrival, the fresh smell of the jungle and floral fauna coat your lungs and gives you an instant tropical high. While you queue up for customs, you are greeted by a local band and dancers singing traditional polynesian songs and dances. Tahiti is the center of all Polynesian business but still retains that island feeling with lush tropical greenery lining up highways and streets. Polynesia’s only international airport is in Tahiti and it takes you to all other ‘society’ islands as they are called. Today, we’re off to a small ‘motu’ (private island), right off it’s bigger island Taha’a. The little motu we’re staying at is run by Relais & Chateau, Le Taha’a; a private island hotel, secluded from the world. Only a 5 minute boat ride away from the world’s capital for Polynesian vanilla, Taha’a is an island that is home to a few small business owners in the Vanilla production and Pearl industries. With a population of around 5,000 people, Taha’a maintains it’s reputation for virginal, untouched beauty and nature while enjoying the occasional visitors that are coming for an ultimate escape. Unlike Bora Bora or Moorea, this island it’s surrounding Motus are your ultimate privacy get away. So if you’re thinking about writing that novel you’ve wanted for so long or seeking some quiet time from the world- this is where you should be.

Taha’a does not have an airport, so you get to it through its neighboring island Raitea, a 35 min boat ride away. Our hotel picks you up from the airport in a private boat taxi and drops you right on it’s gate where you feel like you’ve just made your arrival at the gates of paradise. At this point, I think I contemplated throwing my phone in the water before I went in. We were greeted by the warmest hotel staff with floral necklaces and the ladies get a special freshly made floral head wreath.

After checking in, we were taken to our over water room, that had beautiful views of the Pacific ocean and the Island of Taha’a.

After much needed rest under the sun, a delicious lunch in our super spacious private patio and a mini dip in the clear blue sea water under our bungalow, we were ready to call it a night by 8pm, sleeping like babies.

Make sure you book a day trip that they call ‘the excursion’, totally worth it. A boat takes us onto Taha’a island and you hop right onto a 4×4 car that takes you straight to a locally (and apparently globally) well known pearl farm. They give you a fantastic tutorial on how pearls are farmed, created and cared for. After the pearl farm, we visit the world renowned Polynesian Vanilla production farm, found exclusively on Taha’a island. They also happen to produce Tamanu Oil which has several healing properties.

 

I’m quite careful when it comes to comparing somewhere to ‘paradise’ or ‘heaven’ and I can tell you confidently that in all the beach spots I’ve traveled to around the world, nothing has come close. Maeva everyone, French Polynesia wins the title and maintains it ever so beautifully in every single day we’ve spent on it’s truly magical islands.

I’d like to share my journal entry on our baby moon, before our son filled our life. We scoured the world for beach holidays to remember before becoming parents and discovered that nothing beats French Polynesia. Yes, it’s quite a journey to get there but the evening flight turned out to fit quite well and easy from LAX. We woke up to a landing into Tahiti international airport and I felt like I was still dreaming. As we arrive, to French Polynesia’s capital, the fresh smell of the jungle and floral fauna coat your lungs and gives you an instant tropical high. While we queued up for customs, we’re are greeted by a local band and dancers singing traditional polynesian songs and dances. Tahiti is the center of all Polynesian business but still retains that island feeling with lush tropical greenery lining up highways and streets. Polynesia’s only international airport is in Tahiti and it takes you to all other ‘society’ islands as they are called.

My husband searched for a small ‘motu’ (private island) to escape to and found a quiet little piece of heaven right off a bigger island, Taha’a. The little motu we’re staying at is run by Relais & Chateau, Le Taha’a; a private island hotel, secluded from the world, literally. Only a 5 minute boat ride away from the world’s capital for Polynesian vanilla, Taha’a is an island that is home to a few small business owners in the Vanilla production and Pearl industries. With a population of around 5,000 people, Taha’a maintains it’s reputation for virginal, untouched beauty and nature while enjoying the occasional visitors that are coming for an ultimate escape. Unlike Bora Bora or Moorea, this island it’s surrounding Motus are your ultimate privacy get away. So if you’re thinking about writing that novel you’ve wanted for so long or seeking some quiet time from the world- this is where you should be.

Taha’a does not have an airport, so you get to it through its neighboring island Raitea, a 35 min boat ride away. Our hotel picked us up from the airport in a cute private boat taxi and drops you right on it’s gate … this is where we felt like we’ve just made our arrival at the gates of paradise. At this point, I contemplated throwing my phone into the water before I entered. We were greeted by the warmest hotel staff with customary floral necklaces and I got a special freshly made floral head wreath.

After checking in, we were taken to our over water room, that had beautiful views of the Pacific ocean and the Island of Taha’a. Frequented by celebrities like Natalie Portman, Drew Barrymore, etc. the hotel lives up to it’s name and standard- the luxury here is the nature of the place.. everything built is natural.. furniture and beyond. After a delightful check in, fresh juices and a quick tour around the property, we were finally ushered to our overwater bungalow that resembled what we saw on pretty postcards. The room was spacious with a dramatic view of the ocean and neighboring islands.

I found feeding the fish quite entertaining from our room, with a special feature of a glass table that you can open up and feed the friendly sharks, fish and mantle rays that frequent the bungalows.

After much needed rest under the sun, a delicious lunch in our super spacious private patio and a mini dip in the clear blue sea water under our bungalow, we were ready to call it a night by 8pm, sleeping like babies.

The next day we started our island adventures. Make sure you book a day trip that they call ‘the excursion’, totally worth it. A boat takes us onto Taha’a island and you hop right onto a 4×4 car that takes you straight to a locally (and apparently globally) well known pearl farm. They give you a fantastic tutorial on how pearls are farmed, created and cared for. After the pearl farm, we visit the world renowned Polynesian Vanilla production farm, found exclusively on Taha’a island. They also happen to produce Tamanu Oil which has several healing properties.

One of the key features of Le Taha’a is it’s very close proximity to a coral reef garden. Only a few steps away, this private coral reef is rich with stunning marine life that’s incomparable to any other on all Polynesian islands. There is an ocean current that actually carries and sweeps you from the start to the bottom of this coral garden, an almost 30 min journey exploring a beautiful underwater world, snorkeling… and it’s exciting every single time you get in!

We stayed almost a week on Le Taha’a and my husband looked forward to the breakfast every day, for a remote island you would assume that the food might disappoint but this was quite the opposite of what we’ve expected. A gorgeous breakfast with a huge variety (for a tiny island) that’s dependent on french delicacies & local poisson cru (a delicious coconut milk ceviche made from local catch) and local tropical produce. In addition, your a la carte eggs were delicately cooked any style, prepared and presented with delicious sides by seriously passionate French chefs. The lunch menus consisted of coconut based curries that naturally celebrated local delicacies of coconut and vanilla… divine! Saving the best for last- Ohiri, their fine dining restaurant can easily fall on the Michelin Star rank. It’s a definite gourmand destination despite the location on a small private island. Fresh produce, fish and meats is flown in daily all to create a delicate French- Polynesian fusion. And if the food wasn’t enough, they happen to have some of the world’s finest wines in their cellar… the highlight of the 5 course dining experience was their vintage Chateau Margaux red wine, which naturally surpassed our expectations.

We left this paradise in tears, wanting to stay longer than planned… Taha’a and French Polynesia have left us with the most beautiful of memories that invigorated every sense. This is one trip that will have a special place in our hearts and a destination certainly to be revisited in the future. I recommend! Maeva!

 

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