Taha’a, French Polynesia

Photo: Eric PINEL Photography for Vahine Island Resort
Photo: Eric PINEL Photography for Vahine Island Resort

Awww, French Polynesia. It’s as close to heaven as you’ve ever been. Tahiti. Moorea. Bora Bora. Each island is more perfect than the last. You’ve stayed in beautiful overwater villas. You’ve gazed at the jaw-dropping volcanic peaks. You’ve spent every day in the multi-shades-of-blue water. You wouldn’t change a thing. Right? Okay, maybe one little—very little—thing.

The Society Islands are just too popular. Everyone wants to come here. Honeymooners, babymooners, and bucket listers. Not that you can blame them. You just might need to travel a little bit farther to find an unspoiled island at this point. You might need to visit Taha’a.

Located in between Bora Bora and Ra’iātea, Taha’a is a little island filled with pineapples, coconuts, and farms. They’re not the dairy or the vegetable farms you’re used to at home. These are copra, pearl, and vanilla farms. Taha’a produces coconut oil, black pearls, and “black gold,” as Tahitians call vanilla. The island harvests 80 percent of French Polynesia’s vanilla. So much that it’s known as Vanilla Island. And you start to smell the delicious scent before you even set foot on land.

Photo: Eric PINEL Photography for Vahine Island Resort
Photo: Eric PINEL Photography for Vahine Island Resort

You’ll tour the farms later, but first your resort. Vahine Island Resort is on its own motu across the lagoon northeast of Taha’a. The private island is full of coconut groves. It’s surrounded by coral gardens. And it has a view of Bora Bora. Wait. It gets better. There are only nine farés on the entire island. Crowded it is not.

You could stay in an overwater faré, which is accessible by pirogue (outrigger canoe) and has an aquarium table inside. But you opt for a beach faré that offers a little more privacy and protection from strong gusts on a windy day. It has two decks: one faces the coconut grove and the other faces Bora Bora. There’s Tahitian Monoi Oil inside, an outdoor shower, and, of course, a hammock.

After a breakfast of vanilla yogurt, croissants, and mango marmalade, grab your flippers to swim over the coral gardens. As soon as you put your face in the water, you start to see lacy sponges, giant clams, colorful parrotfish, and a blacktip shark. Kayak to an empty motu for lunch. Sea turtles, leopard whiprays, and eagle rays swim just below the surface of the clear water. In the afternoon, find your favorite spot on Vahine Island and have a massage there. Request your favorite cocktail at Tané—the bar is made with coconut trunks, bamboo, and volcanic stones—and then watch the sun set over Bora Bora’s Mount Otemanu. Have a candlelit dinner with eggplant cavier, freshly caught fish, and a chilled French wine. And make plans to visit those farms the next day.

You thought you had found paradise before, but this takes the cake. Let everyone else fill the resorts on Tahiti, Moorea, and Bora Bora. You’ll keep Taha’a all for yourself.

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