Pier and overwater bungalows of the hotel Le Taha'aPier and overwater bungalows of the hotel Le Taha'a
©Pier and overwater bungalows of the hotel Le Taha'a|David Kirkland

Four days in Taha'a

Taha’a, island of surprises

A little isolated, Taha’a is one of the marvels of The Islands of Tahiti. It’s beauty is both simple and exceptional and life goes by at the slow and tranquil rhythm of the Polynesians. Taha’a is shaped like a flower and surrounded by countless motu, each with superb beaches and bright turquoise and blue water. There are many vanilla producers on the island and your stay will be perfumed by the aroma of this very special spice. A visit to Taha’a should be part of any holiday in The Islands of Tahiti and here are some suggestions for a four-day break.

Vanilla from Taha'aVanilla from Taha'a
©Vanilla from Taha'a

Day 1

There’s a lot to see in Taha’a and the best way to begin is by driving round the island in a car or on a scooter. The island is known for its many bays and the most impressive is Haamene, which is also the biggest bay in Polynesia. Taha’a is a sightseer’s dream and as the road winds from bay to bay you’ll enjoy truly magnificent views over the lagoon and the neighboring islands of Raiatea and Bora Bora, the pearl of the Pacific.

Day 2

Taha’a isn’t called vanilla island for nothing. Sold all over the world, the island’s vanilla is one of its main sources of revenue. You can visit certain vanilla plantations and we recommend that you go to vanilla valley on the east coast. There you’ll learn all the secrets of vanilla cultivation, from ‘marrying’ the flowers to drying the beans. Depending on the season, you can go into the field to see the flowers or the beans growing on the plants. The visit is free, but you’ll be encouraged to buy some vanilla while you’re there. Anyway, the prices are certainly lower than you’ll find anywhere else!

Not the transatlantic yacht race with the same name, but the road that takes you to the Pari Pari distillery. A prize-winner at the celebrated agricultural fair in Paris, the Pari Pari distillery produces one of the finest rums in Polynesia. You’ll receive a warm welcome and a guided tour which includes an explanation of the process of rum production, from harvesting the sugar cane to filling the barrels. As a bonus, you’ll get to taste the finished product! Then, you can continue on to the next distillery! Yes, there are two rum producers in Taha’a. The second, opposite the quay at Tapuamu, is the Mana’o distillery where you can also enjoy a guided tour and a free tasting! And after that, it’s probably time for you to go to bed. Sweet dreams!


However, if you are still steady on your feet, then you’ll just have enough time for a visit to a pearl farm. The guided tour lasts about half an hour and includes an explanation of how to graft the pearl and what happens to it afterwards. You’ll see pearls of all shapes and sizes…and values. And you’ll be given the opportunity to purchase a few at a very competitive price.

Day 3

Taha’a has one of the most beautiful lagoons in Polynesia, and no visit to the island would be complete without spending at least a day exploring it. An excellent option is to take an excursion by boat, jet-ski, paddleboard or kayak. You’ll be taken to some of the most glorious beaches on the lagoon’s motu, where you’ll find exceptional sites for snorkeling.

Hikers will certainly enjoy the trail known as the traversière. This trek takes you across the island, cutting through the mountains. It is well-signposted, because it’s a track that’s also used by ATV tours. The walk takes you through the lush vegetation of Taha’a’s magnificent countryside and you’ll enjoy superb views over the lagoon and the mountains.

Day 4

Taha’a is reputed for its vanilla and its multiple motu, but it also has some splendid underwater scenery, especially in the Coral Garden. The current created by the waves that sweep over the reef, draws you gently through a shallow channel between two motu. Let yourself drift along, as though gliding like a bird, while you observe the coral passing by. It’s like swimming through an aquarium as tropical fish pass inches away from your mask. When you reach the end of the motu, walk back towards the reef and start all over again! For a slightly more thrilling experience, there is a dive spot on the east of the island where you can swim with blacktip sharks in a perfectly clear sea.

An afternoon doing nothing much is always a pleasant way to end a short break. A famous French singer named Joe Dassin once bought some land in Taha’a and the beach there still bears his name. You reach it  by boat or you can go by foot, but you’ll have to cross a coconut grove and walk for half an hour. The well-kept beach is small, but it really is a little corner of paradise.