Former name: Havaiki
Budget level: Standard
Encounter: Rightfully regarded as being the cradle of all Polynesian civilizations, it keeps very impressive archeological remains. Although it almost has no beaches, it features an impressive lagoon, ideal for experienced divers.
At a glance: Main town: Uturoa. Population: 11,000. Located 220 km Northwest of Tahiti, Raiatea is the largest and highest of the Leeward Islands. It is located inside a large lagoon enclosing also the neighboring island of Tahaa, located to the North. The splendid Faaroa Bay is the deepest bay in all Polynesia (over 30 m or 100ft deep). It is in Raiatea that the nautical bases of all sailboat rentals for the Leeward Islands are located.
How to get there: By plane: A 45-minute flight from Tahiti, or a 15-minute flight from Huahine - about 3 to 5 daily flights. By boat: not many scheduled boats from Tahiti (an about 15-hour crossing with a 1-hour stop in Huahine).