• Photo: "Guido Amrein, Switzerland" / Shutterstock


Located just north of Raiatea, and only a few minutes by shuttle boat, the fragrant scent of vanilla envelops Tahaa, giving it its nickname, "the vanilla island." The island produces more than 80% of French Polynesia's vanilla, and visiting a vanilla plantation here will be a blissful experience as the plantations are located in luxuriant valleys among pineapples and coconuts.

The island, which is less than a quarter of the size of Raiatea, hosts a population of less than 5,000. Its quiet nature has allowed it to retain the charms of old-time Polynesia. There are four black pearl farms on Tahaa and all are open for tours by the public. Though the island does not have beaches, it does have a number of motu, which dot its outer reef. Mount Ohiri (1,811 feet [552 meters]) towers over this tortuous coastline and wild interior.

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