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Cruises to Raiatea

Raiatea (Photo:Styve Reineck/Shutterstock)
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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DAY 1: Tahiti

14 Night
Cruise to Raiatea

Leaving:
Tahiti
Visiting:
Bora Bora, Raiatea ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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DAY 1: Tahiti

14 Night
Cruise to Raiatea

Leaving:
Tahiti
Visiting:
Bora Bora, Raiatea ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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120 Night
Cruise to Raiatea

Leaving:
San Francisco
Visiting:
Honolulu, Maui ...
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Cruise Line:
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
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DAY 1: Honolulu

13 Night
Cruise to Raiatea

Leaving:
Honolulu
Visiting:
Kauai, Kona ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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11 Night
Cruise to Raiatea

Leaving:
Tahiti
Visiting:
Rangiroa, Tahaa ...
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Cruise Line:
Windstar Cruises
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11 Night
Cruise to Raiatea

Leaving:
Tahiti
Visiting:
Rangiroa, Tahaa ...
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Cruise Line:
Windstar Cruises
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15 Night
Cruise to Raiatea

Leaving:
Honolulu
Visiting:
Maui, Hilo ...
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Cruise Line:
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
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7 Night
Cruise to Raiatea

Leaving:
Tahiti
Visiting:
Moorea, Raiatea ...
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Cruise Line:
Windstar Cruises
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18 Night
Cruise to Raiatea

Leaving:
Tahiti
Visiting:
Moorea, Raiatea ...
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Cruise Line:
Windstar Cruises
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7 Night
Cruise to Raiatea

Leaving:
Tahiti
Visiting:
Moorea, Raiatea ...
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Cruise Line:
Windstar Cruises
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7 Night
Cruise to Raiatea

Leaving:
Tahiti
Visiting:
Moorea, Raiatea ...
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Cruise Line:
Windstar Cruises
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10 Night
Cruise to Raiatea

Leaving:
Tahiti
Visiting:
Moorea, Nuku Hiva ...
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Cruise Line:
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
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18 Night
Cruise to Raiatea

Leaving:
Tahiti
Visiting:
Raiatea, Bora Bora ...
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Cruise Line:
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
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7 Night
Cruise to Raiatea

Leaving:
Tahiti
Visiting:
Moorea, Raiatea ...
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Cruise Line:
Windstar Cruises
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8 Night
Cruise to Raiatea

Leaving:
Tahiti
Visiting:
Moorea, Raiatea ...
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Cruise Line:
Windstar Cruises
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50 Night
Cruise to Raiatea

Leaving:
Vancouver
Visiting:
San Francisco, San Diego ...
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Cruise Line:
Holland America Line
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11 Night
Cruise to Raiatea

Leaving:
Tahiti
Visiting:
Rangiroa, Tahaa ...
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Cruise Line:
Windstar Cruises
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17 Night
Cruise to Raiatea

Leaving:
Tahiti
Visiting:
Rangiroa, Tahaa ...
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Cruise Line:
Windstar Cruises
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45 Night
Cruise to Raiatea

Leaving:
San Diego
Visiting:
Hilo, Honolulu ...
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Cruise Line:
Holland America Line
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8 Night
Cruise to Raiatea

Leaving:
Tahiti
Visiting:
Moorea, Raiatea ...
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Cruise Line:
Windstar Cruises
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Cruise Critic Favorite

7 Night
Cruise to Raiatea

Leaving:
Tahiti
Visiting:
Moorea, Raiatea ...
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Cruise Line:
Windstar Cruises
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7 Night
Cruise to Raiatea

Leaving:
Tahiti
Visiting:
Moorea, Raiatea ...
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Cruise Line:
Windstar Cruises
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8 Night
Cruise to Raiatea

Leaving:
Tahiti
Visiting:
Moorea, Raiatea ...
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Cruise Line:
Windstar Cruises
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32 Night
Cruise to Raiatea

Leaving:
Sydney
Visiting:
Melbourne, Burnie ...
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Cruise Line:
Oceania Cruises
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32 Night
Cruise to Raiatea

Leaving:
San Diego
Visiting:
Hilo, Honolulu ...
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Cruise Line:
Holland America Line
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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

waggie1856
Sail Date: Dec 2019
Nice trip rive trip highlighted by our guide Tihoti. Tihoti is pure Tahitian, covered with tattoos. His insight into the Tahitian way of life wonderful. Do not miss this trip if he is your guide.... Read More
Norwegian Jewel
PiaItalia
Sail Date: Nov 2019
Lovely tour of the island. Beautiful sights.... Read More
elklemi
Sail Date: Sep 2019
spent one day on Motu where our island bar b q was and beautiful and really enjoyed, plenty of Hinano on the island.... Read More
rboggia
Sail Date: Mar 2019
Beautiful island great people.... Read More
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