Le Taha’a Island Resort & Spa, Tahiti
Six Days of Paradise in Tahiti in the Society Islands
By Tab Hauser
GoNOMAD Senior Writer
When deciding on a Tahitian vacation or honeymoon most people choose one of the Society Islands.
These include Tahiti, Bora Bora, Moorea, Huahine, Raiatea, and Taha’a. Each island is beautiful in its own sense so it can be hard to choose which piece of paradise to stay and play on.
For our time in Tahiti, I chose to spend six days at Le Taha’a Resort and Spa. This five-star property is located on a little motu (an atoll island) just a 10-minute boat ride from Taha’a.
I liked Taha’a because it does not have the bustle of the main island of Tahiti and is less pressured by tourism than Bora Bora.
Getting to the resort is easy and requires a 45-minute scenic flight to Raiatea from Papeete.
After landing and waiting five minutes for luggage, a resort staff member escorted us one minute down a ramp to the resort’s launch while another one took care of our bags.
The 25-minute scenic boat ride cruised past Taha’a on our right with views of Bora Bora on the distant left.
Our island experience started with a welcome by a tattooed guitar player singing lively Polynesian songs. He then took our luggage straight to our suite while we did a quick check-in at an opened air lobby decorated with a traditional sailing canoe at the entrance.
Over the Water Sleeps at Le Taha’a Resort
Our piece of paradise for the six days was a well-appointed, air-conditioned, spacious thatched roof cottage with large windows. Inside there was a large bedroom.
At the foot of the bed was a glass counter that you can open up to hear the water below as well as see the fish at night with the below deck lighting on.
The bathroom contained a larger shower and bathtub complete with a tray to hold a book and a glass of Champaign that was sitting on ice when we arrived.
Behind the suite was a large deck with lounge chairs, a covered table, and chairs as well as a ladder down to the water. The view on our bungalow number five looked straight through the channel called “Coral Gardens” and continued 15 miles to the peaks of Bora Bora.
To our right side, you can see the tall lush green island of Taha’a across the channel. For the first two days, we did not leave this little slice of heaven except for breakfast and dinner. (Tip: When booking, ask for the Bora Bora view)
Le Taha’a Resort has non-motor sports included. For the “stand up board” people there are several to use. Beginners can practice on the calm waters near shore, while the experienced ones can go further out into the channel.
For the “vertical paddle challenged” like me, there is a fleet of kayaks to explore the nearby Motus and their channels. We never saw anyone have to wait to use any equipment and it was all in very good condition.
Next to Le Taha’a is a narrow channel between the motus called the “Coral Gardens.”
Snorkeling is a highlight here and tour boats come to visit this place daily for its clear water, fish, and coral viewing. I recommend the following tips when snorkeling in the Coral Garden.
Time Your Swim
The first tip is to time your swim here. Tour boats with 10 to 30 people tend to show up between 9:30 and 10 AM and leave about 11:30. They return around 1 PM with the last one departing around 3:30.
Guests at La Taha’a Resort should avoid those times. This way the water will be clearer and the fish a little less shy.
For normal or weak swimmers, take a pair of fins and walk out to the end of the channel and snorkel this area to maybe 50 feet in. The current is a little less here and the coral is further apart so you will be less likely to bump into it.
For stronger and more experienced snorkelers, borrow both water shoes and fins. Swim across the channel to the other side. Use your water shoes to walk on the opposite motu to the end of the channel where you will change back to fins. You will need fins due to the strong current.
Make your way to the center of the channel and snorkel looking ahead of you all the time to see where to turn in advance so you don’t slide into a coral head with the current. You can stop in some open areas to figure out which direction to go next as well as enjoy what you are seeing. We snorkeled twice here with the second time better because we knew where to maneuver in the tight areas in advance.
It is important to never touch or stand on the coral. This is because it can take a year to grow up to an inch. Touching it can lead to killing it. Also, coral has toxins. A small scrape can be irritating for days. Certain corals are considered poisonous and if touched can be painful and can even make you sick.
Guests can arrange paid water sports like diving, wave runner tours, fishing, and sunset sailing through the concierge desk.
The island of Taha’a is 35 square miles with a peak in the middle at 1940 feet and a population of about 5000 people. Due to its lower dependence on tourism, Taha’a has a laid-back vibe compared to Bora Bora 15 across the water. Its main products are vanilla, pearls, copra with a little rum produced. We planned to visit some of these places.
Seeing the island on your own is easy. We passed on taking the typical three-hour open truck tour and rented a car for almost half the price of the tour for two.
Driving here is stress-free as there are not that many vehicles and everyone drives slowly. There is one road that goes around the island so you cannot get lost.
That road takes you to the same places the tour truck does. Our car rental advantage was sitting more comfortably, going at our own pace, and stopping for lunch.
