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Cruises to Raiatea

Raiatea (Photo:Styve Reineck/Shutterstock)

About Raiatea

Raiatea is one of the largest islands in French Polynesia -- second only to Tahiti, however, don't let its size fool you into thinking it's busy or overrun with tourists. While Bora Bora offers celebrity chic and Moorea is simply exquisite, Raiatea is a secret find. Outside of the main port town, Uturoa, the 105 square- mile (272 square-kilometer) island is quiet and lightly populated, yet there's much to do and see along the coast and within its untamed, rugged interior.

Natural beauty aside, Raiatea is known as 'The sacred Isle' because it was the centre of religion and culture dating back to about 1000AD, and there's also an enticing mystique about it. Members of various Polynesian kingdoms once journeyed here by canoe for tribal meetings, ceremonies and even human sacrifices at Marae Taputapuatea in Opoa to the southeast. Today, visitors can visit the outdoor ancient worship temple and glimpse petroglyphs carved in basaltic stones found along the coast.

One thing that sets Raiatea apart from other islands in French Polynesia is there are no real sandy beaches. However, those who want to get their feet wet can take a trip to one of the motus or islets that dot the lagoon (you have to rent or hire a boat to get to them). Among those are Motu Nao Nao, a stretch of gorgeous white sand, and Opeha Point, known for good snorkeling.

Apart from cruise ship visits, Raiatea is the yachting hub of French Polynesia and there'll always been plenty of sailboats and yachts at the island's marinas on the north coast.

Situated in the same lagoon as Raiatea and only about 10 km to the north is Tahaa, a tiny island, even quieter than Raiatea; you can only get there by boat via ship-sponsored excursions or private tours. Upon arrival you might see women fishing for their day's lunch and you'll certainly have a chance to buy vanilla and pearls and these are the two main industries. If it isn't a school day, kids will pause from chasing each other to wave hello. It feels a world away, even in the already far reaches of the South Pacific.

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  • Why go to Raiatea?

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Regatta
Regatta

57 Night
World CruiseDetails

386 Reviews
Leaving:Auckland
Cruise Line:Oceania Cruises
Feb 24, 2024
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Nautica
Nautica

10 Night
Tahiti CruiseDetails

360 Reviews
Leaving:Tahiti
Cruise Line:Oceania Cruises
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Norwegian Spirit
Norwegian Spirit

15 Night
South PacificDetails

2,072 Reviews
Leaving:Sydney
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
Mar 28, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Norwegian Spirit
Norwegian Spirit

12 Night
Hawaii - OtherDetails

2,072 Reviews
Leaving:Tahiti
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Royal Caribbean

10 Night
Tahiti CruiseDetails

386 Reviews
Leaving:Tahiti
Cruise Line:Oceania Cruises
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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150 Night
150 Night World CruiseDetails

375 Reviews
Leaving:Miami
Cruise Line:Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Jan 7, 2025
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Cruise Critic Favorite

36 Night
Grand World VoyageDetails

1,006 Reviews
Cruise Line:Holland America Line
Jan 3, 2023
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17 Night
Transpacific CruiseDetails

1,520 Reviews
Leaving:Honolulu
Cruise Line:Royal Caribbean International
Oct 4, 2023
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17 Night
Transpacific CruiseDetails

1,520 Reviews
Leaving:Sydney
Cruise Line:Royal Caribbean International
Apr 12, 2024
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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17 Night
Tahitian Treasures CruiseDetails

2,160 Reviews
Leaving:Honolulu
Cruise Line:Celebrity Cruises
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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15 Night
Transpacific CruiseDetails

501 Reviews
Leaving:Brisbane
Cruise Line:Royal Caribbean International
Apr 4, 2024
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18 Night
Transpacific CruiseDetails

707 Reviews
Leaving:Honolulu
Cruise Line:Royal Caribbean International
Oct 15, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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18 Night
Transpacific CruiseDetails

707 Reviews
Leaving:Sydney
Cruise Line:Royal Caribbean International
Apr 13, 2024
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Cruise Critic Favorite

128 Night
128-day Grand World VoyageDetails

1,006 Reviews
Cruise Line:Holland America Line
Jan 3, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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11 Night
Hawaii - OtherDetails

2,072 Reviews
Leaving:Tahiti
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
Oct 22, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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More about Raiatea

Why go to Raiatea?

Pros:

A treasure trove for history lovers

Cons:

No sandy beaches within easy reach

Bottom Line:

A remote island loved by yachties, surfers and adventure seekers

Raiatea Cruise Port Facilities?

Shopping and dining are right at your doorstep at the Gare Maritime; after exiting the gangway, head straight toward the building (tour operators set up inside; you can also pick up brochures and ask representatives any questions you might have).The terminal building, has a restaurant and bakeries, tourist office, sporting outlets, jewelry and handicraft shops, and of course you can get a cold Hinano beer.

Good to Know?

Except for popular lunch spots, Uturoa pretty much shuts down at noon; banks and most shops close at noon or so and reopen around 2 p.m. Don't be discouraged if you return from a morning excursion to find the town dead -- it will pick back up again.

Getting Around?

By Car: Car rental companies include Raiatea Rent Car (40-66-35-35; mobile 87-31-32-62), located at the airport, which is about 1.8 miles west of the cruise port. Another is Raiatea Location (40-66-34-06), which is open seven days a week and located between the airport and the town.

By Taxi: There is a taxi stand in town. Fares should be posted if no meter is present, however, be sure to agree on a fare before getting in -- and while you're at it, arrange for a return pickup.

By Bus or Shuttle: Open-air Le Trucks are the main method of public transportation, but unless your sense of direction and basic French are good, you may want to avoid this option in this particular port of call.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money?

The local currency is the French Pacific Franc. Banque Socredo and Banque de Tahiti have branches in Uturoa and both have ATMs. Hours are 8 a.m. to 3.30 p.m., Monday to Friday.

Language?

Tahitian and French are widely spoken, though some English is spoken near the port.

Where You're Docked?

Most cruise ships tie up to the new Gare Maritime in the center of Uturoa, the main town on the northern tip of the island.


Raiatea Cruise Reviews
Raiatea was our favorite stop. It is a beautiful island with many bays, less populated, better than average housing and shops, and many things to do.Read More
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Rav4Fan
Raiatea is another beautiful unspoiled island full of history, beautiful people and gorgeous scenery! Can’t say enough good things about it! Go!Read More
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CnC1633
must take ship tour, otherwise nothing to do. expensive but some worth it.Read More
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AjaxTheHound
We went on a motorized outrigger canoe to visit a freshwater river followed by swimming at a small Motu. Very enjoyable. Our guide was a local man with most of his body tattooed which showed the story of his life aRead More
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loudini56

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