Raivavae airport was opened in 2002 and is about a ten-minute drive from the main village. There’s no shuttle service, so the owner of your Guesthouse will pick you up, with a smile and a welcoming “‘Ia oga na” (‘Ia ora na in the language of Raivavae).
The climate is cooler than in the rest of Polynesia and is ideal for the cultivation of fruit and vegetables: taro, lychees, bananas, mangoes etc. Together with fishing, this enables many families on the island to be almost totally self-sufficient.
There are no big luxury hotels on the island and life is peaceful and in tune with nature. In the past, developers have tried to open the island to outside investors, but the islanders have always resisted, choosing to retain their authenticity and relative isolation. If you discuss this with the locals, you’ll soon learn that they prefer to keep things just as they are.
It’s easy to understand why this timeless, volcanic island in the middle of an emerald lagoon should attract so much attention. So, as soon as you’ve put your bags in your room, set off on a bike tour – most guesthouses will rent them by the day – and discover the charms of Raivavae for yourself. You’ll be unlucky if you cross the path of a single motor car on the 24km road that goes round the island, but what you will pass is lush green countryside and views over the vast, turquoise lagoon. And you’ll leave the stress of life back home a little further behind with every push of the pedal.
An island of flowers, with an exceptional variety of hibiscus plants of all colors and sizes. You’ll also pass bunches of bananas suspended over the water, so that rodents can’t get at them.
At the weekend, stop and enjoy the melodious harmonies coming from inside the various churches. There are services on both Saturdays and Sundays, depending on the religion, and the churches are usually filled to capacity. The result is a moment of pure emotion – goosebumps guaranteed!
If you’re in Raivavae at the end of the year, you’ll be able to enjoy freshly-harvested lychees. This delicious, juicy sweet fruit of the Austral Islands is shipped to Tahiti and then delivered throughout Polynesia, where lychees are an integral part of the end of year festivities in every household!