The French Polynesian Islands of Tahiti, Moorea, and Raiatea

2023 HAL World Cruise

Saturday to Tuesday, January 21 to 24, 2023

So, where does one begin when talking about the charm of French Polynesia???  There is so much to explore; so much to amaze; so much to learn and admire.  Entire books are written about these islands!!!  There are more than 100 islands grouped into 5 archipelagos:  Society Islands, Marquesas Islands, Tuamotu Islands, Gambier Islands, and Austral Islands.

The Society Islands are the most inhabited group.  These high tropical islands are encircled by coral reefs and lagoons.  This is where Tahiti, Moorea, and Raiatea are located.  Papeete, Tahiti is the capital city of French Polynesia.  The island is lush and beautiful.  The city not so much.  It is a governmental city with little to do other than eat and conduct business!!!  There is a large shopping mall, Vaimo, with upscale boutiques and charming restaurants.  There is also the local market, Ville de Papeete, only a block away with flowers, vegetables & fruits, spices, and other foodstuff as well as crafts on the first level and little shops with clothing on the second.  The seaside promenade is lovely; the cathedral is charming; and the roulottes on the dock in the evening are one of our most favorite things!!!  Moorea, which happens to be shaped like a heart, is a popular honeymoon destination.  Several years ago, we ferried over to this island from Papeete to stay at the Intercontinental Hotel’s overwater bungalows.  We toured the on-site dolphin rescue center, attended a Polynesian show & dinner on the beach, and marveled at the sea-life through windows in our bungalow floor!!!  Alas, this year, the Intercontinental is closed and we were unable to taxi over for the fabulous lunch we had anticipated.   Raiatea is believed to be the origin of organized migrations to the Hawaiian Islands, New Zealand, and other parts of Polynesia.  Now how amazing is that!!!  Originally known as Havaiki (the sacred place), this little island is the homeland of the Maori people. This is also the site of the Taputapuatea marae (maraes are holy compounds) which was built in 1000AD and named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2017.  We docked in the village (farre) of Uturoa where we shopped, ate the most wonderful fish and chips (eat your heart out UK!!!), and paid exorbitant prices for the vanilla beans, black pearls, and magnets we bought as souvenirs!!!

Let’s take a look at the photos:


On Saturday morning, we awoke in Papeete, Tahiti. The ship was only steps from town. As we viewed the city from our balcony, we spotted the cathedral, the Vaimo Mall, the city market (Ville de Papeete) and a couple of really nice ships docked beside us.
Naturally, we walked over to the market. Who could resist the color and aroma?!?
The flowers are amazing!!!
The promenade along the port area is pleasant with a great view of lovely boats.
The Vaimo Mall is across from the dock…..
…..and Le Retro Restaurant overlooks the port. We enjoyed sandwiches and beer before continuing our walk-about.
This is the side street beside the mall. Next time we are here, we might try this restaurant–nice atmosphere!!!
After lunch, we took a look at the cathedral.
It is charmingly simple.
At this point, we returned to the ship to get ready for an evening performance by a local troop of musicians and dancers.
It was an energetic and entertaining performance!!!
And after the Tahitian performance, we beat feet to the dock, grabbed a table, and ordered a dessert!!!
This is our very, very favorite thing to do in Papeete!!!!
This evening, we enjoyed classic, buttery, sugar crepes. Yummy!!!
But we could have ordered a full meal.
Many different cuisines are available.
And so, we concluded our day in Papeete. We called it a night. While we slept, the ship departed and sailed the 12 miles to Moorea…..


…..and we awoke the next morning in Moorea, anchored in Opunohu Bay.
Once again, the tenders were deployed to transport us to he dock at Papetoai.
The view of Mont Routui is beautiful.
As is the view of the shoreline.
Before moving on to Raiatea, here is a map of the heart-shaped Moorea Island.


Our final port in the Society Islands of French Polynesia is Uturoa on the island of Raiatea.
This is a small village with a lovely purpose-built cruise terminal that provides souvenirs, dining, boutique shopping and easy access to the main street of town.
The ship is docked only steps from the cruise terminal.
Our first stop was la Raie’ Gate Restaurant.
We ordered fish and chips. They were amazing!!! The fish used was mahi; the batter was as light as air; the tartar sauce was unusual and amazing–tastefully garlic-y!!!
The Tahitian beer is Hinano. And we drank it all through French Polynesia. Don’t pay attention to that glass that says something else—it contains HINANO!!!
We walked to the main street.
We checked out the shops.
Toured through the supermarket.
And then we headed back to the ship…..
……and departed Uturoa.
Said “good-bye” to Raiatea….
…..passed Tahaa…
…..and set off for a four-day transit to our next port.

It will now take four sea-days to our next port-of-call.

We will cross the International Dateline on the way!!!

Our next post will come from Nuku Alofa, Tonga!!!

2 thoughts on “The French Polynesian Islands of Tahiti, Moorea, and Raiatea”

    1. Thank you, Tony.
      The surprising thing about French Polynesia is that the islands are all so different. It’s impossible to have a favorite island because each one is special in some way and that makes them all favorites!!!


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