For your day in Taha’a, rent a car through the concierge in advance. The rental people will bring the car to the dock.
To get there, the resort operates a ferry throughout the day, and catching the 10:30 AM boat gave us plenty of time for breakfast.
With a plan and a map in hand, it was time to check out this pretty green island.
Taha’a Produced Rum
Our first stop was at the Pari Pari Taha’a distillery. Pari Pari is the only place on Taha’a that distills rum.
During our visit we watched as one of their six varieties of endemic sugar cane was being crushed into juice.
Inside the building, there was both a small pot and column copper still.
Free half-ounce tastings of clear, dark, and flavored rums are offered. I found the clear and dark rums good for mixing.
The passion-infused rum was not overpowering and would work well over ice with sparkling water.
I was able to try one of their “younger” aged rums. This was smoother with hints of vanilla and oak. I can sip this by itself or with an ice cube any evening.
In a few years, they will be releasing their aged rums sitting in barrels that I hope to try.
Black Pearls of Taha’a
Taha’a, like much of Tahiti, is known for its black pearls. The best way to learn how black pearls are produced is at the Love Here Pearl Farm.
Visitors after walking down their long dock are introduced to the various stages of production. For the curious, the quick version is as follows.
Farmed oysters are taken out of the water. An expert opens an oyster a half inch and looks inside with a dental mirror for a specific color of the interior.
If they like the color he opens it up and this becomes the “sacrificial oyster” for the “gooey” part they use.
A pearl expert will then open up dozens of oysters one at a time to about one-half inch.
They will then place inside a “pouch” of an oyster is a little piece of round mussel shell from the Mississippi River that is dipped into the gooey part of the sacrificial oyster.
Once placed inside carefully, the shell is closed and placed in the water for up to two years.
This will start the process of making a black pearl. Oysters can be used up to three times for this type of production.
When visiting their store, keep in mind they may not have the best prices. Love Here Pearl Farm does not have a website and visitor appointments are not necessary.
Taha’a produces 80% of Tahiti’s vanilla beans. To understand more about the world’s second most expensive spice, we drove 20 minutes down the scenic coastal road to the Vanille Boerderij co-op.
At the co-op were told that the original vanilla bean came from Mexico and that it is in the orchid family. We were shown vanilla pods not ripe and ripe and how they are handled.
We also learn that there are no bees to pollinate them in Tahiti so it is done by hand. Our guide laid out a tablecloth of beans which we were told was worth about $3000.
He learned the best way to store the vanilla pod or bean is to place it in a narrow glass jar with about an inch of a neutral spirit like vodka and keep it in a dark place.
We were also told that if you infuse something with the vanilla bean it can be used a few times if stored back properly.
After our casual lesson, we were invited to buy vanilla vacuum packed as well as in liquid or powder form.
Vanille Boerderij has no website so map it and just pull over to check them out.
For a very local lunch place, continue to the main town on the island called Haamene and stop at Mac China. Order his special chow mein or their shrimp dish. His chow mein is nothing like the salty and tasteless version you get at home.
For the drive back, take the lower loop to the bottom of the island if you have time, or head back on the main road stopping for the view on the top of the hill.
Back at the dock, you will find a convenience store and Rhumerie Mana’o. This is a storefront to taste and buy rum not made on the island.
Le Taha’a Resort’s food was all good and what you would expect at a fine resort. Breakfast and dinner were in their Le Hawaiki Nui restaurant.
This is in a large open-air building with dining available inside or on the deck.
For breakfast, there was a large and diverse buffet. This had tropical fruits, eggs, pancakes, and waffles to order, various delicious French pastries, and bread with fresh tropical jams.
Each morning my senses were awakened by a wonderful vanilla cappuccino. (Tip: Take a little of the coconut cream from the buffet, put it in a small glass, and tell the server to add it to your vanilla cappuccino)
Lunch was poolside offering fresh lagoon fish, lobster, burgers, and salads.
Dinner at Le Hawaiki Nui offered several choices which included several Tahitian dishes. Service was prompt and everything we ate over our six days was very good.
Ohiri is the resort’s specialty restaurant. Here you can indulge in a multicourse gourmet tasting menu.
Room service is available for a $15 charge. We ordered a very French cheese platter twice during our stay.
Le Taha’a Resort and Spa
The little motu the resort is on is well landscaped with wonderful views.
For sunsets, take the 10-minute walk to the western end of the island to the helipad. Here you will see the sky turn all shades of orange as well as watch Bora Bora fade away.
It is also a great spot to see the stars. The resort has a spa, gym, and pool along with the water sports listed earlier.
For reservations booking direct at Le Taha’a Resort and Spa with links to Pearl Resort properties in Bora Bora, Tahiti and the Marquesas Islands.