Tahaa, the ``Vanilla Island
While the name Tahiti is often synonymous with French Polynesia, the truth is there are more than 100 islands that make up the destination — each with something special to offer.”
“Known as the “Vanilla Island,” Tahaa is one of French Polynesia’s most fertile islands, filled with sweet-smelling vanilla plants and an impressive variety of tropical fruits: bananas, mangoes, star fruit, coconut, grapefruit, limes, papaya and more.
Visiting a vanilla plantation is a must, as over 80 percent of Tahitian vanilla comes from this island.
A few of the plantations run organic operations, such as Brian Henderson and his wife Morita Hioe of La Vallee de la Vanille, using rolling hillsides (instead of greenhouses) and coconut shells to fertilize their soil and feed the plants.
Interestingly, of the more than 25,000 varieties of orchids, vanilla is the only one to produce something edible. Don’t leave without browsing the onsite boutique, which offers an impressive array of vanilla-infused products, some of which include body oil, soap, shampoo, sea salt, olive oil, perfume, volcano rocks, coffee and sugar.”
“Tahaa is also known for its abundance of pearl farms, which one can visit to see how the specious beads are cultivated, examined and grafted, as well as learn about the process and the different types of pearls.
While pearls around the world are typically white, French Polynesia is known for its black and iridescent-coloured pearls of all shapes and sizes. Most pearl farms also have a boutique where you can shop for your own pearl as well as compare the different grades of pearls.”
“One great reason to visit Tahaa is the opportunity to stay at Vahine Private Island Resort.
While separate from the mainland, it’s about a 10-minute boat ride away for easy exploration of Tahaa’s vanilla plantations, pearl farms and authentic villages. Moreover, the resort allows you to have a truly serene experience. Vahine Private Island Resort features three beach bungalows, three standalone beach suites and three overwater bungalows across a 23-acre island of white sand and coconut groves.”
“Not only is the experience truly relaxing and luxurious, it also allows you to explore an abundance of nature and cultural activities, most of which are free of charge unless you want to go off the island to tour other motus or islands like Bora Bora or the Tahaa mainland (or enjoy an indulgent Monoi oil massage or get a Marquesan tattoo in your room).
Included in the room rate is the opportunity to snorkel the island’s otherworldly coral gardens, go fishing, canoeing or windsurfing in the lagoon, kayak to a nearby motu, see the lagoon’s many rays, catch a coconut show, take a naturalist tour of the island, learn how to tie a pareo (a wraparound garment) or weave palm leaves, to name a few. Additionally, their food and beverage program focuses on French cuisine created with local ingredients. It’s the type of place where you won’t leave without a full appreciation of Tahaa and local culture.”