From June 13th to June 16th, we were in Raiatea.
Ra’iātea’s nickname is ‘the sacred island’. Ra’iātea’s name can be translated by dispersed clouds, typical from the island for polynesian sailors (ra’i means ‘sky’ and ātea means ‘clear’, ‘distant’).
Polynesian myths relate that Taha’a and Ra’iātea islands were only one island, and that a giant separated them with his hand because he was angry, further to a heartache. So both islands were only one entity 2.4 million years ago, with their shared lagoon as a witness.
On the day of our arrival, we borrowed bikes from our homestay to go in the ‘city-centre’. We went to the supermarket to buy some food and we had lunch at the restaurant.
On June 14th, Jérémy went diving with Te Mara Nui. He wanted to dive on a shipwreck (a three-master sailing ship) but the visibility was not good, he went diving in a coral garden instead. He was not really convinced, the coral was not amazing and he did not see much interesting things.
On June 15th, we did a day-tour on Taha’a island with Toa Nui Tours. Departure at 8:30 am. Our guides, Suzanne and Jean, were really nice.
The fish legend relates that in ancient times, Raiatea and Tahaa were only one island. But one day, an incident occurred.
While the priests were building a new marae, they enacted the obligation of respecting absolute silence so nothing would disturb the sacred atmosphere necessary to such an initiative. No rooster should sing, no dog should bark, no one should go anywhere.
A beautiful young lady named Terehe turned her nose up at this order and decided to go swimming in a river anyway. Gods, who were irritated by this impudence, made a big eel appear suddenly in the river, which devoured Terehe in one go. Possessed by the young lady’s spirit, the animal became literally enraged. The eel started to jump around, tearing trees and rocks. Out of control, it ended up by devouring entirely the middle of the island, digging a strait which separated the big island in two distinctive islands : Raiatea and Tahaa.
To try to control it, gods entrusted it with Tu-rahu-nui (a great wizard) who put it on his head and headed towards east. The eel got bigger and bigger and became a huge fish, which took the name of Tahiti-nui (immense Tahiti).
Step one: snorkelling in an amazing coral garden. We were blown away, there were a lot of fishes : butterfly fishes, white-banded triggerfishes, clown fishes, parrotfishes…
Step two: visit of a pearl farm. Unfortunately, the explanations were not as efficient as the one Fred from Motu Trésor gave us in Huahine, but it was still nice.
Step three: lunch on a motu. Rum aperitif. The meal was great! The motu is owned by a family, who built basins where you can find fishes, stingrays and blacktip reef sharks. Contrary to what you could think, they were not built for the tourists but for their own fishing, sot hey always have fresh fish within easy reach.
Step four: visit of a vanilla plantation. We learnt that it was imported from Mexico. E were ‘lucky’ on the mosquito matter: as it was windy and the weather was not really nice, they were not here.
Then, back to Raiatea around 5pm after a busy day!
We had a great day, despite the weather which turned bad during our lunch. We were really wet on the boat, you should have seen us with our big rain coats, we would have thought that we were in Brittany!