lots to do here,for free or fairly cheap include
kayaking, touring the island in a bus or taxi , visiting a botanical garden, climb the mountain,
visit a vannilla plantation, a pearl farm, polynesian feast,snorkel , diving, ancient human sacrifice spots dine out at french or chinese restarant........see my raitea intro......
A "Motu" is a sort of a small island in the middle of some others, generally bigger, around which the water is basically clearer (certainly because of the sand beneath)...
Sorte de petite ile au milieu des autres plus grandes, ou generalement l'eau est plus claire qu'ailleurs (ce serait du au sable, m'indique-t-on en regie)...
The top of Tapioi Hill is only a couple of kilometers from the shoreline, but it's a very steep climb (for some of us, anyway) and can be a bit of a challenge on a hot day. It's completely worth the effort, however.
The track to the top starts in Uturoa (anybody should be able to point this out) and first passes through an area where you may encounter, as we did, a number of horses and cattle, some with rather intimidating horns, and none of which are tied up! They didn't seem to mind us much, though.
Because we weren't beginning our hike until mid-morning, heat and exposure were a problem, but thanks to the occasional gust of wind we made it to the top OK. The view from the top of Tapioi Hill is nothing short of spectacular. This was one of my most vivid visual memories from my visit to French Polynesia, and any visitor to Raiatea who is relatively fit should make it up here. If the thought of hiking and getting soaked in a shower of your own perspiration doesn't sound appealing, check with your lodge or guesthouse--they may be able to drive you up to this area.
As you can see from this photograph, the light green of the barrier reef contrasts sharply with the deep blue of the lagoon and the open sea. Quite an image.
It's probably best to leave a couple of hours for this hike. It is advisable to get an early start, as exposure could be an issue and the heat at certain times of the year can be downright oppressive.
About 30 km south of Uturoa, this marae is supposedly the largest and most significant in all of French Polynesia. Its location on a portion of land jutting out into the ocean near Opoa highlights this importance. Upon approaching the marae, you will notice numerous stone platforms, most right on the shore, built 3 to 4 feet high. There is a single large stone wall enclosure. On the inside, stones are laid down on the ground, and a gap at one end in the short surrounding wall provides access. In the middle stands a huge rock slab, giving the site its imposing aura.
I went around to all of the platforms and structures, looking for any visible petroglyphs. I couldn't see any, but I did discover that almost all the flatter surfaces had been defaced by vandals. Unfortunately, really, but nonetheless this place has a truly powerful feel to it and should not be missed by anyone visiting this island.
The Taputapuatea marae is considered one of the most important structures in French Polynesia. When a new marae is being constructed on the nearby islands, a stone from Taputapuatea had to be used in making the new temple.
A great motu, peaceful and surrounded by clear water (natural, for a motu) full of great colourful fishes, sharks, dolphins...
Un super motu, calme et entoure d'eaux claires (facile, c'est un motu), avec plein de supers poissons de couleurs hallucinantes, de requins, de dauphins et de raies...
When you are touring the island, have a stop at PK 17. From here you will have a superb view of Mont Tefatua. Here you are at the heart of a crater, where various crops are cultivated as the soil is very fertile.
Raiatea has a lovely bay. Here you will find the entrance to the Apoomau river and most of the time a lot of yachts are just hanging around in the bay. This bay is the deepest (over 30m/100 feet) in all Polynesia.
Around the year 1350 hundreds of brave Maohi families left Raiatea from this bay, navigating their canoes by the wind, stars and ocean currents to settle in Hawai, the Cook Islands, the Samoas and finally in New Zealand. Their Polynesian descendants are called Maori in New Zealand and Tahitians in French Polynesia.
Marae Taputapuatea is Raiatea's most famous landmark. It's a mythical place marked with a great sense of spirituality. It is the most significant archeological site in the whole South Pacific.
This is an international marae with seven marae temples of stone. It has been in existence since 1600 AD.
Mount Tapioi rises 294 meters (964 feet) behind Uturoa, with a television relay at the summit. You can hike up or drive 3.5 km (2.2 miles) to the top in a 4WD, where you will have a good view of the sister island Tahaa and the islands of Huahine, Bora Bora and Maupiti.
Behind Tevaitoa village the magnificent Temehani Plateau rises in awesome walls of basalt. The peaks glimmer in shades of blue and gray. Here you can find waterfalls and wonderful tropical fern trees and shrubbery.
Uturoa is two kilometers (1.2 miles) south of the airport and the second largest town in French Polynesia. Here you will find the administrative seat for the Leeward Islands.
This town still has a lot of wonderful houses that remind of former colonial days. Here you will find banks, post-office, a hospital, supermarkets, a local market, different restaurants and a shopping center.
On the waterfront you can find a marae with a big stone in the middle. This stone served as royal throne and as measuring stone for wariors who had to be worthy representatives to the outside world.
The huge slabs of coral flagstone and basaltic rock slumber under the shade of coconut palms, a shrine to Polynesia's rich and varied Maohi culture.
The marae was a place of pilgrimage, ritual and dance for the Maohi people.
When touring the island, don't just stay on the coastal road but also have a look at the interior of the island.
There is a road from Faaroa Bay that takes you into the interior of the island for 8 km (5 miles). The road leads you to Fetuna at the southern tip of the island, winding through beautiful valleys ande wide flatland. You will pass vanilla and pineapple plantations, and farms with horses and cows.